Thursday, January 26, 2017

To Grow In Spirit | Behind the Scenes

It was recently requested of me to make a tutorial for "that rose photo"which I posted on the internet a few days ago. While this post will certainly not be a step by step guide on how to make things grow from your face in Photoshop, I hope I can share with you some of the things that I do to my images, and a little look at what I did to this photo particularly through a few behind the scenes photos.
For this post, I have decided to concentrate on two aspects of my process: focusing and believability, with a little YouTube video at the end. If you learn anything at all from my ramblings, I hope you see that my process, when broken down to it's bones, is very simple.

As I said on my Instagram, I did not think it a possibility that this photo was in the realm of my abilities when I first conceived the idea of it back on that September day in the woods, when I and the wind became a lucid thing, ideas swirling with the tarnished leaves just starting to fall, the shifting earth clearing my mind. I pushed it away, buried it under my doubts, to that far off day where I would have the wherewithal to make it a reality, always seeming to be out of reach.

It was left alone in this way for many months, but a few weeks ago I pulled the idea out from my idea book as I felt the tug of it on my hands and sleeves and heart. So I took a trip to hobby lobby and bought one red rose. I got a little smile from the cashier, no doubt used to weird purchases from customers. But I walked out with the first step to my photo completed.

For this image, I had a very clear and simple vision of it in mind: me, a blank wall, and a rose rising out of my shattered face. These ideas are all written down in my little sketch book, detailed in text and horrors of doodling that help give me a visual for the final image. This can be said as my very first step, from imagined impossible entity to written practicalities on paper, so my brain doesn't let it slip away. I usually try to describe everything from pose and color and setting to the message I wish to portray, although at times the reason is somewhat blurred to me; but always the image is clear, or somewhat so. In this case, the concept was particularly clear to me, being of growth, the cultivation of our spiritual lives rooted in Christ, grounded in love, the Holy Spirit blooming for all to see; it is of our witness being evident in who we are and how we act and what we say. 

So, the day after I bought the rose, I set out to make the idea into a reality. The step two in a way. Sitting against my little green wall, I positioned myself in the way I thought best, marking where I needed to squat, focused on myself with my camera remote, and then locked down that focus (flipping the auto focus switch to manual focus on the side of the lens.) This insured that the other photos I took, which would eventually be added to the final image later, would all be in the same focal plain. A focal plain is the area in which you will remain in focus if you stay within it's limits. So, I put myself exactly where I wanted to be for this image, therefore, when I focused on myself and locked it down, I had a specific plain in which I had to stay in so that I would remain in focus. This plain essentially works horizontally; I can move side to side from my marked position and still remain to be in focus, but if I move toward the camera, or vertically from that plain, then I will be out of focus. (If that made any sense, bless you)

In any image that I create, the biggest thing that I strive for is believability. I knew that to make this photo look realistic, I needed to ground the fantasy world with the physics that govern ours. That rose would not look like it was coming from my face if I did not make sure I photographed it at the right angle, and because it was at the correct angle, I knew exactly where to create the hole in my cheek later in Photoshop because of where the rose intersected with my skin. Being conscience of how things will blend together later in Photoshop is one of the most important things to think through and experiment with and fail at and burn to the ground and try again and again and again...

I digress.

The three photos above were the only photos I used to create the final image (plus one other of just the wall so I could expand my frame upwards.) I had my pose, the rose intersecting my face, and the rose by itself all photographed individually and within the same focal plain, and then later in Photoshop I constructed the rose and added some cracks to my cheek from a texture of a crumbling wall which I got here. To finish the photo, I darkened the background and played with color and contrast, my favorite steps when creating these photos. You can see all of these steps in my quick little video below which shows each layer being revealed until the final image is complete.

If you have any questions or wish for more clarification, please feel free to comment below and I would love to help, brainstorm, chat about impossibles, or shed light on an inquiry in any way I can!