My Love/Hate Relationship with Photoshop

Photoshop is probably the greatest asset and one of the biggest downfalls of photography. On the positive side, it allows you to fix anything and everything that might be wrong with a photo. Dust on your sensor, no problem–Spot Healing Brush to the rescue! Unwanted items in your shot? Never fear, that’s what the clone stamp was made for! But on the flip side, any amateur can take a mediocre photo and jazz it up in photoshop. The only thing that deters some amateurs from using Photoshop is its mass complexity. They’re much more comfortable messing around on sites like Piknik.com, where you don’t need any photography training to edit your photo. Photoshops absurd price is another deterrent, but only to those who either don’t know how to or are too honest to pirate.

As a photographer, you’re taught to get everything right in-camera. The phrase that gets slung at you in the photo department is, “You’re only making money when you’re behind the camera. When you’re wasting time editing in Photoshop, you’re losing money”. It makes sense, as when you charge a client to do a shoot for them, you charge for the images, not the countless hours you spend in a darkened room, hunched over a computer screen.

So why all this rambling about wonderful, horrible Photoshop? Well, because I’m an addict. My favorite thing to do is take pictures, but my 2nd favorite is to spend hours editing them. Sometimes I get more excited for the editing than I did for the shoot. As a result, I signed up for advanced digital imaging at UCM this semester. Mostly we’ve been focusing on the artistic side of Photoshop. At first I was upset, as I thought it’d be more important to learn the intricacies of photo editing not covered in any of my other Photoshop courses, but now toward the end of the semester, I am beginning to have fun with the assignments.

Today we were assigned to do a “Levitation Portrait”. I have had some people ask me how I pulled these photos off, so here’s the short explanation. We had to take a photo of someone in an odd position, balancing on a chair. After we took that shot, where we were to remove the person and chair and take a photo of the scene empty. Through the magic of photoshop and a lot of squinting at the screen while masking the two photos together, we were able to make images look like someone was levitating in a scene. Normally you’re supposed to use a small stool, but I didn’t have one, so I had to use a folding chair, which proved to be much more work for me to do in Photoshop. I actually really enjoyed putting these together, and  I think this may be an idea that I continue to explore. Here are a couple of my self-portraits.  (If you’re interested in the more technical version of how to create these images, let me know.)

Levitation © Holly Hildreth 2012

Levitation © Holly Hildreth 2012

Another Photoshop Leviathan I tackled today was my ad campaign series for my advertising class. An ad campaign is a series of similar-looking images that are all trying to pitch the same thing. Each ad is different, but as a whole, they are cohesive and resemble one another. For my ad campaign, I did a series for Petfinder.com. For those of you not familiar with the site, Petfinder is a website animal shelters and rescue groups use to post pets looking for homes. I tried to make my series lighthearted and fun and went with the idea of “personal ads”. Here are my 3 ads.

Campaign series © Holly Hildreth 2012

TEXT READS:
Name: Macy
Likes: Long walks on the beach, cuddling on the couch, rolling in roadkill.
Dislikes: Thunder, the mailman, cats.
Could YOU be my soulmate?

TEXT READS:
Name: Stoli
Likes: Table food, commandeering dirty socks, and the poodle down the street
Dislikes: Being called fat, the strange man who brings the pizza, and the vacuum
Could YOU be my soulmate?

Campaign series © Holly Hildreth 2012

TEXT READS:
Name: Harley
Likes: Car rides with the windows down, peanut butter, and playing catch
Dislikes: Squirrels, high-pitched noises, and bath time.
Could YOU be my Soulmate?

If you couldn’t tell, I spent all night on Photoshop, but I consider it time well spent! It’s not work if you enjoy doing it.

Oh, and if you didn’t notice, my URL has changed! I bought a domain, so there is no more .wordpress! It’s just plain old http://www.hhildrethphoto.com . (If you type the old URL : http://www.hhildrethphoto.wordpress.com, it’ll still route you here, don’t worry!)

All Images © Holly Hildreth 2012 | hhildrethphoto.com

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Guinness

This week in my advertising class we were given a mock-up layout from a “client”. The layout was a drawn design depicting a scene with a product that the client wanted photographed for a full-page magazine ad. Our job was to interpret the layout and make decisions based on aesthetics and the client’s needs. The layout pictured a bottle next to a bowl containing some sort of food. I interpreted the layout as a beer bottle with “bar food” next to it.
I had the studio reserved this morning to knock out my assignment, so I headed to the grocery store before my shooting. I picked up 2 six-packs of Guinness. The cashier gave me a strange look. Apparently not many people buy alcohol at 9am on a Thursday, haha!

The shoot went fairly well. It was a nice change of pace to photograph something that stays still! After photographing the required assignment, I played around a little bit and took some more visually dynamic and (let’s face it,) more interesting shots

The only downside of the day is that I think my camera is in its death throws. The shutter would freeze and wouldn’t open back up unless I physically removed the battery and then reinserted it. I REALLY hope everything will be ok, but my camera is getting pretty old! Cross your fingers!

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

All Images © Holly Hildreth 2012 | hhildrethphoto.wordpress.com

Creative #5 – The adventures of Awkward Man

From the beginning of this class, I started thinking of different ideas that revolve around being awkward. I have no problem being socially awkward. I wear weird jewelry, play a long list of awkward instruments, and I love strange t-shirts. I started this whole project with the awkward banjo, then I moved to the awkward turkey, and now I present to you, Awkward Man.

Creative #4 – Animal morphing

I have always wanted to try morphing things together in photoshop, but I have never been successful. So for this assignment, I decided I would push myself to try and make a semi-believable morph. I spent countless hours in front of my computer trying to get the Photoshop gods to smile on me, but no such luck. I am not really happy with the results, but I have always been my own worst critic. If you have any suggestions on how to morph with more success in Photoshop, please let me know!

Creative HDR

This was my first shot at HDR photography for my Creative class. For those of you who may be reading and don’t know, HDR is “High Dynamic Range” photography, which is a process where you combine multiple shots at different exposures so you get much more contrast and color than you would with a regular photo.

My HDR experience was cut short due to my lens falling on the street and breaking. So, this is the best shot I had while my lens was still intact.

Creative Assignment #3

Originally I didn’t have any idea what I would do for this assignment. I knew I wanted to do something like my banjo project earlier this year where I covered my face with something, but again, I was not sure what. While Charlene and I were walking around Walmart looking for something metal for her studio lighting project, I ran across a turkey decoy in the hunting section and immediately got an idea. After a quick surgery, I turned the turkey into a mask and was ready to shoot. I wanted to portray a sense of awkwardness, because I always feel socially awkward. Some of my friends back home would use the phrase “Awkward turkey,” so i felt like this fit. Here are a few photos from the shoot.

Although the image doesn't specifically focus on the turkey, the song lyrics, "i feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers," by the Hold Steady always comes to my mind here, so I feel it fits.

Creative Photography – Star Trails and Landscapes

The University of Central Missouri Photo Society held a group shoot last night in the country to work on star trails. After talking with a fellow artist, I decided that I need to start forcing myself to shoot in color. I vastly prefer black and white, and most of my images are usually monochromatic. However, I vowed to start using color. Here are a few results from my shoot.