May 302011
 

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival took place at the weekend. In previous years, I have been eager to seen at least one of the acts on each of the three days of the festival’s duration. It wasn’t the case this year.

The only performer of note that aroused my interest was legendary keyboard player Herbie Hancock, who appeared last night.

In some ways, it was no bad thing. Saturday night was reserved for the European Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona. Live coverage of the final was not available to me. I had to wait until the Fox Soccer Channel showed the match at 8:00pm.

In order to keep a sense of live action, I stayed away from the computer all afternoon. In fact, I visited St Marys, Georgia, and knew there was little chance of bumping into someone who would reveal the score. There are some advantages to America not being a soccer nation in the full sense of the term.

Barcelona’s display was sublime. For any team to reduce the cream of English football to little better than a pub side was a remarkable feat. The slick passing by the Spanish side at times left me open mouthed in amazement. Barcelona play my kind of football and in Lionel Messi they have the supreme exponent of the beautiful game.

TV pundits talk of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney being a world-class player. If that is the case, then Messi is from another galaxy, where Rooney would be lucky to clean Messi’s boots. Call me unpatriotic if you wish but I get tired of English pundits bigging up the Premier League and Premier League players. The proof of how far the English game lags behind its continental counterparts was there for all to see on Saturday.

I did not fare as well in seeing Herbie Hancock. A large crowd had gathered in front of the main stage of the festival. Standing 300 yards from the stage, Hancock was going to cut a rather diminutive figure in terms of his physical presence.

I moved to the back stage area and saw the great man from about 60 yards but the sound was understandably terrible. I said to my wife, we might just as well have stayed at home at listened to one of his CDs.

We ventured towards the stage at Hemming Plaza and caught the last few numbers of Guitarzzz, featuring Chuck Leob, Chieli Minucci and Paul Jackson Jr. I make no claim to being a jazz aficionado, so these names meant absolutely nothing to me but their set was an absolute delight to witness.

My photographic exploits were confined to shots of the various food vendors. Until sufficient people help support this site by ordering goods from Amazon, through the link on this web site, a camera or lens capable of shooting performers on stage is going to remain on my wish list for a long time.

Hemming Plaza, Jacksonville, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

 

Laura Street, Jacksonville, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Finally we headed to The Landing for dinner and, in passing, caught a few moments of the closing number by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. It is not often you get to see a big band jazz these days, so thanks to Gordon for keeping the flame alive. Another time and I would have stopped to listen but hunger is a powerful force. I was starving. Music may be the food of love but the Big Phat Band wasn’t going to fill my stomach.

Please help to support this site by using the Amazon link on this page if you are shopping for something.

May 272011
 


I have just spent a few days in Orlando, where my wife was attending the national conference of her professional organization at the Marriott World Center Resort.

Orlando, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

On these kind of trips we travel with a cooler bag filled with Diet Coke and those not consumed on the journey are then placed in the fridge of the hotel room.

I am then instructed to buy a 12-pack of Diet Coke to last the week and the cans are placed in the fridge when space becomes available.

Carrying out my orders, I happened to notice a sticker on the fridge that said it was not for personal use. The note went on to say that the fridge employed sensors that monitored what was used.

Now something about being monitored by sensors attached to a central computer did not sit easily with me, especially in a country that is supposed to be the Land of the Free and where one political party continually campaigns against big government. This fridge smacked of Big Brother.

I passed this information on to my wife and her colleagues; the general consensus of opinion was that the presence of sensors in the fridge was just BS.

Perhaps I took things a little too far by rearranging part of the contents of the fridge. The Bud Light went in the space previously occupied by the Pepsi and the Canada Dry Ginger Ale also found a new home courtesy of me.

The next morning, I came to get a Diet Coke and found that the door to the fridge was locked. Several strong tugs failed to force the door to open.

I called Guest Services and explained the situation.

“I am sorry about that,” the girl said. “We can unlock it from here.”

Sure enough, a few moments later when I tried the fridge door, it opened with ease. That got me thinking that the claims on the sticker were not so far-fetched as I had originally believed. But just for good measure, I rearranged a few more of the drinks in the fridge.

The sensors may be able to tell if a can is removed but it cannot determine whether the contents of that can have been consumed and therefore rightfully be charged to the room.

I told my wife about the fridge being locked and released from some remote point and said that we may face an interesting exchange when we came to pay the bill.

