Saturday, May 30

Whoa! EarthMonster!!!

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WOW! Some weeks are reeeeely unforgettable. A couple of days ago I told you about AlienSkin's featuring my work. BUT.. BUT... BUT... This is infinitely HUGE.... . I have just learned that the increasingly influential EarthMonster Illustrated has named ME the featured artist for June! Click here if you don't believe me. YIPES!!!! Look at the artists they have discovered on that elegant monthly E-Zine and they've added ME!


(Slap!) Um, thanks, I needed that.

Okay, I've stopped panting an I'm calming down and I'm chanting my mantra and my heart's slowing nicely...

If you are not a regular visitor to EarthMonster Illustrated, you're missing something cool. Some of you noticed it first when I recently added it to the bar on the right under: PHOTOGRAPHIC COMMUNITIES/FORUMS. Well for those who didn't, I hope that you'll drop on by and thank Mark for his labor-of-love in assembling such a wonderful site for us, AND for hunting out all of the featured thoughts and people on that column on the right of his site. And of course I hope that you'll scroll down his page and enjoy the artists he's featured before me in previous editions of EarthMonster Illustrated.

Did I say...


Thursday, May 28

AlienSkin Feature!

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This is pretty cool. Jeff Butterworth the CEO of AlienSkin likes the stuff here on ImageFiction. So he asked if it'd be okay to mention it in his company's May 09 Newsletter Blast and here on the AlienSkin blog! And he reeeely liked our friend Steven Issell's work and even used his fighter plane as their cover image.

You know that I'm becoming convinced that pixels exist to be enhanced, right? So click here to see the AlienSkin page I've posted above along with a passel of enhancements!

Monday, May 25

Sidewalk Girl

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Alrighty.... Let's think about a little city girl, sitting on the sidewalk, watching stuff happen all around her as the evening comes on. Well, why think about her... instead, here... Think on her. K?



You're right. I rarely EVER remove major pieces of color information from my images. Well, okay, but this isn't a monotone. FAR from it. But I sensed a nostagic eeling when I saw here sitting there outside of her house, her dad sitting behind on the door stoop. She felt like a long ago memory, and I wanted to show you that memory even more than I wanted to show you the Sidewalk Girl


And then there's Snowball..

Saturday, May 23

Poster #9

- Click here

The Race was miles long. She ran it... against racism. I'm guessing she's run that race throughout her life - actually as opposed to this morning when she ran it metaphorically.

Her exhaustion is so wonderfully mixed with a satisfaction... that brings the word 'dignity' to my mind. You know, I believe that all of our hopes may be minor, except to us, but some things matter because we choose to make them matter. And so this lady just ran for miles, and her satisfaction is what it meant to feel, "Everyone won..."


Once again - here's the virgin image from my flash card. Again the image was captured with my mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens.

As with the others in this series I drew this image into a square template by replacing the contents of the smart filter in my template (where the text already existed as well.)
I simply moved the original about within the square frame to maximize the composition. In post the problem was to deal with the explosion of confusion. Which first required the AlienSkin Bokeh filter to deal with the depth of field. That easily allowed me to convincingly blur the background. I then created a series of adjustment filters to restructure the dynamic range. Of course this also allowed me to re-arrange the highlights and shadows along with the color range and vignetting. One again, I over balanced the lightig and effects so that I could once again turn to the AlienSkin SnapArt filter.

Once again I opted for the oil painting option to continue the style of this series. I adjusted the stroke length and depth, lighting, contrst, and color balance... particularly in micro areas throughout the plane. Settling on an image I saved the effect on a new higher level. then Masked away with various brushes each set at about 30 opacity so the effect cold be gently introduced. This allowed me to bring back skin texture and perspiration highlights particularly on her arms and on the right eye region as we look at the image.

