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Big Update Time

May 29, 2010 9 comments

Just so you are forewarned, this post is designed to beat Christian’s latest super-post as far as word count is concerned. Here we go.

Philip, I apologize in advance (he doesn’t like lengthy posts).

Light Painting Update:

As I have mentioned many times before, I went through a dry spell as far as new work was concerned during the time leading up to AP Exams when I spent all my time studying and working on the 840 Poster. Well, as the AP Exams are over and the 840 Poster is slowly coming to an end, I have had time to consider and complete new light painting projects. As this post explains, I went to Harbor Island a few weekends ago and took 28 pictures of downtown and the sights of the city from afar. Since that post, I have edited two more images.

I think the first is good, but not spectacular.

I was getting bored with making realistic pictures of Dowtown over and over again, so I threw the “Fill Light” and “Blacks” sliders in Camera Raw all the way to the right, added a few extra crazy adjustments, and got the second image. I have no idea where the halo came from or I would have gotten rid of it (it’s not from “Clarity”).

After the District Art Show, Kyle W, Philip, Christian, Zack, and I went to Tidelands Park in Coronado to take pictures, and we had great success. Read more here and here. After browsing through my images, I counted 24 that were good enough to edit and eventually narrowed that down to nine.

Here they are:

I kind of like this shot of the Coronado Bridge, even though it didn’t turn out as good as I would have liked (I was using the wrong lens – Christian was using the right one).

With these next two images, I decided to listen to Philip’s advice and make them not as warm as the others. This forced me to approach them from a different angle and I think they turned out very nicely (some of my favorites). Thanks for the advice Philip. (But there is a point where cool (blue) turns into unrealistic (too blue/bad).)

This next one was out of focus and I tried to compensate by adding lots of different effects. I don’t really like it.

The next image is my favorite. I really like the contrast between the bluish background and orange foreground (complementary colors), even though the frame isn’t great.

I tried a lot of new techniques on these pictures, including using the “Threshold” Adjustment Layer for the first time. I also ventured deeper into Camera Raw than ever before and used the “Split Toning” panel for the first time.

I was all ready to post this post after three hours of writing, and then I realized I had forgotten to add vignettes to my new images. I had to go back and fix, re-save, re-upload, and re-add twelve images (it turns out the Dip wasn’t up-to-date too). Argh!

With more free time (now that most of my classes have toned done the workload) I should be able to produce more new work relatively quickly. I continue to get better at using the 5D Mark II as well as my Rebel T1i, which has translated into better pictures than ever before. I remember from the beginning of the year how out of two hundred pictures, maybe ten would be good. Well now maybe one hundred would turn out nicely.

The District Art Show:

As you all read here, Superintendent Collins surprised everyone when he awarded my already 1st place Dip picture (named “Night in the Light” for the Art Show) one of the biggest awards of the night. I was surprised my pictures won anything at all because they printed horribly bright (I had tailored them for the big Epson in the Mac Lab and not the small Epson at Mr. Skocko’s house). The actual print from the Art Show is hanging in my living room, and looks just fine in the dim lighting. I gave the “Navy Lights” picture to Kyle R because he hadn’t gotten a print of it yet.

For me, the greatest feeling of accomplishment in the Mac Lab is seeing something of mine being printed, and so to have had eleven things receive that honor, I feel pretty good about my year so far. Oh, and just to set the record straight, the bigger the print the better!!!!!! At only 20 inches by 13 inches, this image looks like a postage stamp next to this one and this one, which are both 30 by 20 inches. (I want my copy of the District 840 poster to be 44 inches by 70 inches, one square inch for every hour I spent working on it.)

