My Fine Art Photography
Which is it? Fine Art or Photography?
In the beginning I had never heard of such a thing: fine art photography. I thought you had to be a fine artist or a photographer, but not both. Sure you need some artistic talent to frame a picture and take photographs that are compelling and composed to attract the viewer. There have even been art shows with photographers like Ansel Adams and others. The idea of combining the two had only ever occurred to me as a fantasy element, making people float or disappear or even have wings. It’s the idea that you can create art with photography. Art. Stand alone, hang on your wall, purchased at a gallery, photography that is art. This was so foreign to me that I was stunned when I first heard about it.
Okay, I do remember people buying posters that were photographs, mass-produced, printed on bad paper, and sold to the masses who couldn’t afford art. I never had posters, not even as a teenager in love with Bobby Sherman. My mother didn’t allow such things on the walls. Maybe that’s why it hadn’t occurred to me to combine my love of art and my love of photography before. Maybe I’m just slow.
Been around for a while.
The truth is that Fine Art Photography has been around for a very long time. And there are quite a few innovators and artistic geniuses that paved the way long before I came along with my little camera and Adobe Photoshop. One such innovator is Francesca Woodman who had little more than herself and a camera but created fabulous works of art that are narrative and imaginative. I also love the great Fine Art Photography of Brooke Shaden. Like Francesca, she mostly takes photos of herself but transforms them into inspiring and inventive works of art.
Have you ever manipulated a photograph in Photoshop?
The advent of Photoshop
I sometimes wish I had been introduced to this long ago when my children were little. I could have made fairies out of all of them. However back then Photoshop was a brand new thing few could afford, if you had a computer, that is. No since in looking back. I am looking forward to what I can do now.
The Invisible Man
With the Invisible Man photos, I simply photographed my husband on a rainy day and then erased his legs, leaving only his shoes and his reflection. When the rain started coming down heavy I went back out and photographed the drops on the pavement and overlaid that on top of my photo so it looked more like a downpour I photographed him in. The truth is that it was only sprinkling then but the pavement was nice and wet for the reflection.
With my floating fairy photo, I photographed a sweet girl and paid her as a real model. She was happy to do it for pay. I had he lift one leg for a photo, then lift the other leg for a photo. Later I had to cut out the legs and put them into the dress she was wearing to make her appear to float. I cut out butterfly wings and attached them in Photoshop, and voila. I also used a photo of some lilies my daughter bought me for Mother’s Day to make the fairy complete.
Carrie in the Woods
My Carrie in the Woods photo I took ages ago looking up at her from an almost prone position. I had to find just the right perspective photo of the woods to match the looking-up position. Later I wanted her to have flowers on her head, so I spent a lot of time cut out and pasting dozens of flowers around her head and adjusting the color to match. This is the part that took the longest.
The Magical Forest
The Magical Forest photo is a daylight photo of the woods I took on a camping trip years ago and then changed it to look like midnight. I used a photo of a model I draw from live every other week. It’s always good to take photos of your model from lots of angles to get just the right one to use. I added a lantern, books, moonlight, fireflies, pinecones, etc. later. The fun part was playing with the levels and color balance to create the illusion of night. I used lots of blue filters and even added a moon behind the trees.
I wanted to make a pixie out of my grandson and found a little photo that worked out nicely from a day when he was playing in my backyard. Mixing it with some red mushrooms, frog and dried leaves was easy. I added wings from a dragonfly. The hard part was the background. In the end I made it all very dark with only a few light spaces and fireflies. The glow is made but using a cut-out of my grandson that had been painted all white and then adding a Gaussian blur. I was happy with the final result but wasn’t sure I should keep the frog.
One day I was at a Farmer’s Market and caught some young girls dancing in the street to the tunes of a live band. They looked like they were having so much fun and with total abandon. I took several photos of them. Later I wanted to create an underwater scene so I used the photo of the girls and a photo of underwater. I added water bubbles and seashells. I had to add some photo filters of deep blue to make them look like they were underwater. I also liquefied their hair and made it float a bit.
They sell “Actions” for Photoshop and a very reasonable rate. One place I like to by actions from is Envato Market. Most of the actions I bought were only $6 each. That’s incredibly affordable. You can buy actions to make photos look like sandstorms, like broken glass, like sparkly fairy worlds or like watercolor paintings. They are extremely easy to use and usually a video tutorial is linked so that you can see step-by-step what to do to make the action work. You have to load the action into Photoshop and load any brushes that are necessary and come with the action. Some come with textures also. Then you press play and the action does the rest. I have here a few photos I turned into watercolor paintings using an action.
My first marriage was one of those you read about but don’t expect to be involved in yourself. I was battered for 4 years till I ran away, and I like to use these shattered photos when I write about the experience. The broken glass is an extra touch I added but the rest is the shattered action. I played with the shattered idea on several photos of myself. These are some of the best ones.
The sandstorm action was just for fun and I did a couple things with it but mostly I like to use it in conjunction with other actions. Mixing them is fun.
Watercolor and more
The watercolor action is also one that I have enjoyed. I’ve used it to create some interesting artsy parodies on photos for use in postcard advertisements and flyers. They make some great treatments for greeting cards. Everyone loves the effect when used on actions, faces, and people.
I’m sure I have many more photographs in my future but these are just a few of the ones I’ve played with recently. The possibilities are endless.