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PIXelations 31

Drawing With Light – 21st Century Dodging & Burning

by fotofinish , 02-20-2011 at 11:26 AM (847 Views)

As a pre-requisite for my class in April with John Paul Caponigro, I bought his DVD entitled Drawing With Light – 21st Century Dodging & Burning. This DVD has revolutionized the way I view dodging and burning in the following ways.

Painters as well as the master photographers have for years approached the problem of dimensionality through accentuating objects in the landscape with light. I never had considered that there was a definite workflow to do this. I had read and used various techniques in the past, but none so far compares to the process John Paul Caponigro will show you.

JP’s workflow uses Luminosity first, then Hue, then Saturation. Through the use of layering, he shows the viewer how to build up effects that emphasize contour, volume, and space in an image. He discusses various subtle techniques and strategies that truly will change the way you will approach your digital darkroom processing. There is a lot discussed and demonstrated. I’d advise sitting down with a good cup of coffee and just play the entire DVD from start to finish first to let the Wow factor take hold. Then, view it a second time and take notes as you go along. I also had Photoshop open with a test image of mine to flip back and forth between viewing the DVD, taking notes, and ten quickly trying out a technique.

Whatever your learning style is, you won’t be disappointed by the wealth of knowledge you will gain from this instructional video!


by fotofinish , 02-27-2011 at 12:19 PM (1293 Views)

Through a recent facebook discussion with photographer Tony Sweet, I became aware of some marvelous texture overlays for use with Photoshop called Flypaper Textures. Some of Tony’s recent works have used these effects. What these overlays bring to an image is that sense of time-worn realism. There are many packages like these on the market, but I enjoyed Tony’s use so much I had to get it for myself.

These overlays are full resolution 8-bit sRGB jpegs. What you do is have the image you want to apply these to, open in Photoshop. Then, open one of the jpegs in Photoshop. I convert the jpeg to a 16 bit file and convert it to the color profile I am working in, which is ProPhoto. I then use the move tool and while holding down the shift key, I drag the jpeg onto my image which then automatically creates another layer with this jpeg. The magic comes when you then set the blend mode of that new layer to “Overlay”. You can season to taste the opacity of the layer as you like.

You can use multiples of these jpegs. Experimentation is fun and may yield some idea stimulation! There is also a set of jpeg edges you can use with the various other overlays. These all use the same overlaying technique.

I had felt that my two images below were not complete until I used these overlays to create my final “look”! What do you think?

Before the flypaper:

With flypaper:


by fotofinish , 05-14-2011 at 04:11 PM (958 Views)

You have to see this. This guy is pretty funny and and worth watching.

Tales of mere existence.


A different direction

by fotofinish , 06-14-2011 at 07:45 PM (918 Views)

Some time ago, I attended a photoshop compositing class conducted by John Paul Caponigro. One of the underlying strategies he taught us was that abstraction for abstraction’s sake may not be enough to create a successful and compelling work of art. In general, successful works tend to leave the viewer with a suggestion that there might be something more to the work than first appears. The goal is to leave the viewer with questions to be pondered later. Our natural inquisitiveness will be engaged longer if the artist presents a work that encourages the viewer to consider more than just the obvious. Texture for texture’s sake, for example, although possibly interesting to another artist, may not be compelling enough reason to sustain viewer interest for very long.

JP had us do a small exercise. He told us to pick out a few of what we would consider to be our best images and sketch a simple picture of each using simple icons to represent the general placement of objects. What this attempts to show are the basic predominant shapes that exist. To do this, try closing one eye and squinting with the other in order to better detect these shapes. The theory is that if you experiment with different icon placements that you may find that it creates a stronger image, or perhaps another image within a series. Curiously, this also points out the elements of interest in the image.

Sadly, I soon discovered that what I thought were my best images did not contain many defined shapes. I don’t know why I didn’t notice this before; guess I was too close to my work. Not all of my work failed, but based on these failed sketches and the need to go beyond textures for texture’s sake, clearly I need to begin anew. It has taken me several months to get past this humbling experience and summon my courage to begin again, but in a different direction.

