Peregrine

Peregrine (adj):

  • Having no fixed home; changing location regularly as required for work or food.

Peregrine

Original Idea & Inspiration

This image is completely different to the one I originally set out to shoot. Unlike most of my other images, there was no sketch for me to refer to, nor did I make a mood board for inspiration.

Originally, I had the idea of shooting an image of this character who has been travelling for a long time down this long winding path. I wanted to suggest a sense of oddity by having them carry a suitcase to which they are handcuffed, that perhaps what lies in this suitcase is so valuable to them that they can’t let it go. In fact, the more that I thought about this reading, the more I felt that the image would mean something more significant, becoming a commentary on the way in we carry the weight of people, thoughts and feelings that we just can’t discard. I also wanted to hint at the character being some kind of outlaw, or someone who isn’t quite aligned with the rest of society; maybe someone who is a little bit more ‘freer’, yet are so constrained.

Suitcases are somewhat of a reoccurring theme in my work, particularly in my images Bearing The Burden and Detour, and I had both of these images in mind when I shot Peregrine. To be honest, I was a little worried, as I knew that all of these images would end up being similar, and although I suppose this is the case, I do think that Peregrine is more considered and shows a more thorough context.

Looking back for the inspiration of the image, I suppose I can trace the use of a suitcase back to the film The Two Faces Of January, which I watched only a few days ago, in which a character carries a suitcase of money around with him everywhere but I also like this idea of creating an image that has a bit more of a dynamic. Most of my images are quite still, so I thought that it would be great to shoot an image of someone running as it shows that the character has more of a purpose or a final destination in mind. My work is very much tied with the themes of uncertainty and journeys, which link to my overarching commentary about the duality of freedom and constraint within contemporary society.

The Set Up & Camera Settings:

Cinematography, as it always is, was very much an influence in this image, particularly in the way that I decided to place the camera:

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Normally, I shoot my images quite straight on so that the subject is parallel with the camera, but I decided to switch it up a little bit and placed the camera and tripod on a bench to raise the angle of the shot. Shooting from different angles is something I really want to experiment with, but as I’m still in the middle of a series, I don’t want to just start switching up the MO too much.

In terms of the set up for the image, I had the tripod and camera in place, and as I didn’t have an assistant, I decided to set the focusing of the camera to the center focus point, so that I knew where I’d have to be when the shutter clicked. I activated the shutter using my wireless remote set to timer mode, handcuffed myself to the suitcase and starting running back and forth to get the shot!

Here is a gif of other poses I had shot:

peregrineposesgif

Here were my camera settings:

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 15.25.37

After I’d shot the poses and knew that there was at least one that I was happy with, I then expanded the frame, as I knew that I wanted the image to be quite a lot bigger to put a fair amount space between the character and the landscape. I almost always expand the frame by shooting the main image, then tilting and shooting two frames upwards (so that the images overlap one another) and then downwards. I Always do it in columns so that when it comes to photo merging them in photoshop so it is easier for me to organize the images which makes the process that little bit quicker.

I then swivel the camera left and right and do the same if I need to build a wider image. For this image, the frame expansion was quite challenging as it was quite windy, which meant that I ad to wait for the wind to die down before I shoot the images as I wanted to make sure that they matched up properly.

Postproduction:

As you can see by the editing video, my postproduction for this image consisted of only a three steps:

  1. Frame Expansion
  2. Compositing The Sky
  3. Colour Grading

Firstly, I make sure that I have expanded the frame using photo merge to make sure that I have an image that is not only a lot bigger than the standard singular image size, but doing this allows me to crop into my image without compromising the quality, which is super helpful in case I may need to print the image out in the future.

I then composited the sky. The reason I did this is really twofold. The first is because when I expanded the frame; I knew that I didn’t go high enough to get the full natural sky in the final image, so I shot a series of images of the sky at the location afterwards to photo merge so that I could add it in later. The second reason, very much the same reason I added the birds in post was because I’m interested in creating a ‘constructed’ image, especially one where it may not necessarily appear that it has been manipulated so much in photoshop. I know that some people may refer to this as more digital art than photography, but realistically, the advent of digital technology has changed the very definition of photography and I think that it’s future lies within the digital realm. Also, I like to think of photography as a way to reimagine reality and to create events and moments that did not happen. There is a nice little paradox with regards to photography and authenticity as I consider that all photographs are both documentarian and fictitious at the same time.

Lastly, when I was happy with the frame expansion and the sky, I then colour graded the image, which is actually just a process of messing around with selective colour layers, curves adjustment layers and adding solid colour adjustments to selected colour range areas. I really liked how underexposed the original image was, but I realized that keeping it like that would make the image too dark, and it would eliminate all of the details within the image.

