First Step…

There are, in my mind, two approaches to learning – memorization and integration through repetition. Memorization takes more a focused effort and provides immediate results but fades over time. Integration takes longer, provides results more slowly, but when you get it, you keep it. That’s particularly true when you’re developing skills. Sure, you can memorize the Photoshop features, know what they all do, but until you start using them, it’s just not going to jell.

I’ve been using Photoshop since v3. I can do the basic stuff real well, crop, resize, spot, some easy clean up. I’ve never moved far beyond that. I’ve done the tutorial thing over and over. I walk through the instructions, kind of see what they are doing and walk away more frustrated than enriched. My current book, ‘Lightroom & Photoshop Workflow Bible’ by Mark Fitzgerald was a new approach and has made all the difference. Instead of going through steps he walks through the process and how the tools play into the process. For the first time its coming together.

When a new understanding is building, its always nice to come across some independant reinforcement. I found it on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider. His Weds guest blogger was Tomasz Opasinski. He has a unique take on learning Photoshop that dove tailed with my new approach.

 To free myself from tutorials, to free myself from someone’s way of thinking, from someone’s way of doing things… to THINK PHOTOSHOP. What I mean is that by reading and following someone else’s tutorials I was able to REPEAT his/her actions… but from one tutorial to another I lost MY OWN way of CREATING new things. I stopped THINKING… I began relying on SOMEONE ELSE’S ways of doing things in design or Photoshop. I just got LAZY…

Read the entire article here.

I learned years ago when I was teaching programming that the people who tried to find the solution in a book never caught on. Those who tried to figure out how the pieces worked first where the ones who succeeded.

I read the book all the way through once. Got the concept down, but not much in the way of real skill development.  Then I turned the book back to page one, got a pen and paper (actually my netbook and MS OneNote) and I read slowly, built a Help Sheet to burn the info into my head and to give me a memory boost later. Then I stopped and played with it for awhile. It’s taken a long time, I’m still working at it, but I’m feeling pretty good with Lightroom. Just starting to play with Photoshop. For the first time I feel like I know what I’m doing instead of just pushing buttons and hoping it works.

To finish, I’ll share today’s project.

First picture is SOOTC (Straight Out Of The Camera):


The second image is after I finished my basic Lightroom corrections, White Balance, Exposure, Blacks, a couple of gradations, some color mod, some vibrance and a sharpness adjustment:


Then I wanted to see if I could do a decent B&W. My real love. I dropped out the color in Lightroom, fine tuned the Exposure, Blacks and Contrast. A little more gradient darkening around the edges. Played with the color channels which really popped the eyes. Then I dropped it in Photoshop, some more fine tuning, some creative burning and printed one. To grey. I added some sepia (actually a little yellow, a little red, a little green, some more yellow, took out the green…):


All in all, a definite improvement. And what was really cool, I started with an end in mind and actually got the the desired result.

Texture intrigues me

I love texture, shape and direction. I love the random details, the organic patterns. And after 20 years, I find myself going right back to the same visual elements I captured and enjoyed then.

I definitely have a thing for asphalt. Lines painted on asphalt. Paper things squashed into asphalt.

I took this image on the road outside of my apartment in college in the mid ’80s. It was accepted in the Annual Student Fine Arts Exhibit – the only show I ever entered. I entered 3 images, two were accepted. It holds a tender place in my sense of artistic self.

Directions - 1986

I took these images on my first excursion with my new cool new Nikon D90.



Do you see a common vision – or maybe a enduring obsession?

I believe do.