Compositing Tips

by fotofinish , 06-18-2011 at 04:35 PM (1587 Views)

I found a couple of pretty good links for doing composites in photoshop. This first one is to tips to consider when doing composites:

Tips for compositing

This other one talks about compositing but more importantly some thematic things to consider before you begin a compositing series. Check out the website, too. There are lots of good articles related to compositing considerations.


What I have learned about compositing so far…

by fotofinish , 07-02-2011 at 09:22 AM (1484 Views)

I am learning a lot about compositing as a method of abstracting an idea to present a theme of ideas. A recent workshop I attended taught by John Paul Caponigro planted the seeds, demonstrated the tools, and provided the inspiration. My fellow artistic community of Next Stepper attendees provided the encouragement, the solace, and the solidarity to pursue my new direction.

Like a painter, it is important to create the proper foundation for the idea, the proper stage or the layered canvas. This stage must then contain an actor or two. Conflict, tension or harmony and assimilation can be depicted through the placement or combination of these actors on or within this stage. The use of palette is essential to the creation of mood within the work and is fine-tuned through the intersections of hue, saturation, and luminosity.

I am trying very hard, perhaps too hard, to maintain this new direction. I have decided to harvest cropped actors from my library of more than 25,000 photos that I have taken over the years and have stored in a Lightroom database. The hardest part is trying to conceive a theme and a plan for a thematic series of related ideas.

Next, I have to develop a workflow or a generic starting point for these creations. The background may start as a separate project that builds up layers of effects to produce the “look” of the work. That look may be somber, thoughtful, play an active role in the total work, or just be a container or a vessel or stage for the action to be presented. Once satisfied with the result, this file is saved, archived for later adjustment, then flattened and saved as a non-layered tiff. This file is then used as a layer in the main work.

The secret sauce to the entire work is the use of blending modes with each non-adjustment layer. Remember, layers are the transparencies used over the light source of the work. The blend modes allow these layers to create the illusion of integration. Through experimentation with each of these modes, each non-adjustment layer can be made to creatively influence the interaction between the actors and their stage on each of the layers and underlying layers. Often times, however, this becomes the just the starting point for the adjustments needed to file away the rough edges created by these blendings.

One point to remember is that the goal of the series is to create the appearance of unity and cohesion. In other words, it becomes important that each work in the series maintain a consistency in workflow, appearance, and palette.

Am reading these with interest Jerry. Will be interesting to see what you come up with. Don’t have time at the moment to experiment much, so will just watch what you do.

Hi Skippy! Good to hear from you again! Yes, I am in the middle of an exciting new series and have been working on it for the last few months. Check back in a week or two and I will be posting a few. Thanks for your support. Hope all is well with you.

At Long Last!

by fotofinish , 09-11-2011 at 09:39 AM (857 Views)

After four months of thrashing about, of starting, stopping, restarting, redoing, often times from scratch, my new series, Affecting The Effects, is finally complete! I have created my first Blurb book which I am very excited about! There is also a downloadable pdf ebook. All of this was created with Adobe InDesign.

So, what is it about? Below is the short version of my artistic statement for the series. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

How does a rainforest survive the pace of human encroachment? Is a rainforest even worth saving when land resources are rapidly vanishing? Difficult questions to answer in a time where difficult choices need to be made. In the war between humans and nature, progress can only be measured from battle to battle. My new artistic series is an attempt to highlight the combined effects of these battles with the long term hope of affecting positively the final outcomes.

Each piece in this series mostly consists of composited photographic images I shot while in the Daintree rainforest located in tropical Queensland, Australia and elsewhere within this continent. Although my inspiration springs from these rainforest impressions, the series should really be viewed as an attempt to change the hearts and minds of viewers of all the natural wonders in this world. Each piece attempts to portray metaphorically the glory and the tragedy of these battles. Human erosion and devastation on many scales seem to be accepted by us with despair and resignation. We see the impact of changes to our surroundings everyday, the effects of these intrusions, whether they are around the world or around the next block in our own neighborhood.

