Sunday, August 26, 2007

8/26/07 - Digital darkroom

Back to darkroom...sort of - this is 'digital darkroom' - kind of an oxymoron, but that's what I hear people calling it when they work on their images in photoshop, and turn them into something else entirely.
When I first got into computers, alot of my photo-friends said "well, duuude!! now you are going to melt down your enlarger, aren't you? What the hell would you need it for, now that there's photoshop?".
On the contrary, it all makes me appreciate the special qualities of each media/technique. I now have an even better understanding of what's special about the traditional darkroom.
(Anyone tries to take my enlarger away?'re in for a fight!)

When I do get into 'digital darkroom'?... a whole lot of other things kick in.
(For one thing, it's color, and all my montage darkroom is B&W ((the color comes later, if it's appropriate)) - Big, BIG change.)

I used to be an advertsing art director, way back when - 1976 thru '81 or '82 - I've always loved good typography, read 'U&lc' magazine.. and I always wanted to try out an airbrush. Never had the money or time to really get into the airbrush...
and forget about buying a Photo-typositor for my 'personal use'!
Thanks to Photoshop? I can now indulge my crazy youthful fantasies, and do both.
The basic background of the image on the right - 'sand dial' - is, of course, the sand, with one clump of dunegrass in the center adding it's shadow to many others, beyond the frame.
This dune grass can do some interesting things to the sand, given the right circumstances - when the wind blows a certain way, and the sand is smooth and even, the grass carves circular 'grooves', like the image in the center above.

Something digital makes possible is collecting images without any additional film or processing costs, once you've got the basics (camera, memory cards, computer&software). So I shoot all kinds of things I might not if I had to deal with film processing, etc.
If I don't like/it doesn't work...? nothing lost.

I've used these 'carved' things in the sand in a few photomontage prints (see one above on the left)... but hadn't yet played w/ the concept in color/digital.
As soon as I did?... sure enough, all those 'art director/type designer/airbrush-artist-wannabe' things kicked in.
The image itself didn't have but a small carved circular area...the shadows of the grass overwhelmed a... sun dial!
That's what set me off on a conceptual tangent - this wasn't a sun dial, but a sand dial.

The gradient white tone that describes the circle was 'airbrush'......
The Roman numerals were of course the type tool, in white... then I duplicated the (white) layer, inverted it, so it became black, & hit that with a 'gaussian' blur. Pushed that a few pixels over & down.
As usual, I played around with the opacity of all these layers - none of them are at 100%.
Ended up with a clock ..that keeps time a different way.

To see the image larger, and to check out all the layers, go to:
(I've done a screen shot that also shows the Photoshop layers palette.)

Next time round?....... traditional/film stuff, and darkroom...REAL darkroom.