My Final progect for my Image manipulation class was to patch two photos together in Photoshop in a way that makes a small object look larger than life or large to small. I’ve been watching way too many zombie movies and video games lately so I decided to do a zombie theme for my project. I saw these huge Gummie Bears at the candy store and had a stroke of inspiration. I bought a bag of assorted candies and various sizes of Gummie Bears. The shoot was done in my living-room on a white board. I found a few photos of a store front of a candy shop online. Normally I would shoot my own but for the sake of time I took a shortcut. (I’ll probably re-shoot over the holiday break. This was fun.) I used all I knew about using masks and several new iris blur filters offered on PS6.
The goal of the project was to make an unreal image look as real as possible. I couldn’t really figure out how to use the 3D perspective tools so I just relied on the blur effects and careful positioning of layers. The larger Bears were on the bottom of the bag so they squished up quite nicely. The warping and hunched over look helped add to the lumbering zombie effect. I used Gummie Worms for the guts of one poor Gummie soul whose brain is being eating and a mini Gob-stopper for an eyeball, a few mini Gummies scurrying in the background and a few fresh victims with bloody faces rushing towards the camera finish off the gory scene. There is something diabolical about the boy’s smirk in this context. To a ten year old boy this is probably the coolest thing he could ever see. Is he next??
There’s a saying around here, “If you throw a rock in Portland you will hit a Photographer.” And it’s true! When ever I go out to shoot I have to be prepared to see my exact same shot hanging in a coffee shop somewhere in town for sale for $200! So when I do decide to capture an image I take a lot into consideration.
Before I shot digital I worked in film, so did my Dad. I only had a roll or two to work with at a time, so I had to be choosy. A little of that has stayed with me as I moved into digital photography. When something or a scene catches my eye I try to find the best perspective to show only what is important or makes it unique or beautiful. When I frame up the shot I look for Elements of the composition that will either enhance or subtract from the shot. I start with the background and work my way forward and from left to right. I the city I try to start by eliminating distractions like power-lines, traffic signs, billboards, cars, even what people are wearing. I will make slight adjustments in my stance to use less distracting objects to conceal what I don’t want. I like to use a narrow depth of field so most of the background will be out of focus. My favorite lens, especially for street photography is my 50mm. It allows a lot of available light in and has a really narrow depth of field, so street photos come out really sharp. Once I get my subject in focus I try to place them a little off-center, if I want the viewer’s eye to come to rest on the subject I place them to the right. If I want to convey a sense of openness or the unknown I leave the right of the frame free of much information and place the subject to the left, looking to the right. If I want the subject confronting and engaging the viewer directly I may put the dead center and looking straight at the camera.
Everyone talks about rule of thirds, which I do use, but I also try to find the golden ratio, Golden Mean or Golden Triangle.
“Golden mean intends to divide the plane in three unequal parts (horizontally as well as vertically – as in the rule of thirds) such that two adjacent parts are in golden ratio and the subject is placed along the lines which divide the plane in golden proportion.“The golden spiral on the other hand replicates the golden mean exemplified by the curves of the nautilus shell (exhibiting logarithmic spiral growth). The golden triangle is used for implementing the golden ratio diagonally; where the plane is divided into two equal halves diagonally and a perpendicular line is drawn from the opposite corners. The points where the lines intersect form the power points.”
Confused yet? This is what it looks like.
Golden Ratio Spiral
Diagram of the Golden Triangles
With all of that said, I don’t always have time to line everything up perfectly, so sometimes I do a little Zen trick of shooting with no mind, but responding to a feeling or sense I get when everything is in it’s correct composition. I check later and find the Golden Rule repeated over and over most of the time I use this method. It might be a result of practice and my eye just knows, or it could be the natural response to a well composed image. A kind of peace we feel when we see beauty. Above all else I try to find an interesting way to convey the nature of whatever it was that caught my eye. I keep these principles in mind: Simplicity, Balance, Proportion and Mood to make it interesting to someone else as well.
One of our wonderful Oasis’ is the Japanese Gardens in Washington Park. Every Autumn the meticulously manicured gardens are painted with yellow, orange and red by the Japanese Maples. It is truly tranquil. At the Gardens they have workshops and events. They also have Photographer days where only those in the photographer’s membership are allowed on the grounds to minimize the crowds.
