Renewal is my first major composited, photographic creation. I am happy that it is done and proud of the effort. The first 10 hours or so were the most difficult.
I attended a presentation with Stephen Burns where he demonstrated how he creates a composited image. I asked him if he started a new image with a clear vision of what it would be. His answer helped me through the difficult beginning.
Stephen said, NO. In the beginning I am not sure where the image is headed, and that can be very frustrating. I work through the frustrations and at times walk away for a while.
I started with the burnt trees and the blurry wave. Then I added the cliff and the footprints because I always liked these photographs and they seemed to fit the scene.
This represents the first night of work. It is comprised of five photographs, 2 tree photos, the blurry wave, the cliff and footprints image (used twice). At this stage I had no idea where my creation was headed.
I asked myself a lot of questions while working. What does it mean? Does it need to mean or say something? Can’t it just be a pretty picture? Can surreal also be pretty? Does it matter? Is this really worth all the hours I’m spending on it?
The answer to ‘is it worth it’ always came back with a resounding yes. Even if I never showed it to anyone, the exercise was worth the effort.
I started to like the image when I added the thinking guy, but…
… I wondered if it was cheating to use an image of someone else’s art for my own creation. Then I decided “cheating” was irrelevant.
After the thinking guy found his place on the cliff I started thinking about the cyclical nature of life. Trees burn in forest fires and come back to life over time. Waves come in, and then head back. Footprints are formed and wash away. Day turns to night and seasons change.
I worked on this during Easter season, so thoughts of resurrection and rebirth entered my mind too. This is not a religious piece though. The concepts were just part of my thought process.
The bottom third of the image represents the other side of the place on the top. It could also be a reflection, but my intent was to create the opposite side of the world.
I spent many hours trying to make the water look believable where it flows in and around the cliff. I used parts from many different ocean photos to create a real, yet surreal ocean.
The peacock was added after I googled “symbols of renewal” and discovered the peacock feather. Fortunately I had a perfect peacock photo in my library.
The ivy was the only content I didn’t already have images of, so I walked the neighborhood photographing ivy in all different lighting conditions.
I spent way, way, way too much time masking and piecing the ivy together. The ivy section alone is composited from fourteen layers of ivy photos.
I am happy with the final image but am not in any hurry to create something else similar. Editing an image of this size (1.5 gig +) at the pixel level is counter creative, but I couldn’t stop myself. I know that I need to loosen up.
My next piece will be more abstract or painterly, more similar to the bottom third of Renewal, the opposite side of my surreal world.
Renewal will be part of the PAG show, Photoshopography at the Escondido Municipal arts gallery. The show runs from May 7 – June 1.