SPRING FLOWERS - Fort Fisher Ferry

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gordon Webb on Zatista

 I've just listed this photograph and much of my other work with this online Fine Art website. This was shot outside the walls of the "Forbidden City" in Beijing, China:

"OUT FOR A RIDE"

Please check out this new selection of my work at:
Gordon Webb on Zatista

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DIGITAL CONCEPTUALIZATION?

Huh?? Digital WHAT??

"Flower Child"
This label, used by many art competitions and photo magazines -- describes a creative photographic process where the photo-artist -- from the get-go --  conceives the work as a computerized piece of art. As far as I'm concerned, this is much more than taking an ordinary photograph and simply  "playing" with all the effects Photoshop has to offer until an interesting image appears. No -- this work is conceptualized from the beginning as being created through the digital combination of many photographic elements (which is really practical only by using digital technology).  In other words, I see digital conceptualization photography as a creative process where the digital artist uses all the techniques at his/her disposal to achieve an idea... much like the mixed-media artist does -- using physical elements.

In my recent creation "Flower Child", the concept was: a little girl appearing to sit in a champagne flute -- like a flower blossom. The basic element is a "still life" of a empty flower stem in a flute filled with water.  I added some petals for "atmosphere" -- and to help create the illusion that perhaps a bud has just opened -- revealing the "little girl flower." Building a complex digital image often involves creating many layers... this is the first.

Next, the little "blossom" was carefully photographed with studio lighting -- and cut out of the background -- in preparation for placing her in the champagne flute. The digital process used here is similar to the "green screen" effect widely used in movie special effects where -- after shooting is finished... the background can be digitally removed... and then another background pasted into the blank space.  Using a solid color background (usually green) makes it easier... in my photo I had to literally trace the girl's outline before cutting out the background (and don't be confused by the color of the backdrop behind the scene in the final image -- I just happened to use a green bed sheet for this).












From here, the layering process becomes fairly complex.

After "resizing" the little girl to match the background -- it would be fairly easy to just "paste" her into the scene -- except she's supposed to be sitting INSIDE the glass. This illusion requires some clever layering -- and a separate photograph of the glass (LEFT-without the flower stem). She's sitting between the STEM and the FRONT OF THE GLASS... and the only way to create this effect is to cut-and-paste part of the empty glass over her legs. This also helps to "diffuse" the image of her legs -- as if they really ARE behind the glass (the closeup below makes it easier to see what I mean).


After a little more "tweaking" of the various layers... the final image is finished and, hopefully, creates an effective version of my original "digital conceptualization."  Here's the final version of "Flower Child" -- not just ANY little girl, but my precious grand-daughter Ava Clara... who -- by the way -- will soon to be the most photographed child in the history of grandparenthood.




Thursday, July 14, 2011

THINKING ABOUT BABIES

Earlier last spring, I couldn't wait to go outdoors with my camera as nature started to bloom in southeastern North Carolina.

"Baby Fig"
Everywhere I looked I saw nature "giving birth" to a rich abundance of colorful scenes for me to photograph.

"Baby Dogwood"
Even when I thought about what I was going to photograph the next day (which I do often -- as I'm trying to fall asleep)... I kept coming up with the same thing:

"Baby Blueberries"
Frankly, it was becoming a bit monotonous. I mean, these scenes of tiny buds waiting to blossom were even in our daughter and son-in-law's yard:

"Baby Azalea"
I actually HAVE taken photos of a few other subjects lately... like this one of our daughter, Carrie -- on a recent visit to our pool:

But, I just can't figure out the source of my strange "baby photo" obsession. Maybe it'll come to me...

Monday, April 25, 2011

GREAT SUBJECTS MAKE GREAT ART

Photographers (and other artists) spend a lot of time searching for "that perfect subject."  I think that's why there are so many great shots of children... and pets.  It's almost impossible to go wrong... so I think at least part of the credit has to go to the subject or scene.  This is the case with my entry in the 2011 Wilmington Art Association's Spring Show and Sale:
"AMISH FARMGIRL" - Lancaster, PA (2010)
This shot was taken during a trip to Lancaster, PA last summer -- an area where beautiful scenes abound -- in every direction.  But, when this particular shot was taken, I was actually photographing the empty field on the right.  Then, I started to hear a dog barking and a faint mechanical sound in the distance... and a few seconds later a young Amish girl appeared from behind the trees -- in traditional dress -- driving a team of horses.  I quickly switched to my telephoto lens and only had time to fire off a few frames before the machinery made the turn and disappeared behind the trees again.  About six months later -- this scene would win the "Southeastern Camera Award" at the W.A.A. Show.
     The Amish people don't  love having their picture taken, but I couldn't resist during that trip... and at a farmer's market in downtown Lancaster I was able to capture more picturesque images -- like this pretty young Amish woman selling cold drinks.  In just the right light -- she looked a lot like Kelly McGillis in the film "Witness."

And there was an old man selling pickles -- "put up" by his wife who also worked at their booth.  His persona was so perfect -- with the straw hat, long grey beard and suspenders -- I wondered if he wasn't "dressing up" just a bit -- to increase sales.
     I wouldn't have dared think such a thing if it wasn't for the next image.  In a small town outside Lancaster we saw many black horse-drawn wagons navigating the tourist traffic.  As we passed the local bank, my wife spotted one wagon as it  turned into the parking lot... and we followed.  There was the horse -- waiting patiently as the driver did his banking -- at a drive-through ATM:

In the Amish country -- just like everywhere else -- past and present are merging much too quickly.  I guess I feel it's a photographer's job to capture some of these scenes -- just like Matthew Brady did during the Civil War when photography itself was brand new.  And, if we manage to preserve a few images that win awards... or that someone calls "art" -- then, that's fine, too.