Building an Image – “The Lair”

My club lecture “Building an Image” deals with my method of working and how my images are created. This snippet shows the building of a recent image and I’ve picked out some key stages, though not all the layers are shown.

The working title of this image is  “The Lair”.

The starting point is a trompe-l’œil. Most of the building is real and three dimensional but the hole in the front is faked. The enticing message “this is a photo-opportunity” means you can’t really walk past it without being tempted to take a shot! The building was shot against a bright sky and didn’t have much light on it, so I took three shots and combined them into a HDR image. However, they sky is still pretty rubbish.

Building an Image 1

The next step was to straighten the verticals, crop off the car add a new sky, the choice of which will determine the feel of the picture. I’m not sure whether or not to leave the “barrel distortion” or remove it at this stage, so I’ve left the curve in.

Building an Image 2

Now it needs a figure in it. I chose one of the shots of Samantha, taken at Whitby in 2012. She is flatly lit too, so it might just work. The figure is only roughly cut out at this point. I want to see if I have the size right and if IMO it is going to work as a composite. I want to create an impression that she is right there in the scene, so it’s important to me that the perspective is at least believable if not totally accurate.

Building an Image 3

From now on I need to do some work to combine the two shots together and try to create a feeling of “wholeness”. This will involve some selective colour changes. I’m working on both images now, to try to make them mould together better in terms of colour and contrast. At the same time, I am making improvement to the cut-out as I have decided it will be worth the effort (I don’t like cutting out, so only spend the time once the image is starting to get there). I’ve also added some blur to the images which I have blended in at reduced opacity – retaining the overall sharpness of the edges.

Building an Image 4

It’s coming together, but I’m starting to dislike the curve on the building and decide to straighten it out a bit.
As I’m working in layers, that does not present a problem. Then I have also adjusted the overall contrast of the image and added a little bit more pink to the upper left sky, see below. It’s starting to come together better now. Then I’ve added some sky into the dark hole on the right.

Building an Image 5

I want to create a stronger gothic look and this involves bringing out the eyes by working on the contrast there and creating some “gothic” shadows around them. The final stage is to add in some more hair by a combination of cloning and painting in and then colouring all the hair a stronger golden colour so that the figure stands out more from the very busy background.

Building an Image 7

At this stage it might be finished. I’m never really sure and will often come back weeks later and fiddle!
Maybe it needs a cat…

All images on this page Copyright © Christine Widdall 2012

error: © Christine Widdall - Kirklees Cousins