I'M HERE TO EMPOWER YOU!
I’m an artist . . . but that’s not saying much, because I believe, and it is something that I have devoted my time heavily to convey, that art expression is an inherent property of human nature. The media may vary, but not the innate disposition.
Those that know me have heard my “talent-as-myth” diatribe all too often, and if you end up tuning in to my posts, you will encounter it soon enough. It is my goal to change the notion, which a great number of people resign to, that one needs to have “talent” to pursue the art they feel or want and am doing this on a daily basis through my program in the G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers.
With that as preface, I will probably devote a portion of my posts to inspiring artists, but I also plan to impart other conceptions that I have about life in general, with the goal of elevating, encouraging, enlivening or energizing those who read them.
Let me begin with this:
I wish for you the ability to create for yourself all that your heart desires.
You can begin by watching "The Myth of Talent" here:
Robin Griggs Wood •artist•(@robingriggswood)'s Instagram
RGW's BTS Hunt Special
How I got Carried Away
It was the most extreme privilege to have had this image, Carried Away, awarded 1st place honors from judges Jacob Lucas, a 2nd place from Alan Shapiro and 2 Honorable Mentions from Chris Chabot and Derek Kind in *** 2013 Summer edition in the category for Butterflies. What a thrill! … and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity from Chrysta Rae and for the great First Friday Art Walk from Samantha Villenave to share it in … hugs to you all!
I was limited to shooting most of what is in the images I created for the past Hunt with a non-dSLR (I have a Canon G12––essentially a "point & shoot"; fixed lens). It does have the capability of shooting in raw format (more information to work with) and in manual. However, almost everything I have done to create these images could be done with a "point & shoot" and Ps Elements (usually $99) or GIMP (free). I want to bring this message to some of you that may want it, there is no limit! Imagination and drive level the playing field here.
How To Turn Less Into MORE
One of the aspects about smaller cameras is that they have smaller sensors than most dSLRs. To get more from a "point & shoot", you will need to take more shots, with the intention of combining them in post-processing (to get more image information when you plan on making a final image on a grander scale).
One of the liabilities of my own camera is that it is much slower than a dSLR. The only "burst" mode it has with any real speed captures tiny jpeg files not worth working with and its raw continuous speed is only about one frame per second. Since the category was "butterfly", I knew that I would have to find one dead, or come up with a better plan.
I have always been very inspired by the works of Teresa Stover (who, sadly, is not at G+ anymore). I've always wanted to create an image that I feel has the feminine and ethereal qualities that she puts in her works––with my own style, of course; I surely didn't want to copy her. The Hunt is great for pushing yourself towards new things. Recalling one of Teresa's shots for the #PhotographyDeathMatch a couple of years back––she was floating along with the wind in one of her creations depicting the Four Elements. That's when this idea started forming in my head, to be carried away by butterflies.
My little slow cam was never going to catch a real butterfly, so I hand painted one of those "nylon stretched over wire" butterflies, then shot it over 100 times at different angles to combine them in layers in Photoshop.
Here is my set-up:
I stuffed a stiff wire into the "body" of my butterfly and then stuffed the other end of the wire into a broken lamp base (yes, I keep that kind of junk around just for this type of thing. If you ever visit, you may not go into my garage … ;o7). I put the lamp base onto a cheap "lazy susan" turntable to make it easier to shoot the butterfly at multiple angles fairly quickly.
Shooting multiple images is how I get the most out of my small camera. You can see more examples of how I put this into practice in one of my earlier "making of" posts:
...as well as this post, using "focus stacking":
...and this post, stacking images to reduce noise, along with multiples for making a panoramic image:
It's important, when you are planning to separate the background from your subject for a composite, to use a plain background that is easily removed in post. High contrast (light background for a dark subject or dark background for a light subject) works well, or use color wheel opposites (for example, if your subject is full green, you can use a red background) when you want to use the channels in a compositing application to create the separation. You need to have your subject well lit, as well you need to have the background well lit avoiding shadows from your subject, which makes it quicker to select and separate. For this, I shot with a gang of inexpensive worklights (hardware store) with fluorescent bulbs and a small reading lamp for a fill light.
To get myself at the right perspective for the woman in the final image, I laid down on the top of my dresser and shot from down low. Thinking ahead for the layer separation in post and using the same technique as described above, I draped everything in black so that the white of the gown would be easier to separate.
Using the luminosity of the channels, Levels and the Dodge & Burn tools, I was able to retain some of the sheerness of the white fabric. (Run a search using "using channels to create masks" to learn how to do this, if you don't know how.)
You can see that technique in the following image where I used it to separate a butterfly from its background. Since the butterfly is predominantly blue, the blue channel was the lightest and not the best contrast for creating a separation; the red channel was better, but the green channel had the best differentiation between light background and the butterfly. You will need to read up on Channels in Photoshop, if you have no understanding of how they work, but they are far superior for creating the most accurate selections than any of the selection tools. Sometimes a combination of Selection tools and Channels can speed the process.
It's OK To Change Your Mind
My original concept for this image was simply going to be on a white background (I was going to shoot the sheer curtains in my bedroom with the sun shining through them) however, then the super moon decided to make an appearance in our skies. I had always wanted to shoot a quality moon shot with lots of detail, so this one part of my image was not shot with my G12––I borrowed a dSLR to shoot the moon. But, that is thinking creatively, too, isn't it? … ;o) And, it was only after I had gotten some practice shooting the moon and enjoyed the results that I decided to use it as my background instead. This could still be done with a smaller camera, high detail is not always the most important thing, as long as your final concept is a solid one. However, do make sure all the elements you composite are as in-focus as you can get them with your camera. One of my practice shots (very blurry) ended up working very nicely in the composite for the glow around the moon.
Since I already knew what my composition would be, I decided to rotate the moon shot so that the darkest part of it would be covered by the woman and butterflies and not be so prominent.
To my BTS circle and the Autumn "hunters", stay tuned and I'll pass on some more "secrets" … ;o)
You have been notified of these posts that I am sharing with the Autumn round of the Scavenger Hunt because you asked to be included in my BTS circle. Please let me know, if you no longer wish to be notified.
#FirstFridayArtWalk with thanks to Samantha Villenave & Lena Levin
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