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Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

A Salute

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28 May 2018

We wanted to mark this year's Memorial Day with a photo of a red poppy to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces. We spent the afternoon yesterday hunting one down in the neighborhood but even when we found one, we weren't sure of it.

Red poppies waving among the white crosses of the fallen inspired Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian surgeon serving in World War I, to write the poem In Flanders Field. And red poppies have since come to symbolize those lives lost.

When we found our poppy yesterday, it looked a good deal larger than the golden poppies growing wildly everywhere in California. But a little research confirmed that it was indeed a red poppy.

Red is a difficult color for digital sensors to capture. And our Nikon D200 comes from an era when the problem was severe.

On the monitor, our poppy was nearly a flat field of oversaturated red. So we used Photoshop's Select Subject (with a little manual help) to isolate it and the Camera Raw filter to select a black-and-white profile that would best enhance the detail (making a contrast mask to boost shadow detail), blending them together to restore what our eyes had seen.

It took a while to get it right.

But we went to bed happy with it. Against a vignetted dark green field punctuated with bright golden poppies themselves blurred in the background, the red poppy stands out.

We'll take a moment today to remember the sacrifice so many have made. We'll again spend a moment In Flanders Field with McCrae. We'll read again Archibald MacLeish's poem engraved on the stone walls of the National Cemetery at the Presidio. And we'll remember Freddie, who was killed in action before we were born. Freddie, who we never knew, yet treasure.

It may be that all we can do is remember our fallen. But how can they ever be forgotten?

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