Tag Archives: PhotoForge

Learning From The Masters

As a young guitarist, I learned how to play by listening to my favorite songs and figuring out the riffs. As a young graphic designer, I figured out techniques by recreating ads and absorbing the principles of layout. I sought out the occasional tutorial and picked up things along the way, but a large part of what came to be my creative expression has it roots in studying and emulating the work of others.

Comparison of "Untitled 1989" by Jerry Uelsmann and my own study after.

Comparison of “Untitled 1989″ by Jerry Uelsmann and my own study after.

That’s the approach I took recently with my growing photomontage fascination. Over the past few years I’ve been making photomontages with my iPhone and image editing apps like Photoforge2 and Dynamic Light. It’s been particularly rewarding when developing pieces along the lines of my favorite artists, one of which is the great Jerry Uelsmann.

So I was looking through one of my printed Uelsmann books for inspiration and came across this image:

Click for a closer look at Uelsmann's work at Faded & Blurred

Untitled, 1989 · ©Jerry Uelsmann

I then decided to make it a weekend project to emulate the image in an attempt to gain experience and get closer to the techniques involved. Of course, apps and and iPhone are no darkroom and enlargers, but some fundamental composition principles carry over, as I discovered in creating my own version:

My take on Uelsmann

My take on Uelsmann. Click to view at full size. Created via iPhone.

This consists of a view of the sky from downtown Winston-Salem, about 14 stories up; a house from Old Salem, (historical area of my city); my own hands, and my flannel-shirt-wearing self at sunset.I had some help on the portrait and hands shots with the CameraSharp app’s timer, along with a tripod.

Four Source Files

My source files for this composition. Click to view at full size.

I can say that it was at once freeing and challenging to work toward a specific vision, bringing these elements together. I make no claim to total originality here, since the idea is obviously Uelsmann’s, but I’m satisfied with how it turned out. I may yet use the elements in future compositions, and I will probably revisit the challenge again one day of emulating and learning from the masters.

What do you think? Have you ever created art after something or someone that’s inspired you? Do any other examples of this come to mind? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Making Things Happen: Now Featured by WeAreJUXT

Making Things Happen by rsmithing
Making Things Happen, a photo by rsmithing on Flickr.

Two things I’ve been doing lately: travelling and listening to Beats Antique (often simultaneously). The music is, for me, a perfect mood-setter: stimulating, forward moving, and compelling without lyrics. I saw the band twice in 2012, and captured this image of Zoe Jakes at a gig in Asheville, NC. This snapshot makes the perfect foreground for this vista from above the clouds off Florida’s Gulf Coast, brought together via iPhone with the masks & textures of Photoforge2.

Update 3/3: Now Featured by WeAreJUXT

JUXT LogoBig thanks to the folks at WeAreJUXT for including this image in their weekly showcase! This is the second image of mine featured there (here’s the first) and I’m totally flattered, since they constantly and consistently highlight such great creations with insights from their creators (and I’m not just saying that because I’m there). You should definitely check out the whole JUXT site. Here’s what I say about this image over there:

My favorite art is the kind that gets the viewer to consider things in new ways. I believe that’s the most exciting thing about sharing creativity: the opportunity for a mind-expanding experience. That can happen for me through words, music, or with visual art as in the works of my favorite artists, Salvador Dalí and Jerry Uelsmann. The story behind this image is that I was on a business trip last month and happened to be in the air at just the right time to capture a glorious sunrise from above the clouds. I knew I wanted to remember the moment, but didn’t know what form that would take. This week, the vision hit me: a dancer amid the clouds with selective lighting and textures was what I wanted to make happen. I instantly thought of this silhouette image I shot last year at a show by one of my favorite bands, Beats Antique, which happen to be on heavy rotation during my recent travels. The mysterious form in the foreground is the troupe’s Zoe Jakes as shown backlit from behind a screen with exotic costume accents. The spell-casting pose along with textures, layer modes and and masking in Photoforge2 makes the mind-expansion thing happen.

Up With The Sun: a MobileArtistry Feature

The Instagram-based group, MobileArtistry, includes me in their gallery today as a featured artist. I created this montage as an example of my style for the feature and did the following writeup on my technique. My huge thanks to them for the highlight.

Up With The Sun - click to see more like this at Pinterest

Up With The Sun – click to see more like this at Pinterest

Ever since seeing a book of Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontages in college, I’ve been fascinated with the art form and have since become motivated to become a professional graphic artist, designing for over 16 years now. Manipulating reality for artistic effect in Photoshop has always been my favorite part of designing, so when I discovered iPhoneography, and especially the app Photoforge2, which is very similar to Photoshop, I was hooked. It was seeing the evocative iPhoneography of Sion Fullana that inspired me to give it a go, and Sion was even good enough to share his guidance with me on what apps to get started with.

Repost of Up With The Sun at MobileArtistry

Repost of “Up With The Sun” at MobileArtistry

How The Magic Happens

I basically take photos all the time with my iPhone 4 of whatever I find interesting. When the urge to create strikes, I’ll mix ‘em up and see what happens. It’s really as simple as that. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed, and other times I’m just along for the ride, letting magic from the universe do the driving.

For this montage, I combined two photos I took on a Saturday in late summer: one of a wig mannequin at a beauty supply shop, and another of a rising cloud at a winery out in the country. Both were shot originally in with Hipstamatic, using the John S. lens. Wig girl was shot with Rock BW-11 film, and the cloud was shot with Blanko film. You can see the originals at my Flickr stream.