The District 840 Poster:

The third thing I want to give an update on is the District 840 Poster. It is currently on its fourth version, which is two more than it was on when it was submitted and mass-printed. After a marathon Skype video conference and some last-minute tweaking the day before it was due, this is what the poster looked like. We (Kyle W, Philip, Mr. Skocko, and myself) all agreed that the sky was just awful and needed to be replaced, so I added some Photoshop clouds that night, which is version two. At that point, we had no choice but to submit the poster but we vowed to make it better. The poster was mass-printed 11 by 17 inches and distributed around the school and a 44 by 70 inch giant was printed for in front of the office. However, as time went on the sky looked worse and worse, so I began the process of finding somehow to make a new one. I decided to look at old photos and try to find one with an acceptable sky (we realized that the idea of making a sky from scratch in Photoshop proved futile). I turned first to the pictures in this post, and combined the skies from the two images (one, two) in Photoshop. Because the stars in the two images are different sizes, the result had a feeling of depth. I liked this third version, but had to agree with Philip when he said that it looked too peaceful. Also, adding a night sky created a different problem: night means the buildings need lights. Making that happen proved impossible with our current skills, and so I continued my search for an image that could work. I stumbled across this one while going through some old files and knew instantly that it was the one. Unfortunately, two problems arose: first, it was a JPG and second, it was VERY noisy. We had no choice but to live with the first problem, and the wonderful noise reduction features in Camera Raw beautifully solved the second. Instead of trying to add the new sky to the same file with the other two skies, we went all the way back to the beginning, to the version two trips through Camera Raw before this version: the big 1.38GB main file with all the components on their own layers. This made adding the new sky a piece of cake and also allowed some problems with the edges of the buildings to be solved relatively easily. However, this also meant that we had to repeat the Camera Raw steps, but in the end that proved to be a good thing too. After a week of work, Kyle and I managed to get the new fourth version looking much better than its predecessors. A few last-minute fixes made for a truly great poster, but since the Mac Lab is out of paper it will remain solely digital for now.

Looking at all the versions of the 840 Poster side by side, I think that the buildings in the final version need to be darker. That’s an easy fix, but I need to run it by the group first.

Photoshop Update:

Over the past couple of months when I couldn’t go out and take pictures because I was supposed to be focusing on my other classes, I turned to Photoshop. I learned dozens of new skills and have become truly great at using Photoshop. The District 840 poster taught me a lot about image correction and the healing tools, which gave me a new appreciation for a different side of Photoshop.

Also, instead of trying to push my images to the brink of destruction, I have really tried to reign in my enthusiasm and not over-process my images. When reworking the Dip and Cars images, I took special attention to this and ended up decreasing the vibrance on both images quite a lot. This took the edge off the bright and somewhat blinding colors and created two images that were pleasant, not painful, to look at. The main thing I fixed in the Dip image was severe over-processing, and it was only through some creative Camera Raw-ing that I was able to same the image. I experienced a moment of desperation and hopelessness while working on that picture, when I ran out of ideas and felt the pain of failure. Then I reached for the Adjustment Brush and blurred/desaturated/darkened the over-processing away. Miraculous, in my opinion anyway. Just look at the road in these two versions (one and two). See the difference? In this post I called the previous version a masterpiece, and now I feel foolish for doing so. There is a point when too much of a good thing (like Photoshop) can be a very, very bad and very, very destructive thing indeed, and that is something I have been trying to avoid in my latest images.

The new tools in Photoshop CS5, like Content-Aware Fill, the Content-Aware Spot-Healing Brush, Puppet Warp, Lens Correction, and the new blending modes have come in extremely handy and have changed the way I work with my images. The new skills that I have learned through thousands of hours in front of my computer have truly transformed my skills as a digital artist in the past six months. (Example: in three days I was able to capture, edit, and print a District Art Show-worthy picture. Unfortunately, when Mr. Skocko learned he could only submit eight things, he had to cut it, leaving only two of my images in the Art Show) Now I feel like whatever the challenge, I have the skills to overcome it.

Also, I have been using Camera Raw on a scale I would never have imagined before. I was just starting to really appreciate the power of Camera Raw 5 in CS4 when Camera Raw 6 was launched with CS5. The new version has a totally new engine that allows for better edits than ever before. The new noise reduction features may be my favorite, but then again the new lens correction software in the 6.1 update just may be cooler. I never realized just how distorted the images straight out of the camera really were until I tried out this new feature!

I almost forget to talk about the wonderful Adobe Digital Negative file format that I discovered a while ago but only started using with CS5. The Digital Negative format allows for increased compression without data loss (which is great when taking high-quality 30MB pictures) and does away with the old XMP sidecar files that CR2 files had. I especially like how if I start editing an image in Camera Raw but don’t finish, I can save the image directly in Camera Raw as a DNG without loosing any edibility (or the edits I just made). Basically, if it’s a picture and it’s not a PSD or a web-ready JPG, it needs to be a DNG. It’s that simple (in my opinion). DNG’s are smaller, store more information, and are more versatile that CR2′s, so why not use them?

Blog Update:

I haven’t done much to CRDESIGNLAB in the past months except remove all of Kyle R’s work. That means all the Digital Art pages are looking quite empty, which is likely how they will stay for the rest of the year (along with the 3D pages). I have been searching for a new blog theme, but have not found anything intriguing yet.

I think I will hold out on making new tutorials until summer because I don’t see myself as having any time before the end of the year. I plan to make dozens of new tutorials over the summer (on light painting, Photoshop, and photography) in order to build a wonderful student resource for next year. Speaking of next year, I will be a Senior but I will not be taking any Mac Lab classes. Don’t worry though, I will go periods one through five and spend six and seven in the Mac Lab anyway helping students and working on projects. I hope to be a resource next year both through my direct aid and the tutorials on this blog.

By the way, this is the 72nd post on CRDESIGNLAB. That’s a lot of posts. (Other stats: 550 comments, 6,736 hits)

Current Projects:

I am continuing to make final changes to the 840 Poster, but as soon as the Mac Lab gets paper it is ready to print.

Also, I have volunteered to set up fifteen new iMacs for Mrs. Ormsby and the SAGA. I have been working on just one of the computers and plan to build a master disk image that I can then transfer to the others. After some initial difficulties with InDesign, which is the primary program the journalism students use, Mr. Skocko suggested I bring the computer down to the Mac Lab for the setup process instead of working in Mrs. Ormsby’s room. Having access to a reliable internet connection allowed me to download the required updates to make InDesign work, and I was able to complete the installation of all the applications Mrs. Ormsby needs. Now I just need to here back from SAGA on what specific files need to be standardized across all the computers. Hopefully I should be done with the setup and ready to create the image using Carbon Copy Cloner within the coming week. That means that hopefully all fifteen new computers should be up and running and ready to replace the ten year old Macs in room 322 before too long.

Plans for the Rest of the Year:

Well, I have only 2 days left on my trial for CS5, so my plans for the next few weeks must include buying the CS5 Master Collection. Mac Lab Media needs to produce a video advertising next year’s Blood Drive, which I will be very involved in. I need to learn more about Final Cut Studio in preparation for leading Mac Lab Media next year. I need to continue to learn how to use the new audio/video equipment, which will be invaluable for all future video projects. I hope to work with Christian on a stop-motion light painting video, but that might get pushed until summer. The District 840 poster needs to be “finished” and printed for in front of the office. I need to finish setting up Mrs. Ormsby’s new computers. I need to edit my newest light painting pictures and capture new ones. The Mac Lab iDev Team has yet to get off its feet, but I hope that in the next few weeks I can put my iPad to good use and start working my way through the tutorials. And that’s just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. There’s a lot more, but I think my subconscious is not letting me remember it.

Oh, I almost forgot: Kyle W and I have to assemble the Mac Lab iBook for the Final Exam. That’s going to take a while and teach us more about InDesign than we will ever wanted to know.

Sunday night I will attempt this challenge, which will help me appreciate the skill required to be a photographer before the invention of digital cameras. Plus, getting a free print isn’t bad either. My strategy is to pick four shots and take nine picture of each with different settings hoping to get something good. I will probably work with Kyle W and create some light painting masterpieces the old-fashioned way.

