Friday, April 2, 2010

A Mask As Its Own Image

Today’s image might look a little familiar to some. If you flip back to the March 24th write up you’ll see it in that post also. I had just finished an image for today’s post and was going through the folder looking for it. It’s there, you’ll probably read about it next week sometime, but as I pasted the image of the mask I pulled up short and did a double take. I liked what I saw. The mask makes a pretty darn good image on its own. It’s very graphic in the presentation of the scene, but it works. Back in the “good old days” of film and the smell of fixer I used to do a fair number of images like this one. It was thought to be something a little special, even by the “good printers”. The reason was that you had to have the right subject (we do), you had to have the material to create the negative (Kodak Kodalith cut film), and you had to have a little knowledge of how to work with the stuff. Today, it’s easy. You still need the right subject, but with Photoshop, and a little knowledge, we can make the same type of images that were thought to be slightly special “back then”. One of the things I like about today’s image is the slight hint of grey to the right of the right hand tree, indicating some clouds. Just as making this type of image in a wet darkroom required some degree of knowledge, getting a mask with as much detail as today’s image also requires “knowing the trick”. If you’d like to learn a little more about “the trick”, hit the “read more”.
If you’re new to Photoshop, let’s say in your first, or second, or fifth, or eighth year, you may not have found a use for Channels, Alpha Channels and the Calculations dialog box found under Image/Calculations. You’re obviously sitting at your computer, so open up Photoshop, open an image and take a peek. Just click on the Image dropdown and select Calculations. Once you’ve done that, chances are you’ll close it back up and head on over to another blog. That’s about the scariest looking dialog box Photoshop has. It asked you which Image, Layer and Channel you want to use for Source #1. What, what and what for the what? It gets worse. Then you have to do the same selections for Source #2. Fear not, chances are good that at least two of the three selections are going to be the same as Source #1. Pick two, see what happens. It’s not like you’re going to damage something. Next it wants to know how you want to Blend the two Channels. Don’t worry, it limits your choices--- to twenty three possibilities. Easiest was to see what’s going on is to cycle through each of the choices. Select one and then tap the Down Arrow. (If that doesn’t work try holding the Shift key down while you’re hitting the Down Arrow.) See what works.

Take a shot. With the right subject it makes a striking image. It can either be something blocky or something delicate. It works for me. ???