Did you have one? When you were younger? Or did you start out in Drive?
The sound, feel and thrill of driving are to be relished, not relegated to the trash heap and memories along with carburetors, fender skirts, steel wheels and hubcaps. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in a sports car with a manual transmission and you too will become a believer.
I didn’t start a blog because I had something to say, I started a blog to find something to say.
Most writers don’t write to express what they think. They write to figure out what they think. Writing is a process of discovery.
I started this version of my blog on November 24, 2001. Ironically, it’s a link to a San Francisco Chronicle story about why writers enjoy living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
So why is it authors multiply here like cheap noodle restaurants?One reason the Bay Area is such a good place for writers may be the same reason it’s such a good place for arbitration lawyers and podiatrists – it’s a terrific place to live.
So much has changed in the almost twenty years since that article was written. Local bookstores, great restaurants, group events, …
After the last few weeks of fires, heat, etc., recent articles seem to talk much more about the problems – asking “why bother living in San Francisco (or California)?”
The cityscape resembles the surface of a distant planet, populated by a masked alien culture. The air, choked with blown ash, is difficult to breathe.
There is the Golden Gate Bridge, looming in the distance through a drift-smoke haze, and the Salesforce Tower, which against the blood-orange sky appears as a colossal spaceship in a doomsday film.
San Francisco, and much of California, has never been like this.
California has become a warming, burning, epidemic-challenged and expensive state, with many who live in sophisticated cities, idyllic oceanfront towns and windblown mountain communities thinking hard about the viability of a place they have called home forever. For the first time in a decade, more people left California last year for other states than arrived.
Indeed. Life is so rich…it’s all about finding something to say.
Everyone I know is some element of tired, stressed, anxious, frustrated, or just running at maximum speed trying to keep it all together. People are short-tempered, irritable, irrational, and lashing out or thrashing around.
And he shares some good advice:
Give yourself a break and acknowledge to yourself and your loved ones that you are not at your best right now.
After reading Brad, I came across the latest from Ming Thein. He’s been a long-time inspiration for me in photography. In “Full Circle“, Ming writes:
“If things are starting to take on a tone of finality, that’s because this is the point at which I confirm the suspicions you’ve been having: MT the writer and mingthein.com are both going into retirement.”
My friend Doug Kaye and I took a San Francisco street photography workshop from Ming back in 2014. We spent a couple of days walking with him on the streets, watching him make his images, and benefiting from his critiques of ours. He proved to be perhaps the most challenging “coach” I’ve had among the many photography mentors I’ve had along the way. While he’s stepping back for now, I’m hoping it won’t be long before we are inspired again by Ming and his work.
But setting the news aside, there are lots of positives to see and feel if I just pause and reflect a bit. Things like the wonderful creativity of people like Craig Mod, the inspiring work of the creators on KickStarter, the wonderful photography of my friend and teacher Cira Crowell.
Craig has it right when he talks about the benefits of walking:
“Those walking are almost certain to have clearer minds than those sitting at home or standing around with guns. Long walks may not solve all problems, but over time they have unquestionably activated groundbreaking insights of scientific reasoning, creativity, and philosophy. And have unlocked equality in the eyes of the law and the world.”
“It can be difficult to sometimes remember, but there is a lot of good still out there. Look well, look closely.”
Such a great reminder! I find it helps even more if you think about using your camera in those moments to slow down, breathe in and just see!
Sunday is a day for remembering the best, not dwelling on all that melancholy trying to wave over us. And, just maybe it’s just another perfect day for taking a walk…
“You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with. So it’s important to associate with people that are better than yourself. The friends you have will form you as you go through life. Make some good friends, keep them for the rest of your life, but have them be people that you admire as well as like.”
Recently I wrote about a workshop I took from Julieanne Kost and one of the techniques she demonstrated that created a resulting image reminiscent of one of the styles used by artist Pep Ventosa. I included a couple of initial examples in that post.
I’ve continued experimenting with the technique, scouring my Lightroom catalog for multiple images of the same scene that might be good candidates for blending.
Here are a few more examples – from Kyoto and Mumbai – along with my initial examples from Rome and Hong Kong.
Last week I took an online seminar taught by Julieanne Kost and hosted by Santa Fe Workshops. She walked us through many of her creative techniques for image processing including one significant project she did last year called Color of Place.
In this project she wanted to explore the differences in color between various locales around the world that she’s visited during her travels. She put together a portfolio of 25 cities and the colors that she found from her photography in those locales. The results are a series of wonderfully colorful abstract images that display 50 narrow strips of color for each location.
In an online article and video she shared more about her technique using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. Following her approach I put together my version of the colors of Cuba derived from the images I made during my visit there in 2013.
One of my favorite photographers/artists is Pep Ventosa. He’s known for some very creative Photoshop techniques that blend images in unique and unusual ways. I fell in love with a couple of his styles when I discovered him years ago – and later met him at an Open Studios event he held in San Francisco. We now own several of his prints and have given a couple away as gifts.
Another great photographer who utilizes some very creative techniques for her images is Roxanne Overton – here’s her Instagram feed – she provides me with regular creative inspiration! From time to time she uses techniques similar to what I’m describing here.