On Monday I have to film a group English project, but because my group didn’t want to step up to Mac Lab standards I am not allowed to use Mac Lab cameras. That’s too bad because I was really hoping to make a phenomenal video, but it looks like I am going to have to settle with what the group want, which isn’t phenomenal.

This year has been much more that I envisioned it to be. My first year in the Mac Lab (as a Freshman) was quite uneventful and, honestly, I expected this year to be the same. When I enrolled in the Mac Lab a year ago, I had no idea that I would have five things on the Wall of Fame (I think it’s five), have eleven beautiful prints hanging in my house, or have stood alongside Danny and Christian and received the ROP Champion of Champions Award (and then that totally unexpected follow-up  award from the California Legislature). And as a math and science guy, becoming one of the most decorated recipients at the 24th District Art Show was something that I would never have expected in a thousand years (me, winning art awards, you can’t be serious!!!). This year has been more fun than I could have possibly imagined, and I plan to end it on a high note. I have learned so much about myself and grown so much as a person in the past year that I would not trade my time in the Mac Lab for anything.

And the crazy thing is that something tells me that next year will be even better.

Christian, I cut down the length of this post by over a thousand words because the general consensus seemed to be that I write too much. But at 3014 words this post stills claims the trophy.

And So My Spring Break Begins

April 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Up until today (Thursday) at 9:00pm, I had not really been on Spring Break, as I had a massive 20 page research paper (Specialties for AP U.S. History) looming over me. After about 20 hours of work, I have finished it. So now my Spring Break begins. Ahhhhhhh! Freedom!!!!!!

The first thing I said I would do this Spring Break is make live-action light painting demonstrations. Well, some of them have arrived. I have about ten different videos filmed, but so far only four have made their way through Final Cut Studio for editing and sound boosting. It just so happens that those four have to deal with painting with beams of light (lightsabers). Please remember that I am new to making tutorials, so don’t expect them to be perfect. Check them out here. No one tell Danny that I have Final Cut Studio or he’ll make me work more. Let’s see how long it takes him to find this.

While editing the light painting demonstrations, I realized that those lightsabers of mine look really realistic when filmed. So, today I filmed some fight sequences to see how they would look. The idea needs refining and superior editing skills that I can deliver at 11:00pm , but the possibilities are cool. Man, those lightsabers look real.

All my time has been put towards this research project, so I haven’t touched Photoshop since Saturday. I’ll make up for that in the next few days.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was an interesting day. We (the video team) filmed the anti-bullying video for the iVIE awards. Read more about it here and here. I learned two things. 1) We can film an entire video in 4 hours. 2) Danny has anger management issues. Ok, so I learned that last thing a while ago. Those anger management issues were exacerbated by the fact that the fire alarms kept going off and ruining our shots. Oh and then there was the other thing (5D. Sensor. Cap. Off. For. A. Minute. ARGH!!!!!!!!). I am trying to forget that last thing. I won’t say who did it to save them the embarrassment and the wrath of Mr. Skocko, but it wasn’t Danny or me. Except for a few minor issues, the day went well. We got some Oscar-worthy behind-the-scenes clips too.

Tomorrow (Friday), I am going to Borrego Springs with my Dad and sister. I will try to do some standard photography, but the day is supposed to be a relaxing family trip. We will be back by the time its dark, so I hope to light paint a little afterwards. (If only we were there at night. That would be some amazing light painting and photography!!!!)

That’s it for now. Rally together and help push this little site over 5,000 hits. I (as it seems CRDESIGNLAB is now a single-man venture) am only 31 hits away from the 5K mark. If all had gone as planned, I’d be in Greece right now.

In Action

March 28, 2010 4 comments

At around 9:30pm, my sister and I started making video light painting tutorials. Instead of going somewhere, I decided to stay in my backyard. I began with some tips on focusing, then outlined two different ways to paint with a beam of light (lightsabers). I tried to recreate this shot, and came out with something a little different, but cool in its own way. I decided to feature it, even though it is not new or revolutionary, because a post looks so much more interesting with an image next to it. (This image was a complete accident, by the way. I had no idea it would turn out good at all.)

