Friday Challenges: On Rheas, Fountains & Leopards

I often wonder whether it’s difficult for Steve Caplin, author of How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., to keep coming up with ideas for the Friday Challenges after 500-odd consecutive Fridays.  But, you came here to see some pictures – not participate in idle speculation –  so lets get to it.

A Game of Hide and Seek
Caplin entitled his 502nd Friday Challenge “Rhea on the Loose” and posted this picture of the ostrich-sized flightless South American bird:


Regular readers might recognize this bird from an earlier post, Transformation and Distortion.

Caplin provided the following instructions:

A series of news reports in the UK this week detailed the escape of a pet Rhea from captivity, and detailed the difficulty the authorities had in tracking it down. How would such a large beast go about concealing itself? This week, I’d like you to take this rhea (or choose your own) and see how well you can hide it in your own choice of background.

As my sister will attest, when I was a child playing Hide-and-Go-Seek, I could not be found. So this Challenge was right up my alley. See if you can spot the Rhea in the image I submitted:RheaInRuinsBlog

If you had trouble, apparently Caplin did, too, as he said in his critique of my submission:

It took me ages to spot srawland‘s rhea, and I’m still not entirely sure I’ve got it – is that it in the foreground, a third of the way from the left? A tricky one indeed! I think the image may be just too small to be able to make it out clearly. (Unless it’s larger and much more camouflaged, that is.)

I found Caplin’s critique amusing as he did challenge us with how well we could hide the bird, after all! I’m pretty sure Caplin found the Rhea but for others viewing this post who might not have spotted it, here is where the  bird is hiding:RheaInRuinsPointed OutBlog

Getting All Wet
Caplin’s 503rd Challenge was called “Fill the Fountain,” with this accompanying image: fountainOriginalBlog

Caplin’s instructions:

I was in Paris for Easter, where I went to the outstanding Bill Viola exhibition at the Grand Palais. Outside the entrance is this rather splendid fountain. Well, it would be splendid if it had water in it. Can you oblige?

Caplin has the uncanny ability to come up with challenges that are either right where I was working in his book, or very close to it.  In this case, I’d just started the chapter that deals with creating water. Here is what I had to say about my submission and the image I submitted:

When Steve announced this challenge I had just completed the “Hot Dog” lesson in Chapter 9 of the 6th edition. In order to have something to submit, I got through the “Making Water from Thin Air” lesson, despite working full-time this week. However, I couldn’t figure out how to create the water spray in a beautiful fountain, as so many of the other entries. I hope someone can give me pointers on how to do that.

Here is my humble pool. I stand in awe of all of the other members’  greatness:


Caplin’s critique:

Some very nice water from srawland, with reflections of the fountain – sorry I couldn’t work a hot dog in there for you! I suspect the fountains other people have used have been taken from photographs, but extracting them must have been a tricky task.

Another forum member, Puffin31939, also posted this response to the comment I posted with my entry.

Sara, I also attempted to draw my own fountain but it ended up looking like a glass mushroom! I had expected cutting out the fountain to be a nightmare but Select > Colour range worked like magic. I was really surprised how easy it turned out to be.

Later, for the 10-year anniversary of the Forum, Caplin provided a “Challenge Amnesty,”  where we could resubmit any previous Challenge. I chose add a spray to my fountain, using Puffin’s  suggestions. But, that image will be for a later post.  However, astute readers might have already noticed that I added more than just water to today’s fountain!

A Dangerous Situation
“Snake in the Grass” was the title of the 504th Friday Challenge, for which Caplin posted this image:grassOriginalBlog

And the instructions:

I’m indebted to Michael Sinclair for this week’s photograph, a close-up of a field of grass. What manner of beasties might be hiding in this verdant meadow? And how hard will it be to conceal them amongst the grass?

Many forum members had difficulty with the perspective of the original image.  I noticed right away the steep angle of the scene.  I called my sister and asked if she and my brother-in-law could stage a photo shoot for me. (They were on vacation but were game to oblige.) Even their dog, Sox, got into the act (at my sister’s feet on her right), in the image I created: grassBackgroundLeopardBlog

To which Caplin said:

I liked srawland‘s entry, with the leopard neatly hidden in the grass – and the man looking over his shoulder is perfectly placed to look directly at it, making a great interaction between the two. Well judged perspective here.

Now if the “man” in the picture had only been a male and not my sister in layers of hiking clothes on a cold spring day in northern Minnesota! Luckily, she’s a good sport about that sort of thing.

Next: Light and Shade

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