Zen and the Art of Photo Editing

HEY! HEY!! Guess what I just did….

I edited a photo! On my new Mac! I didn’t realize how incomplete I felt without photo editing capabilities until I just figured out how to do it on my new computer just now. I feel so relieved. Since at least 50% of the time I spend on computers seems to involve tinkering with and uploading photos of yarn in varying states of knitted-ness, not being able to do that for the past month and a half has REALLY been cramping my style.

The best part? All I used was the Preview app on the MacBook, which is a very basic program that came preloaded on the computer. Unlike any Photoshop-type program I’ve ever used, every single tool in Preview is something that I can actually understand and use. And, I dare say, it even produces far better picture quality than I ever got from Corel PaintShop Pro on my previous laptop. Here, let me show you…

Here’s the completely untouched photo:

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Rogue (one of a kind color)

And here it is after cropping and using the “auto-level” function, which was always the first thing I did in PaintShop:

After that, the only other things I really would do in PaintShop would be to remove the color cast by clicking on a white space (one of the main reasons I rarely deviate from the white background), and if the color of the yarn still seems a bit off I would play with the saturation, shadows, and highlights a bit to see if I could get it closer to reality. I know there were other things I could mess with to manually adjust the color, but I could never figure out how to use them. In Preview, all those elusive adjustments I wanted to make are super easy. Here’s what a bit more tweaking (and about 5 more seconds of editing time than the previous photo) in Preview produced:

Other things I can mess with now in addition to what I’m used to doing in PaintShop include:

  • Exposure – I can make it brighter without screwing up the color!
  • Contrast
  • Temperature – more color control!
  • Tint – still more color control!
  • Sharpness – OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU SO HARD TO USE IN PAINTSHOP!!! This is the #1 thing I wanted to be able to adjust quickly and easily and NOW I CAN. Look at that nice crispy photo! It looks like you could just pluck that yarn right off the screen (except you can’t because it’s MINE).

*Huge sigh of relief* I feel so much more like myself now. And I haven’t even touched iPhoto yet…

How Yarnologist Got Her Groove Back

Yesterday my mother finally got sick of seeing me moping around the house and randomly bursting into tears and took me to the Apple store to see if we could get me a new computer. I had an estimated cost in mind based on poking around the Apple site and guesstimating what I would need in a laptop. That estimated cost was almost $5,000 after I configured the laptop to what I thoughtmight need.

Now, I know very little about Macs. I’ve been a PC user all my life, but my life has changed quite a bit. I was once on a science career track and now most of my activities are more artsy. Supposedly Macs are better for creative pursuits than PCs. I’ve also heard rumors that the displays are more true to color than most PCs, which is something I was constantly struggling with on my previous laptop (and don’t even get me started on my sister’s computer – trying to color correct photos on her display was an exercise in futility). Many of the creative professionals I know are Mac users. Everyone I’ve ever known who has owned a Mac has LOVED it. I also know from personal experience that PCs, especially laptops, tend to only last 3 years or so before they start getting so buggy they’re unusable (see my sister’s computer) or just crash, while I’ve heard Macs tend to last much longer. When I got an iPod this summer and saw the way Apple products work first-hand that sealed the deal for me – my next computer would be a Mac. It would HAVE to be. To get another PC knowing I’d have to struggle with displays and using more visually based programs, not be able to sync anything from my iPod (or future iPhone?) with my computer, and that it would only be a few years before I had to get buy a brand new one would just be stupid.

Of course when I made this decision I was counting on my PC sticking around for another year or so. I was NOT counting on it being stolen, leaving me in a technological bind.

So back to my mom being awesome, she suggested that since I really was just guessing at what I would need for a Mac we should just go to the Apple store and get a professional to help us figure it out. THEN we would know exactly how much it would cost and can plan accordingly.

So we did. A very nice man named Chad helped us out and listened to all of my inane questions about computers and a detailed accounting of precisely what I need a computer to do for me. It turns out I really don’t need a lot of the add-ons I originally thought and the actual cost was more like $1,400. Mom had already set aside some money to loan me after everything was taken and was able to buy it right then and there!

Here comes my PSA for the day…one thing I learned from having to file a police report for stolen property is that serial numbers are very useful. You know where you can find those? On the things that were stolen. So, the first thing I did with my new computer is write down the serial number and all of the specs and file them away, just in case. If you have any technology that could potentially go missing – laptops, phones, MP3 players, etc. – I would encourage you all to find those serial numbers and write them down! If they ever turn up that’s the only way the police will be able to tell they’re yours.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t need help raising money anymore. Actually it means I need even more help, because now I have to pay back my mom. So please, if you have anything to spare, donate to my Knotty Narwhal campaign on Indiegogo. Even if you can’t contribute you can still help by telling others about my plight. I have a computer and can move on with my life, but now I’m in debt. To my own mother. I also would like to get some applications to make this computer work smoothly for me, like Pages, a task management program, photo editing software, antivirus, and definitely LoJack.