Our eyes have become jaded and accepting of the inevitability of our natural resource depletion. We need to change this if our planet is to survive. It is my hope that we can affect this jadedness of the heart with an increased sense of responsibility and respect for the protection and renewal of these natural resources.

You can see the rest of this series here.
You can the download the ebook from my downloads page here.
You can view or purchase my first self-published book here.


It’s an odd coincidence that I should read this now. Just recently I was watching a documentary on Chernobyl wolves and before that it was MT. Helen’s volcano eruption.

You would be amazed at how fast of those places are coming back. In Chernobyl the wolves are back and thriving, but also the moose, the fish, the beavers, vegetation, was just awesome.

Mt. Helen’s was the same way. The fish are even back in lakes, can’t remember how they got there. Mother nature is healing her wounds.

Am firmly convinced if man should suddenly depart, the earth would once again become a garden of Eden.

Your heart is in the right place, but I do not know the answer either.

Sorry, Skippy, I just noticed your comment. I really appreciate your heart-felt reaction, and yes, we all have a lot of work to do as guardians of our environment to be left to our children…


by fotofinish , 10-15-2011 at 11:55 AM (586 Views)

I have been chair-bound for the last two weeks with lower leg cellutitis. Two weeks ago I was in the hospital for three days. All of this due to a bug bite. I did some yard work but I don’t even remember being bitten. Anyway, I’m finally starting to walk around without crutches. I should be back at my day job on Tuesday, though I was able to work from home during these two weeks. Unfortunately, I am also working (programming) 7 days now due to big projects and tight timeframes. That means no time or energy for visual art! Arrgggg!

Oh Jerry, how sad to be brought down by a bug you didn’t even notice. Hope all is going well now.

Thanks, Skippy! Getting better every day.

New Gallery

by fotofinish , 11-13-2011 at 05:21 PM (542 Views)

I just posted a greatest hits gallery called “Scenics” to my website. It contains pictures very much like the one below:

You can view this gallery here.

I’m hoping to add more to this gallery as I continue through the years. Thanks, everybody for your support!

Now these I can understand and appreciate. Superb choices for that gallery.


Thanks, again, Skippy!

Times Square

by fotofinish , 11-20-2011 at 10:03 AM (1656 Views)

During a recent visit to New York City with Jayne, I had the enjoyable experience of feeling the energy of Times Square at night. There is a special something to be felt in any big city at night and wandering casually, watching the people. And New York City is one of the best cities in the world to experience this!

I had no formal plans to shoot anything specific during our visit. I did however want to bring a camera and be prepared for anything. I went with no expectations, with no agenda. I just tried to be open to anything I may feel, without plan or purpose. Sometimes, you just try too hard to “create” art by forcing it. So, this was a very refreshing experience to live in the moment. I highly recommend this approach for anyone who is suffering from “artistic block”.

I took my trusty old Canon 20D and my Canon 16-35mm. That’s it. And here are a couple of keepers.

You can see the rest of this small gallery here.

Keep shooting!

Well that isn’t exactly what I was expecting. Glad you had a good time.


Should know me by now, Skippy! Thanks for the visit!

Yeah, but the story didn’t start out that way.

I am in Australia and coming to NY mid this year. I was looking for ideas but as you have suggested… maybe having no preformed ideas is the way to go. Just worried as I may never get back there and want good images

Depends what you like to shoot…Lots of great stuff to look at on NYC in this photozo forum and lots of really helpful people as well. Hope you have a great visit!

Hi Jerry , I also sent him a pm with the link to Polly1 thread where was asking for ideas for her son’s upcoming honeymoon. There were a lot of good ideas there.

Hope you a great Christmas and New Years.


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