“…with the force of a thousand blackbirds falling from the sky.”

Those words, above, are not mine.

Those are words i received from a friend within a text this week (you know who you are).  I wish i had written them, but i am deeply honored to have received them because they hit me hard and strong, and caused me to re-message the context of today’s blog.

We don’t know what caused those red winged blackbirds to fall to their death.  Some say it was the New Years Eve fireworks, others contend weather patterns, and i’m sure a small minority think it was some freak of nature, but whatever it was, it was a force – a goddamn powerful one – that caused this catastrophe.

This, to me, is a reason to celebrate nature – not in an “oh my god i just love butterflies and rainbows” kind of way… but really to understand that we are killing this planet with all the crap we’re doing as humans, and it gives me pause and reason to photograph the beauty i see in it, while we have it, daily… so that when it’s in a really bad place that our greatgrandchildren inherit because we didn’t get our shit together in time, they’ll have some amazing photographs at which they can stare in awe and wonder what they could’ve had had we taken care of it ourselves.

So, with that, i want to celebrate the art of amplifying color in your photos, using nature (allow me a broad spectrum here, please) as my muses today.

I would be remiss if i did not use the Aspen tree as my example for this editing topic.  Those of you that know me know how much i adore this tree.  It is beautiful every goddamn day of the year, flush with fall colored leaves, or bare naked in the midst of winter.  In fact there will be a future blog that is all things Aspen, so i will tame my comments for now in the context of getting to my point:  color boost.

Take here this photo, in it’s original state, that i took whilst skiing in Park City a couple weeks ago:

beautiful, right!  Those tall, majestic white trunks, with snow, and the sun.  So much to celebrate!  But what if we took that photo, and bumped up the color.  Now watch:

yep, same photo.  Holy shit, right?  OK, now i’m going to show you how to do this.  That is, ahem, if you are on a Mac.  If you own a PC, first of all, i’m sorry.  You should go find someone to hug.  Second, i have no idea what photo software you have installed on it, but i’m sure it’s on there somewhere :).  A quick google search should reveal how.

OK.  To color boost.

1) download your pics (duh, right).

2) Once they drop into Iphoto, open the pic you want to boost so it’s nice and big on your screen.

3) you’ll see a bar down on the bottom that looks like this:

4) click on the Edit button (the pretty picture of the No.2 pencil – at least i think it’s a No.2… isn’t that the most popular number pencil?  maybe it’s not…huh… maybe it doesn’t really pertain to this point.  no pun).   focus, AC.

5) you’ll now see a window that looks like this:

click on “Effects”.  drumroll, please…

6) your screen should now look something like this:

ok, now focus.  Cuz you’re gonna see all these amazing options you can do, but stay with me for just one more second, then you can go play in the proverbial editing sandbox with all these fun options.

7) click on the “boost color” option and you’ll see the number click 1,2,3, etc.  On the photo above, i boosted the photo to the value of “3”.  See that mindblowing transformation of your photo?  See it?  SEE IT?  awesome, right?

Now, wait!!!!  hold up, cuz there is one more really f*&cking important step.  You may notice when you do this that the photo, though you are boosting the color, it is also becoming a bit dark – loosing some of the brightness:

That’s cool, cuz i have a wicked awesome (those are my Boston days coming out for a sec, sorry) final step that solves all.

Now look down at the bottom of your computer where you originally saw that
“effects” box (same screen shot as step 5), and click on the little rainbow thingy called “adjust”.  You’re screen should look something like this:

8 (and final step).  On the top row, you’ll see the “exposure” bar… drag that to the right until your color boosted photo brightens up and holy shit becomes AMAZING! on above photo, i took exposure up to 1.67, just for reference.

et voila…. the final outcome (compared to original)

i know.  i know EXACTLY what you’re thinking.  You want to know how i became an amazing screen shot GENIUS, right?  Truth be told, i just learned how to do it for this particular topic and i’m so proud of myself i just gave myself a high five.

hah!  kidding!  i am HOPING you’re saying (in your head, but out loud would be super cool too), “holy shit!  this photo rocks and i can’t wait to post it and share it with all my friends on Facebook!”

You want a couple more examples?  Well, you have no choice, cuz you know i’m going to do it anyway.  I’ll show you the original, followed by our beloved new trick, the “boost & brighten.”

The lovely beaches in Rio:

my kitty cat:


yep, my daughter again:

(talk about carrying the weight of the world…!)

A fresh flower on a convertible day:

and finally, of course, butterflies on a wall:

no, they are not real.  they are art.  But if they were real… would they fall out of the sky?

ok, let’s recap:  Now that you’ve edited down to that ONE photo, that one that just gives you a huge smile every time you look at it, let’s make it ROCK.  Let’s make it own the goddamn world.   and the best part… it takes a second (ok, it doesn’t  “literally” take a second, cuz if i had said that then SOMEONE out there would have said, “it can’t ‘literally’ take a second because a second is like, boom, there’s a second, and, yep, another second just happened so how can it only take a…” you get the dumbass point).

So, my friends… it comes down to this for me:  If this is all you do for our planet today…go take one photo of something outside you LOVE.  Capture it and celebrate it (and trust me, i KNOW you all are doing way more for Mother Earth, it’s one thing in which i have complete faith in you all).  For this, i am honored to be your pal.  Send it to me, or post it to Facebook and let us all love it too.

Be awake.  Reckon with your force.  Save the birds.

That is all.



NO!  that is NOT all, not anymore.  because check out a couple photos i’ve received from those of you that actually give a shit about what i’m writing and sent me some photos!!!!

the first is from my friend Sam, check it:

i mean… so amazing.  so simple. i just heart this photo.

the second one is from my sister.  This girl has travelled more in her ripe old age of 26 than some of us will in a lifetime, so it’s about time she step up on her photos.  here is a church in Budapest she’s not only color edited, but cropped too, which means she read more than just my latest blog (thanks, sis).

i think we can all applaud her here.  credit given where credit due.

until the next, which i am so excited about because it’s so far fetched you’ll never believe how i am going to tie it back to photography.



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2 Responses to “…with the force of a thousand blackbirds falling from the sky.”

  1. You’ve given me inspiration to mess around with iPhoto. Now to choose a shot!

  2. Zilla says:

    Powerful. Can’t wait to “boost” my favorites from my trip to Brazil!!! Thanks for the lesson! I need to use my Iphoto more…I know I should just “tinker” with it but I’m so glad you are giving examples and tutorials! So helpful!

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