Photoshop CS5 Puppet Warp, camera clubs and the secrets behind a photo...

This photo titled "Hide and Seek" looks like an ordinary photograph with lucky timing in a woodland setting. A couple months ago it was entered in a local camera club's monthly competition. The competition judge thought it was a well timed shot until I mentioned during the critique that I used my retouching skills to do a bit more than finesse the saturation. I hope you can still enjoy it after the reveal. I'm not sure the judge did with his editorial background but it's within the club competition rules as long as the photo still looks photo-realistic. There's a creative category but this shot is far too realistic to compete in that category.

Hide and Seek (click photos to view larger)

The reality is I seldom if ever add elements to my personal photography. I might remove something distracting with Photoshop if it wasn't practical to do it before shooting. I had recently photographed green anoles near my studio as illustration reference. When I selected this rust photo for the competition I had the anole's tail in mind as a test for the new Puppet Warp feature in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Neither of the lizards were present for the pipe shot though I could imagine them playing there. The top anole's tail was straighter as shot. In this composition I felt it would look more interesting to have it turn down and mingle with the leaf debris on the pipe. The Puppet Warp tool worked exceptionally well allowing me to bend the tail naturally once the anole was silhouetted.

The rusted pipes were shot during a camera club field trip to a long forgotten Florida ghost town called Kerr City. I've been a member of the camera club for several years. I knew there was a local camera club or two but until I met a club member while shooting a hot air balloon event with a friend I didn't know who attended the meetings or what the club did. The main requirement is an interest in photography. We both took up the offer to check out a meeting or two and have been members since.

I highly recommend photographers of all skill levels check out their local camera clubs. You will meet some interesting people that share your excitement for photography and maybe learn or share a few tips along the way. The clubs are always in need of motivated volunteers, speakers and mentors. When our club's competition changed from prints to a digital projection this year I started competing more often. I love real prints much more for their craftsmanship and physical presence. The digital entry requires no mounting and matting or dealing with damaged prints from the handling at the meeting. Everyone's shot is viewed at an impressive size. Projectors do have their limitations but our club's Spyder calibrated Epson does a nice job when the room lighting is low enough.

So what happened in the competition? "Hide and Seek" took second place in the color B category. I was on the edge of my seat when I heard it was tied for first. Without knowing it the judge chose a straight from the camera shot over my illusion of reality. It was a good call. ;)  -pw
North Central Florida Photography Club (link)
more Kerr City ghost town photos (link)