Monday, August 27, 2012

Digital colorization

Time for a bit of Photoshop? Sure, why not!

But first, the 'whatever catches my eye' file:
Painting with light

"The majority of amateur photographers discover this by pure accident while taking photos, not noticing their camera is set to a long exposure. Others apply the setting to achieve a desired capture and yet another group of creative people opt for a surprise by breaking the rules deliberately to discover an unexpected result."

Interesting article, interesting site.

Pigs and squatters threaten Peru's Nazca lines
By Mitra Taj

LIMA | Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:21pm EDT

Squatters have started raising pigs on the site of Peru's Nazca lines - the giant designs best seen from an airplane that were mysteriously etched into the desert more than 1,500 years ago.

This is a shame, but at least you have to give the natives a break, they are just trying to survive.
They're not as wantonly destructive as people who do this, which I photographed a few years ago in Nevada:

Art photography: When 'reality isn't good enough' - Pixels gone wild?

By Ashley Strickland, CNN
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Sat August 18, 2012

Amazing Photo: 'Fire Rainbow' Over South Florida
OurAmazingPlanet Staff
Date: 01 August 2012 Time: 04:35 PM ET

So-called "fire rainbows" are neither on fire nor are they rainbows, but they sure are stunning.

They are technically known as iridescent clouds, a relatively rare phenomenon caused by clouds of water droplets of nearly uniform size, according to a release by NASA. These clouds diffract, or bend, light in a similar manner, which separates out light into different wavelengths, or colors.
According to the Weather Channel, these are pileus clouds caused by a fast-growing thunderstorm that shoved air into the upper atmosphere through a layer of moisture. This created a fog-like cloud that looks like a glowing dome atop the thunderstorm.

Photo © Ken Rotberg.

Kodak’s Idealized Colorama Returns


Comeback of photo booths exposes yearning for what's real

Digital technology gave us photography without limits. But suddenly, we're seeing the virtue of limits. Photo booth photos are on a human scale. They take place in real time in a private space we chose to occupy.

By Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times,0,4042676.column


For Desolate, Shrinking Salton Sea, Another Dream
Published: July 29, 2012

...the Salton Sea, created by accident 40 miles south of Palm Springs, has been shrinking for decades now, while the saline content continues to rise — it is roughly 50 percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean. Waterfront homes built more than a generation ago sit abandoned and boarded up, on a labyrinth of streets where only a couple of houses on each block are occupied.

But California does not give up easily on its dreams, so yet another ambitious development is poised to rise beside this vanishing sea.

I've been there a few times, the place could definitely use some better luck than it has had. Here's a few photos i took years ago:

Pretty desolate, isn't it?


Has image overtaken music?
By Todd Leopold, CNN
updated 9:33 AM EDT, Sat July 28, 2012

From my '60 YO lived thru the 60's and 70's perspective', i think the simple answer is 'yes'.

This is how rock SHOULD be - An air-raid on the ears!
Incredible Live Who track!

Genetic Data and Fossil Evidence Tell Differing Tales of Human Origins
Published: July 26, 2012

After decades of digging, paleoanthropologists looking for fossilized human bones have established a reasonably clear picture: Modern humans arose in Africa some 200,000 years ago and all archaic species of humans then disappeared, surviving only outside Africa, as did the Neanderthals in Europe. Geneticists studying DNA now say that, to the contrary, a previously unknown archaic species of human, a cousin of the Neanderthals, may have lingered in Africa until perhaps 25,000 years ago, coexisting with the modern humans and on occasion interbreeding with them.

A Desert Beyond Fear
July 23, 2012, 7:00 am

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty.
To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
— Bertrand Russell

On a cold, sunny day in early March, my husband, Steve, and I layered up and took ourselves out to our backyard: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. For a few days we had been spiraling downward through a series of miscommunications and tensions — the culmination of my rigorous dedication to fear, or what Bertrand Russell aptly coined “the tyranny of the habit of fear.”  A fresh storm had dropped 10 inches of snow with little moisture giving it an airy, crystallized texture that sprayed out in an arc with each footstep and made a shushing sound, as if it were speaking directly to me. Shush. Shush. Shush.


On to 'a bit of photoshop'.

While I've been bouncing around between 'traditional' and digital hand coloring, I couldn't help but notice the difference between the two. Traditional has an 'organic/ inexact' quality to it. And you can do all kinds of blending in ways that to me seem much more arduous in Photoshop.
For instance, I could never take the time to hand-color this 'motel sign' digitally.

But i can do it w/ good ol' fashioned cotton balls and oil colors in less than an hour.

Digital (Photoshop) is more.. uh.. sterile... but that has an appeal too. And has it's place/use... w/ some images.
I pulled out one image from my archives that seemed like a good possibility for digital coloring - a shot taken at Ocean Beach, at low tide, w/ Grrr-eat reflections on the shoreline/sand.
I've messed around w/ all kinds of media , 'way back when'/ in college - acrylics, oils, lino-cut prints, charcoal, pencils - you name it, i tried it.  One thing I never tried was airbrushing. Couldn't afford an airbrush, i think it cost more than 100$.
W/ P'Shop?... airbrushing/ gradients are super easy, and very clean.
So I applied them to this straight/film shot........with interesting results.
Here's the B&W image w/ photoshop colorization:

The bottom/background layer is of course the image, B&W.
The next two layers are gradients, from top down, and bottom up, just black to white, at various percentages, the equivalent of 'burning in' in a B&W darkroom.
The next layer is a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, clicking the 'colorize' option and adjusting it to give the whole image a blue cast, as if you had toned the image w/ blue toner.
Clouds aren't as blue as the sky, the undersides are grey... so i selected the clouds, and added a Hue/Sat layer that desaturated the clouds.
Next, I blew in another gradient for the sand/lower part of the image. It is an 'image' layer, but is set as 'color' in the Pshop layer options. It's not full strength, it's about 60%, so i got the color of the sand, but it's not too heavy handed.
The sky still seemed a bit too bright for me, so i added another levels layer w/ a gradient mask that makes the sky just a bit brighter.
That's it, I like this, it's done!

Then I tried out the same thing on a dark room montage print, Nevada Melody.

This one is served at least as well by digital coloring/toning than what would happen w/ traditional/oil colors.
There are just two areas, clearly defined - the sky... & the 'land', including the piano guts.
I selected the sky, added a 'color balance' adjustment layer, and a Hue Sat layer...
I selected the landscape/ground, and hit that w/ a Hue Sat layer.
I also added a layer with just some of the distant landscape selected, used selective color to tweak the hue.
Then i selected just the cactus leaves breaking the horizon, set that to 'colorize' and made it green.... and then applied that ( by 'painting in' the layer mask) to some of the piano strings leading up to the cactus.
That kind of 'ties the top and bottom together'.
Once again... it's simple, clean, & well thought out.
You've heard the old saying "less is more'? Well, it's true.
If you're thinking 'this isn't very advanced or complicated', you're right, it isn't. I know of many people who will build a photoshop file w/ dozens and dozens of layers - not me. Have a clear idea of what you want to do, stay focused. And to tell ya the truth, after 10 layers, i start to get cross eyed and lose track of what is doing what.

For larger images, screen shots of the layers,  and layered photoshop files you can download to see how it works: