As we go running around shooting the falls colors and trying to get the definitive image of the season, it occurs to me that we don’t run into too many others trying to do the same thing. Unless we specifically go out with a group, we seem to have the run of whatever place we’re in to shoot ‘til our hearts content. It seems a little bizarre. We go to the prime places. We go at the right times and dates. We wait until the perfect clouds roll by or the shadows get to the ideal lengths, but still we shoot alone. Just the two of us. Any other type of thing we decide worthy of checking out and we’re always in the middle of throngs of people. We hear about a performer doing something in some out of the way venue and it’s packed. We read about some minor event happening at a park or alleyway or field and it’s jammed. Is it just because someone didn’t put a notice in the paper or an announcement on the radio that photographers don’t show up at very public, very scenic, very photogenic spots on the ideal day at the ideal time? All we have to do is look out the door and we get an idea if the day is going to be one of those special days when photographic magic happens, yet we don’t see masses of people jostling to get their tripod set into the worn Kodak picture moment holes. The fellow in today’s image knows what I’m talking about. We spotted him sitting by the side of a tarn at the top of a small mountain (east coast mountain, not a real mountain) and he was even just fifteen feet off the road. A road with wide shoulders to accommodate plenty of cars whose drivers had looked over the scene and thought “I have to stop to take in this beautiful view”. Yet, he sat in solitude. At least until we showed up. I asked if I could take a couple of pictures and he didn’t have a problem unless I was going to show his face. No sweat, I was interested in the scene more than in the person. To find out what’s become of this scene (photographically), hit the “read more”.
After bumping the color saturation up to a good level, I went to Adobe Labs’ Pixel Bender Beta plugin for Adobe Photoshop CS5. They have a preset called Oil Painting. With the right image it seems to do a pretty good job of making a quasi painting. “Quasi” being a term meaning “close, but no cigar”. Every image I’ve tried using Pixel Bender on has taught me something. Usually it’s that not every image gets “enhanced” by tossed Pixel Bender at it. I’ve pushed the sliders left and right and nine times out of ten have turned a reasonable image into garbage. Thank goodness there’s a Cancel button. The other thing I’ve found is that, like many things in Photoshop, a deft touch is needed to make things appear reasoned rather the cartoonish. In Pixel Bender, more than many other plugins, using the Shift Key to move the slider values gets you into range, but marching the slider up or back by single increments is often needed to hone in on the sharpest point.
One thing that was needed in today’s image was a very custom vignette. An overall Vignette was too much in three of the four corners and yet not enough in the fourth. Going up a full step was, again, too much in a couple corners. Using Layer Masks on the Vignette Layers and using grays rather than blacks to touch the corners made the Vignette a significant portion of the time spent on the image.
The image was also hit with some Dodging and Burning to bring out the folds of the painter’s shirt. Such is the life of the “artist”. Oh well.