Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

September 8, 2007

Placing your emphasis

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 5:13 pm

Rocks and Plastic Flowers

Rocks and Plastic Flowers  (From the Series: Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

This image Rocks and Plastic Flowers has been lingering in my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip portfolio and I was not sure of my hesitancy. The rocks and plastic flowers were where I wanted them placed relative to the middle ground desert and the background mountain and clouds. But something was not right with the image I created, so I let this image remain somewhat dormant as I worked on other images for this series. Trouble was, most of the other images were coming together and this one was still not.

So this morning I finally had to confront this image and determine what it was I wanted it to mean, how did I feel about the subject and the feelings I was getting back it. So I did use one of the visual disconnecting “tricks” from my past, which is from a great book on creativity by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. That is to invert the picture and look at it upside down. Simple to do, but yet effective. (Another is to look at the image in a mirror)

So I first noticed that the picture was divided pretty evenly in thirds, with the lightest band (sky), darkest band (mid-ground) and middle tone band (foreground). Okay so far, but then I noticed that with the image that I had, my eyes keep coming back to the sky. Nice textures, with some dramatic contrast and the one dark cloud really “pop’d out”. That is when I realized that my emphasis with this image was the pretty and dramatic cloud formation, which is not where I wanted the viewer to look, ponder and consider.

This image became a realatively small do-over (I had to take a mulligan on this one). First was to eliminate the local contrast adjustment curve layer that I had created for the entire sky. That effect was immediate, the clouds were not as interesting or have the range of values that held my attention. They were now a bit player and part of the image and not stealing the show.

Then I went back into the Black & White adjustment layer to tweak the yellow and red sliders to ceate a little more contrast between the rocks and the redish dirt. That also helped with the seperation in the values of the middle ground and the one plastic flower that was rising in the middle of the boquet. Then another fine adustment to the curves adjustment layer which provided a little more emphasis, but also opened up the middle ground mountains as an appropriate backdrop within this image. The basket now on the right edge now had a balance in its values and I feel added some tension to the image.

Sometimes I find myself becoming distracted when creating my images and I make all the parts within the image equally dramatic. I will forget that there should be the main element that is the focus of the image and then the rest of the stuff within that  are the supporting parts.

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