I merged the layers, duplicated the result and pulled out the Topaz Adjustment filter. This llowed me to draw considerable texture and vivacity into the image. Of course I applied a mask to this layer as well... at full intensity, so I could selectively brush in dramatic elements at full, well... Topaz, so to speak.

Finally I used an adjustment layer to reduce and balance the saturation throughout the image and then after flattening those layers I duplicated this layer, ran it through the smart filter, fully masked it, then brushed in sharpness and texture in key areas, particularly around the eyes and hair.

Simple? Um, well no. But if you're looking for some filter which will create result like this at the click of a button... well Buddy, luck ain't with you :-)

Tuesday, May 19

Poster #8

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Okay... so I lied.

Really intended to end this series a few days ago, but then I started to run into people around Lancaster and they wondered about it. And they've asked if there were more pictures. And well, I'm really really really easy is what. It'd be cool to find a place to show this series. So if you'll put up with it... I've a few more that are nagging me to come onto your monitors.... Okay?


Would it help if I shared the process a tad more than usual? Okay, Again I took this virgin image through my mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens on the D40.

And I've created a template for this series which involves a square smart object so the framing's automatic.I composed the image in the square frame. Then using various adjustment layers I arranged the lighting. and dynamic range to a heightened contrast. I followed that with the AlienSkin Bokeh filter to get rid of the annoying left foreground details. I also brushd in some green color into that area that I sampled from the upper background. Then puling up Topaz Labs Adjustment 3, I rearranged the areas of emphasis both with respect to saturation and detail. Again the arrangements were designed toward the top of the options. See, I've discovered that that sort of preparation's best to get the AlienSkin SnapArt options to cut well.

Then it was a matter of flattening the image, reducing it to 72dpi and 800 pixels on an edge then saving it as a jpg.

Sunday, May 17


><- Click here

Photography is acutely sensitive to gesture. I look for it, emphasize it wherever possible. Not just human, or animal gesture. Culture can gesture. History can gesture. Feelings.... feelings can gesture more than anything else.

Here's a man who stood in that halfworld that exists in the city. Have you ever noticed that space by the ocean's edge that's half covered by tide and half not depending on the clock? Cities are that way around the mouths of buildings. During some hours people and things tumble out onto stairwells, porches, entranceways, porticoes, alleys, and entranceways. Technically people are outside since there's nothing really between them and the open air. Yet they're still within, under, atop, things that are parts of buildings.

Those places pull at my camera lens, and later at my imagination. People there are like the hermit crabs who move into the shells of others. Many simply stay there. They're not passing out, or into a facility but holding a place in that antechamber. During certain hours it is where the are supposed to be, then during other hours, like the tide... they are gone.


Interested in the virgin photo from my FlashCard? Here it be. Again it was taken through my mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. I processed it carefully into the squares I seem to be momentarily obsessed with. In this case the bokeh belong to that terrific lens that I fired wide open (ISO 80 on my Canon 40D). In this stage I wanted a max contrast between the colors. I copied that layer and then applied my own custom version of AlienSkin's SnapArt pencil filter, bringing out the rough paper texture. Then, I used a B&W adjustment layer in PP to remove the color, added a layer above where I created a useful dark sepia tone (applying a blending mode to it) then finally I took the first adjusted full color layer, brought it to the top of the stack, and used a pinlight blending mode which I reduced in order to return the strong suggestion of a full color palette to the image - yet the pinlight blending mode allowed me to condense the color range so that it complimented yet set off my subject's gesturing.

Other stuff? Yeah, probably... subtle things around the image to bring out the most useful dynamic range so that the image will pop.

Does it work? Does for me... I wanted to discover a denizen of that city half world I described above. A man who stands in the partial shade of a building's awninged entrance way... to watch life pass by... and to comment upon it as it happens. Sort of like me, huh?

Wednesday, May 13

County Road

<- Cick here
Sun-stained road
slicing through
farm flat

Going to or
Coming from

It depends, huh?


