Blog #5 DIY: Lightening Your Photos

Have you ever taken an almost *PERFECT* photograph? I mean, your outfit was stellar; your setting was more than ideal. The only downside was that the lighting in the photo was just a tad too dark? Well, this recently happened to me. I decided to check out CMU’s annual carnival with a friend. I happened to be wearing my Despicable Me Minion shirt that day. (I’m obsessed with the movies.) So we’re meandering around, seeing what there is to see, when we stumble upon a Despicable Me Fun House. It. Was. Epic. I took several great photos, but my favorite one came out a little too dark for my liking. See for yourself (below).



Now follow along as you see how I made my picture “picture perfect”! (Pun intended!)

Step 1: Upload your photo in Photoshop. Then click on the fill tool on the bottom write of the screen.



Step 2: Select Curves.



Step 3: Select the Lasso tool and outline the sections of the photo that you would like to either lighten or darken. 

Step 4: Use curves to either increase or decrease to the level of darkness that like. Like so. 


Step 5: Do this as many times as necessary. If you want to create different levels (which you would do to lighten one aspect of the photo while darkening another).

Step 6: Enjoy your newer, brighter photo!




Not entirely sure why, when reading the blog prompt this film series immediately popped into my mind. Alas, it did. And so, as Marty wrote to Doc advising him to take precautions to ensure a better (and longer) future, I will write a letter to my past (current) self. 


Dear FutureMe,

As you continue forward on your journey through life here are some things to keep in mind and utilize; things learned from your Digital Media course with Professor T-Pain. Refer to the list below. Each observation made about the course is accompanied by a lesson learned.

  • Knowing basic skills on how to operate DreamWeaver, Photoshop, CSS, HTML, Audacity and other specialized programs and design systems is at present, the norm. Every kid knows these programs like the back of their hand by age seven. During the time that you were first learning to use these tools, the economy was finally becoming more stabilized. In the process, being affluent in these tools became increasingly appealing and sought after by employers. (Hopefully, by the time you read this, you have mastered all of these programs.) Lesson: Continue to explore and research different mediums and/or modes of communication. The broader your knowledge base and experience, the better you’ll be able to contribute to the world and the better you’ll be able to communicate and collaborate with others. 
  • Speaking of others, archiving (an idea thoroughly presented to you for the first time in this class) is a constantly re-occurring process that can (and to an extent does) include the average citizen, also known as a citizen archivist. Understand that there exists different levels of citizen archiving. On a very basic level archiving is completed each time a person takes a photo of themselves or of friends, blogs or . Beyond that many people choose to make their careers out of archiving, spending years garnering an an extensive and expensive education to become doctors of archiving. Lesson: In the grand scheme of the universe, know your role and significance. Always document justly and to the best of your ability, accurately. Understand that as a citizen, many of your everyday activities constitute as archiving, so do so wisely and with a sincere purpose of educating or out of responsibility.
  • Everything is a Remix. There is, very rarely, anything new created in the world. Creativity stems from someone’s unique perspective, which leads to a unique transformation, all of which began with an original. As an aspiring performing artist (you have successfully immersed yourself in the industry), but this is so important for you to realize NOW and implement into your work. Otherwise you’ll spend the next two years struggling to come out with something completely original so as not to sound like anyone else in the industry, when what you need to do is find your inspiration from PAST artists and remix things in your own way. This will save you time and energy.

As a whole, what you learned from this class is this: hard work, determination and creation really pays off. I don’t think you realized the significance or coolness of you designing and then *creating* your own communication platforms (website, audio project, video projects), until after you graduated. But, there is honestly nothing quite like having a vision and then bringing it to life; especially when it comes to digital media. Simply because… once it’s done you can throw it out into the digital world to be shared, admired, critiqued. 

You grew to see the world in a different light, remixed if you will, in the ways that DJ Spooky described in his book. You also learned to more effectively critique other individual’s remixes, knowing the types of things to look for (rule of thirds in photos, camera shots and angles with video, use of music to set the tone or mood for a radio show). You were exposed to things you would have otherwise never known. Take this blessing NOW, reflect on it NOW, and run with it. Continue listening and watching the shows and individuals you were introduced to; they are now your new mentors. Let the learning process continue even post-graduation, and continue soaking EVERYTHING up like a sponge.

It will continue to do you wonders.








Finally Finished That Intensive Writing Course

I’m a senior with one more semester to go. All I need is some gen-ed credits, and an intensive writing course. Composing Digital Media? That sounds interesting, maybe I won’t actually have to write essays and just make sweet videos… boy was I wrong (except for making some sweet videos).

I came into the class thinking it was a software-based class, in which I knew half of the software already. It’s not because I wanted to take an easy class… I really wanted to learn more about the video and photo editing software I already knew to prepare me for a software-based world. But the class turned into so much more than software. Once I started reading DJ Spooky, I knew I was in for a journey. Initially, I was bummed that we spent the first month of class talking about the theory of archiving and the idea of a citizen archivist before we even turned on the computers, but I learned a lot about the idea of composition in a digital world. It made me think differently about my previous and future digital compositions.

