My final was to make a portrait. I think this image has all of the hard things in it: straight ahead faces, ears, hair, and hands. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. In any case, the image came from a friend’s facebook post for him and his fiancee’s engagement; aren’t they a cute couple? I re-sized it and then I followed the instructions on making a Scanner Darkly style image here. So blacks, then blues, then hair and on and on. I hope I did them justice.
Back in 2005, long before the iphone and ipads, I built a CarPC that ran some front end software called RoadRunner. This software allowed anyone to make their own screens as jpegs and map the functions of the computer to those screens. After copying several of the available layouts and simply recoloring them to match the car lighting I decided they needed a usability upgrade. The key the usability was two fold:
So the common theme here is the flat, shiny cornered button. Certainly this is a pre-iphone look. It gets the job done and while it does not clash with the interior, it is not inspiring. This old example was made in Paint Shop Pro and there are over a hundred icons for the full interface that include navigation, application and music controls.
The Illustrator assignment for this week was to create iphone style icons. To come up with this set I started out with this tutorial on YouTube here that was part of the lesson set. This video is excellent, the instructor goes fast and I had to rewind numerous times but it was well worth it. His use of the Illustrator interface panels made more sense to me than what I have been doing and it led me to move things around and save my work space. At first I made a rounded play button like everybody has but then realized, I wanted sharper edges to match the sharp edges of the car they are going in. This small sample is from left to right: navigation, music, music folder, play and fast forward, a handful of the needed to transform the CarPC interface into a new look.
If you are interested in CarPCs, head on over to mp3car.com for more information but understand this is for the hobbyist, it takes work even when buying fully assembled kits and it will cost more than if you just buy something outright from a regular car audio manufacturer.
These three diptychs were made from the source images found in The Proper Tool for the Job. This collection of images was taken over several month with both a DSLR and Android phone. They were different sizes, resolutions and most had a shallow depth of field; everything that makes them decent individual images but something that makes composites especially difficult. I used ten of the thirty images from last weeks post to make the three composites shown here.
The photo shoot for this assignment took place over several months using different cameras to document the fabrication of this Cigar Box guitar.
Cigar box guitars have been around since the 1800s and were originally built using scraps. Cigar box guitars were used in jug bands alongside washboards, harmonicas and jugs, they were a primitive instrument for those living in poverty. There has been a modern revival in the art of making Cigar Box guitars and a quick Google search will reveal a number of sites dedicated to the craft.
This particular cigar box guitar is more of a cheater cigar box as it’s not a cigar box at all but a Craftsman router bit box. The neck, internal structure, electronics and hardware all came from an old Epiphone Les Paul. These features make it great to play with solid tune and long sustain with a tone somewhere between acoustic and electric. This pictorial gives a little insight into how such a instrument would be created.
This slideshow includes images taken throughout the day in mid-November.
A morning in the fog.
An afternoon in midday sun.
After dark as lit by the moon.
The assignment this week was to make a menu for dinner with someone who is no longer living that you are interested in sitting down and having a meal together. Certainly people quickly came to mind like De Vinci, Franklin, Tesla, Edison or Einstein. Boy wouldn’t it be fun to have Tesla and Edison at the same table, but I digress. After careful consideration the list, it seemed all wrong. Right off the bat, I don’t know Italian, so De Vinci is out. For Franklin, Tesla and Edison, I felt like I would be explaining current science to them more than them imparting wisdom on me. While Einstein might be amazed at the progress, he is still way over my head. So this whole list is out. So then I thought to myself, maybe I would enjoy a campfire dinner with Ansel Adams the night before he shot El Capitan from Taft Point in 1936? Every thing fell into place in my mind. This is our menu.
Assets include: Pictures I took of a 1954 Yosemite AAA map and of the Yosemite valley floor. Texture from the book Retro Style Graphics of the side of a leather suitcase and leather book cover and an image of Ansel from Wikipedia.
This is one of the few times I have finished any HDR in Photoshop CS5 because I typically use Photomatrix Pro 4 and before that PaintShopPro X2. When I say finished, it is not for lack of trying, it just takes a lot of fussing with controls to get things right and one wrong move and you could take a while to get back to it. Maybe it is the lack of good presets, I mean really, “Photorealistic” seems anything but on everything I have tried it on. The thing is, they don’t seem to even get you all that close. It sort of reminds me of American automobiles with diesel engines back in the 80s, they modded some gas motors to run on diesel, they sucked and broke and then everyone went back to gas because diesels sucked, meanwhile, the rest of the word got better diesels that didn’t suck. Is Adobe trying to diesel HDR or are they just trying to add the check box to the feature list? Who knows and really, who am I to criticize anyway. I’ll leave that to the pros (btw, follow the link for a Photoshop HDR preset you can use and Scott Kelby saying “I use this preset to create the 5-image HDR image above. I show this same image on my Google+ page earlier in the week, but I had processed that version with Photomatix Pro 4 instead”).
So for the sake of this project I took a set I made at in Yosemite this last weekend and processed them in Photoshop CS5.1 HDR Pro and Photomatrix Pro 4.1. My goal was to realistic with some extra saturation to make it pop. I have posted JPGs of the three shots, they are one stop apart and looking at them now, one more a step darker would have helped bring out more detail in the granite and clouds but we process the images we have, not the images we wish we had, right Mr. Rumsfeld?
While the two images are similar, they are not the same, the biggest difference though is processing time. The Photoshop HDR Pro image took at least 30 minutes for this particular set. This does not count all the sets I examined and the many many failures while looking for a candidate that I could work with and finding the settings that did what I wanted them to do. While researching settings and adjustments, I also found this handy article on post processing HDR.
Meanwhile, Photomatrix defaults, while not perfect, get you into a ballpark that can be easily manipulated to dial things in. This image below took about five minutes.
By the way, if you want to practice HDR and don’t have images to play with, Photomatrix has a few sets you can use on their download page.
As a notice of disclosure, the Cow in Pasture image that is in the current header of this site was put through the Photoshop CS5.1 HDR pro processor. The “Reduce ghost” feature did exactly what the Adobe product videos show it doing for the foreground grass. It was then further enhanced in Photoshop.
So last week I posted some graffiti work and the more I looked at it, the more I thought it was missing something. The problem was it was just too clean. Since this weeks assignment dealt with blend modes I thought I would throw some more of that into this shot. There were already blend modes in play to get the wood slats to show through the graffiti. First I took an image of some rock that I shot last weekend at Big Basin. I mainly wanted it for the grain. I placed it on a layer with a copy of the same mask I used for a lot of the other shots.
Then I set the blend mode to difference, set the fill to 70% and added a saturation adjustment layer so I could fine tune the color to match the background a little bit better. To give the composition even more attitude, I wanted to add some overhead lighting and darken the sky, I mean really, who does graffiti in the day time. To do this I added three layers. The lowest was an exposure layer for the direct light set to multiply at 100% fill. The middle was another exposure layer to darken things that would fall outside of the direct light and the sky set to multiply at 100% fill. The third added a sodium vapor type feel with a little yellow tint, this was just a fill layer with some brush work at the top and an inverted mask from the direct light layer set to multiply at 41% fill.
First I wrote down what I wanted it to do:
Create Text ©HyperSprite in black
Add an Outer Glow layer effect in white
Save for web devices with a max of 1000 wide
Close the original image without saving
I opened one photo, set record from the Action panel and walked through the steps and pressed stop.
Then I used Batch to run the Action on the rest of the photos in my lightroom output folder and it worked flawlessly.
The photos below are from Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains this weekend.