From Behind the shutter
Today I’m back on some fancy collage. After focusing on creating images straight from the camera, I let myself play with the creative experimentations.
The collage process for me is completely intuitive and un-predictive. I start with browsing my collection of pictures, looking for inspiration, looking for an image that will make an interesting collage. How do I know it will make a good collage? Well, I see it the other way: “what can I do with it to make it an interesting collage?”.
Collage for me is a creative composition, a creation of an image that touches the viewer in a unique way. Although everyone can see something different, it provides a material for conversation, and that’s how I see it.
I started this collage with that image:
Source Background: Nikon D50 • Nikkor 80-200mm
80mm • 1/4000s • f/5.0
It was taken from the steam train at Roaring Camp, in Felton, California. Before the train gets back to the station, they liberate all the remaining steam in a gigantic cloud of steam which comes out from the side of the locomotive. That’s what that image represents.
During the same trip, the train stops in the Redwood and actors play a re-enactment. The one we saw was taking place during the Civil War. It was some sort of a story between gangsters robbing some people (including us, the passengers of the train). There was lots of shooting and pretty much everyone died except for that woman who knew how to use her riffle!!
Source Lady: Nikon D50 • Nikkor 80-200mm
95mm • 1/4000s • f/3.2
I started the collage with layering the two images. I also flipped them horizontally, most viewers naturally prefer reading from left to right. So, the riffle looks better when pointing to the right, same for the flowers.
I outlined the lady, and pasted it over the background image. I used the following technique for the overlay:
? used the “luminosity” blending mode in the layer palette
? set the opacity to 35% to create the ghostly effect
? added a transparency mask to hide the lower part of the dress so that it feels standing behind the grass
Here is the result of that first step:
Step 1 – Background + Lady overlay
Although I liked that composition, I wanted to give it a more dramatic effect. One that increases the effect of fear and un-comfort. The grasses have some motion (from the steam of the train), and the lady with the riffle also brings some tension.
I added the following layers that I took from my texture library.
A note regarding my texture library: each time I take pictures, I try to add a few shots that are just about interesting patterns, textures, or any other abstract visual material. I find them interesting to use as overlays to add a texture or a “tone” to an image.
Cloud texture – was taken from my backyard
I added the clouds with a Luminosity blending mode and 70% transparency. I also masked the lower part so that the clouds stay in the sky… I think that’s where they should be (at least for now).
Ice Skates marks texture from the player bench taken at the Cupertino Ice Chalet
I added the scratch marks with the Color Burn blending mode and 96% transparency. The overlay covers the all image, except over the lady where I masked out most of the scratches.
At the end, I added a strong vignette effect. I simply added a layer and painted with a 8% black soft brush the outside of the image so that the eye goes to the lady with the riffle…
Final image: background + Lady + Cloud + scratches + vignetting
I entered that image to the Pictorial competition at the Palo Alto Camera Club on 5.08.08 and the judge, Terry Toomey, awarded it the first place as well as the Print of the Month. Terry commented that the image was thought provoking and had an impact beyond its visual construction.