The craftsman says, "look, here is what you like."
The artist answers, "Look, here is what I like."

The commercial artist says both of those things.

The academic artist says neither of them.


Picture by the Canon G-10. Image with AlienSkin Bokeh, Lucis Aperture, AlienSkin SnapArt.... but mostly with... Ted.

Sunday, May 10

The Race Is Over #6 & #7

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I sense by the traffic to this site that this Race Against Racism series may have imposed itself beyond your tolerance. Okay, so let me end it with a fireworks display.. K? Out of the six images that I haven't yet posted these two were always intended to be the final act. The blazing rockets. I love each of them. But then, I'm a sentimental mush-ball when it comes to image making. I just can't seem to reach in and pull out the dark stuff. Maybe there isn't any darkstuff? Hmmmm... gotta think on that since darkstuff seems to be what critics want artists to do, right?

Okay, I will think on how to make gritty statements about the human condition's inevitable overheating of the earth, inhumanity toward one another, tendencies toward senseless savageries, and of course its trigger for wars and ancient obsessions for revenge. Sigh...

But before I go off to do dat... Howzabout we ponder these last two images- the end of this posted series - together. Yeah, they're sweet enough to make your teeth fall out... so clamp them tightly together... hopefully in a smile? K?


Tech stuff? As before the photos came first through my mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens onto the 40D's processor. I used Topaz, and the AlienSkin Bokeh + SnapArt filters to tease out the thematic style that held this series together. If you'll click on the word IMAGEFICTION in the masthead way up above, you should be able to scroll down and look at others in this series along with the virgin photographs that I pulled directly from my FlashCards. Questions about technical details for this series? Leave them in the comments, or like most people, drop me an email to the address you'll find in the column there on the upper right. Hope you've enjoyed this series as much as I have making it.

Saturday, May 9

Poster #5

Okay, sorry about that diversion... so now onto the latest race post....

<- Click here

Kindness moves in the opposite direction of everything else. It is paid, granted, bestowed, lavished in return for what comes the other way. Think of it as an outer circle that keeps everything inside from tumbling out. It's not a gender thing, a racial thing, a liberal or conservative thing. No religious denomination holds a monopoly upon the stuff, nor any single idea. And why do we do it? That is one of those kinds of questions that is larger than the sum of its possible answers.


And here ladies and gentlemen is the virgin photo pulled directly from my flash card. This guy glowed from the exhaustion and satisfaction of his run. Once again, this went through my mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens and then Topaz, Bokeh, and SnapArt tools. Each were carefully stroked in through masks after I'd worked upon the original image.

Friday, May 8

Poster #4

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Have you noticed that images come to us as sequels, even though we've never seen the original! This fella was Ethiopian, and the race's runner up. He came a long way to run a little farther that morning.


here's the virgin image from my FlashCard. Once again the picture came through my big ole Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. But I teased the image up through both Bokeh and SnapArt from my AlienSkin arsenal. This series has been terrific fun for me. Is it good for you :-)

Thursday, May 7

Poster #3

<- Click here
Every culture adds to a city's mosaic - and each lives among the markings of past cultures. Cool thing is that environment evolves... you know: the streets, signs, walks, buildings, institutions... Hard things. But they change so much more slowly than the culture. Well except after catastrophes like war or nature. But I digress...

See the culture of the moment is aswirl with new ideas, feelings, colors, and sounds. Soft stuff. And those curl and wipe up against the hard things. Which is what makes cities so damned much fun where the soft mash up against the hard.

And here's the virgin image pulled from the FlashCard (which you can click on).
Once again I'm playing with a bunch of neat stuff. First the mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens was perfect for wandering around Musser Park during the race. Then I brought the twin AlienSkin filters to bear Bokeh to cream up the ... well... bokeh, and then SnapArt for the painterly pop-ability. Once again they help give the Race Series a common style. Like it?

