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on Oct 5, 2011 in Digital Darkroom

Explore to Learn, Learn to Improve, Improve to Teach

I grew up with a father who always called himself a mec-a-nec. To everyone else, that would be a mechanic but he was never satisfied with just fixing something, we wanted to know how it worked and if he could improve upon it. He was very good at it and he was always delighted to pass that on to others. And that wasn’t even his trade or profession, that was what simply made him happy. There is no doubt he passed that along to me. I love to take things apart, see how they work and then see if in reassembling I can improve it. And if it works, I share with others (if it don’t work, bye-bye). I was reminded of a great quote today from T.J. Watson, “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” That’s me all over!

So my good friend and aviation mentor Richard calls me up and asks if I’d like to head to Fallon NAS and Top Gun School to shoot for the day. I’ve never been to this local and I’m not all that good with current military inventory but I knew that I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. The one thing I didn’t think we would encounter this day was snow! Gray aircraft on gray tarmac with gray skies put my in a gray mood. I had a blast and the photography was great fun, but capturing the image that would encapsulate that I didn’t feel was happening.

The gray skies is pretty much a done deal. I could go HDR wack land and get some sort of grunge thing happening but…. So then what can be done with the other gray elements in the frame? What can I do in post to make them F/A-18s look more, impressive? Using Photoshop and Layers, the learning can continue with the safety net that if anything fails I can simply delete the layer or at worse, simply not save anything. First was to create an empty layer and remove those elements in the background that prevented the F/A-18 from not merging into the background. I shot the image wanting it to appear that there were aircraft all the way to the horizon. I make a selection to protect the planes, reverse that selection and with the Clone Tool make background elements disappear.

That wast the hardest part. Next I simply called up OnOne Software’s Perfect Photo and applied Just Enough Darkness, Polarizer and Tint with Clean Whites (seriously, those are the filter names) and with one click apply (this is 5.5) and that’s it! And it turned out OK, I didn’t delete the file and a print of it isn’t hanging on my wall, it has sold once so that’s not too bad. But that’s not where the story ends.

How did I know to take this photo, arrange the elements that way I did and finishing tools to use in post? I played, I clicked on things and looked at the results. I take notes and those items crossed out, well we don’t go there again. Those that remain are played with more and those that are starred, they get committed to memory. Now OnOne Software has introduced 6.0 and I will be receiving my copy today (can’t wait) and just like Nik’s CEP 4, I will have to figure out what’s new, how it works, how to apply it and eventually share. I am often asked where do I find the time to do this? I am fortunate that the folks at OnOne and Nik take the time to educate me on what’s new and how it came to be. Being my father’s son, that’s important. From there I sit down in the evening, grab any ol file and start applying, thinking and looking at the possibilities. And I really don’t know any other way, it’s just the way I’m wired.