Another odd sign, this time from San Francisco.
Archive for August, 2004
A sign from Williams, Arizona. Williams makes an excellent base for visiting the Grand Canyon. The place trades on its location on the old Route 66 but is pleasant for all of that.
I can recommend the
world-famous Sultana Bar (really) and nearby an excellent little coffee shop / restaurant run by a Chinese family that makes the best coffee I drank in the California, Nevada or Arizona.
Ben Hammersly links to Duowe Osinga’s Best Time To Visit Google hack.
The hack it isn’t particularly reliable. The best time to visit Venice is said to be between April and June and the best time to visit cloudsoup is between july and december. Good fun though and possibly useful.
Quick guide to creating photoshop masks based on the original image. This is useful for lifting shadow areas where you didn’t have something like a fill-in flash but still have information in the shadow.
Take the image below as an example. Looks like the metering setting was wrong when the photo was taken – it seems too dark in the shadows but the sky and mid-tones look ok and don’t need to be brightened up.
I need to lift the shadows, especially under the roof of the watchtower, without washing-out the intensity of the sky color. Here’s where a mask based on the image can be used to good effect. I’m going to mask out the sky and try lifting the brightness of the rest of the photo. This won’t work, of course, if the camera hasn’t recorded any information in those shadows.
Firstly, I create a duplicate layer above the original image. It’s always a good idea to work with copies.
Working with this copy, I isloate the sky by using the magic wand on the blue -there’s a strong colour contrast between the sky an the rest of the image and it should work quite well. The tolerance is at 40, the selection is anti-aliased and to make sure I get the sky showing between the safety rails at the top, I uncheck the ‘contiguous’ option. Imperfections in the selection because of the largetolerance figure picks up some spots in the watchtower but I can easily deselect them.
Creating the mask
Once I’m happy with my selection of sky I create a new, empty layer to hold a mask image. At this point, my selection is still active but I’m now focussed on the new layer I’ve just created
To create the mask I use the fill tool to fill my selection in black. I make sure the ‘contiguous’ option is unchecked here, too, to be sure I fill all of my selected area in the new and currently empty layer.
Now, I need to copy this proto-mask into a real mask layer for the original image. I create a mask on the original image Select/All on the the mask preparation layer, copy it to the lipboard and then paste it into the newly created mask. The layers panel looks like this:
I switch off the mask preparation layer and then I’m free to adjust the shadows of the watchtower without worrying that I’ll washout the sky. Comparing the two images:
You’ll see the fire engine has more detail to it, the fire officers are wearing bright yellow jackets, and the detail under the roof of the watchtower is clearly visible.
Just returned (10-hour flight back). We flew into and through the night, as we did when we returned from Georgia in 2001. Helen tells me that flying West to East is the worst for jetlag which is maybe why I’m still up at 4:13 am (about 8pm California). The US is so beautiful and California so suprisingly wild. I learned the Grand Canyon is in Arizona (not Colorado or Utah) and I am glad Helen persuaded me to visit Las Vegas.
Some excellent photos of California, Nevada and Arizona in the gallery with more to come.
Rough outline of trip / memory jerker for me:
- Landed San Francisco
- Picke up car, drove into Marin County (posh) over Golden Gate bridge. Fell asleep in cinema
- Moved on up coast to Arcata, then Orick(?), 11 mile round walk through redwoods and along coast, fantastic
- Down through Yosemite. V touristy.
- Death Valley. Incredible. Took dangerous route with car, 4 hours at 10 mph because of rough track without passing anyone else, temp outside about 115 F. Wondered what Ray Mears would do in these circumstances if we broke down.
- Modesto, in homage to Grandaddy. No-one in Modesto had heard of Grandaddy
- On through desert to Las Vegas. Strange town. Forgot to marry Helen.
- On to Williams, Arizona, on Route 66. Bad curry, incredible lightening storm.
- Grand Canyon. Despite expectation of diappointment it didn’t disappoint. A bit more than brain can cope with, though.
- Prescott, on to hippy Sedona recommended by drunk sheep herder in bar in Williams, left quickly for return to California.
- Joshua Tree, more incredible desert. On to coast via sick-making curvy descent from 6,000ft interior
- Along Highway 1 via Big sur to Monterey
- Monterey to SF
- San Francisco. Dangerous Mission district, Chinatown a bit frightening (box of toads to eat, anyone?), Castro was fun, Helen liked the Apple store just down from our hotel
- Last night, bumped into Bill, Brenda and Michael. Bill has millipedes, giant millipedes, which we held.
- Accidentally tried to take knife through security at airport. Security people very understanding about it.
- Back to Heathrow. Virgin steerage class cramped but much better than KLM / Delta last trip out. Whiled away the hours with films.
- Landed Heathrow, drove back to Wales, stopping many times to collpase into sleep.