Love Lost a conceptual photo composite illustration by Michael Maersch

Love Lost


Love Lost’ is the perfect example of my preferred Lightroom > Photoshop/back-to Lightroom-again workflow.

After scanning a series of the “thinnest” B&W negatives I’ve ever shot (from an afternoon back during my kollege-daze in the ’70’s) I was able to pull detail from the film base I couldn’t detect even under ‘a loop’ by massaging each frame inside Lightroom.

As I pulled more and more detail out of my negatives I found that my “dust free” closet I used for drying film back in University was (unfortunately) not so dust-free – far too many pieces of wtf! embedded into the decades-old emulsion and really, not so uncommon I have found with others’ film processing, even ‘the gods’ of photography on exhibit or able to be viewed within collections like those maintained by the Center For Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona. (Even The Big Guys had dried dust and lint in their film and plate processing workflow!)

Lightroom has a spectacular, mind-boggling spot removal tool that does certifiable magic ridding digital captures of sensor dust, film or print scans of dust, lint, even the occasional minor tear, fold or wrinkle! However, the more imperfections' repairs one directs LR to write into its ongoing record of changes made to a file the more slowly the application runs; so this is where I had to hand-off to Photoshop.

After an hour’s worth of “anal-retentive” attention to detail with PS’s pixel-fixes (COUNTLESS dust and lint particles removed entirely) it was back to Lightroom to begin experimenting with a vast array of downloaded and self-made creative Presets enabling me to emulate a variety of film/developer combinations and consider the possibility of incorporating Split Toning effects.

Then, for some reason or another, I began to start thinking about REALLY OLD photo processes – daguerreotype in this case. I was able to avoid dropping down another Google-Images search rabbit-hole by accessing previous days-worth of meandering/adding to my Catalog of textures, ‘frames’ and surfaces I experiment with while compositing montage-like illustrations – so back to Lightroom.

Some experiments work, others do not. This is where the notion “time is money” needs to be set aside.

There is no ‘One Touch’ solution to finding the “right” combination of texture and/or 'frame' for an effect, then for scaling, ‘transforming’, masking and putzing with layer ‘modes’ and ‘blend if’ settings in order to "get there” while finessing an image that merits this investment. It’s just that simple – time to make things happen.

Now, you want the Everyman’s/Planet-Walmart/One-Touch-Art illustration well… then “There’s an app for that” I'm sure.