Tackling Photoshop

Now that the actually quite pleasant tasks of discussions and excursions are coming to a close, this week will consist of nothing but production. Instead of adopting a Chamberlain-esque method of simply starting and winging our way through it, it became immediately apparent that the dreaded old ‘organisation’ thing would be at play again. The sticky notes even made a comeback.

One of the main tasks in the production process would be editing the photographs of the museum’s objects that we would be including in the game. Unfortunately, this meant that we’d have to try and get our heads around Photoshop. Indeed, we did have a lengthy Photoshop session last week, which I confidently nodded through. However, my blank expression when I opened up the software afterwards suggested that I wasn’t following it all as much as I thought.

When the group was asked to identify who was most confident with Photoshop, we all sank back deep into our chairs, resulting in us all sharing the burden. Consequently, the others weren’t pleased when I admitted that I used Photoshop for two years in Interactive Media. In my defence, those days were mostly spent placing my friends’ heads on the bodies of dictators (and the occasional phallus). Since Malton Museum didn’t at any point make requests for that sort of material, I think I was justified in concealing my experience.

In fact, what was required was background removal and general tidying-up of images of the museums objects. Perhaps I should have paid more attention in my school days, as my incompetence shone through when I started hacking off chunks of the objects instead of the background.

As punishment for my earlier deceit, I was next allocated a particularly tricky image of a comb on a similar coloured background. Rather than doing the sensible thing and finding the most appropriate tool, I opted for the tedious method of changing the colour of individual pixels one by one. Needless to say, my dishonesty and stupidity meant that I fully deserved the subsequent migraine.

An image of a bone weaving comb
An image of a bone comb that caused a lot of grief (Photo: Isobel)

One major issue I have with the editing process is the fact that nobody will understand the time and effort we put in when they see the final product, yet they would have noticed if we hadn’t. I’m beginning to think that I may have to stand with the game and verbally inform people of what I did to the images.

All in all, the photo editing went pretty well considering I can barely even take a photograph, never mind ‘adjust its colour saturation’- whatever that is. Another bonus is by concentrating on the image side of things, I avoided any ‘CSS work’. I won’t explain what that is, as I’ve been only pretending to know myself for the past two weeks.

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Photography Voodoo

With minimal computer skills, not usually branching beyond opening Netflix or a Pages document, I was surprised to find that when faced with the programming code for Twine I was able to do more than create a steaming hard drive and a black screen of death. This may have lulled me into a false sense of security however, when the next day we were to take on Photoshop and photo editing. With the common phrase used for photography “oh it can’t be that hard” and “anyone can do that” it became very, very apparent that no not anyone can open Photoshop for the first time and create work on par with Ansel Adams.

As we were asked by the university graphic design, photography and website expert what experience we had with photography, I proudly dropped in that I had borrowed my fathers camera and had a dabble; moreover as the £2000 camera and additional £500 lenses were produced my comfort zone quickly disappeared. Various techniques were covered including lighting, the importance of angles and the positioning of what you were photographing — with insight divulged that could only come from a true professional and enthusiast.

I became lost in the photographic jargon that was not only going over my head but taking a running jump to gain as much height as possible. Moreover, the importance of these terrifying-to-achieve prospects became clear for our upcoming data collection day as the comparison between amateur photos and those with depth and accuracy were presented. Unless we wanted our work to look like well, probably what the amateur photos I had already taken looked like, we need to become photography voodoo masters in 5 weeks. As this session drew to a close we found ourselves on a break, sat in a slumped rather depressed looking circle googling the meme “when the lecturer asks you if you have any questions but you sit there in silence because you don’t even know what you don’t know.” The giant safety net comprised of our incredible supervisors and all those experts dedicating their time to this project could not have been felt more than in this moment.

Nothing could prepare me for the next session though, as my abominable IT skills flourished into a horrendously edited photo. Although very enjoyable this session left me staring at the screen thinking some kind of wizardry must be occurring to allow my peers to not make their image go an unappealing shade of off-pink like mine were. The enthusiasm and outstandingly patient persona given off by our lecturer allowed me to keep my cool and fully appreciate what we would be able to produce for our project with more than a little bit of practise.  

Come the end of the day I felt both mortified and excited at the prospect of the task ahead of us, urged on by what I can only assume is sheer insanity.

A computer screen with photoshop loaded displaying an autumn scene mid editing with the editing panel at the side.
Working on Photoshop (Photos: Marionna Sandin)