6 August 2014

The beholder..

IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER Colour or Black & White, either way each image brings something different, speaks to its audience in a different way. This is why knowing your intention before you start processing is really important. To be mindful of what you want to say first... I posted both these images on Facebook and there was no real preference between the two. They were equally liked, but for different reasons. 

I processed the image to create a very even tonal, matt opacity. I wanted the overall skin to be as flat as possible so that the only depth and catchlights remained in her eye. I actually cropped the image before I processed it as I knew straight away I wanted to work with this intense shadow sweep, balanced with her eye. As this isn't a commercial image I'm not worried about any noise, loss of detail of softness created. I just liked it so I just went with it. The full sweep of shadow really pulled me in, and so this crop had more 'power' than the original full face frame, especially as the other eye was obscured by her hair. 

Sometimes, with my work, I see an image (a crop) within the bigger picture, but I become doubtful about making such extreme crops so I don't do it. I used to do this a lot, in some way fearful that what 'I was seeing' in my image wouldn't make sense to others... but now I remember my work doesn't have to be explained or make sense, because it's mine.....  

Sometimes I have to remember that it's okay, in fact it's more than okay, so see myself in my work. To see my choices and my decisions and to work from that standpoint rather than seeking acceptance from others (I believe true acceptance only actually comes when you start being truly authentic with yourself anyway).

Original image with crop ratio shown. 

21 July 2014

Renewing Inspiration

RENEWING INSPIRATION There is nothing fancy about my journals! They're composed mostly of small print outs stuck down with sticky tape. There are also many pages of ideas and thoughts jotted down as quickly as they flood my mind. I would be lost without these conceptual ramblings. They serve to remind me of how I think, like a blue print of who I am, creatively. When I take the time to re read the words I've scribbled down, sometimes illegible and difficult to decipher, I find myself re inspired. Yes, inspired by myself! Inspired again by fleeting ideas, shadows of previous thoughts, images of projects remixed. Sometimes I put random images together, like casting spells, a different combination for a different need. I enjoy printing sets of cards and I feel compelled to collect and remix previous works and ideas, giving them new incarnated meaning. 

I've never considered that my photographs are created in isolation of each other. Each new piece simply joins the collective work. In some cases a new piece of work will fit perfectly with another, or a series of works, even though there may be several years between them. This is a phenomenon I'm fascinated by because I have no idea what I will create tomorrow and how that will re-balance and re-inspire the work I've already created. 

"The inspirational path of the creative process, is as unique as the identity of it's owner". 

12 July 2014

Testing testing.... watch me edit...

WATCH ME EDIT This is a quick recording of how I edited this image of three Roses. I've gone to town with this edit to show you how Beyond the Lens Photoshop Actions have been designed to add soft and subtle changes that are layered, there is no need to break into the Actions themselves, just apply as you want. 

There is no commentary to this video demo, as it would've made it too long and slow (I think I ramble on a bit too....) So to make the process easier it's just a quick run through, with notes.  


Workflow Action: Pre Processing I 
Workflow Action: ProMatt Ice
Rescue Action: Soft Light
Rescue Action: Color Fade
Creative Action: Chinawhite
Creative Action: Summer
Creative Light Fill Action: Dreamer
Rescue Actions: Rough Tint
Rescue Action: Whitelight Wand
Creative Action: La Rosa
Creative Actions: Pennylane
Finishing Action: Flatten 
Finishing Action: Flatten & Sharpen

1) First I ran the Pre Processing I Workflow Action to establish a lighter image without adding in contrast. 

2) Rescue Action, Soft Light was ran to lighten (but not brighten) the whole image and then I added ProMatt Ice to bring in even more low contrast light.  You can see I remove excess light mainly from the sky, to the top right, and to the left of the roses. 

3) Then I ran Rescue Actions Color Fade, and painted it across the greens to take out excess yellow.  At this stage I then flattened. You can go onto the Creative Actions without flattening, but I always flatten here, as good practise, after my Pre Processing Workflow is complete and make a new save. (Please note due to time I didn't make a save at this stage in the demo, but I would normally.)

4) Next I ran the first Creative Action, Chinawhite, increased up to 100% and removed from the roses and the sky. 

5) Creative Action Summer is next, reduced down to 30% and again removed from the roses and the sky. 

6) Finally, at this stage, Creative Action Light Fill Dreamer is added, reduced down to 61% and removed from the roses and slightly to the left side.

7) Rescue Actions Rouge Tint is them added to pull in a little warmth. Removed lightly from the background and then specifically removed from the middle of the Roses. I then use another Rescue Action Whitelight Wand, this is brilliant at pulling back softened highlights. At this point I think I'm finished and so I flatten again! But then I have an afterthought, which happens quite a lot in the way I processes!

8) I want to add another Creative Action....no problem I simply run LaRose, reduced it down to 21% just enough to give the overall image a further warm contrast boost.

9) Now I'm done right! I flatten with a little extra, paint-on sharpen, and I'm done.....oh but wait....

10)  I want more pink hazy, so again I run another Creative Action, this time, and for the last time, Pennylane. This Actions gives the whole image a sweet pink lift, I removed the effects again from selected areas of my image.  Done.......

Beyond the Lens Actions are just so wonderfully easy to use, layer upon layer, without horrific distortions. Just like applying professional makeup, it's all about soft layers no destructive, harsh ugly changes.  There is no right or wrong to the method I use to paint-on or off certain Actions. I do this as a personal preference and I encourage everyone to work like this, embrace your own preferences and be the creator of your own look and style. 

I'd love to know what you think? It was a bit of a trial to see if this is of value?  Do you prefer lengthy tutorial with voice over commentary (like the others I've done) or with a little music even? Is there something you'd like to learn about or get insight on? Please leave a comment. Sx 

7 July 2014

Tutorial: How to disguise Band Distortions using Textures

ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES when processing images with large areas of soft gradient blur can be blur band distortion. This occurs as an image is processed, specifically when the contrast levels, increase or decrease significantly from the original captured image.  Most of the time this isn't a big problem and any distortions can be minimised or smoothed out with a softly blur.  But there is another way to help anchor tonal gradients pixels in place and disguise the unwanted banding artefacts that appear, and that's to apply a soft Texture overlay.

5 July 2014

A Full Melody

LIFES FULL MELODY I'm definitely a bit of a dreamer! Life often seems too 'real' for me. It's as if, on certain days, someones turned off the music! I'm not sure there is another way to describe it, other than to say it's like, life without a melody. 

My camera, is a bit like this, it can only capture what is actually in my view finder. It strips everything else out! All the emotion, the ambience, all the other 'information' that I feel and sense. It records the facts, but in a sterile way, that sits outside of the context of the life experience I'm in when I take the image.  

We all have five amazing senses to navigate us through life. Plus we benefit from our emotional responses. And, if you're lucky perhaps, a sixth sense, the one of intuition and spiritual guidance. In contrast to how we experience the world we live in, cameras alone do a pretty poor job.

So how do we compensate? 

We learn to 'observe'. Not just what we see, but everything else too, including the observation of what lies within the remit of our own unique imaginations. We become the creative resource that drives the results we seek. So that, when we take an image forward to processing, we have the full story.  The bigger picture, if you like.

I work at bringing back, to the captured image, some of what my camera is incapably of recording. My job is to be the storyteller of my own experiences and imagination. To produce work that does more then 'tell-it-how-it-was' to convey the same overall sensory and emotional qualities, from the perspective of who I am......to capture Life with a full melody.