Friday, July 25, 2008

Mad Photoshop Skillzzzzz (part 2)

(Ok, so this is what I really meant to say about knowing how to use Photoshop, but I got distracted.)

Having some knowledge about Photoshop is great and all, but when your husband volunteers your skillzzz, you better measure up.

For all those significant others out there: Don't volunteer your SO's skills without checking with them first!

While we were visiting his family, splorp! volunteered me to fix a photo of his late grandfather. Now, that wasn't so bad on the surface. The problem was all I heard was splorp! saying in a tone of voice that expresses his full confidence in me, "Oh, no problem. LadyCiani can fix it!"

Umm, what am I fixing? That might be good to know. Cause I love your optimism, but what are you getting me in to? I had to explain to splorp! that for future reference, you need to say, "Show it to LadyCiani. Maybe she can fix it." See, changing the wording gives me an 'out' if it's something beyond my mad skillz!

Seriously? This worried me. Mostly I was worried that it would be a really old picture that they wanted me to fix somehow. Hmm, what's so bad about that, you wonder. What's the difference between fixing an old picture and an new one (beyond already-digital format vs. scanned image)? Well, it could be pretty bad. It doesn't really matter if a photo is scanned or not. You can fix a scanned image just as well as one that's digital. It's just that older photos come with more problems.

Have you ever noticed that most newer pictures are glossy, while a lot of those old photos are textured? Yeah, that texture creates problems. It looks really cool, but it's the basic mechanics of scanning a photo that cause problems. When you go to scan a photo, the scanner is basically shining a lot of light at the photo. Just like the big copy machine you always wanted to use to take a copy of your butt? Yeah, same concept with the regular desktop scanner.

Still don't see the problem? The texture you find on old photos is a semi-regular bumpy texture, with a bunch of high points and low points right next to each other. Think of a hillside, and then finding a cave in the hillside. What happens when you shine a light into the cave? The darkness of the cave swallows up the light. That's basically what happens when you have a texture on a photograph. The scanner is shining light at the photo, and the low points of the photo swallow up the light. It means the now-digital-scanned image looks incredibly grainy.

True, professional photographers can probably compensate for the problems caused by the texture, but there are no guarantees. Also, if you're trying to correct the photo for light damage (yellowing) at the same time, result might look strange. (Let the lesson be, always print photos on glossy, and store in archival, acid-free storage).

Anyway, so I hear splorp! volunteering me to his mom to fix this photo, which I've never seen, and I semi-panic. I still want her to like me, not be disappointed in me! And I already know it's my mother-in-law's favorite photo of her now-deceased father. Oh, please let it be something I can do!

It turned out ok. The photo wasn't more than 5 years old, and they just wanted me to fix a food stain on his white work shirt. Not too horribly complicated, as corrections go. It wasn't like it was completely easy, though. The photo had been slightly scratched, and it had fingerprints all over it, plus I had to tell my father-in-law that he needed to clean his scanner bed. All those things are problems because when he scanned the photo, the glass of the scanner had dust on it, which transferred to the now-digital image as white flecks. The scanner also picked up the scratches and fingerprints, and I had to try to correct for all those things.

Still, the photo looked pretty good at the end. EvilMomBeast got a kick out of the idea that I could remove smudges on the walls in the background too - she called it "Painting my parents' living room."

No comments: