2012 In Pictures

The Front Cover, Loon's Lake, Lexington, NC

The Front Cover, Loon’s Lake, Lexington, NC

Ansel Head had heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Hoping to spare his friends and family the embarrassment of pretending to read the thousands of words he would need to tell of his education in 2012, he decided to put his story into pictures. And so he set out in early December of that year to organize his Nikon snapshots into a hard cover photo book. That, he reasoned, would give gravitas to his tale and make even the most recalcitrant stand up and salute.

As with most things Head undertook, he was fortunate that his older brother had worked so diligently to implant in his younger sibling the Male Ego Interuptus Syndrome (MEGOITUS).  With no male ego to be damaged, Head breezed blissfully through life never being slowed down nor debilitated by his less than superior intellect. That psychosis clearly assisted him when he undertook to publish a book full of pictures.

The Back Cover, The Mall, Washington, DC

The Back Cover, The Mall, Washington, DC

Head had bought into the sales pitch from the on-line printing company that all he need do was organize his pictures in their “easy to use” software, upload it over the internet, give them a credit card to cover printing, binding, and shipping, and voila, he would have a professionally published book bearing his own name in just a few short weeks.

Indeed a book did arrive several weeks later, but the pictures looked nothing like those on his monitor. They were dark, blurry, and with muddled colors. “Hmm!” he reasoned, “there must be more to this than advertised.” His investigation told him that his expensive Lightroom program and monitor calibrating system were inadequate for refining images that were headed to printing companies. For that professional look, he needed the expense Photoshop CS6 program. Head had avoided this purchase because the synapse power required to master its layers, tools, masks, and options would challenge even an Ivy Leaguer. But he had no choice if he were to publish in pictures his passage through 2012.

Wake Forest Hospital, Winston Salem, NC

Wake Forest Hospital, Winston Salem, NC

He plunged into the world of Photoshop. All of his effort was required to work through the books, articles, and on-line videos of this beast. He brushed this, blended that, and repaired many pixels in his pictures. Then up the internet to the printer went a revised file along with his credit card information. A week or two later, the second edition arrived. It was still a mess. Obviously, Photoshop professionals were on point when they said that for printing, one had to experiment to find the correct settings.

So Head bought a Wacom tablet to make his work more precise. He studied more, practiced more, then edited, re-edited, and edited his pictures again. Off his work went along with his credit card information. What came back was worse. He knew he had experimented and experimented hard, but obviously his style of experimenting was not what the Photoshop professionals had meant.

Head recalled his grandfather’s advice to him when everyone around him was catching fish but Head wasn’t: “You’re not holding your mouth right.” So Head returned to the on-line videos and studied the professionals’ mouths. He mimicked their every nuiance; but in the end he had no more luck with Photoshop than he had had with fishing.

At this point, a normal male with a fully functioning ego would have thrown up his hands and moved on, instead, to writing about 2012, or more likely would have dropped the silly idea all together. But that’s where MEGIOTUS saved Head’s picture book. His up to then failures did not adversely affect his male ego because that ego had been so thoroughly interrupted.

Museum Hill, Santa Fe, NM

Museum Hill, Santa Fe, NM

Head pressed on, narrowing down the problems. The color space was all wrong, the sharpening was overdone, the printer settings were in error, and the luminance was way off.  Like a devil possessed, he charged into the on-line forums for the printing company and software programs. Even though he could understand only tidbits of the jargon being bantered about, he did discover that he lacked another key program. NIK would show him the way if only he were willing to pay for it.

More money, more books, more study, more video lessons, and much more editing followed his discovery. The expensive and little mastered Photoshop was now only a staging platform for the new editing software; the Wacom tablet was moved to an unused part of Head’s desk. Those hours spent sweating over lassos, brush opacity, healing tool samples, and fade adjustments were rendered redundant. But NIK seemed to do the trick, that and holding his mouth the same as the NIK professionals on the videos. Finally the book went back up the internet along with his credit card information.

Four months into the project, the fourth edition arrived. To Head’s amazement, most of the pictures were fine. Only a dozen or so needed reworking. He fixed those using NIK, his new best friend, and away it went with Head holding his breath (and mouth) that his maxed out credit card would clear.

Rolling Thunder, Dumfries, VA

Rolling Thunder, Dumfries, VA

Right on schedule, the fifth printing of the hard back book arrived bearing the proud title, An Education For Ansel Head, 2012 In Pictures.  To Head’s untrained eye, the pictures were clear, sharp, and correctly colored and lit. Proudly, he stood in front of a mirror and saluted. In his hands were bound pages filled with Head’s snapshots telling an uninspiring tale which no sane person would find a reason to peruse. No matter though, MEGIOTUS overcame any impairment that would have slowed Head’s determination to bore others with his education.

 

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