For this week’s blog entry I’m providing some comments on Michael Williams’ Image Assignment. Hopefully this will provide some useful feedback both for Michael going forward and to start our in class discussion of his page.

Overall, Michael did an excellent job. His cropping allows him to eliminate a lot of work during the restore phase without losing anything from the photo. Even with that though, there remained quite a few scratches and other defects, which he skillfully removed, leaving a focused and very clean photo.

I am really impressed with the color work on the dress, the lines are very clean and he was able to add color without losing the detail of the shadows and folds. The skin color still looks a little bit off, but skin color is probably the hardest aspect of colorization.

Michael’s engraving matting was also done very well, he was able to add the background in without losing any of the detail of the engraving itself. However, while his background is very close to the color of his webpage, it is still possible to see the slight difference in the color from his image and the website itself.

This week’s readings were almost entirely tutorial in nature, and complemented the practical exercise we worked on in class last week. While last week’s readings dealt with some of the ethical issues surrounding the alteration of photos, this week’s tutorials accepted as given that in today’s Photoshop world we will be changing aspects of images to fit our design goals, and focused on going over some best practices for doing so.

Taken together, the two Lynda classes and the four blog entries (well, three blog entries and a list of link’s to other like-minded blogs) by Carmen Moll covered three of the main image techniques: colorizing/recolorizing, restoration, and ageing. So far I have only really worked a little bit with recoloring in our class exercise, and found it involved way more steps than I expected. For some reason I had an idea that recoloring just involved identifying one know color in an image, and then running a computer program that based on that would figure out and color in all the others (ie in a picture of a Civil War soldier I know his uniform in navy blue, so set that and let the computer do all the rest). Turns out its way harder than that.

Still, this week’s readings, combined with our in class practice, have given me a good tool kit of techniques for working with Photoshop to colorize, restore, or age images. I’m a long way from being an expert on image restoration, but at least now I have a basic understanding, and some sources to look back to when I run into problems. Perhaps the biggest point I’ve taken away however, is just spending the time to try different things until it looks the way you want (sounds similar to my experience with learning HTML/CSS).

This week’s readings combined so very straight forward, hands-on considerations for using and altering images with some of the more theoretical issues with image use and image manipulation. Dr. Petrik’s entry on managing engravings was very helpful for the nuts and bolts of working with historical images, and especially old style engravings, as part of web design. Not for the first time I found myself wishing I had read ahead in this class, as I struggled with exactly this same issue in trying to insert the War Department Seal engraving as a header image in my Typography assignment. Her tutorial would have been extremely useful, and probably would have saved me a great deal of time in addition to resulting in a better final product.

In contrast, the multipart article by Errol Morris deals with some of the more abstract questions raised by photography, and image manipulation in general. As Morris points out, this question predates photoshop, as even before the advent of image-altering software there was significant debate over the staging of photos and whether they accurately represented reality. Photoshop merely slightly adjusted the issue by moving the question of representativeness from the original photos depiction of reality to the end photos depiction of the original photo. While Morris’ article occasionally got a little too “artsy” in its debate over this issue, I felt that his discussion of photography and reality closely relates to the ever present question of existence of positive, objective truth dealt with by historians. Perhaps the most useful of his observations was the concept that photographs should be treated with the same “close reading” we apply to textual documents.

 

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