First, I made a photo essay. It was a story about my grandfather’s beach house that was wiped away in a hurricane. It originated from his memoirs, which were recovered when he passed away. It turned out alright, but the presentation method I used is very lackluster. In another class of mine this year, we discuss methods of presentation for pieces of work, and I think that a large-scale presentation method would be much more effective. At least more effective than a 500 pixel high picture. No one likes squinting.

Second… I made a website. Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it. I didn’t even spell my last name correctly when I was making the domain name. It’s danbetesman.com/whatever. Not a good start. If I ever decide to use the website in a professional way (which I plan on), I will find a new host for it so people can actually find it. The website is the weakest of my projects, although I plan on improving it before the term ends. It’s a personal ideal of mine that I don’t show off all of my finished projects; only if I personally approve of said project. I currently do not approve of my website.

Next, I made an audio essay from a humorous historical event. I think that the script turned out very dynamic and entertaining, but the final audio file was not. My voice actors were not differentiated and dynamic enough, and the microphone I used had too much buzzing and feedback. It was hard to remove those sounds in the final piece. I also narrated the piece, and I hate my voice. So that didn’t help my overall feelings about it.

Finally, we made a group video portrait about two student rappers at Pitt. I think the project turned out great, and I am really proud of it, as the rest of my group should be. It is deep, has great music and visuals, and flows really well. This is something I would approve of showing off. Although some of the audio files were not very clear and were buzzy. But that is about it.

So I learned a lot from composing digital media, and although I did not in fact not have to write any essays, I wrote about as much on reflections and blog posts as I would have writing essays. I also really enjoyed how our class developed. Our group discussion was very open and stimulated. I think once we got past Derrida and DJ Spooky and started discussing contemporary project like photo essays and videos and audio essays, discussion started flowing freely. I am glad I took this class, and although I was not ready for the work requirement in the final semester of my senior year while taking 18 credits, I finally got through it.

California, here I come! Wait… need to finish that remix video first!

Pleasant Surprise

I’m not going to lie; when I opened the very first email Professor Campbell sent before class started, I was a little apprehensive about this class.  I took this class because I was tired of the normal writing/English classes and this seemed to be like a different approach.  I could never have imagined how much I would learn in such a short time.  Although it seemed very fast paced, it forced us to accomplish things most of us never thought we could.  My favorite project was the sound project.  I was able to take small sounds and clips and make something amazing.  It is a great feeling to have to know I was able to accomplish these projects without any prior knowledge of Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Premier Pro, or Audacity.

A few things I want to remember later on:

  1. Although DJ Spooky seems like an unorganized crazy person, his thoughts are actually pretty amazing.
  2. Basically everything in this world is a remix of something else.
  3. Google is my best friend especially when trying to figure out how to do something in Adobe.
  4. Copyrights can hurt more than help the future.
  5. Don’t just do funny. This generation is all about making something funny or cool.
  6. What is the so what? Of life? Of every project?
  7. Clichés are overrated

These along with a hundred of other things I learned in class will help me in life.  It has definitely been an interesting journey, but I’m glad I got to do it.

Taking a look back

This class has be an adventure for me to say the least.  Coming in with no CSS or HTML experience was not the norm; however, I learned a lot throughout the process.  Looking back on the semester I am very pleased with the progress that I made- I not only learned how to work with a variety of different programs, I learned to not give up on a project (as cliche as that sounds).  There are many times throughout this semester where I just wanted to give up on something when it was not going the way I wanted (i’m sure Instructor Campbell will back me up on the fact that many things in these programs were not going my way!) but I learned to keep putting effort into the project.  

Trying to remember all of the different readings and projects we reflected on this semester, there was one that popped into my mind.  For some reason, I was very drawn in by the photo essay: Children and Their Bedrooms (I even showed it to all of my roommates bragging about how cool it was). **Side note on this: I looked it up recently and think I found pictures that we didn’t look at before (or I just don’t remember them).  Either way, this one is my new favorite: 


This project was the most helpful for me personally in retrospect to the photo essay we had to do because it really showed me the power of photographs and how they can tell an entire story.

Where do I see this website going in the future is something I ask myself a lot.  In the beginning of the year I was almost certain that I was going to get rid of dreamweaver and creative cloud right after the class was over, but, recently I have been wrestling with this.  I am contemplating keeping this for next year when I travel abroad to keep journals and blog posts on (this is all dependent on my parents willingness to pay of course).  

Overall, this class and the projects included in it opened my eyes to a whole new skill.  I never thought of myself of being some tech-savvy or someone that was good with computers, this class helped me gain way on this a little bit.  Although it was a lot of work I am very happy with my progress and I can almost say that I have survived composing digital media!