Tuesday, May 5


<- Click here

Emery DeWitt sat in my painting studio, the north light of late April streaming across his face. Unfortunately the light held for only about four hours at a sitting so I had to work fast. Even so we had to schedule seven dates to let me block in enough that I could fill it the rest of the way without him. Oil painting's so tedious and, I don't care what they say, it's an unforgiving medium if you lack a clear intent from the start. I've found that "a better idea" really isn't possible with a portrait since spontanaeity isn't, as they say, in the oils.

Heh.. heh.. heh...

Yeah, there was a time that the portraitist did all of that as his subject struggled to hold a pose, hour upon hour. In this case Emery sat across from me at lunch in Café Chuckles while I showed him my new Canon G10, the company's top of the line point-and-click camera. "What the hell," I figured, "why not point and click?" So I did at 1600 ISO. This evening I did the color balancing, adjusted the dynamic range and enhanced the sharpness and shadows in PhotoShop before working the image through AlienSkin's SnapArt filter. I took about ninety minutes for the entire process... far longer than it probably needed, but I wanted to capture Emery's animation and wonderful personality, just so... Y'know?

You oughta' see this puppy blown up to 10"X10"... it ROCKS! I can only imagine how it would look say three feet on a side printed on canvas. Woof! Anybody feel like shelling out a couple of bucks to find
out? :-)

Monday, May 4

Poster #2

<- click here
Odd thing about red haired guys, there aren't many of us... especially in the movies and TV. And when we do show up, we're usually the sidekicks, or the other guy. In the movies, red headed guys rarely get the girl - as opposed to real life where we ALWAYS do. But I digress. See, here're two redheaded guys crossing the finish line simultaneously. Cool.

Saturday, May 2

Against Racism... Poster #1

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Thousands come each year. They fill Musser Park and the streets around it. They run for prizes, they run for fun, they run to be together... Together... Yeah, it's the annual Race Against Racism, and it's about 'together'. Nobody loses... You know what I'm saying?


First I turned to AlienSkin's Bokeh filter then, to create a powerful poster, once again AlienSkin's SnapArt, this time the impasto filter pulled out exactly what I needed to say. The morning broke cloudy so that light was wonderfully flat and my mighty Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens was the work horse that day. But then again, it's a wildlife lens, right? Plus the image stabilization holds it steady as a surgeon's fingers.

For those of you who enjoy it.... Here's the virgin image direct from my flashcard (again, just click upon it for a larger image). When there are models like this, I guess I could have used a cellphone camera, huh?

Friday, May 1

The Look II

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Once the event was called "The Patriot's Day Parade." Designed by conservatives to balance liberal opponents to the Viet Nam war in the 70s: the event's still going but its name has changed. Now it's called "The American Spirit Parade." There are few soldiers, no rolling weapons, but there are rolling fire engines and sparkling ambulances. Some Civll and Revolutionary war recreationists ride on floats, and a beauty queen blows kisses along the way. There are still lots of flags, a marching band or two (including a Mummer's contingent from nearby Philadelphia) and even the Porta-Potty business drives a truck filled with its standing coffin-like devices. What're they parading for now? Or against? It's nowhere clear.

And there are crowds. Families still line the sidewalks atop their portable lawn furniture. It's the people that tug at my lenses... street moments. Like this... look.


This images pushes at the edge for me. You'll recall Idiscovered that Alien Skin's marvelous Bokeh filter (pronounced bouquet) has done as much to ignite my imagination as LensBabies seem to have done for my friends. So I went back to AlienSkin and downloaded a trial version of their SnapArt filter for PhotoShop. I needed to pull out of this image... well, what I've pulled out of this image you can see up there. And it occurred to me that SnapArt had ways to bring it farther. I needed the image to be about that look. (BTW I see this as a mate to The Look 1) . This was a feeling based almost entirely upon a single eye. But without the swirl of a sense of place, it lost its power.

SnapArt's allowed me to make it explode. Can you feel it?