My H2H journey to the finals

So anyone who knows me, knows that I am into photography and creating things.  When we got to Tennessee about 7 years ago I found myself with more time to explore the world of photoshop.  Despite the fact I had it on my computer for a few years, I could never crack the shell and learn it.  I didn’t understand layers or anything, it was quite foreign to me.  I started to play around and learned the basics.  I wanted to be challenged.  I ran across a photoshop website that looked fun.  On this site you manipulate a photo into something else against other people.  I loved the concept right away, I hated the political nature.  In time I made some good friends and learned a ton.  I studied photoshop by doing online tutorials and watching videos.  A lot of great choppers on the site taught me a ton about photoshop.  Along the way I think I got pretty good.

The most exciting thing about the site is the yearly Head to Head tournament. It draws out a lot of the best photoshoppers in the world that don’t participate in the daily contest.  They seed the people in the tournament, offer some prizes, and you go into a chop off against another person. It is anonymous.  This is truly the superbowl of our website.  The website is abuzz with excitement and predictions.

A couple of years I had a good run in the tournament but fell short.  I made an entry of a vineyard that could be, to this day, one of my favorite photo manipulations.  Find my name and you could see it.  I ended up losing because my computer crashed and I had no time to do a decent entry.  You can see my final image if you find my name nat_g31.

So without further ado, here is my journey to the H2H finals in 2013.

For the first round, due to my psc score, I had a bye week.  I faced a chopper named Corneel.  I didn’t know much about them.  This is scary because you never know who is real and who is an alias.  Therefore you never look further than your next opponent.  We had our family trip to Gulf shores, Alabama planned.  On the day the source was revealed we were on the road for vacation.  I was stressed out.  I had to borrow my Mom’s laptop and reformat and install windows xp on it.  I then had to get photoshop on it so I could chop in our town house, with no wifi.  This sucked bad.  The computer was too slow to handle photoshop and anything you did took forever.  I had to save every 5 minutes and wait while the hourglass spun around and around and around. . .  I also didn’t have any of my brushes or filters.  I really thought I would lose this round.  I decided to create an island from the blow up gator that we had to chop.  I was able to barely get wifi from a nearby room and find a lake to use.  It wasn’t great but had to do.  I rushed to find the externals I needed to make this chop happen.  I found some boats, some rock, some birds.  After I uploaded I picked away in between going to the beach and doing family stuff.  I finished and looked at the photo very unhappy.  It needed sharpening.  I sharpened and finished the image.  I went to upload but had no wifi.  We went down to the pool by the clubhouse and I had to get the password at the desk.  The signal sucked by I got enough to upload.  After I submitted, I looked and it looked like crap and over sharpened.  I got lucky to make it to the next round.


The next round was very challenging.  The source was very hard to come up with ideas.  It was a busy scene with a lot going on.  It took hours to come up with an idea.  Finally I just started chopping.  I wanted a boy on the cliff, falling.  The rest just sort of fell into place as I chopped the photo.  I actually love this manipulation and was very happy with it.  It also helped being on my computer.  I moved onto the next round.


The next image caused me a lot of stress.  My brain was fried from my job and overworking.  I couldn’t come up with anything.  The source was really good, but shit I had nothing.  My wife suggested making the fish look real.  I decided to go with it, I also went with the old theme of big fish eating smaller fish.  I was up against photoshopmasterjr.  He is a great chopper and obvious alias of one of the great choppers.  I had no idea what he would do.  He wrote me in a pm and said he was leaving town and that he couldn’t vote.  He said don’t vote for his image.  I wrote back and said “Of course I am going to vote for you”.  For this image I wanted to make it come to life, I added a lot of color and fish scale texture to make it look realistic.  I also added bubbles and the images of the other wood figures into the background for depth.  I was fortunate enough to get through the round and onto the next round.


For the next round I had a great chopper I was up against.  Volkswes from Alabama.  I knew I had to raise my game to have a chance against him.  The source was a simple hand against a blue sky.  I really thought about this image and what I was going to do.  At first it was going to be a hand saving a falling mountain climber.  After searching hours for pictures to use I could not find anything good to use.  I then started to create a spiderman image with the hand in a glove.  I spent hours trying to create the glove from scratch.  I stepped back and just didn’t like it.  The next morning I started to panic.  I had nothing I was happy with.  I decided it would be funny to have a failed fireman scene.  I took a picture of my own hand in the same exact angle as the source photo while wearing my fire jacket.  When my daughter Bailey woke up I asked her to get dressed and come outside so I could get a picture of her looking up sadly as her kitty fell (make believe).  I tried a couple of trees in my yard but none worked for the vision in my head.  I decided on the big tree in our horse’s pasture.  I loaded the ladder and headed out.  The goats caught wind of us in the field and ran over, raising hell with Bailey.  She is scared of them because they try and, what she calls horn, her. She was yelling and running around laughing.  I was way up this damn tree, holding a camera and yelling for the goats to leave us alone.  After a painful ten minutes I told Bailey to get Mommy and feed them some grain so they leave us alone for a minute.  They were also in my shot.  She came out about five minutes later and I got the photos I needed.  In the end I really had a good photo manipulation.  The voters loved my photo and I got a lot of good feedback.  He made a photo of jesus on the cross.  I was going to to the exact same chop but my wife said “NO” , she thought people would be offended by it.  I guess she was right because I sailed onto the next round.


The next round was against a friend of mine from the site named Bogonet.  He is an excellent chopper and photographer.  I was scared to face him if I’m being honest.  The source was probably the hardest yet.  It featured a faucet with difficult reflections.  I really had not idea what to do with this damn source.  I decided to take the wood coming out of the faucet and use it to make a whiskey barrel.  I spent hours creating a wooden barrel.  The next morning I looked at it and told my wife that it wasn’t good enough.  I had to abort it and start again.  I played around with the faucet and came up with a strange flying machine.  My wife suggested a rainbow being sucked in and money coming out.  I thought it was a weird idea.  And so I went with it.  Creating a leprechaun and focusing on the lighting and background.  The image Bogonet made was great but I somehow got the votes and made it to the championship match to face photolicious.


Now I had defied the odds and made it all the way to the end.  My next match up was against a seasoned chopper named photolicious.  I felt like I deserved to be there and could chop against him.  It didn’t take me long to determine I would keep it simple and clean.  I went for photorealism.  I wanted to keep the elephant in the same form and the background close to original.  I was going to create on of the decorated elephants from India.  I found numerous skin textures from elephants and made the skin real.  I found wrinkles and an eye.  After I made it real I spent hours on google finding flower paintings and chalk drawings.  I added these to the elephant and warped to look like it was really on the skin.  I added water to the top and streaks coming down the side of paint.  For fun I added a black widow to the web under the chin of elephant.  I finished and stepped back and admired my beautiful work.  I was happy with my finished elephant.  Win or lose I knew I had created something I was proud of.  I spent the next couple of days refining it and making the finishing touches.  When the contest opened I saw he had created an alien from the source, it was creative but I felt my chances were good.  But I was worried that the voters would not realize all of the work I had done.  A few voters did realize but a large number went for the sci-fi entry he had created and he won the matchup.


Also I created a GIF of the progression.  At the end I had about 150 layers.  I ended the tournament in 2nd place.  I said I would be happy with that, which I am, but I am ready for the next tournament and winning the whole thing.

If you want to see the other entries in the tournament click


Thanks for stopping by!

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