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Still Life In Blue

Why Uncles Need Proficiency in PhotoShop


Do check out "Curves" and get familiar with it. Then, maybe "levels".

Why? My story: Back in the '70's I took several rolls of 35mm film on a visit to my half brother and his family in Sylmar, CA. I flew a Cessna 172 down there. We took it up for a spin around Mt. Baldy. The kids were real little. I took family photos of everyone. When I had them developed I think I used cheap Sears developing and printing. I'd also had the ASA set wrong on the camera. The slides came out with a washed out blue cast and were so overexposed they were a huge disappointment.

Sometimes you never know how "once in a lifetime" these photos are going to turn out to be.

The years rolled on. Their mom died young of a respiratory ailment while the youngest was still too young to remember any of it. The kids grew up. The youngest nephew asked if I had any photos of their mom. Well, yes, ummm ...

I bought a scanner a few years back and practiced on those washed-out scans with PhotoShop. It took several tries and a couple of years before I was satisfied I had done all I could. They looked quite creditable. I burned them onto CD and mailed them off.

The "rest of the story": I never got so much as a "thank you Uncle Alex" or a Christmas card. Such is the nature of nephews. I was just such an ingrateful wretch and unresponsive nephew myself when I was their age. Never let anyone tell you that what goes around doesn't come around.

I did visit my own favorite uncle and his wife about a year before they both died. First time I saw them in about 30 years. We had a great time. I tried to say "I'm sorry" and my uncle wouldn't hear of it. Nonsense. He knew all about family politics. Understanding -- that's what uncles are supposed to be for.

All of which goes to show that if you never scan slides, and only use digital cameras,  your digital images aren't all that likely to be so washed out they really need Curves and Levels. But it's nice to know it's in the toolkit.

Even if you don't have kids, and I don't, almost everybody has nieces and nephews. Also (but equally important): honorary nieces and nephews. Being an honorary uncle is a sacred trust. A medicine man has to take cognizance of the spiritual needs and growth of the entire tribe.

You never know. A nephew or niece may come around looking for old family photos. You need to become proficient in PhotoShop because uncles are expected to know this stuff.


© Alex Forbes, January 23, 2004


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