This Boot Was Made for Photographing?

Photoshop Processed Photograph of a Boot

The current issue of Photolife magazine, November 2006, has an article by Freeman Patterson. Titled Thoughts on Photography, Freeman reflects on his career as a photographer while offering advice to those new to the field of photography. I was particularly struck by one quote:“If you have a boot fetish, photograph boots until you're sick of them or until you become so good at it that footwear manufacturers and fashion houses come knocking on your door – be who you are!”

In essence Freeman is advising newbies to not only pursue their dream but to pursue their subject. Contrast this with a photographer who loves astronomy but instead photographs weddings because that is where the money is. Yes you have to make a living but love of what you're doing can take you to a higher plane of understanding. If you love photographing boots, you will be more likely to explore all aspects of the subject and become quite familiar with the angles, lighting and texture and ultimately produce better photos of boots than someone with only a passing interest in the subject.

This same reasoning is true of me with respect to the Viking and Mars Global Surveyor missions to Mars. As a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador, and prior to that as a speaker for the Chicago Society for Space Studies, I had created a number of presentations about Mars. But I chaffed at being limited to using the images that had been publicly released. To overcome this limitation I had to figure out how to process the raw image data myself. When I began processing the raw image data files, stored in the Planetary Data System or PDS format, from the Viking and Mars Global Surveyor missions several years ago it took me quite some time to come up with an efficient work flow and a methodology for processing the images. If my desire had been less I would have given up and resigned myself to using the MSSS and NASA publicly released pictures. My love of the subject and the desire to create my own renditions of Mars won out. You can see some of the pictures that I have created at my Mars Art Gallery web site.

To illustrate this story I decided to photograph one of my boots – a first. But rather than take just one photograph, I took two with slightly different focus and from slightly different angles. I then used Photoshop to merge the two pictures together. Layer blends, adjustment layers, selective blurring and sharpening were all used to create the final image (2200 x 1600 pixels).

For the digital photographer, photography should not be considered just mastery of the camera, but mastery of image processing software, like Photoshop, in order to create pictures impossible to obtain from the camera alone.

Ad Astra, Jim

| Return to the Blog Index | This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 6:40 pmand is filed under Digital Photography.

4 Responses to “This Boot Was Made for Photographing?”

  1. gr8promise says:
    January 15, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Nice information on your blog… I would like to design a content blog for my site…which theme and format did you use for this?

  2. Plaxco says:
    January 20, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Thanks. The design was one that came with the package and I just did some minor tweaking to get it to be the way I wanted it.


  3. Bob says:
    February 4, 2007 at 3:04 am

    great blog! do i have to be a member to post to this blog?

  4. Plaxco says:
    February 4, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Bob,

    Not at all. Just fill in the blanks and you're on your way. Your post will appear once I have moderated it.