April 18, 2010

Photoshop Skills Practice

I’ve been wanting to improve my Photoshop skills of late.  Not simply in the arena of photo retouching, but also in the arena of graphics work.  While in the local Barnes and Noble the other day, I was perusing the “Digital Arts” section and ran across the book 100% Photoshop by Steve Caplin.  In this instructional tome, he guides you through a number of exercises designed to help your graphics building skills. 

EVERYTHING is done from scratch!  No clipping and pasting from somewhere else.  You name it, the screw heads, the light switch, the doorknob, the rips in the wallpaper, the lighting, all is created by you the user.  You start with a blank white page and through a building up of layers you end with a scene.

After a day and a half of work, below is my first effort.  (If you click the image you’ll go to my Smugmug page where you can see the full detail of the image… once there if you click the “O” at the top of the image you’ll see the “original sized version).  I hope you like it, but again really I am doing this for the skills practice.

Detective hall jpeg copy

And if you would like to see the image without the shadowing and lighting effects click here (allows for more of the details.)

April 18, 2010 in Biographical, Books, Photo | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


November 06, 2008


Well sort of...


I've created and published my first book, "We Own the Airfield and the Airspace!" It is actually an experiment in using the popular book making organization "Blurb." 

I have to say I'm mostly happy with the experiment thus far.  The process of creating (layouts), editing, and writing were all fairly easy. 

I learned of Blurb through an announcement on my Smugmug account and, not too long ago, I had received a book published in a similar way from a good friend of mine.  So I wanted to see if I could assemble a compelling photo essay of something that most interests me... as Brad Wilson so noted in a recent comment to one of my more political posts... "Shiny Airplanes!"

"We Own the Airfield and the Airspace!" is a photo essay of the Grand Junction 2008 Airshow, emphasizing the US Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron.  Other aircraft featured are the US Air Force F-15 Eagle and F-16 Viper, as well as warbirds like the P-51 Mustang and B-25 Mitchell and Civilian acts like Gene Soucy and his Showcat and Les Shockley in his rocket truck "Shockwave"!

The process involves signing up as a Blurb user, very standard. Then you will need to download the FREE formatting software, which is actually a great way to do this as you can assemble, write, format etc... entirely off line if need be.

Blurb is very well connected to a number of photo sites and blog sites making importing your content from your Blog or your online photo albums a breeze!  I grabbed my photos both from my smugmug account and my hard drive.

The software makes formatting super easy!  You can select from a large number of pre-built themes or create one entirely of your own.  The select the aspect ratio of the book you want (portrait, landscape, square, big coffee table size, etc...) and then soft cover, hardcover jacketed, or hardcover image wrap.  Once complete with the preliminaries, you are free to create!  the internal pages have a wealth of templates to choose from that render very professional outcomes.  All you have to do is simply drag and drop which of your image you want on the page into the gray area designated... and voila' it shows up there, where you then have the opportunity to resize and manipulate the image to you liking.  Editing text is a similar easy process.

Once you have what you like... you click "Publish" and your software connects to the Blurb servers (under your account) and begins to assemble your book, you'll be prompted to answer a few questions, then you will want to order your first copy.  It is HIGHLY recommended you order one for yourself to receive a "Proof" if you will... because unless you are a super dedicated photographer and have calibrated your screen exactly to match color, your exposures colors and image quality will be off slightly.  You can use the first copy as a guide to change your book's photo quality, color, brightness, etc... before you take the plunge and expose your work to others!  That's right you can sell your creations right from the site!  They even allow you to set a price (above their cost of course) so if you have a quality product, you might even make a small profit.

I received my first copy today (8 business days after I ordered it) delivered via FedEx ground.  And indeed the cover and binding are very professionally done and easily meet up to most professional publishing standards.  The internal pages are well binded and printed.  I ordered on premium paper, and I would recommend always doing so, I've seen the other and... well it lacks!  Even so, the internal page quality of premium paper could use an even higher boost, but in all honesty it is quite adequate for amateur publishing.  But again... if you choose to make a book, I would not waste time with anything less than the premium paper.

Also, one other slight (and I do mean minor) drawback was in the creation process of the cover, I wanted more flexibility in creating my title.  Blurb does provide a plethora of fonts, colors and scales to choose from, however the effects offered are extremely limited (not much much more complex than an e-mail editor... limited to bold, underline, italics...) I could not locate simple additions like shadowing, embossing etc...  Fortunately I have Photoshop at my disposal to create a title look I am happy with, but most of us do not ($600.00 for photo editing software is not in most people's budgets).

All in all I am quite happy with the results, certainly the service has been exemplary.  I would like to see slightly higher quality internal pages, but again it is probably a limit of the "On-demand" publishing agencies used.

If you would like to preview my book, click here:  "We Own The Airfield and the Airspace" you will be able to virtually thumb through the first 15 pages.  And hell, if you want to contribute to the Carmichael Enterprises (Guinness fund) bottom line please feel free to purchase a copy.  Especially if you like Shiny Airplanes! 

November 6, 2008 in Aviation, Biographical, Books, Current Affairs, Just Plain Cool, Navy, Photo, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack


November 02, 2007

Why I Love Ben Stein

Looks like I have a book to buy...

-Nuff Said...

November 2, 2007 in Books, Military, Politics, The Press | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack