Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've always enjoyed taking photos. In my jr. high youth group I'd document every mission trip, retreat, etc. I'd dress my bears up, stage a tea party and take numerous photos of my stationary subjects. The images in my mind never matched the prints I'd get back. FIlm was expensive for a kid and developing film also was! Plus, it always seemed to take forever to get back my prints!

Back then, I had whatever point and shoot my parents would buy me and surprisingly I got pretty good shots out of it. Then after I was engaged, David encouraged me to buy a "real" camera: an entry level SLR. It was a Pentax, manual focus, pretty much maual everything! It didn't even rewind; I had to do that by hand crank as well. I fell instantly in love with it, shooting everything: flowers, streams, grass, sailboats, and of course my favorite subject was David, which worked rather well because he's always enjoyed photos of his action sports. I got pretty adept at surfing photos, rock climbing photos, and windsurfing. When Conor was about a year old I bought my first automatic SLR: on that had autofocus and auto rewind. I thought I needed autofocus to catch my now walking child. (But it turned out I was so good at focusing I could rival the autofocus camera!)

Basically, I've been in possession of either a SLR (film) or a DSLR (digital) for nearly 20 years. I've taken a smattering of classes, including a darkroom class that is now obsolete, but mostly I've learned through reading and doing. And it's been wonderful.

One thing I've resisted: photo editing. Though I've had access to Photoshop for the past 16 years, I've never bothered to learn it. In some ways, I considered it cheating but the reality is: there's just too many options! Do I want vibrant color or muted? Do I want it true-to-life or completely over the top and artificial? Do I really want to remove all imperfections from people or leave it as it is, which has sort of beauty on its own. There's so many choices in digital editing; how does one know when to stop "improving" it and how does one know that it is an improvement? It seems all a matter of very subjective taste.

But lately I've been forced to revisit Adobe products while volunteering. The church bulletin is done in Photoshop and I was so scared of it, but luckily the stuff I need to do to change things are minimal so it has been fine so far. Then last week I was asked to very quickly (in two days) come up with some type of brochure/flyer. I really hadn't a clue what I was doing, but through a lot of trial and error (and a very kind husband) I was able to design a cute little trifold. Of course, when I printed it the skin colors were totally off, but I was happy.

This week I was supposed to "spice up" a half page insert. And I did. But I got the impression that it wasn't quite what was expected. It was for Prayer and Care and the only photo I could find was one I took of a child's hands holding yellow flowers. But I decided I'd try again. So I did, only I reverted to a tri-fold again... because it's pretty much all I know how to do so far! Still, it was much harder than the last one; I changed the colors in the template to better reflect my church and had to rearrange quite a bit. It no longer looks like the template at all!

Not sure if it will be more liked than my first attempt; I know a tri-fold wasn't what was requested of me, but I have to say I enjoyed it. I had no idea how much fun Illustrator, Photoshop and inDesign can be. Funny how it's taken me so long to embrace all this!

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