Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Photoshop means to me...

I was born a photographer, you could say, as my mother was always snapping pics and passed that on to me. I’ve always had a camera, usually had it near, and made many attempts to create something that was stunning. My cameras were all low end until I started taking pictures of my children and was disappointed with the quality. I invested in a ‘decent’ Olympus, which gave way to a digital version when they were still fairly new.

My cousin E exposed me to a whole new world of photography about five years ago.

I had mentioned that I wanted to buy a decent camera, and he helped me pick one out. I ended up with a Canon Powershot S1 IS. It was a definite upgrade from my Olympus, which was an early point and shoot digital that had very limited functions.

I was thrilled with the Canon, which fell into their “prosumer” line, meaning that it was a step above P&S, but not quite an SLR. It did so much more than the little Olympus, and took some excellent pictures. In fact, I loved it so much that when it died after 4 years and nearly 11,000 pictures, I replaced it with a newer version of the same camera…an S5.

E also introduced me to Photoshop Elements, and I think that it has had a bigger impact on my life than even the camera! I had photo editing software before…something that came with another piece of software, most likely. It did some fun things like transform my photo into a cartoon, but it was very poor quality once I saved it. PSE changed all of that. I could resize a picture, crop it, make any other change…and come out with a BETTER picture than I had started with. I was amazed!

I once told E that PSE could save a bad photo. Well, he had never taken a bad photo, so he shook his head and told me that PSE could make a good photo great. I stand by my original assessment, but I do concur with his, also!

He taught me how to crop an image, adjust the levels, and sharpen. For months, that’s all that I did. Then started playing with filters, layers, dodge, burn…it was like a playground for mommies! It could take a photo that missed the mark and make it liveable…a good thing for any scrapbooker.

When I lost my job, I wanted to make sure that I was using my time for good things. I worked on my photo editing, and found that there is a big wide world out there with tutorials just for the asking! I learned some amazing things. I’ll try to share what I’ve learned as we go along.

When my first Canon died at Christmas, I knew that I could not afford to replace it with an SLR. The one that I was eyeing was about $1500, and that was out of our price range. I told myself that I’d never know how to use it, anyway, as I was still learning about photography. I knew that it would be another couple of years before I was ready for a bigger, better camera.

Sadly, I have had a long period of unemployment, and lots of time to practice my skills! I’m feeling really comfortable with my camera and I’m finding things that I WISH that I could do, things that I can’t do with my Canon. So that schedule has been accelerated, but in the opposite direction as our income! I’m just gonna have to make do!

So I’ve had a lot of fun learning more about Photoshop and practicing various techniques, and I couldn’t live without it! I have the program open at least once a day, usually much more.

Photoshop means…

…that I can fix out of focus photos by using creative filters…a must know for any mother of a toddler

…that I can adjust overexposed or underexposed pictures, bad lighting , and too much lighting, which is a godsend for those of us who are photographing moving bodies.

…I can crop my photos to show just the view that I want, even if I don’t get it perfectly through the viewfinder.

…I can make posters or large size prints, knowing that the quality will not be compromised.

…I can make collages and digi scrap.

…I can remove distracting elements that may be in the frame.

…I can adjust the background to place more focus on my subject

…I can add in a pretty sky where there was a cloud cover – absolutely a miracle for our area!

…I can add creative and artistic touches, from coloring effects to filters

…I can remove the background altogher, and put my subjects someplace else! The Musician was so happy to be 13 that he announced, “I’m a teenager! The world revolves around ME!” I took a photo of him and put him in the center of the universe. It was the coolest 13 year old portrait ever!

Because I am a mother who wants to chronicle her children’s lives, Photoshop also means that I can take pictures without worrying about…

…Toddy’s beautiful blue eyes no longer shining red…I can fix that

…Chocolate on his face, I can fix that, too!

…boogers (although I still try)

With the older boys, I don’t have to be so picky about what they are wearing, which makes photo shoots and candid shots a breeze! I don’t have to worry about…

…Wearing a t-shirt with a logo that doesn’t fit my theme -- just remove it!

…Wearing the wrong colors. I once took a pic of the three boys in various colored t’s, then changed the colors to fit my Christmas Cards.

…rumpled hair

…funny faces in a group shot. I just take lots of shots, then cut and paste the best face of each person onto one composite photo. Brilliant!

And because I am not 20, and my face shows both the ravages of time and three bouts with Bell’s Palsy, I can edit photos of myself to soften wrinkles, even up my smile, even straighten my teeth, if necessary. If all else fails, I can just remove myself from the picture completely.

Photoshop means that even a schlep like me can present some pretty decent pictures!

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