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Creating "Secrets In Eden" (NSFW)

                 How Do You "Translate" An Image Formed In Your Mind Into Reality?

Sometimes the way I go about creating is purely by a "visual whim". I want to depict my interpretation of the "torn canvas" element used a lot in visual art. I'm not the first artist and certainly won't be the last to use it.

The symbol of the "red apple" and "the bite"; a play on biblical tales as well as fairytales. Where do these elements take you?

The image "jumped" into my head. So I went into the creating process based on a visual that already existed. I did not sit and plan this, I went ahead and started shooting.

When you "see" something, you should say something. Feed that inspiration, nourish your visual mind by satisfying it's need to physically see it's wishing.

The Concept

I wrote one sentence down to describe my concept:

Good Vs. Evil, the knowledge to distinguish in between, and the conflict that tears us apart from the inside

In my book, currently, there are two ways of creating. The first way is thought out and planned; I don't always see the visual before I create it. The second, is about taking action upon inspiration; I "see" the visual first, and then I go ahead and create it.

That said, I make sure there is always a "WHY" behind the image. Otherwise, the esential aspect of imagery will be missing from it... And you yourself might find it bland, or "meaningless".

By jumping into the creative process in this way, I found it a lot more playful. My brain didn't go through the type of thinking that is required for a planned process. So, my mind only had a visual it followed and tried to match, compared to non visual guidlines.

My little studio set up; red seamless backdrop, apple box, a red apple and plastic vines.

This is a self portrait, which is by itself a genre in photography. I absolutely love it when photographers take self portraits, it's fascinating what people choose to depict when they are photographing themselves. It's also rather theraputic, I want everyone to try it. All you need is a camera after all, no matter the skill level.

By photographing a self portrait you might have to go back and forth to the camera and re-do it a couple of times (unless you're shooting tethered). This part might take longer compared to using a model. But it's great, you'd get to see yourself in a photo and deal with some issues that might raise to the surface! You see? Theraputic!

How To Do It Yourself:

Photo Gear:

  1. Camera (I use Sony a7RII) and a lens with a relatively long focal length (that's the number of mm's on your lens). I find it very beautiful photographing people with 50mm and above - it tends to "flatten" feautres and distort extremities less than wider angles that are less than 50mm. I have a 24-70mm zoom lens; this was shot at 70mm.
  2. Seamless backdrop (I got one in red).
  3. Tripod (!!!) very important for a self portrait!
  4. Remote for your camera (unless you like running back and forth for EACH photograph)
  5. One strobe with a preffered light modifier (I use the profo D2 with a RFi softbox Octa 3' light modifier). Or, natural light you like. But honestly, ANY light will do.
  6. An apple box to sit on (if needed).

Props:

  1. Plastic Vines from a craft store.
  2. Stock photos of vines (you can also create these yourself pretty easily using the plastic ones).
  3. One red apple.
  4. Your fabulous self.

I start with looking at the light (which is great from the start, the octabox is slightly tilted diagonally; setup #1 here). Then, I go through posing and go back and forth to choose the best photo according to my vision. This process is slow... very slow...take your time with it. Don't settle for anything, you're not wasting any film here...

Once I like the pose, I sarted shooting photos with the apple in my mouth; I took a few with slight variations, then I shot more photos with the remote in my right hand so I can replace my left arm with an arm I like - in post.

Compositing in Photoshop

Starting a composite always takes me the longest, because I have to decide which photograph to use! And that is a challenge. Because, every single variation of a physical gesture is communicated differently. If my head was down instead of up, and my arm up instead of down, or making a fist, etc...

Make sure the frame you select to continue with, communicates your message fully. Do not rely on the editing process to alter that.

Once you have decided upon using a certain frame, start working around it super technically. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, this is the time to be super duper technical:

a. I chose the main frame. b. I chose the right arm from another frame. c. I sarted filling in gaps with the clone stamp tool. d. I extended the frame with the crop tool. e. I added stock images of vines.

‍Lower crop of the final image: Vines from stock are added, and gaps are filled with the clone stamp tool - take a look at the speed edit video at the end

It's important to remember that "getting stuck" during a composite is totally natural. You might see it and think it looks terrible and totally fake - that is OK! The compositing part is far from the final state this will take. just keep putting it together.

Some Photoshop tips I used for this image:

1. When you use stock images (like the vine stock images) which are photographed on a white background, you can easily extract them by using color select; all you need to do is select the white part, create a selection, and invert it (see the speed edit for this). This will select the vines perfectly. Well, almost. There are going to be white margins to the selection. A great way to get rid of these is selecting the mask you created and tapping "command + L" to bring up the levels pannel for that mask. Increase the contrast all the way - push the middle slider all the way to the right and watch the edges dissapear. Bur don't over do it because it will start "biting into" the pixels you need. Repeat as neccesary. You're welcome:)

2. Use the lasso tool to select part of the existing image you have and would like to duplicate. Don't be affraid to make non perfect selections. I did this with the vines around the legs. I duplicated them to create this "dress/cone" shape. Once you have a selection on a pixel layer, tap "command + J" to duplicte that part and use the move tool (tap "v") to move it around and see where you'd like to place it. Once it's in a place you like, create a mask, fill it black to hide all, and use the brush tool to paint white only in the areas you'd like this layer revealed.

3. The "puppet warp" tool. I love this one so much. It's wonderful to move pixels around. I reccomend using this tool only after you have a perfectly cut out object, like the vines (on it's own layer). Otherwise it will move all the background with it and it's messy. Take a look at this tutorial for more.

4. Colors! The main trip to get complex colors is to use multiple adjustment layers. That's it. Every layer you use should be a delicate shift in the direction you want. And then another, and another, and another, etc... The main adjustment layers to use for color are selective color, color balance, hue/saturation, and color lookup (these are all slider based). And of course curves, but that is a lot more complex in my opinion; less intuitive.

5. Textures! Ahhh...I love textures. There is a lot of those in this image. I use textures I like and put them on softlight or overlay blending modes (usually). Try to use more than one and avoid leaving them on 100% opacitiy. Less is more, just like with the color adjustment layers. I got some budles from this website years ago and I use them all the time. It's worth waiting for black friday, the prices are super low.

      If you have any more questions about the process, feel free to ask me! comment on the image                       on my instagram or right here below and I'll do my best to answer everything!

I was going for colors of an "artwork hanging on a castle wall" type of a thing... And I wanted the red and the green as complementary colors to really stick out. But, during the process I have discovered another BEAUTIFUL version of this image! And then I was conflicted, which one to use?

Which one supports the story and concept better?

I'm glad this is a digital process so they can both exist. Take a look at the speed edit video for the editing process. I hope this inspired you to create something for you. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below:)

 

Music: http://www.purple-planet.com

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