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Back to Southeast Asia

For certain other reasons, I had decided to remove my current operating system from my laptop and replace it with Ubuntu. This meant transitioning to GIMP and a new work method. There were a few bugs and hassles to overcome: for example, I couldn’t plug my Canon directly into my PC via USB. Ubuntu wouldn’t recognize it, so I had to remove the SD card, put that into my Kodak, then plug that in and manually move the files over.

But, fortunately, Ubuntu’s Shotwell photo manager could read RAW files and I could edit JPG files in GIMP, so that’s how I decided to work for the next however long.

Editing files in GIMP proved to be a good learning experience, since I had to start afresh and teach myself new editing techniques. Using a completely different photo editor with a completely different workflow is a good way to learn new tricks and get yourself out of old habits.

That being said, Shotwell doesn’t have the nearly same functionality as Camera RAW.

In order to pop lights and dark darks, I had to use Shotwell’s built-in slider/histogram, which is similar to the Photoshop levels function. There was a saturation slider and a couple others, but no contrast or any of the other fancy controls that RAW has. Without access to contrast or any of Camera RAW’s fancy features, I ended up sacrificing many lights and darks to achieve some effects.

Inside GIMP it’s possible to access more features, but I didn’t have any experience with it and it took me a while to get the hang of it. While GIMP is an excellent free tool, it’s just not as robust as Photoshop.

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Floating on the Thailand Clouds

The time: August, 2011.

The place: Koh Phangan, island in Thailand.

I took a lot of pictures of clouds, because I really like clouds. As I mentioned elsewhere, I played around with the dials and levers in Camera RAW to achieve some surrealistic effects with many of these. No Photoshop on any of these, only Camera RAW.

These first few shots with all the strange colors were actually shot during the day time.

My process for shooting lightning — the one and only time I’ve ever managed to get some, except for this one other time in Arizona — was simple: keep opening and closing the shutter constantly. I experimented with different modes and shutter speeds, anywhere from one to thirty seconds, as well as the manual shutter mode. I came out with a lot of shots, some of which were okay.

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Bangkok and Beyond, 2011

As you can see, I was quite excited about my new camera, and was taking pictures everywhere I went.

On occasion, I would get pictures that had something “wrong” with them, as a pro might say. Lots of noise or overexposure would ruin an otherwise good shot, such as the one below with the moving train. What I’ve learned is that if you have an image with something cool in it that you want to salvage, use the defects creatively.

If your shot has lots of noise, add grain, make it sepia or black and white, and give it some style. The same thing goes if your shot is overexposed: add creative effects to make your photo work with the defects.

Another note about these pictures. You’ll start to notice some extremely colorful editing with some of these shots. This was all done about a year or so after they were shot. One week I decided to see what would happen when I really pushed Camera RAW settings to their extremes, including everything from saturation to contrast, clarity, blacks, whites, etc. etc., as well as the hues sliders, individual color saturations, and so forth.

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