Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project 365 - Day 17

Same picture, B&W conversion:

{I am really trying to post photos the day (or close to the day) that I take them, in keeping with the spirit of Project 365. But I didn't want to post this earlier because this picture was supposed to be a surprise for my parents for their 40th anniversary, which was just last weekend - happy anniversary mom & dad!}

Ever find yourself launching into a story that you KNOW will be horribly boring for everyone else, and even as you hear yourself talking you are thinking "shut up. shut up." but you just can't stop telling it? Well, I'm about to do that right now -- you've been warned. Poor Heather and Amanda have already lived the drama of this picture in real time and I offer a special apology to them for subjecting them to this again. Anyway, as noted, my parents just celebrated their anniversary, and I REALLY REALLY wanted to get a great picture of their four grandchildren together, blow it up big, and have it framed for them. I thought about hiring a {real} photographer while Alex was visiting, but (1) a lot of the talented photographers around here take off a few weeks in December to recover from the holiday madness, and (2) the thought of wrangling these four kids for a photo session during the short post-Christmas visit just wasn't appealing on any level. So I decided that I would make it a priority to try to get a usable photo myself. I tried several times during the course of the visit, and we got some cute ones, but none that seemed to be The One. We tried again on Alex's last day here. It was pretty cold outside, but sometimes you just have to play through pain to get the picture (and the kids didn't seem to mind it in the least). We got some in the backyard that seemed promising, but they were kind of backlit, and a little hazier than I was envisioning. So we moved everyone to the front porch. Keeping these kids still is not easy. Alex is a busy one year old who has a lot of exploring to do - no time to rest! Caroline is likely to declare "no more pictures!" at any moment, and there's no going back once that happens. Elizabeth loves her a good goofy face, and Jacob tends to get frustrated when the rest of the gang won't just sit and smile for 2 seconds so I could get my stupid picture and he can get on with his day, and his frustration translates into a scowl on camera. All in all, I figured that IF I could get these kids sitting together, I had about a 10 second window. I had NO time to tinker with camera settings, or it would be over. So I set up my camera before I set the kids up and then got them on the bench. They were already fidgety, so I started an extremely loud and obnoxious half yodel/half wooOOOoowooOOoowooOOoo noise, which froze them in their tracks. And then they started laughing. I couldn't believe it -- I just kept woooing and snapping, woooing and snapping. I glanced at my LCD screen and I could see that the exposure was correct and that the kids looked cute, but I didn't have time to zoom in on a picture to check it closely -- as soon as I did that, the moment would have been gone.

We all went back inside, and I couldn't wait to check out these pictures. I uploaded them from my memory card, and I immediately wanted to cry. I missed focus. Totally. I could not even believe it. I originally set my aperture to f/4 in order to be sure that everyone would fall into focus, but then the light changed a little and I opened it to f/3.5 to let in more light. I really thought that would be fine as the kids were all basically on the same plane, and I didn't want to increase the ISO because I didn't want noise. That was a HUGE mistake and one that I will never make again when photographing more than 3 people. Digital noise is tolerable, but out of focus pictures are not. In any event, I thought I missed my last chance to get the picture, and I was so upset.

I have had Scott Kelby's book on Photoshop Elements 8 for a while but have never used it much. But I so desperately wanted to save these pictures that I started pouring over it. I played with some of his sharpening techniques, and they didn't seem to be doing much. And then I used a technique that he reserves for "photos that are extremely out of focus and need a miracle" or something like that. And when I applied it, I couldn't believe my eyes. The transformation was nothing short of amazing. In my original, Jacob and Caroline were soft in the face. After the sharpening, it was really hard to tell - I could tell, because I'm the one who screwed this up in the first place, but I think it would be really hard to tell that there were such serious problems if you weren't looking for them. There was no way I was going to try to go as big with the print as I had originally planned (16x20) but I suddenly had hope that it would work as an 11x14. I ordered one color and one black and white in 11x14 from a pro lab, and was so thrilled when I got them back -- they looked good! I knew they would work for the anniversary. Another happy ending made possible by Photoshop!

1 comment:

Heather said...

Ahhhh. I think anyone would have had the same reaction! Although I'm very sorry you had to deal with this, I'm so glad that we learned about the power of photoshop from this experience!!