Our current challenge is something different - challenge yourself to try something new! Here's how it's worded in the Challenge Blog (click this banner to visit the challenge):
"Michael Staley said it perfectly.....'There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.'
This next challenge will be ANYTHING that you want it to be, but it must be something new to you. I have decided to work on a few different types of photography this summer. I am concentrating on HDR & digital Infrared photography. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. You use bracketing on your camera & Photomatix to transform your images into HDR. Visit Trey Ratcliff @ Stuck In Customs & scroll down to his video at Google."
Now to MY personal challenge: I went to an evening presentation of "Two Shots of Creativity" in mid-June. The presenters were Jane Conner-Ziser and Jack Davis. Jane's creative ideas centered around portraiture, which isn't my "thing", but Jack's creativity centered around the amazing new features in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 6 (which comes with Photoshop CS5 and was pre-ordered and installed on my computers as soon as it was available!). I've been using Photoshop since Version 7.0...over 7 years...and have used ACR exhaustively...but always just to make adjustments prior to working on my images in Photoshop. SO--my personal challenge was (and still is) to learn more about this great tool and to use it to its fullest.
My finished image is below:
Jack's lessons included teaching what he called the "4-Step Tango", first steps when working in ACR, to set the tones and color. He also showed us how to create a faux HDR look. The most enlightening part of his instructions, for me at least, was how he used Presets...and how to create your own. I'm sure most people have no presets in their ACR tabs...I know I didn't until I downloaded his. He also showed us how to use the Targeted Adjustment Tool (5th tool from the right on the top of the ACR dialog). Another great tip was how to take snapshots of your work as you progress...and these stay with the file, so you don't lose your snapshots when you save and close the image.
I can't go into detail about what I did here or what I learned from Jack, but I highly recommend, to anyone interested, that you search on the internet for 'camera raw 6 tutorials' and/or purchase Jack's new DVD (available at PhotoshopCafe.com).
Just to show how far the finished image traveled from the original, here's the photo I started with: