Apr 28, 2009

Try Planeteering…

Pecos River, Cowles, pond, sunset, composite, Photoshop CS4

©Joe Bridwell
Near sundown, the Pecos River becomes magical country… majestic clouds, rushing river, fish ponds, even daisies on small islands at Cowles.

All The World’s A Stage
And all men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
As You Like It, Shakespeare

This morning I played an enchanting part ~ a digital Muse sat on my shoulder while scanning beautiful photographs from around our planet. Springtime is a time of renewed vigor, dedication to fresh new green leaves, delightful breezes which softly stir our hair, and photos which inspire re-entrance into our planet’s delight. These beautiful photos spoke to me of such fresh insights.

Planeteering, a process of looking at newly revealed photos, arose because I could quickly surf our beautiful planet, see images from the view of other excellent photographers, then find photographs which catch my breath – even occasionally stir my creative fancy. This morning was just such an example...
Pathways of Light contains an ever changing roll of imaginative photographers who post daily delights. Whenever I’ve time, I try to take a look at other’s photos, go to exotic places I may not be able to pronounce, and see the many challenges good photography still has for digital growth.
This morning there were two photos – one of a wave splashed shore under a golden sunset, the other a sand spit silhouetted at sunset in a still, small natural lake. The photographer called this image “Something from Nothing”! The title seemed to say ‘When feeling lazy, you never know what you might get out there _so JUST DO IT.’ Just being there alone - witnessing hundreds of wild geese stopping to rest at sunset - was his inspiration.

Digital Motivation
With such incentives and Planeteering, I’ve been reviewing sky images taken over several years. I asked, “What can I do with this series of soft, near sunset hand-held images from the Pecos?”
Shortly (well not really), I had used several new LR2 and CS4 features – Gradient Filters, Auto-Align and Auto-Blend Layers, Content Aware Scaling, Color Range Masking, and HSL Adjustments to composite, then subtly refine Reflections…

May I recommend you set up your own Planeteering system; when seemingly at a standstill, reach out, examine other work, see what such endeavors do for your chemistry, your shooting, and your zest. You might even look through your captues, apply new tools, and play ‘your own parts’ – then, JUST DO IT…

Apr 25, 2009

Waves - Ancestral Oil Painting

Waves, oil painting, 1950s, Anno Bridwell

©Anno Bridwell

Art is in my genes...
this compelling image is from an oil painting my mother created in the 1950s.  It sat in our den on an easel when I was a boy.  The backing is poster board. 
Now some 60 years old, it could be cleaned, framed, and become an heirloom for future generations.
Nevertheless, Waves was a complex, passionate introduction to art for a young boy ... and naturally, there are other companions to Waves on my walls which now act as deeply memorable Windows to the Past!

Oil Painting
A brush, oils, a canvas, and easel, and an idea... coupled with talent, all could allow creativity, memories, and heirlooms.

Fine Art Photography
A camera, software (Lightroom and Photoshop), and a vision... coupled with inspiration, all can foster creativity, memories, even future heirlooms.

Combining Art and Photography
As I reflect on this and other windows into the past, I'm acutely conscious I couldn't understand the complexity of artistic talent my mother exhibited.  When I first began taking pictures with a digital camera years later, I really wasn't conscious of the magical effect light plays in great photographs.  When I finally began using Photoshop (CS2), I wasn't conscious of how masks can enhance the magical effect light plays.  As I recently began taking high dynamic range (HDR) images, I realized there is a larger range of light at dawn and dusk than in a camera can capture as one photo.  After a while, it became clearly apparent - subtle tone mapping of such an incredible color range from several images can create a most pleasing piece of art.
In Photoshop, Adobe has masterfully provided a remarkable variety of digital darkroom tools for enhancement of multiple HDR images to fine art photography.  Merged HDR, local adaptation, tone curves, masking tools, adjustment brushes, print - if your objective is fine art photography - these terms are synonymous with brush, oil, palette, and painting.  Matter of fact, if you're creative, the photograph is just the beginning.  It's skilled application of any of these tools which helps you reach your vision of what that photograph can be as a fine art piece.

