Monday, October 27, 2008

Wander Lust, Photoshop CS4 and Some Excellent Bloggers

When my grandson lived with us, we packed him along on many of the trips we made. I still have this crystal clear image: this little three year old body waddling up to me, pulling on my pant leg until he had my complete attention, and then pointing off to the side.

“I think we should go havealook,” he’d say making very direct eye contact.

That’s not a typo, by the way. “Havealook” was all one word to Perrin. It meant: “There’s something over there I think we should see. Let’s go exploring. C’mon…let’s go havealook.”

The phrase stuck with Sheree and me. When are preparing for a trip and are going about the happy business of packing up the cameras and joyfully speculating about the things we’ll need to take and the challenges we might encounter, we’ll often tell each other we are going to “havealook.”

The word conjures up the kind of warm memories that make us smile.

I am just about dying to go havealook. It’s been nearly two months since we went somewhere and, while that may sound odd to you, I am suffering from travel withdrawal. It isn’t pretty. I gaze at images I took in Rome and New York and Hawaii and New Orleans and…and all those places…and I sigh.

Our next trip, which will take us down the Amazon River, doesn’t begin until New Year’s eve. Yup. While others are ringing in 2009, Sheree and I will be on a tarmac, waiting to take off. There’s something I really like about that. It fits who we are perfectly.

But for now, I am looking down the barrel of yet another Christmas season, fighting my way through the snow, performing show after show as I watch the days tick down one by one. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy doing magic shows but, you see, I have these progressively itchier feet. And they want to take me to places where I can make photographs and meet new people and be somewhere utterly new to me. Who am I to argue with my feet?

One of my favorite writers is Bill Bryson. In his classic book “Neither Here Nor There,” he writes with great passion about the joy of being in a place where they don’t speak your language, where their customs are completely different, where simply crossing the street is an adventure. That passage really speaks to my heart. There’s a wonder-lust that travels hand in hand with a travel lifestyle that creates a deep ache to explore this big wonderful world.

I am not talking about vacations. Nope. I am talking about TRAVEL: getting up with the sun, and watching dawn come up on an exotic place. I am talking about sipping your morning coffee made in a completely different way, the looks the locals give you when they realize you are valiantly trying to speak their language and the warm smiles they offer. I am talking about new smells and different art and architecture and history and people.

I am talking specifically about trying to think of how to convey that travel experience with a picture and going back to the hotel ONLY after it’s become too dark to take pictures…ignoring throbbing feet because you can hardly wait to see the images of the day…and (in my case anyway) share them with your partner.

I blame my wife for this, by the way. Sheree has infected me with a real desire to see the world and a very genuine ache to peek around the next bend in the world to havealook. I was a perfectly well mannered little hobbit who never had any nasty adventures at all before I met her.



CS4 Is Here!

I have been happily playing with Photoshop CS4 for about a week now. Ooops. Did I say “playing?” I actually meant, “Making a very serious and evaluative examination of this new digital editing software.”

It’s much faster than CS3 and it’s easier to use. That alone is worth the price of an upgrade, which is just a hair under two hundred bucks. There’s not a LOT of new stuff. It seems to me as though Adobe was looking to clear up many of the annoying things that made CS3 a wee bit of a pain to use.

I am especially taken with the Vibrance Adjustment Mask. If you own this software, or are playing with one of those nifty 30 day trials offered by Adobe, I think you’ll enjoy it too.

Here are two images. (It's an air traffic control tower we went to in Mexico. You can go to the top for one American Dollar...but don't get me started on that whole travel thing again) One has been treated with the Vibrance Mask…the other hasn't.
If you can't tell which is which, check your pulse. The differences are subtle but at least a 9 on the "Way Cool" scale.

Adobe didn’t make the one change I have been praying for. The most wonderful thing about Lightroom, to my mind, is that the Crop Tool features a changing Rule of Thirds grid, so you can get precise crops and really use your Dynamic Points. There are Photoshop plug-ins that sort of simulate it…and you COULD go from LR to Photoshop (which is the idea anyway) but every time a new edition of PS comes out, this is the first thing I look for.

Ah well.

Most of the rest of the changes are subtle but quite wonderful. Photoshoppers are in a tizzy of delight about CS4. In my humble opinion, it’s CS3 only way better.

Several of you have emailed and asked if I recommend upgrading. If you’re using CS2 or earlier…and you haven’t upgraded yet, you really need to give your head a shake. CS3 was a HUGE improvement on CS2. If you’re happy with CS3 being just a little clunky to use, wait for the next upgrade.

I only read three blogs on a regular basis. They all have to do with Photography or Photoshop.
The first is by Sheree. She blogs for Picajet. If you’re interested in travel and travel photography, let me strongly suggest that you check her work out. I’d read it even if I wasn’t married to her.

The second that is becoming a HUGE favorite is by a friend of mine in Ireland. He’s Stephen Power and he’s been running a fascinating series on street photography as well as the nuts and bolts of being a professional photographer. You’ll find him intelligent and concise with a delightful writing style.

The superstar of Photoshop is Scott Kelby. Most of the things I have learned about Photoshop, I learned from his books. His blog is outstanding. He also runs NAPP – the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. I’ve been a member for years. It’s a fabulous resource for graphic artists of ALL skill levels. Membership is the best money you'll ever invest.

They are all well worth a read. The links to ALL are in the upper right hand corner of this blog. I’ve put them there instead of here, so you will always be able to find them.

See how I look out for you guys?

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