Asparagus 1684

Wednesday night I struggled with post-production for four hours before midnight. After all that the images I finished were so-so. After midnight, when I kept thinking I should be going to bed, suddenly I slipped into a creative mode.

Working on a photo closeup of flower buds on the parsley plant in my bedroom window, I altered the hue then added a photo filter and a solid color adjustment layer. I enlarged the canvas but now it took on the color of the color adjustment layer. I played with the opacity of the color adjustment layer and voila! There was the image I wanted! In quick succession, I took the original and once again, with a few deft strokes, I came up with the second image.

They’re not spectacular but working on those images suggested a direction for creating visual art. I want to create images that do not so much represent reality as tell of the inner promptings occasioned by the photographs. Instead of verisimilitude I want to build upon photographs to express my own aesthetic, even an artistic effect through the manipulation of colors, lines and shapes.

Today I only did this one image. Again nothing special but this image of asparagus hit the spot. In England they say, “Blue and green, only on the Queen!” Traditional artists don’t think blue and green should go together. But they do!

I could have done more today – the energy was high and bright – but my archival backup RAID drive suddenly went out on me last week. I could only read the files and couldn’t alter anything on the disk. On my old desktop computer, the RAID was connected via Apple’s Firewire 800 that my MacBook Pro does not support. Copying files from the corrupted drive was taking forever.

Finally this evening I went out and purchased a USB 3.0 external drive. Instead of hours copying took minutes. Shortly after midnight, I finished copying the files on the 3 TB mirroring RAID array. I couldn’t reformat it for RAID but was able to erase the drive and recover the 6 TB. It’s no longer RAID and it is USB 2.0. I’ll use it a third disk backup for my photo and video archive.

So, another day that could have been great for doing production work ended up as archival work. Such is the life of a photographer/artist. As much as I want to do fun, creative work, sometimes I have to use precious energy for grunt work!

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What a Beautiful Thing!

Cellophane 0613-2B

For the past two weeks I’ve been doing David Nightingale’s online workshop on black-and-white conversion. I learned several ways of creating black-and-white images, something I need to do more. Without color,  portraits and landscapes seem to speak to another part of our brains. Unencumbered by the richness of hue and saturation we see other details, our brains pick up other communications.

David introduced Selective Color and Hue/saturation Adjustment Layers along with the insanely powerful Curve tools. I’d always skipped learning these tools whenever I came across them in other tutorials and books before but using them in B&W conversions I realized how they could be useful when processing color images as well.

This was one photograph that I shot this morning towards the source of light, a west-facing window. I processed two copies, added a Solid Color Adjustment Layer and played with opacities and several Curve Adjustment Layers. I was enthralled! The effects you can create with the slightest change in a slider or curve are nothing short of magical.

Others more expert at the use of photography post-production tools may be laughing at my naiveté. I’m okay with that. The novelty shall wear off as I discover more uses of layers, masking and other subtleties of manipulating pixels but each aha! moment is special. It’s what feeds the passion to explore, invent, and innovate.

With these techniques I can layer several images or differently processed versions of one image then “paint” in which parts I want to show. I can work with just colors, letting them create “shapes” from the area they occupy in the image. Come to think of it, this is the way objects exist outside the mind. They are not separated by lines as in comic book strips. Color creates boundaries and a seamless experience becomes distinguished into artificially disparate objects.

I could also layer in more discernible images e.g. portraits, landscapes or still life, use color in the background or foreground to modify the visual effect and add more of a “story” to the final work. The possibilities seem endless!

The more I learn how else pixels can be modified the more inspired I am to capture more daring photographs. The two – capture and post-production – work hand in hand. And each moment of finding an image that works fills me with wonder at what a miracle, what a beautiful thing is a human, how god-like his capacity for invention and delight!

A Good Image Plus Post-Production


Producing a good photograph results from two learning two crafts: the technicalities of using a camera, lenses, settings, and lighting and the aesthetics of appealing composition, structure, color, and emotionality.

Producing a good image results in turn from learning two crafts: producing a good photograph and learning post-production!

Nowadays, in an age where digital photography has clearly won the field, post-production is almost de rigueur. Just a year ago, professional photographers all chorused their deprecating remarks about using Photoshop to enhance their images. Now more and more of these professional photographers are coming out of the closet: post-production is becoming essential to make their images stand out in the crowd.

No doubt an image is only as good as the photograph taken by the photographers with his camera but post-production has a lot to say about what images finally look like. It’s the details that make or break a good product.

Again no doubt about it I am still on this learning curve, learning the tri-fold craft of creating a technically good photography, learning the aesthetics that goes hand in hand with learning the post-production to create the final image.

To top it all off, the greatest teacher is experience or the time I take to actually do the work. There are manuals and workshops to take, of course, and they are instrumental but nothing takes the place of what one learns simply by doing, and doing is risking. It’s all about trying, failing and learning from both trying and failing, and celebrating when somehow I get it!

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