Anasazi Moon, composite, compositing, retouch, retouching, Bisti Badlands, Members Choice, ELCC

Anasazi Moon
©Joe Bridwell

My first effort at digital compositing used Blending Options sliders in CS3.  I was very pleased to place the moon behind Magic Hour's natural pastel sunset at the Bisti.  It was found worthy of a Member's Choice award at ELCC.

Windows to the Future
Although there are quite a few terms and techniques to be learned as you progress to creation of fine art, I am just beginning to be able to see cogent examples of multilayered masking, channel, and path activities which take the initial capture or the composite HDR, and carefully - like the stroke of an oil painters brush - mask this, sharpen that, change a Hue on another to create fine art.

In this time of great financial discord, one way to search for happiness is to pursue an upward Adobe path to fine art creation.  Although presently I just perceive the tip of this exotic iceberg, there are several inspiring sources from which I learn, draw strength, and gain hope.
Complete Picture-Episode 10 - Julianne Kost    Excellent Video
HDR in CS4 – John Doogan    Excellent Video
Ultimate Workshop - Evening and Schewe    Good Book

Artistic Heritage
Hour upon hour, Anno would stand before the easel mixing colors, carefully stroking with the brush, working the textures, creating art… All those years ago, I had no idea that one day, I too, after a career in science and computers, would become mesmerized by using brushes to mix colors, sharpen textures, and create fine art from digital photography.
But, evocative subtleties of some pieces of digital fine art I've seen simply take my breath away.
Learning Photoshop at this advanced level does take some patience.  But, then, so did raising a couple of boys while creating fine oil paintings...
In really difficult times like these, it's a great pleasure to continue a family tradition and learn new things!

Apr 20, 2009

Bisti Badlands...

Bisti Badlands, Bisti, horses, red dog hill, best of bisti, slideshow

© Joe Bridwell

Four horses resting before a Red Dog Hill...
I'd walked a ridge with a small herd of Navajo horses keeping pace in the wash below.  We both stopped a moment; my eyes widened sharply at the spectacular scene they and amazing Red Dog Hill created… 
In four years of shooting the Bisti, I've never seen another scene that begins to approach this dramatic vision!

Client Tour Request
A client wrote me a recent letter about my leading another photography tour to the Bisti.  "Four years ago in July I spent a day hiking in the Bisti wilderness.  I'd learned very little about the area before I went.  I loved every minute of it, but I really didn't know where I was going or what to look for.  I doubt I saw more than 5% of the 'neat stuff'."
I searched 2004-2009 images to assemble a fascinating Bisti collage.  Beyond evoking sharply cogent memories, I collected some Best of Bisti images.  This visual Bisti history contains several fine art photography categories; Fossil Forests, Horses, Landscapes, Magic Hour, Shapes, and Textures. 

Best of Bisti Slideshow Available
On reflection, I thought, "With occasional, yet random timing, I want to include some remarkable Bisti images on the blog at Pathways of Light.  I think viewers would appreciate the incredible variability and almost incalculable opportunity for fine art digital photography the Bisti provides ..."
If you'd like to see these evocative images on your computer, simply click to order your own color slide show ~ "Best of Bisti" ! 
Or, check out Paths of Light, a photo book about Magic Hour light in the southwest US on blurb.com!

Apr 9, 2009


A recent blog diligently tried to accept a simple fact – my new copy of CS4 would not install on 2 machines. Adobe’s advice; contact Amazon. Tried calling; no response. Sent email; someone (let them be nameless; I never talked to anyone) promptly mailed me another copy with new serial number at no charge.

Mind you, I had already installed CS4 on the studio computer. Not only that, I had also installed current updates to the upgrade. But, CS4 kept demanding an appropriate serial number. Yarrggghhh…

Yesterday, the new version arrived. Anticipating all morning today (minimum) on the upgrade process, I asked my buddy Larry about uninstalling, reinstalling the upgrade, verifying the new serial number, then performing the update again.
He looked at me quizzically, then said, “Why not just provide this serial number to CS4 on the present upgrade install?”
So, I tried …and it worked.

Not only that – it performs flawlessly with new update as well!!!
If you know the right guy, it takes about 10 minutes (including documentation) to try this new route [vice half a day]…

My thanks to Larry Stroup – would you believe Larry really likes to overcome a challenge (me included).