Originals for this montage - click to view at Flickr

Originals for this montage – click to view at Flickr

I brought wig girl into Dynamic Light and gave her the Solarize treatment. I also used Noir to get the right mix of monochrome highlights in the cloud scene. Next, I brought both images together in Photoforge2, each on its own layer. I set wig girl’s blending mode to Overlay, then selectively hid and revealed bits of each layer via masking. Finally, I did some minor cloning cleanup in Filterstorm, then added the copyright & signature with Phonto. I named this after a U2 song lyric in “Gone,” an expansive rising track that seemed appropriate for this composition.

What’s amazing to me is how, as I’ve become adept with a few apps, I can pull techniques from each of them almost like selecting colors on a palette. It’s like having a box of tools to achieve an artistic vision… that fits in your pocket and makes phone calls, too.

Thanks very much to MobileArtistry for featuring me – it’s an honor to be included with such beautiful, creative art. Definitely check out their great gallery for consistently innovative creations.

The Inspiration of Immediacy

The Savoia features my artwork at their excellent site. If you enjoy my blog, definitely check out The Savoia, too!

Click to see the montage using this image at Flickr.

Click to see the montage using this image at Flickr.

Here’s a macro shot I did a few days ago of a spider hanging out between a couple of bushes in my yard. I’m using a grayscale version in a montage that’s going to be part of a series later on, but just for fun I mixed it up with some color filters in Photoforge 2 using the in-app Pop Cam pak (well worth the purchase). It’s like having Hipstamatic effects you can apply at will to existing photos. I also used the forever-awesome Photojojo macro lens.

Thanks for taking a look – what do you think? Are spiders too creepy no matter what, or does some colorful editing add to their interest? Leave a comment!

A Rosy Photo Edit Tutorial

A shoutout to magicunicorn for recognizing the musical reference here on Instagram. You rock!

Edit of a photo in honor of Valentine's Day. See below for Behind The Music.

My awesome wife got some of these for Valentine’s Day (from me), and so I had to get a photo and have some metaphoric fun with the result. Below is an approximate rundown of how this came to be, and some classic V-Day music for your listening pleasure. Whether you have a Valentine or not, get out there and share the love in whatever way you know how. Apps used: PhotoForge2, LumiereDynamic Light.

The original photo

After cropping and creating a heart in the center using PhotoForge2, I added texture and edginess in Lumiere.

A quick black & white solarization with Dynamic Light, then back to PhotoForge2 along with the previous file for layering.

Boosted saturation for more red, layered previous two versions and masked selectively to highlight certain bits in PhotoForge2.

Seriously, there was a ridiculous amount of masking involved. Took a while here.

And finally, the completed image. A metaphor for what's at the heart of all we go through in love. Ultimately, the reward is there.

And now, ladies and gentlemen…

The Replacements – Valentine

 

Well you wish upon a star that turns into a plane.
And I guess that’s right on par.
Who’s left to blame?

If you were a pill,
I’d take a handful at my will.
And I’d knock you back with something sweet and strong.
Plenty of times you wake up in February make-up;
Like the moon and the morning star you’re gone.

(chorus:)

Tonight makes love to all your kind.
Tomorrow’s makin’ Valentines.

Hey you pop up in this old place,
So sick and so refined (divine?).
Are you strung out on some face?
Well I know it ain’t mine.

If you were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will,
And I’d knock you back with something sweet and strong.
Trouble keeping your head up when you’re hungry and you’re fed up,
Like a moon and a lone star you’re gone.

(chorus)

If you were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will,
And I’d knock you back with something sweet as wine.
Yesterday was theirs to say; this is their world and their time.
Well if tonight belongs to you, tomorrow’s mine.

Any questions? I know I didn’t cover all the steps, so please fire away below and I’ll answer the best I can. How has your Valentine’s Day been? Did you do anything for or with your significant other? If so, what? If not, what else did you do? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Moth Drama: Transforming The Ordinary into Art

Click to view the full 9-image set

A moth in full drama mode. The ordinary becomes extraordinary through photography & apps. Click to see what went into creating this image.

Here’s a look at how a simple moth can serve as subject for a striking, dramatic image by way of a macro lens attachment and some basic iPhone app editing (mainly Photoforge2, which I review here). Through the course of nine images, I take you through how the ordinary transforms into a fulfilling creative experience.

The effect of the final image above reflects my initial vision: dramatic gravity drawing the eye to the fine and generally unseen detail in this humble moth. To me, this is a great example of how photography, especially when spurred by photo-sharing experiences like Instagram, can elevate our everyday surroundings to an evocative level of art readily appreciated by others.

Moth Drama Set
Click to view the step-by-step creation of the final image at top.
Instagram promo for this post - click to see series at Flickr

Instagram promo for this post - made with Phonto, Labelbox & Photoforge2 apps

In the  case of the final image, I got the texture I was after by shooting with Hipstamatic then adjusting the result of that with layers in Photoforge2. But I wanted more dimension than just grayscale, so I added some red. To do this, I duplicated the grayscale layer and added red via the “colorize” function. Then I then masked portions of the top (red) layer to allow the bottom (gray) layer to appear through, using varying brush sizes and opacities. Finally, I set the blending mode of the top (red) layer to overlay, and set the opacity to 75%. Same principles also work in Photoshop, which is one reason I so strongly endorse Photoforge2.

If the above description gets you excited (you nerd), definitely check out the step-by-step series with notes at Flickr.

What do you think? Have you taken the ordinary to an artful place through photography or some other means? Have you done any macro photography of your own, and if so what’s your experience been like? What gear do you recommend? What’s your opinion on creating art from the everyday world? Do you find tips/tutorials like this useful? Let us hear from you in the comments!