Tag Archives: Photoshop

How I learned Photoshop

30 Sep

Right out of high school  I went to work for a local company that produced seven small and largely unnecessary newspapers. My editor, an ancient man we’ll call Mr. Johnson, hired me despite the fact that I showed up to the interview wearing combat boots, jeans, and a too-small epic boy’s mustang tee-shirt. It was very Three Wolf Moon and I loved it.

I was hired as a typist but since I had other marketable skills I worked my way up to editing the legals page, processing the papers’ photos, and editing articles. I did a bit of layout work (we did it all by hand) but my aptitude at Photoshop is what made me an asset.

You know when your mom or grandma takes photos of a family event and you look at them later and notice that the framing’s all weird, someone’s head is cut off, and it needs to be cropped by several inches? Well, we didn’t hire any photographers at the newspaper; it was all done by the staff reporters. Basically it was like giving a camera to your still-haven’t-mastered-the-cell-phone mother and telling her to have at it. Needless to say, the photos needed work before they were put in the paper.

One day during a particularly rough cold season half our staff was out sick and the assistant editor was nearing a nervous breakdown. She pulled me away from my typing duties, sat me in front of the computer and said, “This is Photoshop. You adjust the levels here. You adjust the curves here. You adjust the brightness here. Edit all the photos for this edition. You have two hours.”

I got that issue’s photos edited in one hour. After that day I was given regular Photoshop duties.

I plugged away at Photoshop earning minimum wage. Mr. Johnson promised me a raise after I had worked there for three months and that day came and went with no pay raise. He’s so old, I thought, he might not remember. So a month later I gathered my courage and asked to meet with him. Mr. Johnson was a shrewd man. Of course you can have your raise! he said, At the beginning of next month, it’s all yours! I left the meeting elated only to learn that next month the Californian minimum wage was raised by twenty five cents so my sweet raise was basically the law. After that Mr. Johnson quit promising raises to his staffers and for motivation gave us press passes to Sweet River Saloon, a dismal restaurant thirty miles away.

Our computers were old and clunky and Photoshop ran poorly and crashed about three times a day. The best thing to do when this happened was to quietly restart the computer and not mention it to anyone. Mr. Johnson was convinced all computer problems could be fixed by defragging. Whenever there was an issue he took it upon himself to shout loudly throughout the office, “HAS YOUR COMPUTER BEEN DEFRACKED? HAVE YOU DEFRACKED THAT COMPUTER LATELY? THAT’S THE PROBLEM, I’M SURE OF IT! YOU HAVEN’T BEEN DEFRACKING!” He had a cane, and he’d wave it menacingly at the computers as he shouted. Years later when I was reading through The Onion I realized that Mr. Johnson was basically an incarnation of The Onion editor, T. Herman Zweibel.

At the time I was just working there to make some money while I went to school, but I learned so much about Photoshop that I still use to this day. I had hours and hours to play with the program everyday and it was through trial and error and experimentation and practice that developed whatever skill I have today. I’ve never taken a class or been formally trained, which proves that you can accomplish a lot just by messing around. Which I encourage everyone with a photoediting program to do. Mess around! Don’t be afraid to try stuff! And remember, always always defrack your computer.

Labor Day Weekend

8 Sep

Anthony and I had a wonderfully relaxing three day weekend with one whole baby-free day to ourselves. We celebrated by going on two adult-only dates (dinners! in a restaurant! with no screeching!) and we played a whole lot of FFXIII on a borrowed Xbox360.

I know, I know, I’ve talked shit about the Xbox before, mostly because… well I don’t remember anymore. The reasons that seemed important to me back when the PS2 was all new and shiny don’t seem important any more. The HD game play is stunning. Anthony and I are currently 2 discs into FFXIII and loving it. The beginning of our relationship was marked by epic make out sessions and marathon FFVII sessions (or was it the other way around?), so it was wonderful to game together guilt-free while Isobel was showered with love and affection at Grandma’s. Along with eating, spending time with Anthony and napping, I took on a huge cleaning project, so I’m considering Labor Day weekend a success.

My in-laws are really wonderful. In addition to providing the best babysitting we could ask for, my MIL Olivia likes to take Isobel for professional portrait sittings. As someone who is frequently disappointed by ‘professional’ sittings, I just cannot justify the expense of taking Isobel for portraits. I happen to take a lot of great photos of her myself, and for free! But I do feel that awkward professional portrait sessions are a right of passage for American babies, so I’m grateful Olivia’s willing to do it. Some times they even turn out to be adorable.

Isobel resembles me as a baby more and more. Although I’m of Swedish ancestry I was born with lots of dark hair. As a toddler it changed from brown to blond, and it had an awkward reddish-phase while in transition. It looks to me like Isobel’s hair is getting lighter as it appears reddish in some of these photos. I will be very surprised if she has a blond phase. All the kids in my family are blond, but I abandoned any notion of blond children when I met my husband, who is of Guatemalan ancestry.

And also very, very cute.

The portrait session produced some questionable photos, as you might imagine. Her hair is in that awkward growing-out phase. By the time she’s ready for her next round of portraits I’m sure it will be much less shaggy.

What’s a professional portrait session without some horrible photoshop add-ins? Anthony and I thought two could play at the photoshop game…

There! This seems way more appropriate.

She also took some adorable shots with her cousin Jewel.

I wondered whose disembodied-arm that was for the longest time before realizing it was Isobel’s.

I love this look.


Isobel’s like HOMEY DON’T PLAY THAT.

This shot is so wonderfully hammy I had to be resuscitated after viewing.

You’ll notice that she has this bunny in every shot. Once she had it in her clutches she refused to let go.

This is very much my daughter. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Pictures!

Look at all those teeth! Note: girlfriend can bite hard.

And another epically cheesey shot…

So I quickly made my own version in photoshop.

Ah, here’s one for the mantel.

Ok, this may not look like much but she’s looking back at the camera like that because she knows she’s not supposed to stand on the furniture. She’s totally about to stand up right here. She’s like, what’re you going to do about my defiant behavior, buddy? I’m adorable.

I showed my Mom the doctored-DJ Lance version of the ‘shopped Fairy Portrait and she said, “Don’t you have one without anything WEIRD in it?”

These are pictures of your granddaughter. So no I do not, Mother.

I heart Photoshop

3 May

Recognize that wizard? Isobel is apparently wanted by the wizarding world.

Have you seen this wizard?

Thanks to Zack for making this for me.

It’s so going on my fridge. It’d also make a pretty kickass onesie.