Taming Photoshop Yourself
In reality, unless you’re doing heavy commercial work and fine printing on a press, you can muddle along with Photoshop for long time without having to become an expert. Color management does make life easier in Photoshop, but like a car driver, you only need to know enough to make the car go, not how to get under the hood and fix the engine.
As you play in Photoshop and you see what you can do, the more you do do. That last line should drive my editor crazy. (Editor’s note: yes, it did.) To get my Photoshop education, I’ve taken weeldong classes and two-hour seminars. I’ve gone to conventions that lasted several days and were made up of two-hour lectures, and I’ve read as many magazines as I could. Poof! before I knew it, I was an expert. I guess rather than approaching Photoshop as a chore–just something to do otherwise I’d fall behind the professional curve and become a dinosaur–I’ve approached it as a new hobby. It was something I couldn’t wait to learn and implement.
The photo of the girl in this column with the big head and large eyes was done originally with a normal lens for display on the outside of the new Toys R Us store in Times Square. The original image is going to be blown up several stories high. I made a print of the altered image for Epson to hang in a show in their booth at the PhotoPlus convention in New York this past November. I had three people ask me what lens I used. Asking a question like that today with all the computer imaging tools at our disposal, shows that they are behind the curve. I was tempted to tell them I used a special patented morph lens with a triple density ga-ga filter over it. But, no, I simply explained that I used the liquefy feature in Photoshop for her head and the perspective function in the transform section of Photoshop for her body.
The before shot was captured digitally on a Leaf C-Most back on a Mamiya 645AF camera. The lens- was a 55-110mm lens, which actually acts as approximately a 75-150mm lens because the digital chips are smaller than the 645 film size. So while a 55mm would act normally on a 35mm camera, it acts as a wide-angle lens when using a 120mm film size. So in this case, using a digital back where the chip is about the size of a 35mm piece of film, a 55mm lens acted like a 55mm lens on a 35mm camera, rather than the wide-angle lens on a 645 camera. Makes your hair hurt, doesn’t it? (Editor’s note: yes, it does). Just understand this original photo, the one on the left, was shot with a normal lens. The great part about shooting digitally is that I didn’t have to scan anything. I also had all my original shots right after the shoot. Normally, I would have to wait to get them back from the client, which would take weeks, if not months. With digital capture, they got ’em, and I got ’em.
So now that I got ’em right after the shoot, I find myself on a two-hour train ride. Usually it’s a long two hours. But with a laptop, Photoshop, and a few files, I find the train ride too short. I’m always rushing to save my files and close the computer as the conductor yells out, “last stop!”
This photo was done all on my laptop during a train ride. It was much more fun than what I usually do, which is catch up on e-mail, write stuff like this column, play games, or even watch a movie. Making these “komic kid” images is more fun than any Hollywood movie for me. I still hate melting clocks, but maybe on the next train ride, for next month, I’ll try a flying baby.