I love going here to walk, relax or shoot. I have shot in film and digital, color and black and white. For an Asian theme in a photo-shoot I would recommend the Japanese Gardens of Portland. Everything from the entrance to the cascading waterfalls filling Coy filled ponds has an authentic Japanese feel
For a Zen Experience I recommend The Japanese Gardens.
Just outside of Portland, in the west hills, down along Balch gulch in Macleay Park is a ruins we call Stone House. It was destroyed in a storm on Columbus Day in 1962 and the mossy, partial remains make a spooky backdrop for any shoot. I recently did a witch-chic fashion photo-shoot with a friend of mine at Stone House. The back story of Macleay park makes it even creeper. Danford Balch, the original owner of the land in the Lower Macleay Park area, was the first man legally hanged in Oregon. On October 17, 1859, Danford Balch was hung for the murder of Mortimer Stump. Stump had eloped with Balch’s daughter and Balch shoot him to death with a shotgun. (Danford claimed it was an accident.)
A reflector really helped on this one. Notice how dark the background is. No Flash was used.
For this shoot i had a couple of issues to deal with, lighting and co-ordination. Stone house is a couple of miles from the nearest trail-head and 5 miles out of town. There is no electricity and so bringing a couple of lights was not an option. I needed to bring a reflector or two and for that I would need an assistant. I usually work alone and all my friends are typically too busy to help. I asked everyone I knew, and at the last minute ended up enlisting the help of my ever-reliable helper Oscar. The Trail-head doesn’t have an address so simply directing someone through google maps proved to be a challenge. We worked it out and he showed up a few minutes after my model Sabrina and I made it to the site. His help proved to be greatly valuable due to the heavy shade of the canopy of evergreens.
All in all, it was a successful shoot and we all had a good time while discovering someplace new. I will definitely return to Stone House for more shoots and for a respite along the Forest Trail, and you should too.
I’m a photographer living in the city of Portland, Oregon, a near endless well-spring of Photographic opportunities and challenges. With its legacy of historic buildings and cathedrals both crumbling & abandoned as well as faithfully restored. The Bridges, the hills, the districts. Portland also has a multitude of sleek, mirrored and dynamic.ultra modern high-rises.
Portland is also a tree city. We have more park space per acre than any other city in the US. And boy do our trees earn their keep. Every year the trees put on a show for the residents of the Bridge city which is a huge part of the beauty of Portland. Every autumn i try to make it to the Portland Japanese gardens to to see the famous maples turning
In the Autumn after the bright warm summer is over the leaves paint the avenues and parks in a vivid display of color. This is my favorite time to shoot. It is why I moved to Portland. It is brief and every changing so do not hesitate shutter bugs. After all the leaves have fallen the rainy, endlessly overcast days that Portland is known for take over.
The overcast skies of the PNW just so happens to be the right amount of diffusion to make Portland photos turn out perfect. The harsh sun of summer will ruin just about any outdoor shot. You might as well put your camera away.
The rain may pose a problem so I do suggest an umbrella. I stood in the rain with a pink umbrella over my camera (not me) on the side of Mt. Tabor for four hours to get two shots of the Portland skyline.
In the spring, our fair city turns pink. Plum and Cherry trees paint the town pink. Wafts of fallen blooms swirl in the spring wind as summer slowly approaches and the clouds begin to break. Soon it will be too bright out for photographers to not get overexposed shots. That’s the season they head into the studio or the forests to dim down the bright sun.
Portland is a beautiful city that changes throughout the year. I suggest any serious photographer spend at least a year ere to see all it has to offer.
Order & Chaos
The old stone buildings, rusty metal, intricate detail and abandoned uninhabitable buildings of Portland, Oregon really peak my curiosity. The juxtaposition of order and chaos, both intentional and unintentional, are what make life interesting. What was once meticulously designed to look its best and formed by human hands is later subject to entropy and natural chaos. In some cases chaos is created by the designer, others not. The natural organic forms of rust and decay have a beauty of their own. My favorite past-time is walking the streets of Portland and capturing the unnoticed details of the city. The fine stone-crafting of the cathedrals, the expansive bridges, and other structures give me endless camera fodder in this old town.