Although, I really liked the natural colour palette, but I decided to add some of the same colour blue in the character’s shirt to the sky to visually tie the image together as well as changing the greens of image to a colour that’s more vivid, without being too saturated.

I also used some Adobe Kuler (an app which I highly recommend) swatches that I made ages ago to sample from. When I made them I just picked a bunch of random colours that I don’t often use, so that it is easier for me to remember to use them (otherwise I’d just completely forget!).

Here are some of the ones I used if you want them:

IMG_1620 IMG_1619 IMG_1612

Detail Shots:

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.23 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.34 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.43 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.56

Adding the birds to the image was a completely spontaneous idea. I thought that, as there was so much vast sky, I wanted the viewer’s eye to be looking at something other but I didn’t actually think that they would so much to the overall image. The title, Peregrine, suggests a person who has no fixed home, someone left to wander around, looking for food and shelter, but it also the name of a bird. For me, the inclusion of the birds really ties the character to the idea of wandering, uncertainty and perhaps even escape, whether that’s from a certain someone or from or the escape from living a “normal” life. I also like to think that the birds suggest a certain sense of freedom for the character and by having them both travel in opposite directions gives the image more of a lonely and desolate undertone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the editing process and reading about my image! If you have any questions, you can contact me by posting a comment below or contacting via the following social media sites!

Facebook

www.facebook.com/AaronSehmarPhotography

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www.twitter.com/aaronsehmar

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www.instagram.com/aaronsehmar

Email:

aaronsehmarphotography@gmail.com

Also, I would be very grateful if you could share my video or post! Any support is much appreciated!

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A Colourful World

It’s A Colourful World

Colour is one of the most important aspects of my photography, regardless of what genre I am shooting.

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I love using colour; the way that it can both hinder and help you to get across the deeper meanings within your images, whilst also being full of ambiguity is such an exciting prospect.

I hardly ever shoot an image purely in black and white, and even the ones that are have been converted after the fact. I am not the biggest fan of black and white imagery but I do have a few plans to shoot some of my own images, maybe even a series, using black and white.

Finding the right balance of colour within an image, is for me at least, an enjoyable yet extremely organic process. Most often than not, I do not determine the final outlook of a ‘completed ‘ image, it is decided with 1-4 hours of editing and around 30+ layers.

Take my two images, The Eleventh Day and These Days:

Comparision

When placed side by side, they are quite similar in terms of colour but if you look at the layers in both images, you will see that they vastly differ. For The Eleventh Day, there are over 3 times more layers than These Days.

The Eleventh day Layers 1

 

The Eleventh Day Layers 2

 

These Days Layers

I use a lot of curves layers (set to luminosity so that only the colour is affected) as well as solid colour layers (often set to colour blending mode) as this decreases the chance of colour banding, which is a nightmare.

So, as you can see, I never take color grading my images lightly particularly as I think that colour is one way to heighten the appeal of images as being otherworldly, not matter how much they are rooted in reality.

In fact, I say colour grading because the main influences for my photography stem from cinematography.

I’ve always wanted my work to be cinematic, so I thought that there would be no better way to do this then to look at and study cinematography, which if rife with interesting colour combinations.

Here are a few of my favourite film stills to give you an idea of the kind of colour schemes I look at:

 

Melancholia

Melancholy
Director: Lars Von Trier

 

Inside Llwyn DavisInside Llweyln Davis
Director: The Coen Brothers

RideRide (Lana Del Rey)
Director: Anthony Mendler

Road To PerditonThe Road to Perdition:
Director: Sam Mendes

ShameShame
Director: Steve McQueen

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson

What colours do you use in your work?

What is your favourite colour to photograph and why?

Miss Aniela’s Surreal Fashion: True Art or False Photography?

Migration of the flock

 

I have been a big fan of Miss Aniela’s work for a long time. I really admire her self-portraits but I feel that her latest series of work, Surreal Fashion is really exceptional. In fact, I think it could really change the way photographers shoot fashion. But is it really about fashion?

 

I understand that Miss Aniela is a fine art photographer, who has ventured into creating these amazing fashion events, but realistically, what is her work really about?

 

When I look at her series of work, I see images of amazing clothes worn by amazing models shot at amazing locations. But I don’t see a fashion photograph; I see an image that hasn’t fully decided if it belongs in the realms of fashion or fine art photography.

 

The taking and reusing animals from old paintings is a wonderfully creative idea, but at the end of the day, these images (in their own right) aren’t really Miss Aniela’s work. I like what she’s done and in no way am I condemning her for creating such visual photographs, but I feel that taking art and placing it in a photograph does not make it your work. Sure, she may credit the artist’s but I feel that that doesn’t really translate the vision and passion they used to paint these animals, which has been completely forgotten in translation.

