A strange synchronicity
happened yesterday. It was the 50th anniversary of the end of the Montgomery
bus boycott, a watershed moment for the Civil Rights movement. It was also
day 3 on the job for the new Defense Secretary, and the first day of his
first surprise visit to Iraq. And it's a few short weeks since the infamous
Michael Richards blow-up.
CNN ran a lot of material about the Montgomery boycott, looping it with trailers
for a special on Racism in America and all the other news of the day. At some
point I saw some footage of Secretary Casey stepping off the C-130 cargo plane
and onto the tarmac in Iraq. There was a wide shot of the plane showing the
hatch that Casey would step through, along with a section of the fuselage.
That shot piqued my sense of irony. Painted in huge letters on the side of the plane, as clear as day, were the
words Spirit of Strom Thurmond.
... for Photoshop geeks, at least. I read the new Sybex book Skin by
Lee Varis from cover to cover in record time last week. It covers a wide
range of subjects related to photographing people — including lighting, getting
skin color and tone right, why digital cameras tend to redden skin tone, retouching,
soft proofing, and printing. It is great to see all of the info together in
a well-written, concise tome, which is based on practical experience.
Some will take issue with some of Varis' advice, especially the assertion
that there's no advantage to working in 16-bit. His suggestion that Adobe RGB
is sufficient and that ProPhoto RGB is overkill might be a little easier to
swallow, though I know there are a number of people teaching students that
ProPhoto is the future.
Thumbing through the book in the store, the thing that hooked me was a technique
for making blotchy skin look more even. I didn't
realize how thorough the treatment of lighting was, until I got the book home.
Nearly half the book came off as a kind of bonus, since I bought it purely
on the basis of its coverage of retouching.
This is an intermediate to advanced book. It will be a lot easier to grok
with, if you have experience with layers, blending modes, and masks in photoshop.
As far as the lighting stuff goes, it's a good idea to have some prior exposure
to studio lighting and using a light meter. But maybe this is a self-regulating
matter — I don't think the average beginner is going to be interested in the
subject — it's the kind of thing that you get interested in, after you've wrestled
with this stuff for a while.