It’s been a slow winter so far. It has snowed like crazy here in west Michigan, but the snow has always been sleety, windblown, dry bits of dust – no fine individual crystals. The counties to the west of Kalamazoo have been hit with the most snow – and the Allegan Forest is now blanketed in white. There is at least 3 feet on the ground, and the small two tracks and seasonal roads that lead to the great places are impassable. I’ve tooled around on the main roads, but the landscapes haven’t come together.
So instead of taking new shots, I’ve been re-working old ones. The Signature Artist Cooperative has a group show coming up, and the theme is simply “The Elements.” So I’ve been readdressing this theme, and here are four new digital abstractions addressing the elements as understood by the ancients - Earth, Air, Fire, Water.
Each of these images started out as a digital photo. But I decided to pull out the plugs and use some of the digital manipulation techniques I’ve been experimenting with these last few weeks. Here’s a run down of the images and techniques used to make them.
Earth. This is the most representational of the images. It started with a shot of leaves decaying in my bird bath. Correcting for the glare of the water created an usual tonal quality for the source image. I ran the source image through an old, 16 bit graphics program, which pixilated and distorted the image. (See the prior post on digital abstractions for more on this.) Unlike the other three images in this series, there was little layering in Photoshop, except for tonal corrections and adjustments. I spent a lot of time drawing on the image, using the dodge and burn tools, to selectively enhance specific details in the image. This image, more than any of the others, looses a lot in small web size, since the pixilation is condensed down and blurred together.
Air. The source photo for this was posted here in May, 2006 – it was a light bulb that had blown out, leaving a layer of soot inside the bulb. The image was inverted and the color tone was adjusted to the blue hue shown here. As with Earth, I did a lot of “painting” with the dodge and burn tools. In particular, I made adjustments to individual channels, bringing out some reddish tones and suppressing some of the flare in the corners.
Fire. This began as a controlled motion blurred shot of a trail running through cool green trees. After inversion, color adjustments, and some work with the sharpening filters to bring out the charcoal like textures in the shadows, I over layered some purely digital color patterns to bring out more orange tones. This image started out way too magenta , and as I worked with it I realized that fire is more orange and yellow than blazing red.
Water. This was the last of the images to be completed. It started with a reflection of the sky in Lake Michigan. That image was turned upside down, which distorted the perspective. A couple of grayscale digital gradients and texture layers were laid over that. Initially the color was too blue – too much like Air – so I swapped the blue and green channels to get the aqua green tone shown here.
You never know if you really like an image until you’ve looked at it for a while – but for now I’m happy with these four images, interpreting the theme of The Elements.
Prints of these images will be displayed at the Signature Artist Cooperative Exhibition entitled “The Elements.” The Exhibit will be at the Art Center of Battle Creek, 256 Emmett Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017. The exhibit will run from April 2-26, 2008.
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