In the course of the next day, the fridge door became locked again and I once again called Guest Services to get it released.

The morning of departure and the bill pushed under the door of the room revealed a charge for one soft drink, which we had not consumed. But all my switching the cans around had not registered with the sensors. Damn!

At the desk, our protestation about the one soft drink was readily accepted and the amount deducted from the bill. My case for the defence was never used. Perhaps it was just as well. Look what happened to Winston Smith!

Orlando, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Have a good weekend, y’all!

May 202011
 

The death of an aunt back in the UK has brought a sad end to an activity I have engaged in for nearly 50 years, namely letter writing.

My first written letters as a child were to distant relatives, of which my aunt was one, thanking them for Christmas and birthday presents.

I grew up with handwriting. It wasn’t until I reached the age of 21 that I first used a mechanical device to record the written word – an Olivetti portable typewriter. I later graduated to a Brother electronic typewriter with a word processor facility.

In 1994, I bought my first Apple Mac computer, a G3, and handwritten letters became few and far between. And then came the Internet and e-mail.

Since moving to America, the only handwritten letters I wrote were to my father and my aunt. Both were too elderly to embrace the technology of computers.

I corresponded every three weeks or so with my father; twice a year with my aunt – birthday and Christmas time. It was an arduous task, not in terms of finding things to write about, just the sheer mechanical act of writing. After 30 minutes or so my fingers would begin to ache, necessitating a break that sometimes interrupted the flow of the letter. I would then spend time trying to pick up the thread of my thoughts.

Another problem was that my brain always seemed to be about three words ahead of my hand, which often resulted in illegible words or a word in the wrong place. Not one for sending letters with words crossed out, I would start that page again on a fresh piece of paper.

Basically, what I could have effortlessly accomplished on the computer, writing an e-mail, took me three or four times as long in a handwritten letter.

People used to say to me, “Why not write the letter on the computer and print it off?” For me a typewritten letter is the kind of thing one receives from the bank or some other business entity. These letters were personal and I liked to retain the personal touch.

My father died in March and, with the passing of my aunt, I can now hang up my 30-year-old Sheaffer fountain pen for good. Writing with a ball-point pen, or Biro as we British would say, was never an option — my handwriting turns into an unreadable scrawl. The fountain pen enabled me to cling on to the last vestiges of legibility. There is no point in spending all that time and effort on writing a letter if the person receiving it cannot make out what is written.

Handwriting will now be relegated to jotting the odd note or two on the notepad I keep in front of the computer screen, usually the price of some camera that I cannot afford or its specifications as compared to a similar camera. But in the days of cut and paste, even these notes are becoming fewer.

I suppose I can say that I am doing my bit to protect the environment by reducing the need for paper.

Have a good weekend, y’all! I hope it contains the sentiments of this message I saw this morning on an object outside a junk antique shop on Park Street, Riverside, Jacksonville. The image was captured with my Ricoh GRD III.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

 

May 182011
 

A strange kind of inertia has set in this week, hence no posts until today. I don’t know whether it is some kind of fall-out from all the excitement leading up to the FA Cup Final last weekend and then the disappointment of not only Stoke City losing but also the manner in which they lost.

The truth is that I have found it hard to get motivated this week.

The creative muse did descend in the early hours of Tuesday morning whilst having a cigarette out on the back deck. I noticed a clump of pecan tree leaves lit by one of the spotlights that illuminates the deck. I think it was something about the light that had me racing into the house for the Ricoh GRD III.

Even with the bright tungsten light of the spotlight, I still had to ramp up the ISO to ISO 800 but the Ricoh’s sensor could cope. Photoshop allows the presence of noise to be reduced in images and their is also proprietary software out there that also cleans up noisy images. I am thinking of Topaz DeNoise™. But with this image, I processed it as I would a shot taken in daylight.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

You don’t always have to be in exotic and glamorous locations to find good images; sometimes they can be right under your nose in the back yard.

I have also been revisiting shots I took on a trip to Savannah, one of the few city’s close at hand where people walk the streets and provide good subjects for street photography. Savannah is a vibrant place that puts the much larger city of Jacksonville to shame. Of course, the city does benefit from a heritage that Jacksonville sadly lacks, which attracts tourists in large numbers, and it also has the Savannah College of Art & Design, which means plenty of students milling around the place and living in the historic downtown area. In fact, it is hard not to fall over some art student sketching something.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved

And people also walk their dogs along Savannah’s historic streets.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

These two street shots were captured with the Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50 and Canon 40D. B&W conversion in Silver Efex Pro.