Earlier this week, I took an online seminar from Santa Fe Workshops taught by Julieanne Kost, the long-time evangelist for Adobe. Titled “Beyond the Single Image” this workshop focused on Julieanne’s creative process – primarily her approach to compositing multiple images together in Photoshop. She showed a number of techniques – it was a great learning experience. She has an excellent blog where she frequently covers her techniques as well as having been featured in several YouTube videos that cover many of them as well. In addition, she’s an excellent teacher and has several online courses available on LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com.
One of the most interesting to me was a technique to blend multiple images together in a unique way that, as it turns out, results in an image with some of the same look as one of Pep Ventosa’s styles. When she showed the technique, she used it initially with video – using Photoshop’s video editing capabilities to blend together multiple images from a video to simulate a long exposure image with smooth water. This technique opened my eyes to how Photoshop could be used to perform frame captures from a video file and how she used a technique to blend them together.
The technique can also be used with still images – instead of a video file – to create a blended image that is somewhat analogous to one of Pep Ventosa’s styles. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of this technique that I used to create the blend above that I made from four photos taken during a recent visit to Hong Kong. All of my originals are kept in Lightroom Classic – so the process starts there.
Select 3+ (your choice how many) images in grid view in Lightroom Classic. With the images selected, right-click and choose Open as Layers in Photoshop.
In Photoshop, after the layers are all open (may take a minute), select all the layers. Then choose Layer/Smart Objects/Convert to Smart Object.
After the layers have been converted to a Smart Object, choose Layer/Smart Objects/Stack Mode/Mean. This will create a blend of all of the images with a look similar to one of Pep Ventosa’s styles.
Now, you’ll typically want to feature just one element in one of the images – in other words, you will want to bring out some specific details from the blend. To do that, you’ll want to select the appropriate layer with the details that you want to use and then paste it as a new layer on top of the Mean version and begin to do some blending. To do that, double click on the smart object icon in the layers panel. This will open a new Photoshop document with all of the layers shown individually. Select the specific layer that you want and do copy all. Then switch back to the Mean version image and paste – this will create a new layer on top with your selected image. After that you can add a layer mask and you can begin blending as you normally would. Typically I start with a black layer mask and use a brush with white and reduced flow to paint in where I want the details to show.
Once you’re done with blending, flatten the layers and save the image – which will bring the final version back into Lightroom. Or, if you think you may want to re-edit again, you could just save without flattening which will bring it back into LR – but it will be a very large file with all of the layers embedded, etc.
That’s it. It’s a fun technique to experiment with. I’m sure there’s some skill involved in selected the right few images to blend with this technique. You will need to play a bit to learn what strikes your fancy in applying this technique.
Thanks very much to Julieanne for sharing her techniques and helping me learn! Below are some other images I’ve created using this technique. Enjoy!
After weeks of staying very close to home during this pandemic, we were looking forward to taking a break and getting out for an afternoon stroll through one of our favorite gardens at Filoli.
On a beautiful Friday afternoon, we booked our tickets online (a requirement during this period), stood in a socially distanced waiting line to enter, and then walked the prescribed loop through the gardens – all while wearing a face mask as prescribed by San Mateo County’s health director.
When it came time to try to create my own mini ‘zine using some of my content, I experimented with two approaches: using Word and using a custom print template in Lightroom Classic.
In Word, I modified an example file I found here on the web to use US Letter paper (instead of A4 that it’s setup for). One of the things that’s tricky is that you need to rotate four of the images/text blocks on the page so that it works correctly.
In Lightroom Classic, I tried two approaches using the Print module. One was using the contact sheet approach and the other was setting up a custom template – which worked better as it gave me better control over the image block sizes, borders, etc.
In Lightroom, I created a sample collection of eight images, sequenced them appropriately (also a bit tricky as the order isn’t what you might think – see the mini-comic example, and then brought them into the Print module using the custom template. From their I printed the page – being careful to use the print setting on my particular laser printer that avoids any margins or scaling.
After that it’s a simple matter of folding the page, making one cut, and then folding the book. It take a bit to get the hang of it, but the result is fun – and charming! See examples below:
All in all, this project proved to be a good distraction to take my mind away from the coronavirus happenings today!
Here’s an example of the kind of both photography and photo editing that I’ve been doing using my iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Heading south from Half Moon Bay on Highway 1 a couple of miles on the right is Miramontes Point Road which heads down to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and, along the way, a parking turnout for coastal access to a paved walkway that winds through a golf course to a cliff area above Manhattan Beach.
On a recent overcast morning, I parked my car at the turnout and walked on a portion of this walkway where, along the way, it crossed a bridge which spanned a creek leading out to the beach. I used the built-in Camera app in the iPhone 11 Pro Max to make this initial photo:
I liked the framing that the tree provided but also, being a street photographer at heart, wanted to better capture the sole individual walking along the beach in the distance. So I switched to the telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and made this photo:
I found the composition of this image intriguing and opted to process it in black and white to remove some of the distraction of the colors – especially the green vegetation in the lower right. Using both the Photos app on my iPhone 11 Pro Max along with the Snapseed app I made this edited and framed version of that image:
As it turns out, I completely cropped out the lower portion of the image to remove all of the distracting vegetation and to better isolate the beach walker at the top of the image. I also removed the distant sky and much of the ocean to better balance the image.
It is amazing just how much fun photography on the iPhone is with the capabilities of these recent models! Being able to make images and edit them anywhere on my phone is a delight.