Of course your friends can have a print of my edits - anytime. I'm flattered, actually.
You are ahead of me in PS in many areas; I have no idea what a "quickmask" is but I will find out. I am a computer geek by trade and normally proficient with any type of software, but I must admit that learning Photoshop has been frustrating to me. I am a quick study and usually I master a program in a very short time, but due to it's size I have only scratched the surface of CS2 and only recently begun using adjustment layers. I do know some advanced techniques, but I'm as you all have no doubt figured out, am embarrasingly deficient in many of the basics. I have not had the time to devote to my methodical "complete submersion" method of learning in the past, so I am now trying to remedy that oversight. This website and the radiantvista.com daily critiques have really helped in this regard, because I can download them in advance, then study them at when I can snatch a few moments. A cautious caveat once again: the way I do things is most likely not the "right" way!
For example, I know there is a way to resize an image by highlighting your selection, then going to transform-scale. This method is used a lot in ad print to make parts of a model look taller or slimmer, but it can also be used to resize the entire image. Maybe someone out on the forum knows this method, (perhaps in the portrait section?) I thought about doing it with your dancers; not that they aren't very slim already but something about the shooting angle seemed to foreshorten their bodies just a bit. I read about it in one of my many photo mags but can't recall at the moment how, exactly, it was done. But Nick's method seems to be much more precise - can't wait to experiment later tonight. I used his eyedropper Levels instructions from a few posts back on Ian's and Victoria's pictures, but I'm still not sure I got it right ... Before now, all I have done in Levels is either used auto levels, or if that doesn't look right, I just dragged in the right and left side of the slider until it was just inside the start of the "mountains."
I know little about the ballroom dancing circuit (unfortunately!) but I am familiar with how frustrating competitions can be to capture, as my sons and I competed in marial arts tournaments for years. Maybe, you could talk a willing photogenic couple into someday posing in exchange for prints in another venue of your choice ... perhaps a grassy moor at sunset? Or even an empty street, washed with rain and lit by a single lamppost ... or ... darn! Cliche's, I know - but there's really nothing new under the sun, is there? The uniqueness would be in your own personal artistry.
My mind is filled with images ... if only I had the skill to translate them into pictures! Sigh... Ria