That’s all folks!

May 142011
 

It is one thing to lose when your team has done its best but quite another when they fail to perform.

Stoke City were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in this afternoon’s FA Cup Final at Wembley. If the scoreline had read 4-0 in favour of the Manchester side, Stoke would have had little reason to complain.

In the first half, Stoke’s attack and midfield failed to turn up at the office. It was only thanks to some splendid saves by goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, and some woeful shooting from Manchester City,  that Stoke went in at half-time still in the game with the score at 0-0.

Stoke were completely outplayed in the first half. Man City’s manager Roberto Mancini had done his homework, nullifying the threat of Stoke City’s wingers Matthew Etherington, who looked far from fit, and Jermaine Pennant, as well as target man Kenwyne Jones.

A hallmark of Stoke’s midfield play is that they chase and harry, putting the opposition players under pressure and forcing them into errors. Too often, Stoke simply sat back and let the likes of Silva, Tevez and Touré orchestrate the game.

In the second half, Stoke briefly pressed and made more of a game of it but without ever really threatening. Man City’ goalkeeper had only one save to make in the entire match, thwarting Kenwyne Jones when he managed to get past defender Lescott.

It was always a question of when Man City would score and the goal duly came in the 75th minute when inter-passing between Silva and Balotelli in Stoke’s penalty area eventually saw the ball run free to Yaya Touré who drove home from 10 yards out.

It was game over as far as Stoke were concerned. They were never going to get back into this match. Too many players failed to play to their full potential; too many passes went astray. At times Stoke looked clueless and out of their depth, with balls aimlessly punted into areas where no Stoke player was present.

Stoke City’s first corner of the game came in the second minute of injury time. That statistic says it all.

The corner saw the strange sight of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen making an extra attacker in the Man City penalty area but it was to no avail.

The better team won. In football, there is simply no substitute for class and with players such as Tevez, Silva, Touré, Balotelli, and de Jong in the Man City side, class and talent triumphed.

After decades of living in the shadow of the illustrious neighbours Manchester United, Manchester City’s blue moon is rising.

For Stoke, unless quality players are brought into the side and manager Tony Pulis actually plays them, next season will see them once again fighting to retain their Premier League status, with little chance of challenging for major honours.

The best thing that can be said about Stoke City today was their fans. The Stoke team gave them little to sing about but their support never wavered. They completely outsang Manchester City’s supporters.

May 142011
 

The day has arrived. In a few hours, the outcome of the 130th FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke City at Wembley will be known.

One of the teams will go down in the history books as the winner; the losing side will fade into obscurity.

As a Stoke City supporter for 51 years, you don’t need me to tell you who I want to win.

Stoke City 1972 League Cup Final shirt. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Manchester City are the obvious favourites with a team that cost in excess of £200 million, while Stoke’s was assembled for £26 million in transfer fees.

In their last Premier League games both teams faced north London opposition. Stoke City convincingly beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium; Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Eastlands to clinch a place in next season’s Champions League.

But the saying in football goes – you are only as good as your next game. And that game is the FA Cup Final.

The last time Manchester City won the cup was in 1969 thanks to a Neil Young goal. Sadly, Young died earlier this year and City fans believe the FA Cup will be one by them in memory of Young.

Bolton Wanderers fans believed they were destined to win the FA Cup in memory of Nat Lofthouse who died this year. But when Bolton met Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-final, they were thrashed 5-0 by the Potters.

Dead men do not win football matches.

In this David versus Goliath clash this afternoon, the TV pundits are going with Goliath. On paper that seems a sound assessment but football matches are not played on paper.

It is what happens on the Wembley turf this afternoon that counts, where 11 men wearing the sky blue shirts of Manchester City take on 11 others wearing the red and white stripes of Stoke City.

May the best team win. I just hope it is Stoke.

In the League Cup Final of 1972, Stoke City were the underdogs against Chelsea but won the game 2-1. A similar scoreline in Stoke’s favour this afternoon would suit me fine.

May 132011
 

It’s official. I have FA Cup fever.

I thought living 4,200 miles away would bring me immunity but I have succumbed. My thoughts these past few days have been preoccupied by Stoke City and Stoke-on-Trent. Browsing through my collection of football programmes yesterday left me in doubt that I was stricken.

