2019 makes it the seventh year of creating these Halloween portraits on 6th Street. I have to admit that each year, it gets harder and harder to motivate myself to do these. I always like the net effect of the studio-like portraits created on the street, however, it’s a lot of work. Like most things in life, it gets boring to do the same things repeatedly. And, there’s a nontrivial amount of post-processing required to get these portraits looking just so. I talked about this conundrum recently over two articles on my monthly newsletter. Ultimately, I decided that I was having a major bout of resistance.
What’s resistance? It’s the term coined by Steven Pressfield in his seminal book, The War of Art. It’s a book I highly recommend and it’s cited as inspiration by many creatives. Resistance is an extremely powerful and insidious force that prevents people from doing great work.
Halloween in Austin was cold this year. A record-setting cold that made it doubly difficult to motivate my required downtown visit; I was much too comfortable in my warm house in the suburbs. But, somehow, I overcame and conquered resistance. Halfway through shooting portraits, I realized how much fun I was having.
It’s not the photography, but the bigger headache is the post-processing to get this pure black background. As a lucky coincidence, Topaz Labs sent me a promotion for its latest software called Mask AI. It uses AI technology to more intelligently separate the foreground from the background. Compared to the previous non-AI version, it saves at least half the time. Encouraged, I processed about two-thirds of the images.
But, I then discovered some masking problems, and it was really difficult to fix. I can guarantee that you won’t be able to see them, but I know that they are there. Frustrated, I went back to last year’s method using Affinity Photo running on an iPad along with the Apple Pencil. Both techniques have their weaknesses, but I prefer Affinity Photo, which I’ll use next year unless some spectacular new technology arrives.
Which means, yes, I’m planning to continue with these portraits next year. I’m hoping this year was the low point, and my enthusiasm for this series has been rejuvenated.
Here are all my other Halloween Portraits on 6th Street from the past years.
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