 

Miss-Aniela-Surreal-Fashion-photography-11

 

Yes, I respect that she has given a new life to these animals but I feel that in most of her images, they serve as a distraction to the initial focus as the image rather than add to it. If the image is about fashion, they why the animals? Surely they aren’t there only to add a surreal context to the image? Surely Miss Aniela is much more creative with her images (as her self portraits suggest) and can create a surreal atmosphere without adding tons of postproduction into her images. In my opinion, her best work in the series are the ones where she has used no animals at all.

 

In fact, I really worry about the amount of postproduction in her images. Sure, her images are amazing because of it, and sure, she can sell each image for £1000 because you know that they are worth in in postproduction alone, but realistically, why does the original image need to be altered so much?

 

More importantly, what affect will that have on the future of photography? If thousands of photographers are looking at her work and aspiring to create work like hers, and fashion designers are looking at her work and wanting that look for their garments, then where will fashion photography end up?

 

I respect the merging of fashion and fine art photography as they are both genres of photography that I find myself creating, but by merging them together, Miss Aniela has created images that are neither. They seem to be stuck in a weird limbo of reality and unreality, where you are looking at neither a photograph nor a painting. Calling her images photographs does somewhat of a disservice to photography, as her image was not made in camera. Even if her images were not made in camera, the fact that the animals are not photographs she has taken means (technically) that she cannot call her images photographs as it retains elements that have not been taken with a camera, which is what, ultimately, photographs are.

 

At the same time, Miss Aniela does not paint her images (albeit you could argue that the painterly quality she achieves through postproduction could count for something) so the images are not paintings.

 

Is it a piece of art?

 

I’m not sure. Her work seems to have the painterly quality and visual aesthetic that is associated with art but it’s being sold a  photography. (I don’t really want to go into that whole “what is art?” debate right now, but I’ll create a super long blog post about it sometime, soon. Maybe). I can see why it could be considered art. She certainly seems to have taken a huge amount of time to post process the image. So much so, she probably could have painted it in that time.

 

To be honest, Miss Aniela’s surreal fashion series confuses me. It seems to be photography, posing as art, without having been painted, whilst remaining limited to the viewfinder of the camera.

Is it art? Is it photography?

It may be awesome but to be honest, I think it’s both and neither at the same time.

 

 

Brooke Shaden: A Visionary Photographer or Good Editor?

It’s no secret that I am a massive fan of Brooke Shaden’s work. Ever since I saw her image Tally around 3 years ago, she has been a constant source of inspiration. She is someone who has constantly amazed me with her imagery, technique and skill- that is up until recently.

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You see, I am very aware that Brooke creates ‘whimsical’ and ‘dreamlike’ images, but I feel that her more recent pieces of work, such as Flight Of The Fallen and To Be Prepared have gone beyond the conceptual self-portrait photographer that I first followed into a do-it-all-in-Photoshop digital artist. Without trying to put Brooke down, her work is still nice, and as a photographer myself, I respect the incredible amount of hours and effort she puts into every image, but after looking at her recent work, I can’t help but feel that her work would not exist if it were not for Adobe Photoshop.

Don’t get me wrong; I definitely like to run my own images, somewhat extensively, through Photoshop but if you’re spending 40+ hours constructing a scene by placing hundreds of different elements together to create an image, then, for me, that goes beyond photography and into the realm of digital art and collage.

This is not an entirely bad thing, but I wonder how it will affect the future of photography, particularly if people are looking at her work purely as photography. Brooke has a pretty large following and I guarantee that she has a big influence over a lot of them, so by creating images that are so extensively edited, others will start doing this too, and then soon it will be the norm for photographers to do this. The problem is that she is not the only photographer doing it.

Other notable photographers who fit into this category are Miss Aniela and Kirsty Mitchell.

With Kirsty Mitchell’s work, which is akin to a large film production is amazing, and I feel that with the backstory of it, it really adds to the final picture and that there is a purpose for this grand design. Besides, almost everything within each image Kirsty photographs is created within camera and her work is only slightly edited within Photoshop. In many ways, her work is quite the opposite of Brooke’s and she shows what can be achieved by applying yourself to total control over an image.

The same goes for Miss Aniela’s latest work, her Surreal Fashion series. The way in which she edits her images, merging old paintings with photography really adds to the final images and the overall context of her work.

