Friday, March 26, 2010

What's Important In An Image?

What’s the important “story telling” portion of this image? Obviously, the most imposing piece is the lighthouse, but that’s not the story of the shot. The “story” is the couple sitting on the bench. It’s easy to create a story around them. You can see that they are looking at each other. Both turned toward each other, knees touching, familiar over the years. It appears that the woman has white hair and the man may have thinning or close cropped hair. It gives the impression of age. Is that why they stopped to sit on the bench? Have they been here before, at a younger age? Are they sharing something as strong and enduring as the sentinel behind them? Is the lighthouse a metaphor for their life together? Obviously there’s “something” bigger than the two of them in this image. What it is is best left to the person observing. The time of day depicted is another notable aspect of the image. It’s late in the day/life of the subject. The light, low on the horizon, has dipped low and illuminated the underside of the clouds, the couple and the symbol. The “story” can go on for the entire length of the page or be the opening image of something like “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. The individuality of the story each of us see in the image is strictly a personal one. We each “see” what we want to see in this small, but powerful piece of today’s image. If you’re interested more in the how of the image rather than the illusion it contains, hit the “read more”.

It’s a composite. That should be pretty clear to whoever’s looking at the image. At least as important as what was added to the shot is what was removed. In the original, we have a couple of light posts, some sort of framework behind the lighthouse and a single person walking in the foreground. They “added” nothing to the story being told, so they were removed.

We have a fairly large set of cloud shots, taken in all sorts of weather conditions, at all times of the day here at the gallery. Any time we’re out and see some great cloud formations we pile out of the car, point the cameras skyward and shoot. The set in today’s image were taken at a rest stop along the highway, on the way home, after a day’s exploration. If I remember correctly, the cloud shots were the highlight of what we got for the day.

The mask for the composite wound up much easier than I thought it would. Taking the Blue Channel into the Calculations Dialog box (Image – Calculations) and changing the Blend Mode to Hard Mix resulted in a mask that was 90% complete. A couple of tweaks with a hard edged black Brush (B) to clean up the lit surface of the lighthouse and some random specks in the rocks was all it took. The Alpha Channel was applied as a mask and the rest was just the normal workflow.