Tomorrow, I will move on to discussing what you can do with a flashlight and how to create the picture featured in this post (which I also wrote today, for the most part). The day after that, I plan to detail the best ways to light paint with cars and the street. I have discovered that I will need to make quite a few more screen capture tutorials in order to fill in things I forgot to mention during the demonstrations.

Expect to see the first of these new live-action tutorials in the next few days, as I have to process them in Final Cut and boost the sound. For all its merits, the 5D Mark II does not do a good job capturing audio.

Fun facts: This is today’s fourth post. CRDESIGNLAB passed 500 comments a few hours ago. Because Philip just wrote a new post, I had to write one too.

“So It Begins”

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I just finished making 18 screen capture tutorials, which are the first to go on this page. I made 28 movies, but only 18 of them are good enough to be kept. All of the items that don’t yet have movies require something besides a computer, like pictures of a camera or actually being outside. That’s what I am going to do after this post is finished (and I send some of Kyle’s pictures to him).

As King Theoden of Rohan said in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “so it begins.” In his case, “it” refers to the Battle of the Hornburg. In mine, it refers to the adventure of making light painting tutorials that will (hopefully) help students become great light painters.

I’m keeping posts short these days, as I need to spend less time writing and more time working.

Categories: Light Painting, tutorials

A New Page

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The purpose of this post is to point you towards this new page, which will be filled starting today.

Update:  I created a few new links and put them in a new widget, called “Links.”

Categories: The Blog, tutorials Tags: ,

Day 1

March 27, 2010 16 comments

This is the first of its kind. Kyle W and I took the picture and I did the Photoshopping. This is a rough draft. I wanted to post something but don’t have time to work on it much, as it is past midnight. More to come in the morning.

3.28.2010

Ok, so now I have time to reflect on last night’s activities. I arrived at the park at about 7 pm at the same time as Philip and about a minute before Kyle. Christian arrived a few minutes later and Aaron a while after that. Zack showed up after Mr. Skocko left. We started by tying lights to a remote control truck that Kyle had brought, and produced some cool results. Then, I showed the other guys a new trick where you pass a beam of light, like a lightsaber, behind a person, producing a silhouette.

As we were working on that, Mr. Skocko and his daughter arrived, bringing three new shutter releases for the Canon 40D and 50D cameras. By now it was after 8. The two of them went and took a few photos away from the chaos of us trying to figure out what to do, and really demonstrated the beauty of nighttime photography.

After they left, we split into two groups; Kyle and I ventured into the heart of the park to try some standard photography while Philip, Aaron, Zack, and Christian stayed at our staging area and tried to get more pictures with the remote control truck. To our great surprise, the sprinkler system came on while Kyle, Christian, and I were trying to light paint around a tree, forcing us to bolt for safety with two cameras, my T1i and the 5D Mark II, in hand. Luckily, the sprinklers had come on only in the area next to us, so we were never in any danger of getting wet. Just to be safe, we regrouped and moved the gear to a safe location. About 30 seconds later, the sprinklers came on even closer but we were still safe.

As the clock ticked past 11pm, we turned towards making tutorials, but unfortunately the battery in the 5D Mark II ran out. Luckily, Zack had brought his camera, which took video, so we were still able to film. I think we will end up redoing the tutorials at a later date, because we only filmed a few minutes of footage and it was just to dark to see anything. After only 15 minutes of making the tutorials, we decided to call it a night, because our location was getting more and more precarious, and it was getting late.

The pictures will be posted as they are processed. Here is the second of many.

Light Painting Update

March 26, 2010 11 comments

Attention Kyle, Philip, Christian, Mr. Skocko, and anyone who I talked to about helping with the light painting tutorial: the tutorial will take place tomorrow at 7:00pm at Woodhaven Park in Cottonwood. This may not be the best location, but it is nearby and easy to work with, considering we will be filming video. If anyone can suggest an alternative location, I am happy to hear it. We will probably work for 2-3 hours once the sun goes down, which should happen sometime between 7:30 and 8. Once the sun has been down for about half an hour, we will begin filming. Bring bright multicolored flashlights, tripods, cameras, lenses, and shutter buttons. Wear dark clothing. Also, if you have light-up frisbees, toy balls, or anything cool, bring them.

