Summer Evening

Sunflowers.  3 blended images.  I was really pleased with this one.  From last evening's outing at Champoeg SP.

What is It? 

My current project is learning to create complex layered images in Photoshop.  I have been experimenting with flowers by adding layers of textures and colors.   As painters work with still life to perfect their skills with paints, I am working with flowers to learn the complexities of Photoshop.

A flower has an intrinsic beauty, offers a single, obvious subject to get the viewers attention, and can be readily available. Most of the skills and concepts I hope to apply to my nature photography as things develop.  

Photos of Textures to be Layered

How Does it Work?

My process starts with a flower photo, like a rose or dahlia, then adding layers of texture.  The photos above are examples of texture layers.  I like to use natural substances for textures, such as wood grain, tree bark, and shrubbery.   These photos were all taken in my neighborhood. 

I really love the look of the layered foliage and wood grain.  It creates a dreamy, ethereal effect. 

Blur the background

When blending several layers,  there may be light and dark areas in the background which can be distracting.   I have tried several solutions to this issue. It may be best to just blur the background with a shallow depth of field by using a macro lens at a wide open aperture.  

The  photo below (Left) was taken with a shallow depth of field, so the background flowers are blurred into orange blobs.  When the foliage layer is added (Right) the bright orange areas highlight the needles texture. 

Hot August Nights

Red Rose Composite

The first rose image (below Left)  has dark areas on the left which look blotchy.

On the second version (middle)  I copied and pasted foliage from the opposite side to cover the dark areas. Alternatively one could clone foliage over the dark spot.

Next I tried selecting the rose and pasting it onto a green background, then adding texture layers of ferns and wood grain. (below Right)

Red Rose Composites

Photoshop Tools

Flowers can be creatively distorted with interesting results.

The yellow dahlia (Left) is the original, unaltered flower.

Next I blurred the background with the mixer brush tool and pasted the flower over the color blur (middle).

The smudge brush tool can be used to stretch the flower petals, then paste over the original  flower to create a doublet (Right). 

Yellow Dahlia Series

Thoughts About Artistic Images

Whether photographs or paintings,  Art appeals to us on an emotional or visceral level, evoking feeling through colors, shapes, and textures. Warm colors, orange, red, and earth tones, make us feel happy and contented. Cool colors, blue and green, can evoke sadness, loneliness, and melancholy. I am trying to consider the color schemes and mood of my images and approach this more intentionally.

I first thought to call this project Multidimensional art, but that name had been taken by UFOs and Angels. The Multidimensional idea is there are layers of reality which are unique to each individual. These include our outward experiences such as childhood, education, family and friends, and inner experiences, including memories, dreams, and symbols, which all combine thru the lens of our personality. 

(Left)  Heart of the Forest.  The winter ferns are growing naturally on a tree trunk in a heart shape.  Layered with fern foliage.

(Center)  Oregon Roots.  These tree roots originally grew over an old stump, as a nurse tree.  I layered small wildflowers and foliage around the mature tree with exposed roots. 

(Right)  Rose Scarab.  The wood grain patterns on a tree stump revealed a scarab, a sacred symbol from Egypt, meaning regeneration or new life from decay.  I layered over the red rose and symmetrical fern, to create this mandala. 

Multidimensional Art

From Impressionism to Abstract

Photo impressionism as a genre includes landscape photos which have soft lighting and shapes, and create a serene mood. These are still recognizable as landscapes.

Abstract images are no longer easily recognized forms, but still evoke emotional responses with colors, forms, and textures. 

The two images below are on the continuum from photo impressionism to abstracts.  Both are photos from an alpine meadow in the Cascades, but are not easily identifiable.  

(Left) These red leafy plants grow on the stream bottom, and are over layered with tree bark.

(Right) The soft meadow grasses were bright yellow/green color, which has been changed to magenta, and over layered with the earlier lavender stems, which are now aqua.

Photo Impressionism

Future Directions

I am looking forward to autumn and fall colorsand already working on a series of images layering leaves and grasses onto stumps and barn doors. 

I have entered four landscape photos for September's Oregon PPA Image Competition, and hope to report those results next month.  

Fall Colors in the PNW

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