Tuesday, April 19, 2005

First photo ready for sale

I've been working off and on for several weeks, picking out some of my favorite photos...the ones that I think are the best and have the most potential to sell. While I've certainly got some nice photos all finished up and hanging on my walls, I haven't gone back to re-finish those photos (double check the quality, set them up for easy automatic printing, etc). I guess I figured they were mostly done, so I'd rather spend my time looking for more photos and just come back to finish up those later.

In my searches, a few weeks ago I found a group of photos that I really like. They show various views of/from the Au Sable Point Lighthouse. I really like the photos together as a group. Maybe it's just nostalgia for the fact that my wife and I had to walk over a mile each way down a closed off service road just to get to the lighthouse...the extra effort required to get those shot gives them a special place in my heart. Or maybe its the fact that, after all that walking, when we got back to the car, the battery was dead and we had to flag someone down to give us a jump start in the middle of nowhere. Whatever it is, I felt there was something about these photos that, together, really told the story of this lighthouse.

So, at the time I loaded the files up really quick in MS Publisher and proofed the layout and configuration of the photos. When that worked well, I mocked up a double layered mat in Publisher and fooled around with color options.

Once I was convinced I had something worthwhile here, I immediately got to work fixing up those photos. The first step was to work on each of the individual photos, converting from CRW (canon raw) to TIFF format and post processing. The next step was to get the photos working together in a single TIFF file. This required cropping the images down to the required proportions (including some bleed around the edges), then resampling all images to a common DPI, sharpening each individually, and then copying them to the final image and positioning them relative to each other. The final step here was to work on the text...picking out the right fonts and sizes, choosing the wording, and creating the text layout.

Once the image was all set to go, it was time to print the image. Just one slight problem...the image I created was 11"x14". I do have some 13"x19" paper that I can just cut a slice off of (I've done it before) but the widest my Canon i950 can print is 8.5". Luckily, my image had a 1.5 inch border, leaving 8 inches of actual content. Add 1/4" for bleed to each side and you've got exactly 8.5". However, the next problem is that, in order to print the full 8.5" width you need to put the printer driver in borderless mode, and unfortunately (for who knows what stupid reason) borderless mode is only available for a few fixed paper sizes...not for custom sizes. Luckily (once more) my image had a bar of whitespace that spanned the entire width of the image about 2/3 down the page. This allowed me to break the image into a two 8.5"x11" halves. I just print the top half, turn the paper around 180 degrees, and then print the bottom half upside down.

The next step was to make a custom collage mat. My first try was a disaster...crooked lines, wrong measurements, and on top of that, I actually cut the mat backwards (mirror image). I didn't feel like taking another shot at it right away, so I went back to other things for over a week. Today, I decided to take one more stab at making the mat. This time it came out great, and I managed to get 2 double layer sets cut.

So here it is...a publisher/photoshop mock up of my first complete image ready for sale.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Au Sable Point, Michigan

...click here to read more!

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's starting to feel a lot like....

No, not Christmas! It's starting to feel a lot like spring time. I'm getting a bit excited. I like to do a lot of outdoor and landscape photography, but I think last summer just sucked. It was nice that there weren't a lot of hot days, but there were just way too many rainy and overcast days. I had some decent weather on a few of my smaller trip here and there, but there were even more bad days. My August trip around Michigan got half rained out. Half of my lighthouse trips ended up being overcast skies. Not to mention (unrelated to photography) I hardly got to do any swimming all year. While not a horrible summer, I was more than a bit disappointed.

In fact, thinking back about it now, I was starting to wonder if maybe I was having clouded memory about just how bad the weather was last year. So I decided to go back and review the summer/fall months from last year to see if it was as bad as I remember. A quick look at the historical data over at Weather Underground (a wonderful site to get your weather from) shows that, nope...it's not just my memory. June was really the first month after getting my camera in which I was able to start doing some decent shooting, so I started there. So how bad was the weather? For the summer months (June/July/August) here is what I came up with:
19 sunny days
28 partly cloudy days
2 completely overcast days
43 rainy days

Wow...that's one heck of a crappy summer. September offered a bit of relief, with 18 sunny day(thats one day less than all 3 summer months combined), 8 partly cloudy, 1 overcast, and 3 rainy. However, October went back to the bad weather: 5 sunny, 4 partly cloudy, 8 overcast, and 14 rainy.

This year, Mother Nature is starting to get my hopes up for some good shooting weather. There have been a tremendous number of clear days so far. Lots of beautiful sunrises and even some nice sunsets. One day had one of the coolest sunsets I've ever seen. The clouds had rolled in as a solid layer, but there was a break at the horizon for the sun to do some dramatic side lighting on the wavy underside of the cloud layer. I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen, and I didn't have my camera on me at the time, but my brother-in-law was able to snap a nice shot on his Canon S-70 from his front porch.

Last week, the first flowers started popping up. First it was some daffodils at work. I could not resist snapping a few shots of those, including the following.

Then at home, our tulips just started to open, along with some other purple flowers which I planted a few years ago, but can't remember the name of. There were also some yellow blossoms opening up on one of the neighbors bushes.

So anyway, I'm just hoping that this is really a sign of a nice summer to come, and not just Mother Nature's way of torturing me with a sick sense of humor. I'm looking forward to getting some better photo opportunities this year. I've got a few trips planned already.

In May, I'll be heading to Seattle for a week. I hope to hit a number of sites there. I'd like to spend a whole 2 days on the Olympic peninsula: in the mountains, the rain forest, and stopping off at the ocean beach. I'm also planning a day for Mt. St. Helen's (volcanic activity permitting...you never know what it's going to do lately), and another day for Mt. Rainier. That leaves 4 days to see other things. Of course, I'll hit the usual spots downtown (waterfront, pikes place, space needle). I also hope to get to Snoqualmie Falls. Other than that, we'll see what happens.

In July, I've got a trip planned for 4 days in Copper Harbor, Michigan. There are a few lighthouses in the area I'd like to see, some wonderful shorelines, some old growth forests, lots of small towns, and a few decent (though not huge) waterfalls. Unlike my usual trips of packing a lot of things into a few short days, I'm intentionally under scheduling this trip. My hope is to just be able to spend a lot of time in one area, and really focus on shooting more of the smaller details This is in contrast to my usual strategy of getting the grand overview of a place with some basic but lovely shots, and then moving on. With the extra time, hopefully I'll be able to get some better shots, and be able to capture more of the heart and soul of the area.
...click here to read more!