Directions to the park: if you are leaving Valhalla, turn right, drive about .75 miles, turn right on Donahue, and follow the road until you see a large sign marking the park. Address: 1995 Donahue Dr., El Cajon, CA, 92019

Categories: tutorials Tags: ,

Catching Up, A New Focus, And The 9 Days of Light Painting

March 26, 2010 29 comments

This is three mini-posts smashed into one.

1: Catching Up.

It has been over a week since my last post. That’s just deplorable. I all honesty, I have lacked inspiration over the past few weeks. That might be partly due to the increasing workload as AP Exams approach. I will be taking three AP Tests in late April: AP Language, AP US History, and AP Chemistry. I have tried my best to manage the massive workload these three classes place upon my shoulders while at the same time trying to find time to work on Mac Lab stuff as the projects are only getting larger and more numerous. People don’t appreciate just how difficult it is to get an A in an AP class until they try. I have had to take a sort of break from my usual Mac Lab work to focus on maintaining my straight A’s, which has not always been possible. Unfortunately, I will have to find a way to work more on both regular classes and my Mac Lab projects at the same time. Oh, and I have to learn Final Cut Studio and After Effects as part of my duties to the video team, which I am now a member of. I have Adobe CS4 Design Premium and Apple Final Cut Studio on my home computer, but I don’t have After Effects, which means I will have to work on that during class.

While on the topic of video, I have to say that last Saturday was quite the day. I arrived at school at 5:30am and was the first person there, other than Mr. Skocko. A minute later, Danny and Cody arrived, followed by Philip, Fadi, Kyle, Aaron, Nikki, and a few others over the next three hours. We light painted for a few minutes while it was still dark, but the pictures didn’t turn out. When the filming for the Dodgeball video started, chaos broke out and it took us five hours to film a commercial that is less than a minute long. The finished product looks great, but it didn’t always look so good. Danny saved the day in Final Cut and After Effects. The best part of the day was that I learned a lot about video. I was Assistant Director (Danny was Director) and I set up about a third of the shots without his help. By the time the filming was over, I had gained a new skill and the confidence that came with it. High resolution version: right-click and download |  Low Resolution version.

At 2pm, Danny and I filmed the Theater Department’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was fantastic. I had never been to a school performance before, and really liked the play. Fadi tagged along but didn’t really do anything. By 5:15pm, after 11 hours and 45 minuets of work, we all left school and went out separate ways. Twelve hours working for the Mac Lab was a lot of fun.

2: A New Focus

Quite simply, my focus in the Mac Lab is changing. CRDESIGNLAB started out as a photography blog, but I think it will follow me and transition more towards other forms of media, most importantly video. Changes might be coming.

3: The 9 Days of Light Painting

Over Spring Break, I will have three tasks and only three tasks: finish Specialties for AP US History, read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck for AP Language, and devote every other waking moment to the Mac Lab. As for the third of those tasks, I intend to spend most of my time light painting and working on tutorials. It’s about time I stop being lazy and actually get something done. Other than creating tutorials for light painting, I will try the new techniques Mr. Skocko has been urging me to employ over the pst few months. I will completely revamp my approach to light painting, and will hopefully produce the best work the Paint the World With Light project has seen yet.

As for these tutorials, I will use a combination of screen captures that explain the basics and camera setting and actual video footage of a light painting shoot, which should be filmed tomorrow.

I also have to work on the Valhalla 840 poster, which is coming together slowly. I am in charge of the Photoshopping, which is the majority of the project. Zack, Fadi, Philip (I think), and Kyle are also helping. We will have to combine our skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Cinema 4D to create a realistic poster. I don’t know if I am supposed to keep the theme a secret or not, so I’ll take the safe route and let you all just guess as to what masterpiece is sitting behind this Safari window on my computer right now. (Hint: if it works, it will be AMAZING!!!!!!) Photoshop CS5 and these tools would make the job infinitely easier. If only I knew someone with CS5…

That’s it for now. I bid you farewell for now and start planning the screen capture portion of my light painting tutorials.

Fun fact: for a few hours tomorrow I will have both of the Mac Lab’s 5D Mark II cameras. I will be carrying around $12,000 of technology as I go the site of the light painting tutorial.

Let the 9 Days of Light Painting begin!!!

Finally

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Finally, after months of waiting, I have found time to make the first of many new tutorials for the “This Is How We Do It” page. I created a new category for miscellaneous photoshop tricks and made the first six movies of what will hopefully be a very long list of cool tips. I hope you like them. I am still struggling with how to teach light painting via screen captures, but those tutorials should be coming soon too. (I am still learning the art of making screen capture tutorials, so don’t be surprised if mine are in need of work)

On another note, I shuffled pages a little. I created the new “Resources” page, which leads to a modified version of the the old “Inspiration” page and the new “Tutorials and Helpful Sites” page. This new page, which is quite empty at the moment, will hopefully soon feature links to many tutorials and sites from various sources across the internet. For the time being, all these pages will be very sparse, but they should grow rapidly as we discover new, and remember old, sources of inspiration and education.

7 Days Later

March 15, 2010 5 comments

Wow. This post is long overdue. The last time CRDESIGNLAB featured any new text was seven days ago, when Kyle discussed elections. Over these seven days of darkness, I have been busy reworking old images that have been neglected or could be improved. I have taken some already posted images and improved them as well as started working on some completely new (never been touched) ones. In total, there are 12 new images for the galleries, and not a single one is less than a three weeks old. It is amazing how when browsing through old work you find that there are gems hidden amongst the madness. So that is what I have been doing: separating the gems from the madness. Grab a soda because there is a lot of reading ahead of you.

Image Number 1: The Dip, Version 4

For the fourth time, I have put serious effort towards improving this image, which is dubbed “Dip” because of a dip in the road just before the entrance to the Horton Plaza mall. I tried my best to whiten the building in the back and achieve color correctness while bringing out as much color as I can. There are still things that need to be fixed, like granulation in the road and the trees, but overall, I call it an improvement.

Image Number 2: Street 01, Version 3

Like the Dip, this image has seen its share of time in Photoshop. I spent so much time staring at Version 2, that I became blind to the horrible over-sharpening and excessive color. So, I decided to start all over with the original file and try to produce a less painful-to-look-at image. I think I succeeded. Although it looks dull when compared to the previous version, I think that Version 3 is much better and doesn’t have that awful look of over-proccessing.

Image Number 3: The Parking Lot, Version 1

This is a completely new image from the latest batch of light paintings, which Kyle, my sister, and I created on February 26. I took the picture as Kyle and my sister outlined the parking lot of the Monarch Ridge community pool with lightsabers. The original was deplorably over-exposed, but I saved the image in Photoshop.

Image Number 4: Street 03, Version 1

This is also a completely new image from the latest batch of light paintings. Captured just a few minutes before the Parking Lot image, Kyle manned the camera as my sister and I showed Kyle how to paint like a Jedi.

Image Number 5: Spiral 03, Version 2

Kyle and I took this picture on February 5 when we hung a flashlight from a ceiling fan. I originally wrote this image off as a dud because it looked sloppy and not interesting, but Kyle had a different idea. Over the past few days, he has been playing with it in Photoshop and has produced a really cool image. He took a poor test shot and turned it into gallery-worthy work. Not bad at all.

Image Number 6: Spiral 04, Version 1

While going through our old files, I found this spiral and decided to add it to our collection. After a little Photoshop work, it was up to par.

Image Number 7: The Tennis Court 01, Version 1

This image was taken the same day as the Parking Lot and Street 03 images and just a few yards away in my neighborhood tennis court. I manned the camera as Kyle and my sister traced the court lines with lightsabers. This is the first of two tennis court pictures, but the second one is on my iMac at school.

