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Books & Authors & Other

Experimenting

Written By: K. L. DeWitt - Aug• 15•13

So I finally upgraded my Adobe Photoshop Elements to something you can find in this century.  (I was using version 2 all this time – they’re now on 11 if that tells you anything.)

I decided for my first attempt to figure out what’s changed and what hasn’t to play around with a new header for a website I helped setup and maintain: jackcomeau.com.  Jack’s written a wonderful time travel, paranormal romance adventure set in present-day and historical Nantucket called DISTRESS SIGNAL and I wanted something that would help catch the eye right away and give you a feel for the story when you visit his web page.

After getting an idea of what I wanted to have in the picture based on the plot, I did quite a bit of searching for royalty-free photos that had images that would fit my needs.  I knew I wouldn’t find a single image that had everything I was looking for, but I wanted to try to get all the “pieces” from one place to make it easier when it came to publishing credits/copyrights (not to mention not having to buy “credits” at more than one locale.)

I found a great site, depositphotos.com.  It had 3 photos that each had an element I could use and liked and prices that were very reasonable for the sizes I needed.

The first image I found is a great shot of a man’s silhouette at the beach at sunset – the book is told from the man’s point of view but I didn’t want to force an image of what he may or may not look like on the reader’s imagination:

Man goes to the sea on dark sand beach under beautiful colorful cloudy sky

Copyright depositphotos.com / Evgeny Sergeev

Then I needed a woman in Victorian-looking clothing who fit the description of Rebecca, the other main character in the novel – raven-haired, beautiful and ethereal:

Woman in Victorian Dress

Copyright depositphotos.com / Olena Kucher

The last thing I needed was an old-time tall ship because part of the story is set in 1840s Nantucket/New England back in the days when whaling was king and because ships and the sea are integral to the plot:

Tall Ships Profile

Copyright depositphotos.com / James Steidl

Now my task was to take the items I needed and put them together into one photo telling a piece of the story, something that hopefully might make you want to read the book.  After careful “cutting and pasting” using layers, I was able to take the woman, remove her from the original background, edit out the grass in front of her, “recreating” that section of skirt using another portion of her dress as a “paint brush” to fill it in and to get rid of the white cut-out of her dress which I found distracting. I then added her at a “ghost-like” level of about 40-50% transparency to the sunset photo which I had “widened” so that it worked better as a header.

Same with the ship on the right of that particular picture.  I liked it the best of the two, so I “cut it out” from the pic, made it another layer of the sunset photo and  “ghosted” the ship by making it about 40-50% transparent.  I then tweaked the colors of the whole pic to give a more magenta and purple hue to the sunset, and I finally got this (click on the pic for a larger view):

Distress Signal's Rebecca

Distress Signal’s Rebecca – Copyright jackcomeau.com

I’m still working on getting the hang of the new Photoshop – there are still some tweaks needed to make the above pic even better in my mind (and eyes), like fixing the sand pattern a bit, etc.  But I like my first run through (even if it did take me probably about 5 times longer than it would have in Elements 2.)  It’s giving me ideas for maybe doing some book cover art down the road, but I will need a lot more hands-on with this beast before I’d want to “take it on the road…”  It was definitely fun, though, to see Jack’s book and characters sort of  “come to life” in the photo…

So … what do you think of my little experiment?  (Next – playing around with my new Adobe Premiere Elements 11 to do book trailers?  Who needs sleep after all?)

A Nice Surprise

Written By: K. L. DeWitt - Aug• 15•13


A while back, while book hunting, I came across Audrey Niffenegger’s book, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, and decided to read it since I’d heard such great things about her first book, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, but hadn’t had a chance to read that one.  (I also have never seen the movie to date.)

I usually don’t go for modern literature or romantic fiction, but SYMMETRY opened well, so I decided to read the whole thing.  Unfortunately, the bulk of the middle felt repetitious and sort of bloated as if the author was trying to fill the space before the twists at the end.  I don’t know if it was the subject matter, but the characters and scenes seemed to fall flat for me.  It took me weeks to get through the book as I kept putting it down.  So, when I came across a copy of THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, I bought it, but wasn’t sure I’d ever read it.  It ended up in my “someday maybe” pile.

A week or two ago, though, I was in the mood for something outside my usual sci fi (or Jim Butcher Dresden Files books since the next installment won’t be out for months) and cracked TTTW open, not expecting much.  To my surprise, I found myself 60-70 pages in before I even realized it.  Even with the complex time shifting from chapter to chapter it was compelling, with characters that were intriguing and an interesting premise.  With my busy schedule, I could only read it in short spurts, but I found I hated putting it down.  (In fact, last night, I had to keep reading because I was down to the last 70 or so pages and didn’t want to go to sleep before I reached the end, even if it meant I only got 4-5 hrs sleep on a worknight.  Ooops.)

I’m not sure why the first book is so much better than the second in my mind.  I may have to go back and compare the writing styles, word choices, pacing, characterization and such to see why WIFE makes me want to read it again and why I don’t care to re-read SYMMETRY.   It’s probably a good lesson for me should I ever get off my own backside and write, helping me to get a feel for what seems to work and what doesn’t.

In the meantime, I think I’ll watch the movie, just to see how they manage to translate such a complex story onto the screen…