Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Look at the birdie and smile!

I am not a great photographer. My photos are just okay, but I can't seem to get a clear shot with my digital camera - it's always a little fuzzy. If the fuzziness isn't pronounced, I can adjust for it on my computer using Photoshop. I can also brighten a dim scene, improve the contrast, even turn a photo into a charcoal rendering.

I am self-taught, so there's a lot I don't know about Photoshop. Most of the application's bells and whistles are wa-a-a-a-y beyond me. But the things I can do in Photoshop made me think about what I would edit in my life, if such a thing was as simple as Photoshop makes it.

Of course, the first thought is to edit out a few pounds and a blemish or two and maybe add some thicker hair. Could I stretch myself a few inches taller using the free transform feature? I am human after all. But if I could, what else would I edit?

I might soften some deadlines and maybe sharpen my memory. I would definitely crop some of the clutter. Since I live in Cleveland, land of the perpetual grey sky, I would brighten my days and add more color to the landscape.

I probably wouldn't change anything too drastically, though. I am who I am, and no amount of blurring or dodging or sharpening will change that. The changes I would make are superficial. It might be simple to drop my image into a lush tropical landscape or onto a stage, but it's all make-believe after all.

And what's wrong with that? Nothing, as long as we recognize that fantasies are just that - make-believe - and not real life. We can edit real life, though, by the choices we make every day. Here are some things we can do - using life's "free transform" feature:
  • Choose kind words to a stranger over terseness or looking away
  • Elect to properly discard or recycle the newspaper or soda can rather than litter or dump into a landfill
  • Soften your words, your heart, and your face - smile and mean it.
  • Stretch yourself - not thin, but beyond your self-imposed limits.
  • Sharpen - your wit, your memory, your skills, your resolve...but not your tongue or your heart.

I think I'll take a Photoshop class to improve my graphic skills. But to edit everything else, I'll need to make careful choices every day. I think I'm better at that than at Photoshopping. So what would you change, if you could edit as if you were a photograph?

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