Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Creative process of "By Moon's Pale Light"

I had the idea for this scene in my head for months and the final result turned out better than what I had imagined. Of course, it took a lot of work to get there...not counting the morning spent with Lita shooting the main image, post processing took about eight hours.

I ended up with about 115 shots from the session. This was the one that I ended up choosing as the main image I wanted to work with.

I liked the closeness between Lita and I, as well as the positions of our bodies and the expressions on our faces. However, the Gothic tree is in a tropical setting so my first order of business was to remove all the greenery, leaving just us and the tree.

Transporting us into a haunting graveyard was the next step and I chose this one from my files:

This shot, taken last year in Wales with a point and shoot needed to be rescaled to fit in with the image of Lita and I. I wanted to have the ivy-covered tomb be in the front so that was the driving force as to what was kept. The large tree and most of the background were masked out as were a few of the graves. I kept only the trees in the far distance to achieve depth in the shot.

I went through several versions of a final image before I finally got satisfaction which included one where the entire background was just a dark and cloudy sky. Another in high contrast b&w and yet another where I had the image a chocolate color with texture and grain. One of the images to nearly make it to completion was one where I had used many clouds. In the end though I decided only a few wisps were needed over a large and luminous moon. I used a background of b&w clouds from a Photoshop CD and masked out the ones I didn't need. I chose this shot from my files for the moon:

I needed something to fill in the rest of the image so the tops of these very branchy trees were added to the background:

I now had my composite image created. My next steps were to convert it to black and white, run some filters over it to give it the cool tones and to use the burn and dodge tools to cast my shadows and highlight the areas where the moonlight would fall. The final step was the Render Clouds filter which added the fog. I masked out most of it except around the front and used a slight blur to make it a bit less patchy.

Be sure to visit Lita's Blog to read some behind the scenes and see outtakes from this shoot and to also see how she came to her final masterpiece of "Touched":


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Everyone has to fight to be Free

This beautiful morning, while riding my bicycle and listening to Tom Petty's "Refuge", the line "Everyone has to fight to be free" really struck a chord within me. The sky was so blue, with fluffy marshmallow clouds. There was an opening where the warm sun cast her rays directly onto my emotionally drained body. I closed my eyes for a moment and drank it in. My soul was suddenly energized with this burst of freedom that I have longed to feel for a while now. To be free of relationships that are mean-spirited and negative. To be free of the rusty chains of my past. To truly be free in the present...to live a gorgeous, love-filled life of happiness and joy. I had to battle myself and my guilt to be free. Sometimes our head tells us one thing. Our heart another. This can lead to a conflict that drains us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But if we listen to our gut...,our soul, it always knows the answer. There is no battleground there. The soul knows what is right, what is wrong and what we need to change in order to be free, complete and happy. Change is good and can lead to an unexpected freedom. Having a space left by something old means that now something new can develop in it's place and that is quite an exciting prospect. Later on in the day, I spent time working in my garden. Giving back to the earth that has so graciously blessed me with a wonderful life full of caring, supportive and loving people. Freedom was everywhere around me...a grumpy looking toad who was happy to just watch me watch him. A Giant Swallowtail that floated around me with such grace and beauty. A super fast Skipper that danced long a vine. A tiny little duckling that seemed to smile up at me when I gave him some seed. And there I was, finally feeling truly free along side them. Re-energized and happy to be part of this beautiful world.
The quick little skipper
The watchful toad

Friday, October 3, 2008

Throwback to the Teen Years

So last night I went rollerskating with my friend Lita. It was the first time in nearly 25 years that I was at a rink. I was 19 years old when my skating days ended. I had left my skates and the brown leather case my little brother saved his money to buy me for Christmas in the backseat of my 1969 Ford Mustang. I had left them in there while on a roadtrip with my college cheerleading squad. I had a feeling the whole time I was gone that someone was going to steal them and my intuition was right. After that I had quit skating but up to that point, I had skated for 15 years and my entire teen years were spent every weekend at the roller rink.
I have such fond memories of that place, the people who hung out there and the music that was played. "Blinded by the Light"...the lights would be turned off except the big disco ball that hung from the middle of the roof and which threw tiny little diamonds of light across the floor. I had dance routines to "Let it Whip" by the Dazz Band and "Flamethrower" by J. Geils Band. "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone drove me batty and when it would come on I'd leave the floor to get a Mr. Pibb.
It was at the rink that I learned all the lyrics to "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. And of course who could forget the skating standards like "Double Dutch Bus" and "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by the Gap Band.
They played "Double Dutch Bus" last night and Lita and I just smiled at each other, picked up speed, moved our hips and enjoyed the wind in our hair.
The photograph was taken in 1982 and the drawing I did in 1980.