Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How Would I "Make" an Image.

Last week a post was put up showing a before and after (link)of an image I did quite a bit of Photoshop(r) work on. It was a shot of an old pump that started out with the top and left hand side cut off. I added space and recreated the missing pieces of the pump and tossed some ominous clouds behind it to increase the drama. (Pronounced in the Sam Malone of Cheers way of "dram a".) This morning I was reading Scott Kelby's blog (link) and he had a quest "blogger" writing about how his shop "makes" pictures by compositing sets of different shots. The final images are believable in an overly hyper way. If you follow the link to Scott's blog you'll probably recognize the style from many of the album covers or advertisements you see lately. It kind of takes the image beyond the photographic realm and bends it toward the illustrative end of the spectrum. What does that have to do with the mundane shot of a rock we have along with today's post? Follow the "read more" and hear where I plan on taking this shot.

As I was thinking about something for today's post I was influenced by what I read on Kelby's "Guest Blog Wednesday" post. I was interested in how "something" was "made" out of a set of "nothing" shots. It got the wheels turning and I figured it was time for another project, another challenge, to see how far I can push the limits of my Photoshop knowledge. Literally, I took one step off the front steps to the stone path between the steps going down to the driveway. I looked around and came up with three stones that looked like they might have potential. I brought the stones back into the studio portion of the gallery and dug out the staging table, speedlites, stands, and other gear to shoot the stones. Now, these stones are about an inch and a quarter tall, three quarters wide and not very thick. Between the three stones I took about fifty shots, using Nikon's CLS (Creative Lighting System) (link), varying the power of the three lights to get different modeling on each piece. Each light was in a TTL mode. I trust my "artistic" vision to get the look I'm after, but also trust Nikon to do the heavy lifting of the math needed to define my vision. If you're going to pay a lot of money for the camera, the lights, the studio, the light modifiers, etc. you might as well get what you paid for. Understanding the theory about what's going on is important, but once you have a handle on that, let the equipment do what you shelled out that money for.
So, what's the plan? The three rocks (or some combination of them) will become a mountain scene. So, why show the raw, unfinished (un-anything) shot? To show the starting point. As I work on this image I'll show some of the progress that's happening. I don't believe this will be something that'll be completed today, or this week, or next week. This project is going to be like a painter getting so far on a canvas and taking a break. Looking at what's on the canvas and seeing where "something" needs to be added, or changed, or covered up. Each component will start off as a photograph. It may be a piece of a shot, or something shot specifically for this project, but each piece will begin life in the camera. I have some clouds that will probably end up in the image, some tree, or tree parts, that I can see being included, maybe some water, I don't know. The rock in today's post will most definitely be a component. You might not recognize it by the time we get to the completed image, but it'll be in there. There'll probably be things I'll have to shoot, either in the studio, or in the field to add to the image, but it'll get there.
I hope everyone gets a kick out of the journey we're about to embark on. I catch you as we go down the road together.