Photography is a natural part of travel, and in Europe I took the time four yeas ago to head out with a universal train pass shooting about two rolls of mixed 35 mm and 6×4.5 for a month in places like Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Germany. The point was that I wanted to see what I liked shooting and didn’t care much for – to figure things out. Eventually I moved to off-camera lighting with a Strobist education, and now I’m expanding further into the freedom provided by Photoshop – initially inspired by the work of Joey Lawrence.
Photoshop is one of those crazy amazing programs where anything is possible, but if you just randomly click things without any feeling for the result you’ll never really use the program for anything beyond an amusing supplement for television.
It’s important to remember that Photoshop is just a visual translator, an avenue for the user to express a visual representation of an idea. Like most computer programs, the actual user-computer interaction sucks. Many of the elements of Photoshop like the paintbrush tool are traditionally controlled by a computer mouse – one of the least bio-mechancially compatible gadgets ever invented. It doesn’t matter the shape, number of buttons or color, the mouse was not designed for a person to easily interact with the computer. It was developed because in the age of post-DOS early Windows programs, it was the most basic component that could be produced to allow user-computer interaction beyond the keyboard.
I’m still waiting for the day when mechanical design and analysis programs like Pro/E and ANSYS are sold with VR-goggles and three-dimensional motion gloves to enable real user-program interaction. If you really want to start interacting with Photoshop and making it an extension of your imagination and body – drop the standard mouse and pick up a graphic tablet. Mine is a basic small Wacom from like 8 years ago – superior to any of the latest button-crazy-curved-but-non-ergonomic mouse designs found today. Plus, it’s small enough to pack along to all corners of the Earth with my dented G4 PowerBook. I’ve been drawing in class since kindergarten – sketching with a pen or pencil is my natural visual expressive process – so using a mouse with Photoshop is just imposing a handicap.
The reason I’m exciting about using and abusing Photoshop in the coming year is the amazing possibilities with selective lighting and local image adjustments. Using a graphic tablet and painter techniques one can really start using the program as an extension of the mind-body and use it as a creative tool to create – as opposed to modifying images. I always knew these things were possible, I just never took the time to explore them before.