Image Number 8: Cactus 03, Version 1

This is another really old picture, dating back all the way to January 16, when Kyle and I spent a few hours photographing his backyard. I played with it in Camera Raw and am pleased with the result. It is interesting, in that I had to make the image all fuzzy and distorted and then negate that in order to avoid some strange red blotches that appeared wherever there are colors close to white. Basically, I blurred the image and then sharpened it enough to make the blur go away (in way more steps than that).

Image Number 9: The Leaf, Version 1

I have no idea where this image came from, just that it was in my files, so I decided to Photoshop it. I messed with the color of the leaf and kind of like the result. I had to gaussian-blur the background in order to remove distortion and I think I need to go back and mask the blur out of the focused areas with more precision.

Image Number 10: The Purple Cactus 01, Version 1

This image also came from January 16, and I decided to take a drastically different route in Photoshop. In Camera Raw, I completely blew out the colors as far as I could, taking the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation sliders all the way to the right. I am not sure if I like it or not, but I wanted to try something different, so I did.

Image Number 11: The Purple Flower, Version 1

This purple flower was not meant for success. I can’t remember who took the picture (I think it was me), but I do remember that Kyle and I weren’t really trying and just burning time as we waited for it to get dark. Kyle found the picture in our files and saved it from digital death. He took it through Photoshop and managed to turn a good image into a great image. If you zoom in all the way, you can tell that it is extremely sharp, perhaps the sharpest picture we have ever taken. I added a couple of things in Photoshop (cropped it, and Dodge and Burned), but the vast majority of the work is Kyle’s. I really like it.

Image Number 12: The Red Berry, Version 1

Also a result of January 16, this image’s stay in our galleries might be very short, as I think it is over-sharpened and needs to be reworked. Kyle really liked it when we originally took the picture, so I decided to work on it in Photoshop. I think I worked a little too hard.

Well, that’s it. If I remember correctly, there are a few more images that I could have added, but they aren’t on my home iMac or MacBook Pro, so I can’t post them. I “took a break” from posting for a week, and think I might be better for it. I spent some time evaluating the future of CRDESIGNLAB and made some decisions about this blog’s, and my own, future. More of that is coming later.

Today in class, Mr. Skocko revealed that the Paint the World With Light project had been extended a month, and I am very happy that it has. To be honest, I don’t think a single one of our images has utilized our full potential as photographers and digital artists. This next month, and especially Spring Break, will be filled with light painting of a caliber not yet seen in the Mac Lab, and I intend for CRDESIGNLAB to be leading the way.

Also, Mr. Skocko has been pushing me towards creating light painting tutorials for Mac Lab students and students in the other two classrooms involved in the Paint the World With Light Project. I have been struggling with how I should make tutorials for light painting, and have decided that I will just do screen recordings using QuickTime X and see how it goes.

On another note, I have been thinking for a while that the Mac Lab light painters need to all work together on a massive light painting project somewhere away from school. At the same time, Mr. Skocko has been hinting (and saying) that I need to teach him how to light paint, and so I thought I would combine these two ideas. I was thinking that some day over Spring Break, anybody interesting in learning light painting and all those who already know how could meet somewhere of significance in the community and share skills and ideas while creating a masterpiece that would be the highlight of the Paint the World With Light book. Anyone would be invited. I think it is a good idea, but I want opinions.

If anyone has actually read this far, I must give you a round of applause. I have been writing this post for an hour and a half now, have typed out 1503 words, and am just now nearing the end of the rough draft.

There is just one last thing, a last-minute tech update.  The Mac Lab will be getting new 21.5 inch iMacs to replace the old white ones, so all of you who are sick of waiting ten minutes for a single small picture of a brick wall to Live Trace will soon have the best computers in the room.

So as not to make your eyes bleed any more, I will call this post completed. Hey, I haven’t posted anything in seven days, so I have a lot to say. This has to be some kind of record.

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