How my dad became a pirate

I got an email from my friend Todd this morning. “Where’d you find that Loch Ness Monster photo?” he asked. He was referring to a little prank I played on my readers a couple of days ago.

Clearly, Todd doesn’t know about my obsession with Photoshop. “I made that photo,” I wrote back. I told him about starting with a photo of Bix jumping into Como Lake. Then I scoured the Internet for suitable photos of Elvis, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Alas, I had to improvise a bit on the last two.

But I’ll admit that I was pretty pleased with the result. Far from perfect—but not bad for 20 minutes’ work, either:

Todd’s question got me thinking about my first-ever Photoshop illustration. I remember it well: I was working in a digital photo lab, and we’d just upgraded to Photoshop 3.

I was curious about the cool new “layers” feature and decided to experiment. For whatever reason, I cloned a German shepherd’s teeth onto a deer and titled my creation Bambo. (Bambi meets Rambo. Get it?!)

Then came the “peas on Earth” for one of my typically punny holiday cards.

Then I took a stock photograph …

… and turned it into a sarcastic birthday greeting. I was especially pleased with how nicely the capital “H” morphed into a capital “A.” Happy Birthday Anyway!

But of all the Photoshop illustrations I’ve created over the years, I’m still most proud of the time I turned my father into a pirate.

Dad had just bought the Sea Señorita. He’s a former Navy man and he still runs a pretty tight ship, so I thought it would be fitting to make him some place mats that lay down the law.

Here’s what I started with:

And here’s where I ended up:

He went on for days about those darned place mats—and it’s kind of cool to know that they’re still on his boat, five years later.

The best part is that this Photoshop stuff is really not that hard. Want to learn how to create Photoshop illustrations for yourself? Drop me a note and I’ll email you a tutorial.


    • You should have seen the ones I couldn’t post. *Finally* I’ve found a way of getting back at my sisters for all of their teasing when we were kids. Ha.

    • Bonjour, mon cher Mo ! Il m’a fait très contente de trouver ton commentaire ! Comme tu vois, j’adore faire des blagues photographiques — dans la tradition de Cartier-Bresson. 🙂 Je te souhaite très bonne soirée et j’espère parler tôt avec toi. Ta pote, “Mrs. Sunshine”

  1. Well, I came across this on the reader favorites tab and love it. Tu est très forte en Photoshop! Si possible, ca serait bien de m’envoiyer un email avec quelque tutoriels si ca ne te déranges pas? Thank-you very much,

    • Merci pour tes mots gentils, 8able ! Bien sûr, je serais contente de t’envoyer quelques tutoriels de Photoshop. Je t’envoierai un email pour t’en demander/dire plus. Salut, et bonne journée !

  2. Guess I’m a bit late on this post but I LOVE the Happy Birthday Anyway cake! Ha ha, it’s one of those pictures that’s worth a thousand words when you start imagining all the situations that could lead to someone giving a cake like that. Brilliant!

    • Thank you, thank you! My dad — who LOATHES celebrating his birthday — got a big kick out of it, as well.

      Nice to hear from you, Corey!

  3. Your father must’ve loved this. Wish I’d had photoshop when my dad was alive, I could’ve done something ‘doctor’ oriented with it! (I wonder what?)

    I’ve been reading your blog and like it a lot. I surfed in here via Dancing Beastie. 🙂 Glad I came.

    • Hello, Val! Thank you so much for reading — and for your kind comments. Your musings about Photoshopping something “doctor-related” for your father got me thinking about the lower-tech tributes I’ve made for my own dad over the years. And you know what I concluded? Photoshop is just a means of conveying my affection for him. The important thing is to *say* it, no matter which words or medium you choose. My condolences for your dad … he must have been very proud of you indeed.

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