There was a time when all I knew of PhotoShop was that I could use it to put people's heads on other people's bodies, a task I did with glee. Beyond that? I didn't really know how to use it.
Over the past several months, I have learned so much more about PhotoShop. It has helped this new found creativity absolutely explode within me, at a time when I was searching for some sort of meaningful outlet.
One of my new found joys is the art of photo manipulation. As I said, I had always just used the program to move people's heads around. Since joining Flickr and since further joining groups that post manipulation challenges, I have progressed as an artist. I have learned new techniques, stepped outside of my comfort zones, and made some good friends along the way.
Let me show you what I mean...
A recent challenge began with this image from Marcus Ranum. Beyond "manipulating" the image, there are no real parameters. As I looked at the model, I envisioned a vintage-esque print, and I really envisioned using her feet as a backdrop. Using resources available for free on Flickr (hooray for stock photos and textures), I created the image below.
And voila. Two images and two textures blended together. Through this challenge, I learned a little more about blending layers of photographs, of how to merge them together in a way that isn't too obvious. More on that with the next picture...
Another recent challenge involved this starting image by "ihave3kids" on Flickr. Looking at the picture, I wasn't sure that I would be participating in the challenge. I had no idea what to do with it. Finally, I just let my instincts take over, and I pictured a woman on the far shore, beckoning toward the camera. I couldn't find an image that matched my vision, but I did find more models by Marcus Ranum. Bingo! I pictured the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend. Doing some quick research, I put together the story in my mind and got to work.
One of the things that drives me nuts about photo manipulations (possibly because it's a mistake that I always used to make and sometimes don't know how to avoid), is when it is obvious that the parts were just put together. Like someone just cut out some pictures and plopped them together. It has become very important to me that my pictures really blend together and that they look like a solid image, like I was really there taking the picture.
I'm kind of proud of elements in this one. I like that the shadows on her robe mirror the colors in the picture. I am thrilled with the reflection that I put in the water! I love that it's pretty realistic, and on a deeper level, I like that the darkness of the reflection is in contrast to the start light of the main figure (it mirrors the beautiful appearance of the Lady of the Lake and her dark intentions to "steal" all of Merlin's magic).
I realize that these photo manipulations aren't wholly my own, original work. Sometimes that gives me a pang. But overall, I'm thrilled that these challenges offer me an opportunity to refine my skills and create images that I would otherwise be unable to create.