Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oversize Load

(Click on the thumbnail for a slightly larger image)

Between wonderful indulgences such as a detour down a previously unexplored road and what is the equivalent of a day job, I have been somewhat distracted from blogging. It’s true that I am working on some projects of my own; but, alas, the real rub is the graphics department that I mentioned a few days ago. My slave driver boss—that would be The Husband—has one project after another for me. That means that I toil for hours over a hot computer creating material for his hard-won approval. Here I sit for hours on end, chained to my computer, surviving on occasional bowls of hot gruel, with fingers raw. Oh, woe is me.

Are you buying any of that? I didn’t think so. Well, the part about the detour is true (the snapshot above is a down payment) and I actually have been doing a great deal of layout work on flyers, cards, etc. Of course, if I only had a brain, those projects wouldn’t take so long. After all, I’m not doing things that are extremely demanding. I’m just not speedy with that type of work. As for The Husband’s role in this, he is deeply appreciative (I’ll give you three guesses as to who took me on that deliriously delightful detour) and I am getting a great deal of satisfaction from helping him out.

I try to keep up with my reading, but I’m certainly not pulling my share of the load when it comes to adding to the conversation in the blogosphere. Eventually,we will catch up on all these projects we have gotten ourselves into.

You're giving me that look again. You're probably right.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Norwegian Masks and Really Smart Objects

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Niels Henrikson (who lives in Canada, by the way, but often posts eloquent descriptions chronicling his visits to family in Norway) frequently produces instructive posts and his latest two are especially noteworthy. The most recent one covers some intriguing ideas for creating masks. I wanted to post a follow-up saying first, “Thanks again, Niels for the lesson”. While I don’t do a great deal of masking lately, when I do need a mask I like to have as many possible tricks up my sleeve as possible. It’s clear to me that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to creating masks. Sometimes I have to make several false tries before I hit on the one that works in a particular instance. Niels’ tips are a welcome addition to my bag of tricks.

Secondly, I recently learned something about working with CS3 that has already proven extremely useful, and it fits nicely with Niels’ post. If you import your image from ACR as a Smart Object, you can then create a second layer as a New Smart Object via Copy. Each of these two Smart Objects then has a separate intelligence. In other words, if you double-click on the original layer to return to ACR and make changes in that Smart Object, those changes have no impact on the copy that you created. Then, when you go to the copy or second Smart Object and make new changes in ACR, no changes are produced in the lower original Smart Object. With these two Smart Objects and a mask you are in business.

While I have not been doing much processing in Photoshop lately—I do most of the work in ACR, both of these new techniques are sure to make their way into my workflow on those occasions when a photo could use a little TLC.

Monday, January 19, 2009

And Now the News

Bear Valley Springs is an exceptionally quiet community. When we were considering moving here and looking into car insurance rates, the representative did a audible double take when researching the crime statistics for BVA. When The Husband heard the strange silence and asked what was going on, the answer was, “There really isn’t enough crime there to register. Where did you say this is again?” Bear Valley Springs is a deliciously boring place to live compared to even the smallest but lively burg out there.

So, imagine my surprise when about 7 PM last night I saw flashing red lights outside the windows of our home office. It turns out that what may have been the most newsworthy event to transpire in BVS in the last five or ten years happened outside our front door on Bear Valley Road. There were three police cars (that may very well be the entire BVS police department) and a lone gray sedan. There appeared to have been an arrest, the car was searched thoroughly and finally towed away. No additional details available at this time.

At first, I was using my binoculars to see as much of the action as possible (our house is set back quite far from the road). I wanted so badly to get closer, but my conscience wouldn’t let me. I didn’t want to risk getting in the way, so I squelched my burning curiosity and stayed on the porch snooping. After about a minute with the binoculars, I decided,

“What the heck.” Although I knew that any photos taken would be blurry, grainy, and, as dark as it was, not much more than a pattern of glaring red lights, I decided to go for it. With nothing to lose, I grabbed the 20D (since it had the 200mm f4 on it) cranked the ISO to 3200 and shot a few—still from the porch, just for fun. So there you have it: my one and only foray into crime photography. And, no, there aren’t likely to be any further similar stories filed in the future.

And, finally, after numerous complaints about plain skies, we awoke this morning to this splendid sunrise.

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Looking Back

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Obviously, I am missing those dramatic sunsets we saw so many of in December. Today, I find myself wandering through old files and stopping at sunsets. Our skies have been quite tame through most of January. But, the forecast calls for an end to this little vacation from weather. A week from now we are supposed to be once more in winter mode.