Turning concrete into clouds? Why not?

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 30, 2016

Imagination transforms blotchy concrete floor into altocumulus clouds on a lazy summer afternoon, a perfect setting for a crow atop the cross at St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane.  Photos by Warren Harbeck

The polished concrete floor at our feet was showing signs of being walked all over and taken for granted. Bob Keon commented to me about its sad appearance. But I saw something heavenly.

Bob and I were attending a reception at St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane. He wondered what possible beauty I could be seeing in that blotchy two square metre section of speckled aggregate and cement.

Oh, I see beautiful clouds on a lazy summer afternoon, I told him.

I took a photo of that part of the floor and set about proving it.

When I got home, I downloaded the photo and began processing it in Photoshop Elements. In fact, I was so intrigued by what was emerging before my eyes, I thought of another photo I had in my files and invited it to join the fun.

Here’s what I did (see images):

Image 1: the unretouched photo of floor. Notice its blotchy, speckly appearance.

Image 2: I applied Gaussian blur to the photo to eliminate the speckles. Then I adjusted brightness and contrast, and recoloured the concrete blue. Yup, there it was, the very kind of altocumulus clouds I’d imagined!

Image 3: That scene deserved a bird, however. So I called up a photo I’d taken of a crow atop the bell tower cross at St. Mary’s last year.

Image 4: Adjusting the size of the crow and cross photo, I selected just the crow and cross and copied them onto the concrete clouds image, with this as the final result.

So, yes, Bob, with the eyes of my imagination, I really did see something heavenly in that blotchy section of concrete floor.

As the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy so famously paraphrased George Bernard Shaw: “Some people see things as they are and say, Why? I dream things that never were and say, Why not?”


© 2016 Warren Harbeck

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