Yesterday's News; Tomorrow's Views

I never know what's going to pop up on the Kelby Wednesday guest blog!
Yesterday, it was Justin Paguia. Justin provided an in-depth breakdown of CS4 workflow for a rather complex S.W.A.T. image. It's a workflow process I want to study. On another yesterday and another Kelby guest Wednesday, Douglas Sonders discussed more about the S.W.A.T. image and other impressive projects.
The combination of planning and imposing image, shooting the image, then post processing requires a lot of visual precision. And, it certainly helps to be a Photoshop expert!

The nice thing about both these blogs ~ they're like tutorials in real life. Okay, you ask, "Now, what you mean by 'real-life'?"
Philosophically, for digital enthusiasts, it's the process of both shooting and enhancing an image or images until they really grab your attention. In the parlance of competition judges, "Now, THAT Image really has Impact!"
'Real life' is all about letting the Muse sit on your shoulder, then playing 'The bear went over the mountain... to see what he could see!'

Tomorrow's Views ~ you never know. But with Justin's work and a little study, you can let your Muse begin to play... or if you want it in another vernacular, Follow the Bear...

Apr 4, 2009

Who Ever Loved…

Landscape 2.0, Shugaley Pavel, 1st January
1st January (c) Shugaley Pavel

"Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?"
As You like It, Act III, Scene V, Shakespeare

Inspiration Beyond a Mere Glance
Fine art is an inspiring combination of lines, shapes, and occasionally, almost incandescent color.  For spiritual impact, elements must come together with stunning composition to resonate in the deeply intimate soul.
The eye is such an incredulous instrument; in one swift, all encompassing glance, I knew 1st January was one of my all-time favorite web images.

My memory is quite visual.  Yet, underneath, eloquent words and visual impact ring in my soul.  Here, Shakespeare's immortal words simply add to the distinct sense that God, too, loves 1st January

Around the Planet in 80 ms...
In The World Is Flat 3, Tom Friedman suggests Globalization 3.0 is driven by folks: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (especially in India and China) who can compete _and win_ not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for highest-end research and design work.
Well Tom, I think you've come up a little short...
When I coined the phrase Around the Planet in 80 ms, it was a precursor for enjoyment of fine photographic art from blogs and galleries on our shrinking Planet, facilitated by fast Internet access.  I’m sure there are many folks who would simply love to either see or take such an incredible image.
In the case of 1st January, I only know the author's name – Shugaley Pavel.  As of this morning, there were only 42 Google hits for his name (no website, no blog, etc...) - half in a language I simply can't read.

A Soul’s Endearing Search for Beauty
Nevertheless, Shugaley Pavel is a remarkably superb photographer who's taken me to another remote landscape, almost to another time – devoid of global crisis.  I feel Pavel has truly captured primordial emotion.  The lines, shapes, colors, composition, and impact create an absolutely indelible memory. 

How Do I Love Thee…
Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned immortal words
“How do I love thee, let me count the ways
“I love thee to the depth, breadth, and width of my soul…”

And yes, I love 1st January...

Hola, Shugaley
What about you?

BTW - if you want to see much more of such photography, it's at Landscape 2.0!

Apr 3, 2009

BooBoo – Amazon, CS4, and Adobe – Upgrade Hell

Flat Earth, CS4 upgrade, Amazon, Adobe

Adobe Screen – Serial Number Partially Redacted

Registration Tribulations
After receiving a CS4 Upgrade from Amazon and installing on my laptop, yesterday was the day to get on a spinning Flat Earth merry-go-round.  Adobe sent me an “All’s well registration note…”
When I tried to install on desktop, Adobe belched – “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong serial number… it’s on other machines.”
A call to Adobe _India_(non-specific overseas call response arena) asked, “I got this ‘new’ CS4 upgrade from Amazon.  You tell me it was on other computers before I tried to install it on my desktop.  I’ve only tried to install it on just my 2 computers.
Nevertheless, Adobe _India_ yielded this rather non-specific advice, “Contact Amazon…”

I Asked Amazon, “Does Amazon sell software which is used?  How do I make sure I have an original copy?”
I left a number for Amazon – no return call.  I wrote an email at 1630 – more about that later.
Last night, I talked to a number of folks at Enchanted Lens Camera Club – there was a common dread of overseas help calls!  But, no one had this particular problem.
This morning, I got in early, opened up Amazon’s Recent Orders, expecting to begin the laborious direct contact problem once again… and devoting another day to _India_ in its solution.

