I recently spent some time learning a new (to me) Photoshop digital painting technique. I’ve been searching for something to present some of my work in a way that is more akin to painting. I don’t like results of Actions, Presets and Filters as the image appears to be obviously post processed using these techniques. While many of these techniques produce stunning dramatic results, they are simply not something that interests me. Prior to digital photography and Photoshop we had film and made prints in the darkroom to produce desired results. The old school methods were tactile where we had our hands in and on the work. I would suggest that this Photoshop technique is digitally tactile as it is a true painting technique. The results are achieved through choices of brushes and digital painting techniques. It does require a pen tablet or pen based screen. Doing it with a mouse is nearly impossible. I’ve worked through five or six images so far and still consider myself a beginner. It is something that takes time and practice to achieve quality results. The image below is the best result I’ve been able to achieve so far. It is a selection from Reverie which was inspired by paintings.
Model Credit: Cat Hedlund
Photographs like this one don’t come along very often. I refer to these as “Cover Photos”. What I mean by this is that the photograph is strong enough to grace the cover of a book, magazine or website.
It is my opinion that one has to be prepared to make photographs like this while dealing with the unexpected. I had a basic idea, concept and vision for this photograph. I knew the dress and model would be available to me and I knew I would have assistance available. What I didn’t know were the challenges of working with a dress this large. It is actually made from a parachute. The other unknown factor was how to deal with the wind. At first I thought that the dress blowing around in the wind would be fantastic, however, I quickly learned that while this is true in some cases, it was not true for the picture that I wanted to make. We were in Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, CA as dusk was approaching. I’ve been there many times and usually the winds are calm or nonexistant at this time of day. On this day the wind was howling and did nothing but damage to my picture making effort.
The picture was shot using an off camera Speed Light (camera left) hand held by an assistant; thank you Marc. It took a bit of time and test shots moving the light around making subtle adjustments to get it exactly as I wanted it. The camera was on a tripod as I didn’t want the camera angle to change at all. I knew that I might need to combine multiple frames to achieve the final vision. All of this while waiting for breaks in the wind gusts and posing the model as desired. I got the shot and did not have to combine multiple frames.
Model: Erica Jay
Assistants: Marc Nathanson and Michael Pannier
Dress: Alice Andrews Designs
As an artist it’s important that we’re passionate about our work and that we pour everything we have into it. At times the subconscious plays an important role in the making of an image. Such is the case with this image. I began making this image with the intent that it would fit into the Reverie project. As I worked through it with Erica, various elements and a mood found their way into the photograph. The photograph worked it’s way out of the Reverie project on its own and became something that stands alone as a story.
Each element in the photograph contributes to a story. That story is about me. The photograph on the wall is mine signifying that I’m a photographer. The hat that Erica is holding is in fact my hat and her mood reflects calm along with things lost and things not yet found. The circular twigs represent chaos, confusion and struggle that life often throws at me. The vintage box is fact a container for an old movie projector for which I have a fondness. My Grandfather had one and I remember him pulling it out showing old home movies.