Sunday, May 12, 2013

"There are no rabbits"

That is to say, there are no 'rabbits you can pull out of a hat' to create montage images, there are no easy tricks. Many years ago I came up w/ this "oh-so-catchy/pithy/wise saying", to help me work my way thru learning how to do B&W photomontage.
(No one has written a 'how-to' book about this, maybe i should do it.)
It's a matter of using all the tools at your disposal.. intelligently, creatively, and *one step at a time*... to arrive at a final 'destination'/a great image.. that amazes viewers.

(Basic background will fill in the things i am not explaining in full here - check out my darkroom methods pages: )

This one was done 'darkroom', mid 90's.

First and foremost, you gotta have a plan. I did a few illustrations for "Music & Computers" magazine to illustrate stories about how to piece music together digitally. The basic concept was simple: to use jigsaw puzzle pieces filled w/ the different elements that would come together. Simple, but flexible. And 'right on target' as an underlying concept.

I'd been doing illustrations for various Miller Freeman music mags for a while, i had accumulated quite a few negs of individual 'elements' - keyboards, guitars, mixing boards, bands playing, singers at a mic, drumsticks etc etc. They all came in handy.
(Thank you to Guitar Center, 'south of market' in SF for allowing me to shoot anything... so long as i arrived at opening time (10AM) and was gone by 11. I think Miller freeman paved the way on this, much appreciated.)

I spray painted the puzzle pieces white, so i could shoot them and just come up w/ empty pieces, outlines, and shadows. If i wanted to make a piece 'float', i used a bit of putty to prop it up on so there would be a shadow.
So for each illustration, i'd start by arranging the pieces and shooting that neg.
The second important thing about building this one is using RC paper, so you can print a 'guide', dry it out immediately, and it's dimensionally stable, which fiber paper is not so good at. You can then take that guide print, and tape it into position on your easel. That's easy - turn on the enlarger w/ the puzzle piece neg in place, move the guide print around until it lines up, and tape the sucker down to a larger piece of paper, *that stays registered in the easel*

The second not so dark secret to this one is... using this old fashioned stuff called 'amberlith' or 'rubylith'. It is a sheet of plastic base, with a film on one side that can be cut w/ an exacto blade. The red or amber film admits no light. You cut, and peel away, the portions you want to expose.
The exacto has always been a dear friend of mine, for more reasons than art or photography than i can explain.
So i cut quite a few of those, to expose various portions, as necessary.
A brief description?
All puzzle pieces on the right, plus the bottom two in the center, that's one mask.
The piece at top/center... another, for the drumstick.
The pieces on the left all had individual masks, the key boards, the singer, the guitar.
Where there is a 'blur'?.. that's done w/ a small piece of glass streaked w/ vaseline which is placed in a customized/ below the lense 'filter holder'
(see my darkroom techniques pages for more on this one, there's a link to those pages above, & also in the rt. hand column.)

This post is equally relevant for digital montage.
It was called a (rubylith) mask then, and it still is called a 'mask' in photoshop now.
Apply all the above to digital - get out the magic wand tool, select areas..make masks, import all the other images, and use those masks...knock yourself out.
The more things change? the more they remain the same.
You've still got have a plan, you've still got to go one step at a time.

The icing on the cake here is...?
I am sure i hand-colored this print in less than an hour. I was on deadline, time to 'shit or go blind'.
Can you do the same digitally? Maybe so... if so? 'my hat is off' to you.
If not?.... hey, oil paints are cheap, and cotton balls and Q-tips are at any drugstore.
They are MUCH more fun, really.

Here's another one that uses all the same techniques:

On the topic of magic? here's a great music link:

For my next trick, I'll need a volunteer - Warren Zevon

Some interesting photo links this month:

When Eastman Kodak emerges from bankruptcy this summer or fall, it will be a shadow of the blue-chip corporate giant it once was.

A celebrated company whose little yellow packages of film documented generations of birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries, the new Kodak will be more commercially focused, providing printing and imaging services to businesses as well as film to the movie industry.

FYI/FWIW... Hey, guess what??
Hello!..There is still plenty of B&W film, chemistry & paper available!:

I'm tired of reading the 'death of film and traditional' crapola. It's all just a sales pitch, to herd anyone and everyone to digital products. As if American consumerism wasn't pavlovian enough...? Now we've got everything digital breathing down our necks, telling us  'you've got to have this!'..'You've got to have that'.
'You've got to update our browser to get the *latest best shit*!'
Yeah.... right.
**Puh...leeze**! GTF outta here, get over it. Last time i checked, i wasn't a sheep. I suspect you aren't either.
Some nice stuff goin' on elsewhere... 'links du jour'!

Exposures Interview
In Love With My Planet

Dominique Browning spoke with SebastiĆ£o Salgado, the documentary photographer and author, about the inspiration for his forthcoming book “Genesis.”

Not too long ago i did a post about some images of mine, using 'symmetry':

Symmetry is not an new artistic idea, by any means (have you heard of things called  mandalas?)'s another guy's very nice take on it.

Psychedelic Portuguese Man-of-War Photos Prove God Is a Stoner
By Jakob Schiller - 04.17.13

Enjoy all the above, I hope.
To quote 'ahnold the terminator'...."I'll be back" :-)