I’m not saying that Brooke Shaden’s use of extensive editing is all bad, I just feel that her older images are much more interesting and meaningful because the end results were achieved pretty much in camera and Photoshop was primarily used to change colors and add textures. Images such as A Class Worth Taking and My Little BlueJay are interesting because they are so simple. Even images such as Imagination Island and To Lift Her Up, which include some editing in Photoshop, really profit from this and it gives the images that extra ordinary sense of wonder and magic.

As a fan of Brooke Shaden’s work, I would like to see her go back to creating simpler images and to utilise Photoshop, not rely on it. She has enough talent to capture intriguing images without having to create images that are so far removed from what she originally photographed by constructing them piece by piece.

An Experimental Edit

Because the prop I had ordered on Amazon arrived late, I had to postpone my photo shoot for next week.  This meant that I had nothing to do.  Out of sheer boredom, I decided to edit a random image from an old photo shoot.  Halfway through, I decided that I wanted to edit the image differently to how I normally edit an image so I looked at the image, Dark Lands and Evil Plans by photographer Brooke Shaden for inspiration (which just so happened to be the first image I came across looking at the images on my Mac).

I really wanted to use the dark blue/purple tones and yellow highlights of this image and apply it to mine. Most of the editing consisted of Curves and coloured layers.

Dark Lands & Evil Plans

Here is the entire process of the 37 layers from this:

IMG_9182

To this:

An Unplanned Edit

THE PROCESS:

Layer 1:

0Start

Layer 2:

The first thing I did is add a bit of contrast to the image.

1

Layer 3:

I raised the highlights a little bit more.

2

Layer 4:

I added a blue curves layer  to the darker parts of the image.

3

Layer 5:

I then changed the contrast on the RGB  curves channel to make the image more ‘blue’. I also made the shadows darker and the highlights lighter.

4

Layer 5:

I then adjusted the contrast on the blue channel whilst adjusting the RGB channel slightly.

5

Layer 6:

Added a slight contrast ti the RGB curves channel

6

Layer 7:

Darkened the overall image.

7

Layer 8:

I added a light yellow layer and set the blend mode to light and the fill to 18%.  This gave the image a slight yellow tinge without being too obvious.

8

Layer 9:

I made the highlights lighter.

9

Layer 10:

I then added a deep purple coloured layer and set the blend mode onto Darken and set the fill to 28%.  This darkened the image adding a deep purple to the shadows of the image.

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Layer 11:

I then added another light yellow coloured layer and put the blend mode on overlay and the fill on 36%.  This meant that the highlights had a yellow tint to them whilst the shadows remained deep purple.

11

Layer 12:

I then decided that I wanted the image to be a lot darker so I added a dark blue layer and set the blend mode t multiply and the fill to 19%. This gave the whole image a slightly darker blue tint.

12

Layer 13:

I then raised the Red and Blue curve channels to give the image a strong purple tint.

13

Layer 14:

I then darkened the image using RGB curves.

14

Layer 15:

Raised the highlights slightly.

15

Layer 16:

Darkened the image further.

16

Layer 17:

I raised the mid tones of the green curves layer and raised the mid tones of the RGB curves channel.

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Layer 18:

I then darkened te mid tones slightly.

18

Layer 19:

I then Raised the red curves and darkened the green curves.

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Layer 20:

I then darkened the blue curves layer.

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Layer 21:

I then added a light green layer and changed the blend mode to multiply and set the fill on 16%. This added a greenish tinge to the highlights on the umbrella and back of the subject.

21

Layer 22:

Raised the blue curves slightly.

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Layer 23:

I then adjusted the levels to lighten up the image.

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Layer 24:

I added a curves layer to the image and then layer masked it so only the face was lightened.

24

Layer 25:

Raised the blue shadows whilst darkening the blue highlights using the blue curves channel

25

Layer 26:

Darkened the shadows.

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Layer 27:

Darkened the blue shadows

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Layer 28:

Lightened the red curves.

28

Layer 29:

Lightened the highlights to make them stand out.

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Layer 30:

Lightened the red curves channel and darkened the blue channel.

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Layer 31:

Darkened the blue channel further

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Layer 32:

From here, the overall editing was done, but I decided to play around with the selective colour tool to enhance the colours. Here I edited the green colours, making the highlights look more yellow.

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Layer 33:

I then edited the yellow colour to make the highlights more paler.

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Layer 34:

Edited the blue colour to make the umbrella a deeper colour.

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Layer 35:

I re-edited the yellow colour so that it was less paler.

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Layer 36:

I then decreased the saturation of the whole image.

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Layer 37:

This is final version of the image.  I opened it on a PC and found that it looked a lot lighter than on my Mac. So i decided to darken it but i didn’t like it looked on my Mac. I decided to re-lighten the image and leave it how it was!

37 opened on pc (looks lighter)