One of my most prized possessions when it comes to Stoke City memorabilia is a programme from the Centenary Celebration Match. Stoke City took on the mighty Real Madrid at the Victoria Ground on Wednesday 24th April, 1963. The Spanish club side, the best in the world at that time, included legends such as di Stefano, Puskas, Amancio and Gento. Somehow the programme has survived to this day.

A prized possession. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

In the photograph above, I used Photoshop to remove my name written in the handwriting of a nine-year-old. The things we do as children. That embellishment probably means the value of the programme is probably a fraction of what an umblemished copy would fetch. Oh well.

The signature belongs to the then Stoke reserve goalkeeper Bobby Irvine. The team photograph on the back of the programme also carries several autographs, among them Tony Allen and Jackie Mudie; while inside I have the autograph of English footballing legend Stanley Matthews, later to become Sir Stanley Matthews and the first footballer ever to be knighted.

With the final less than 24 hours away, a degree of tension is creeping in. Cigarettes smoked out on the back deck are now accompanied by thoughts about whether Stoke City will beat Manchester City. My earlier optimism has given way to one or two nagging doubts.

The first concerns Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez. The Argentine international has been out for several weeks with a hamstring injury. He is back. He played for the last 10 minutes of Man City’s 1-0 victory against Tottenham Hostpsur on Tuesday.

I have enormous respect for Tevez, as I do most Argentine players. He is probably not quite in the same class as Lionel Messi but is pretty close. Tevez has the ability to destroy Stoke singlehandedly.

My second worry relates to Stoke manager Tony Pulis. If, with 20 minutes to go, Stoke City are leading 1-0, I can see him pulling off attacking players and bolstering the defence in attempt to cling on to the one-goal lead. But what if Man City equalize? Stoke will then lack the ability to get back in the game. Pulis has adopted this strategy before and lost the gamble.

In the Carling Cup against West Ham last October, Stoke took a 1-0 lead. Pulis decided to try and hold on to that lead and withdrew his strike force of Pennant, Jones and Tuncay. West Ham equalized and the game went into extra-time, with West Ham scoring two more goals to win 3-1.

That kind of mentality worries me. I subscribe to the philosophy that if the game is in your opponent’s half of the pitch, your own goal is not under threat — attack is the best form of defence.

The extent of Robert Huth’s knee injury also worries me. Huth has been a rock at the centre of Stoke’s defence and also contributed vital goals at the other end. He is the highest scoring defender in the Premier League. If Stoke go into the final without Huth, it will be a major blow.

Winger Matthew Etherington is also doubtful having a suffered a hamstring injury in the game against Wolves two weeks ago. But the way Stoke saw off Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday shows that they can be an effective attacking force with Etherington absent.

I believe the man of the hour could well turn out to be  Jon Walters. Since his two goals in the FA Cup Third Round replay against Cardiff City in January, he has gone from strength to strength. The first of his two goals in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Bolton is worthy of goal of the season in my opinion.

If Walters has his shooting boots on in tomorrow’s game then life could be pretty uncomfortable for Man City.

The tension is beginning to rise again. It’s time for another cigarette out on the deck and more deliberations on how the game will turn out. Being a Stoke City fan has never been easy; suddenly it seems to have got a lot harder and a lot more nerve-wracking.

May 092011
 

The spontaneity of British wit is unsurpassed. Well I would say that, wouldn’t I? But while watching Stoke City play Arsenal yesterday, the Stoke City fans provided a brilliant example.

There has been little love lost between these two teams since Stoke City won promotion to the Premier League three seasons ago. Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger has accused Stoke of playing rugby rather than football. Wenger a football purist poured scorn on Stoke and their prolific use of long balls played out of defence, Rory Delap’s long throw-ins and the team’s kind of aggressiveness that is usually associated with prop forwards.

Yesterday, Stoke City simply outplayed Arsenal with flashes of fast-flowing football and individual skill from the likes of Jermaine Pennant and Jon Walters. And Stoke supporters were certainly going to take Wenger to task for his slur.

With Stoke leading 3-1, the crowd at the Britannia Stadium suddenly burst into a rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot, the song sung by England rugby fans. The commentators on the Fox Channel did not pick up on the humour  associated with that song but it was not lost on the football correspondents of The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

Watching sporting events in the USA, the Dallas Cowboys when I lived in Texas and now the Jacksonville Jaguars, I miss the songs and humorous chants of English crowds. American fans do not go in for chants or singing of any description. In fact, they don’t even bother to sing their national anthem, which is played just before the start of any sporting event, leaving it to some C&W singer or winner of the America’s Got Talent TV show.

