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Salvaging Photographs



A few years ago I was walking with my sister and my young niece at Chatfield State Park here in Colorado. There wasn’t anything special about that day, no birthday or holiday to ensure that I brought a good camera along for the trip—just some time out of the house to walk with my niece and her dog. When my niece started skipping ahead, holding the dog’s leash, her smile was so big you could almost see it from behind. The only thing I had to capture the moment was my old Motorola Razr phone camera. Rather than let it pass, I took the picture. When I got home, I realized I’d captured a precious moment: universal childhood joy. The composition was wonderful, yet the technical aspects were pretty poor—it was too small, of low quality, and really good only for a snapshot.

A couple of years later I came across it again, shortly after my mother-in-law, Bonny, invented the SuperSauce stone paper transfer, and it all came together.

I did some basic editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, converted it to black and white, flipped the image horizontal, and printed it out—at 20" x 30". The image on the film looked pretty grainy and I wasn’t sure that it would actually work, but I decided to take a chance and transfer it to stone paper (Figure 4.6). It turned out wonderfully—Bonny’s process let me save a poor photograph and turn it into a work that captured that moment, and allowed me to express my own creative voice.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6. These processes let you use images that would otherwise just be a file on a computer. This 20" x 30" stone paper transfer is titled A Day in the Park.

So the next time you see something that touches you—a moment, a picture, a scene, or a smile—don’t just wish you had a better camera. Take the picture with what you have. Then go back to your studio and think outside the box, salvage the picture, and share the moment.

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