Here’s What I Found…
Amazon (be they machine or human) read my email yesterday, then promptly sent me ANOTHER CS4 upgrade – thankfully, at no charge.  It’s due Wednesday next.

Friedman’s ‘Flat Earth…’
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century is an international bestselling book by Thomas L. Friedman that analyzes globalization, primarily early 21st century. The title is a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field for commerce, where all competitors have an equal opportunity. The title alludes to a perceptual shift required for countries, companies, and individuals to remain competitive in a global market where historical and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Automaton - One that behaves or responds in a mechanical way. Latin, self-operating machine.
Recalling “Does Amazon sell software which is used?  How do I make sure I have an original copy?”  I wonder about the seeming ‘automaton’ Amazon response?
By promptly sending me another copy, by not directly answering either of those questions, is Amazon seeming to shunt aside the relevance of Adobe’s statement “It was registered on several machines” or “Do you sell used software?”
Clearly, without direct human intervention with me – either by phone or email – do I yet have conclusive answer to either question?

Can’t continue this Flat Earth saga until the next round, next week…

Enjoy?  Guess I don’t…

Apr 1, 2009

Proud CS4 Owner – Breakin’ It In

CS4, Photoshop, Intelligent Scaling, Alignment, Lightroom 2, Adjustments and Masks panels, ACR 5, GPU Acceleration, Bridge, half the time, less mouse motion
I ain’t no April Fool

But, I have just spent the last several hours installing Adobe Photoshop CS4. The update is on a DVD; 20 minutes to upgrade. CS4 comes with Adobe Camera Raw 5 …to update from DVD to present configuration, you will need another 123 Mb including ACR 5.3. Fortunately, it can be an automatic download of ~ 6 minutes (industrial Comcast). Simply ask CS4 to update software and sit back til it’s done…

CS4 Setup
Then there’s setup for your prior choices of workflow. For example, bringing in old actions and preferences. I’ve learned to set aside these special features in subfolders for each Photoshop version. Then, its simply a matter of renaming those folders and adding them in the proper place for CS4.

Learning the Ropes...
CS4 has a What’s New in CS4 dropdown menu. It turns new menu features blue so you can quickly go thru to get acclimated. Then, you find Photoshop Online in the Help menu; it provides you some 45 minutes of Julianne Kost _Adobe Evangelist_ showing Intelligent Scaling, Alignment, Lightroom 2, Adjustments and Masks panels, ACR 5, GPU Acceleration, and finally, Bridge in 6 remarkable videos.

Slaver - Saliva running from the mouth: drivel, drool, salivation, slaver.
CS4, Photoshop, Julianne Kost, CS4 Videos, Quick Tutorials on Using Advanced CS4 Features
View of Adobe’s Available Time-Saver (Not Slaver) Videos

Now, why would I use that particular term…
Because, a quick review of these Flash Videos quickly leads you to the meat of new CS4 workflow! Beyond that, their intro statement said you could get the same workflow done in HALF the normal time. AND, sharply reduce your mouse travel… WOW!!!
Then I saw Julianne take 3 high dynamic range exposures and auto-blend them in CS4 – producing a balanced HDR image. Unfortunately, she did not take them to the level of additional Tone Mapping, but such workflow is way simple compared to the old Photomatix approach.
… simply didn’t take long before I was slavering!
Julianne’s other cogent tips (see list above) are quickly presented, well ordered, and highly provocative. It would make a very length blog post to enumerate each one in serious detail so you could even begin to get them at your digital finger tips…
I would recommend viewing each of these videos several times, taking extensive notes, then inculcating these exciting concepts in your own substantially improved workflow.

So, What’s Your Digital Future?
I’ve talked to several members of ELCC who are considering migration to CS4. My advice – if you can workflow in half the time, with much less mouse movement, and have better image control - then what are you waiting for? Take a look at these videos, get your copy onboard and running, and begin some marvelous adventures in your own photography.