What is the point of having a national anthem if the nation cannot be bothered to sing it? And, sadly, I am afraid the American approach appears to be spreading beyond its shores. What America does today, Britain does tomorrow and the rest of the world a few days later.

The only crowd participation I have witnessed in America was at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, home of the Dallas Stars NHL team. When said pop singer or whoever was trotted out to sing The Star-Spangled Banner and reached the line – Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight — the crowd to a man/woman would shout “stars”. That has all the sophistication of an eighth-grader.

Similarly, NFL crowds will chant “Defense” at the behest of electronic signs flashing round the stadium. But songs about players, chants to urge their team on, forget it. All you get during the course of a game is a cacophony of general noise; in other words one unholy din designed to drown out the opposing quarterback’s instructions to the rest of his team.

The nearest  I ever got to experiencing the kind of support British fans display was when the Jaguars beat the Indianapolis Colts last season with the last kick of the game. As the crowd left Everbank Field, the walkways from the stands echoed with the repeated chant of “We are —  Jaguars!” For a short time, I thought I had been transported back to England.

Oh to be at Wembley stadium on Saturday.

May 052011
 

It seems as if every time I attend a concert at the Florida Theatre, I end up in conversation with someone famous. A few weeks back I spoke to Jimmy Pons, the bass player with The Turtles and Mothers of Invention. Last night after the Jeff Beck concert and while waiting for the great man to emerge from the Stage Door, I got chatting to two British guys, both Londoners, one of whom turned out to be Trevor Tanner, the former front-man and guitarist with the 1980s band, The Bolshoi.

Trevor is now based in Jacksonville Beach and plays with celtic rock band Rathkeltair, as well as pursuing a solo career. The other guy, Rob, was his manager. I guess that should have tipped me off that I was dealing with someone talented.

We chatted for about 20 minutes about life in Jacksonville but more importantly football and Stoke City’s appearance in the FA Cup Final on May 14. Trevor turned out to be an Arsenal fan and the less said about that the better. Rob was a Spurs fan.

With no sign of Beck during that time and the security men saying that he had left by another exit – well they would say that, wouldn’t they – my wife and I headed home still talking about the amazing concert we had just witnessed.

There are guitarists and then there is Jeff Beck. His virtuoso performance at the Florida Theatre demonstrated just why fellow guitar legend Eric Clapton describes Beck as the most innovative guitarist in the world.

Before the concert, I got talk to the guitarist of a street band playing outside the Chew restaurant as part of Jacksonville’s monthly Art Walk. In this kind of situation, the Ricoh GRD III with its 28mm equivalent lens copes just fine. I was able to get in close. But in a concert setting and sitting a few rows back from the stage, its limitations are all too obvious, as the photograph further down the page shows.

Street band on W Adams Street, Jacksonville. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Naturally, we got talking about guitarists in general and Beck in particular. He agreed with my assertion that the mark of a truly great guitarist is when they can be recognized instantly from just a couple of notes; people like Roy Buchanan, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana and BB King to name just a few.

And no one can replicate the searing guitar tone of Jeff Beck which tore into the hearts and minds of a near sell-out crowd at the Florida Theatre.

Beck ably demonstrated that he is a true master of his craft. Some of his solos, the sheer dexterity, had me shaking my head in disbelief as well as adulation.

In the course of his set, Beck raised and lowered the tempo to perfection, allowing both the band and the audience to draw breath for the next sonic onslaught. He covered a wide spectrum of genres – rock, jazz fusion, blues, soul, and rockabilly – each one receiving Beck’s unique style and treatment.

Jeff Beck on stage at the Florida Theatre. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

With a career spanning more than 40 years, Beck has accumulated a vast repertoire. His latest album Emotion & Commotion featured prominently in the set list but Beck turned the clock back and reached into his musical past. I was lucky in that two of my all-time favourites – Big Block from Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop (1989) and Brush With The Blues from the 1999 Who Else! album – received an airing.

Last night, Beck’s band featured Rhonda Smith on bass, Jason Rebello on keyboards and the legendary Narada Michael Walden on drums. That is some line-up, particularly Smith who takes bass playing into another dimension pretty much in the same manner as Beck’s guitar playing.

