After learning about the seasons at preschool, my son recently asked me when it was going to start snowing here, and whether he might be able to have a sled. When I broke the news that it doesn’t snow where we live—ever—he was dismayed. “But it’s winter!”
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems we don’t do any of the seasons right. While our summers tend to be chilly and foggy, winter is typically a rainy and lush affair. By February, our brown hills have turned bright green and mushrooms start popping up in the yard. This year has been particularly mild, which means even my plum tree has gotten the notion it’s spring and started blooming.
Personally, I love it. It means I can get out of the house with my camera and the kids, and not worry about frozen toes or lost mittens. There’s no ice to slip on, no snow to shovel. But these practical concerns aren’t much comfort to a three-year-old boy who longs to make a snowman. It must be especially disconcerting when so many of the photos and books he sees at this time of the year show happy families romping around in the snow.
“I think snow must be really fun,” he said to me later that same day. “You can eat it, you know.” Perhaps he was trying to appeal to my culinary side.
The conversation was a good reminder to me that photos are no substitution for the real experience. So, we’ve promised to take him and his sister on a snowy adventure soon. In the meantime, I did make him a large cup of hot chocolate.
I hope your own winter has been a wonderful one—whether it’s white or not.
February Photo Challenge: Home
It’s easy to take a photo of an exotic location or a big celebration. Our brains are already on the lookout for good shots: a bouquet toss, a first kiss, a stunning sunset. But what about the places we see everyday? Good photos happen everywhere. It’s just that our brains aren’t looking for them because we already think we know what’s there.
For this month’s P.E.T. Photo Challenge, take a second look at the things most familiar to you. Try to see your home as a stranger might, including the textures, colors, and patterns. Rediscover the beauty of everyday objects and cherished possessions. Or see if you can create an image that evokes the feelings of warmth and safety that your home gives you.
There are many ways to interpret this month’s theme. If you’re not feeling inspired by the inside of your home, try to take an interesting photo of the outside. Or show us a moment in your family’s life. To some, home may actually be at the office or in a loved one’s arms. (You can find a few more suggestions in the blog post announcing the theme.)
As you look for your shot, consider these tips:
To participate in the February Photo Challenge, simply upload your image to either the PET Subscriber Gallery or the Elements Village Gallery between February 1st and March 1st. Please be sure to place the phrase “Photo-Challenge” exactly as shown (without the quotes) in the Keywords field, if uploading to the Elements Village Gallery, or in the Caption field, if uploading to the PET Gallery. Remember that photos should be taken within the challenge month.
By the way, we are still looking through all of the submissions for our January Black & White Challenge—there were a lot of you!—and hope to announce our winners in the next week or so.
What’s Happening Online
We’ve posted several great video tutorials in the last few weeks. If you haven’t visited the P.E.T. website lately, here’s a look at what you’ve been missing:
Alien Skin’s Exposure 4
Our friends over at Alien Skin Software just announced the release of Exposure 4, their photographic effects plug-in for Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. The new version has a slew of new effects for reproducing many classic film types and darkroom processes, and it’s wrapped in a much-improved interface that makes it easier to switch back and forth between black-and-white and color effects.
There are a lot of fun and useful tools inside Exposure, ranging from Technicolor film effects to “wet plate” texture overlays, light leaks, and infrared processing.
Exposure 4 works with Elements 9 and above, and Lightroom 2 and up; it’s priced at $249, with upgrades from any earlier version for $99. You can find out more--and download a free trial version--from the Alien Skin website
If you’re new to the idea of plug-ins, check out our article, “Boost Your Elements Experience with Plug-Ins,” from the March/April 2010 issue of Photoshop Elements Techniques, and its online companion, Plug-In Vendor Resources. Most of the plug-ins in the article have been updated, but it’s still a great primer on what plug-ins can do for you.
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This is the second email newsletter for 2012; you can find all previous editions on the “From the Editor” home page, which can be found under the Magazine link in the PET website header.