Lessons in Photography and Cookery, or “keep it light on the salt”

I was having a discussion a few weeks ago, and the subject of photography came up. The conversation was about image quality, and how sometimes photos on a smartphone can surpass those from a more professional setup.

Now, frankly, three are probably a myriad of reasons why that can happen.

Rather, what came up during the course of the conversation were my lighting preferences, especially where product photography is concerned. See, when shooting, I prefer to slightly under light objects (not too much, mind you). That way, I feel I have better control in my retouching when I bring the images into Photoshop. Now, I won’t fault anyone if they prefer to light objects more accurately. I’m just saying this is my preference.

And it got me to thinking of “why”. And this thinking led me to the subject of cooking (somehow all roads lead back to food in my world). In short, you can always under season a dish. You can add more salt or pepper until things are seasoned right. But once something gets too salty, it’s hard to “take it back”.

Same thing in photography. You can start with an underlit image and you can adjust it in Photoshop until you feel it’s right, but if you start with a shot that is overexposed or otherwise has too much light… Well, there’s not much you can do to remedy the situation at that point.

I’m not sure where I was going with this, but I guess that’s my advice. Be mindful when lighting, and find what works for you.

Now, could you pass the pepper, please?

 

Boiling things down

I know this is awfully simplistic, but, having been immersed in Photoshop most of the day for the last few days, making digital renders and retouches, the following occurred to me:

If I had to boil down Photoshop to 3 things, it would be:

  • Layers
  • Masks
  • Blending modes

Everything else (and that’s a lot of everything else) builds on, is an offshoot, or refines these elements.

What do you think? Would you dissect it differently?

Shortcuts CAN be a good thing

I’ve been doing quite a bit of photo retouching this past week, and in the process realized that I wasn’t being as efficient in my workflow as i could. I decided to consciously seek out the single-keystroke shortcuts for those tools that I was using the most. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • J= healing brush
  • B= paint brush
  • V= move (the crosshair arrows at the very top of the tools palette)
  • L= lasso
  • M= marquee
  • G= gradient
  • P= paths

Now, I realize that these are pretty basic, and that there are many more single-key shortcuts (and we’re not even getting into multi-key shortcuts, like image or canvas sizing), but I’m willing to bet that a lot of us out there suffer from this same condition of convenience, and just move the mouse/pen over to the specific tool on the palette, thinking that in the short run that one step really makes no discernible difference. Whether it does or not is another matter, and entirely up to you to decide.

I, for one, plan on continuing to use these and try to make my workflow a tiny bit more efficient.

Photoshop– you sure you’re doing that right?

I was walking around the mall this afternoon running a couple of errands before I start my new job on Monday, and I happened to come across a poster for the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie. I thought it was pretty cool as a teaser type poster (I’ve always been partial to bass and drums). That is, until  I took a look at its feet:

What jumped out at me was how oddly angled and out of proportion (relative to the figure as a whole) the sneakers looked. And let’s not get into the shadow. For a second I thought the whole thing might have been an optical illusion created by overly baggy pants, but the jeans looked loose or relaxed, but definitely not baggy. I also looked Michael Cera up on IMDB, and found that the kid’s close to six feet, so not only did the shoes look like they had been replaced, but they were now tiny as well (I’m fairly confident in saying that, if anything, Mr. Cera would not want to be known as the guy with the tiny feet).

Just so things are in context, here’s an image of the whole poster. I took the liberty of really quickly drawing a rough “wireframe” of where I think the original feet were placed.

I’m hoping the reason such slipshod work was put out was because of time constraints. I’d hate to think this exemplifies the type of quality the studio’s marketing people (whether in-house or not) are putting out.

So, tell me– am I correct in my observation? Am I completely off-base here? I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– for May 2

So much for the “every day” part. Although, I have been doing a fair amount of work these past couple of months, so it’s not like I’ve dropped designing and coming up with stuff altogether. Anyhow, I think I have a plan on how I’m going to get somewhat caught up fairly quickly. Here’s a start.

I was reading online today about two things that seemed to dovetail together in a funny way– to me, at least. First, the capping of the well out in the Gulf (BTW, if this isn’t the definition of cluster#$%&, then I don’t know what is. I’ll get off my eco-political soapbox now). Second, I read on a blog somewhere about a series of short videos made by the Old Spice Guy (OSG), some of which personally thanked celebs or “internet famous” folks. Both these things got me thinking about the long-running meme about Chuck Norris. And, being a fan of the show Deadliest Warrior, I started to wonder who’d win should Chuck and the OSG were to meet in a mano a mano.