Beck is normally the kind of musician who lets his music do the talking. The previous two times I saw him, in 1972 and 1990, he never addressed the audience. Last night, not only did he speak on a couple of occasions but also conducted the crowd’s response in Led Boots. He even shared a joke near the end of the set when he donned a pair of sunglasses looked down at the fretboard and then said, “Now I can see what I’m playing.”

Another feature of last night’s concert was the inclusion of several rock and pop covers – A Day In The Life and Something by the Beatles, Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix and I Want To Take You Higher by Sly and The Family Stone. Becks’ version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Nessun Dorma, which both feature on his latest album, completed the range of his musical versatility.

With four encores — including How High The Moon as a tribute to Les Paul when Beck switched from his trademark Fender Stratocaster to a Gibson Les Paul, well it had to be, didn’t it – Beck further endeared himself to the Jacksonville audience.

As he acknowledged the crowds cheers and applause, Beck touched his heart and then the bicep of his right arm. That sums up his music — power and emotion — the ingredients that have fueled his creativity and playing throughout five decades.

May 042011
 

Grocery shopping is a joint venture with my wife until we reach the frozen food display cabinets. At this point, I relinquish command of the shopping cart and head over to the magazine stand and browse the photography magazines.

Leafing through Popular Photography, I came across an article on how to create a fake reflection. The original photograph showed a lake whose waters were brown and choppy, as a result the clouds overhead were not reflected. Photoshop came to the rescue, although I don’t know if rescue is the right word because the final image was, in my opinion, a gross distortion of the original. In other words, a lie, a complete fabrication.

I am old-fashioned enough to believe that a photograph should present the truth. In these days of Photoshop, the absolute truth is often a rarity. I am guilty as the next photographer in that I sometimes clean an image up — take out a branch of a tree at the edge of the frame or make a cigarette butt in the foreground disappear.

My particular ethos is that it is all right to extract items from an image in the interest of producing a better photograph but to add something to a photograph that was not present when the shot was captured is beyond the pale.

It could be argued that I forfeit any claims to be an artist with that statement. But remember my background is journalism, where accuracy and the truth are supposed to count for something. And my style of photography owes much to the genre of reportage. I photograph what I see and how I find it.

In the case of the example shot in Popular Photography, I would have returned another day when the conditions would produce a reflection of the clouds in the lake. I would never dream of thinking to myself, “Oh I can add a reflection in Photoshop.” That is taking image manipulation too far for my taste.

The most extreme image manipulation I undertake is to convert the RAW colour image to B&W in Silver Efex Pro. It was a review of Silver Efex Pro 2 that made me pick up Popular Photography in the first place. The upgrade is now on my wish list but Nik Software recommends 4 GB of RAM for version 2, although it will work with the 2 GB of RAM I have on my Mac Pro. A few weeks back I checked the RAM usage and it gets perilously close to the limit. More RAM may not be such a bad idea but it will be an additional expense.

Photoshop can also rescue images where the exposure is somewhat awry — blown highlights or an area underexposed. I know we all try to get it right in the camera but none of us is perfect.

Last week, I took a shot of a derelict school building with Spanish moss in the foreground. The combination of the two made for an eerie atmosphere. However there was a small area of sky that was way overexposed. Small sensor cameras such as the Ricoh GRD III struggle to cope with a large dynamic range. Working on the principle of waste not want not, I set about seeing if I could rescue the image.

My normal processing — saturation, shadows & highlights, levels and sharpening — produced an unsatisfactory outcome.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

In my salvage attemtpt, the first port of call in Photoshop was Curves. I selected the Cross Process option and it worked a treat turning that area of sky into a surreal shade of magenta.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Me being me I did a B&W conversion using Silver Efex Pro.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

I then hit on the idea of using the crossed processed image as my starting point for a B&W conversion in Silver Efex Pro. I wasn’t quite sure what I would end up with but much to my surprise it was something that held a certain amount of appeal. In fact, I like it better than the cross processed version.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Now whether I would use this kind of post-processing on a correctly exposed image is another question. I very much doubt it given my ethos on photography. But it was a fun thing to do with this particular shot and gave me something that passes muster.

I would welcome comments not only on the treatment of this shot — does it work and have merit or is it just an over indulgence — but also on the whole business of manipulating images with Photoshop and if people have links to their examples all the better.