Most of us would think that creating images that look like they’re out of this world would take a lot of Photoshop magic. However, John Dykstra is an artist and surrealist photographer from Michigan who does it all in-camera. He uses his garage as a studio and adds simple props to create optical illusions and capture them in mind-boggling images.
I re-invented a new photographing technique. The technique is new in the digital domain but, in fact, the phenomenon itself was known since the early era of digital photography.
I don’t remember the name of the camera but I heard that digital cameras could not capture colours before the Bayer filter was invented so you had to take three shots—one for red, one for green and one for blue—and then they were merged into one photograph. However, if there was moving elements such as clouds, waves, cars, pedestrians, cats in the picture, you get unnatural colours.
Although people tried to avoid this effect to capture natural photographs, I thought it would be interesting to create such colours on purpose as a new way of artistic expression, and so I devised this technique. Let me tell you how to do it in details.
Collaborations are hard, and the difficulty bar gets higher the more people involved. However, pulling a big collaborative effort done well, can produce massive results. Photographer Rob Woodcox (see his story here) collaborated with over 20 friends and three top creatives to cope up with the skeleton queene story.
Each photo of the Skeleton Queen story can stand alone, but together they form a solid story:
I think one of the most important aspects of a successful photo is what happens before you ever click the shutter. Pre-visualization of what you want the photo to look like can happen quickly where you immediately envision the final photo, or it can develop over time where you build on your original concept, adding or subtracting elements, re-thinking your take on it before finally deciding on exactly what to shoot. Then after you’ve ironed out what that photo should look like, you actually then go backwards, by reverse engineering the elements of what you’ll need to pull it off.
Sometimes you find what you are not looking for
I always tell people to plan the photoshoots ahead, and urge them to try to see the complete image in your head already before taking the first shots… However, sometimes it takes a full U-turn and completely uncharted routes to end up with an amazing image. Now, I am doing a full breakdown on this image on my workshops, but I wanted to take a second and explain how this photo came to be, and why it failed to serve its purpose.
The story of this image started with the weird things the long holidays does to the brains. Generally a vacation tends to get your creativity in full speed; for me it means that I see ideas for images everywhere. For my wife it means seeing renovation projects everywhere… This could have ended badly for me, but luckily she had already renovated our living room walls during my trip to France and only asked me to make a new picture of our kids for the newly painted walls. Like I said, my head was already bursting with images so this was a perfect opportunity for me to explore one idea I have been wanting to try: to take well known M.C. Escher –style optical illusions such as the “impossible” penrose triangle or steps and make them look more “real”.
You know how sometimes you see a photo and just have to know how it was made. I mean not in the tutorial-follow-me kind of way but more in the who the heck did you make this kinda way?
This is how I felt when I saw Richard Wakefield‘s Circus Doll photo. It had something feeling very authentic, so I knew it had to have had a real photo behind it. So… I asked!
Richard was kind enough to share the steps taken to make the photo happen:
Here is a technique I did not think I will ever be covering on the blog, using smoke bombs. In fact I did not even know that there is such a thing as smoke bombs until I stumbled on the photography of Jovana Rikalo.
Serbian photographer Jovana Rikalo uses smoke bombs to create some unexpected effects in her portraits. You see, some photographers like control in their photos, but Jovana prefers the random effect she gets from the way the smoke moves in the air.
I Asked Jovana about the hazards of using this technique and she says that she only shoots outside where the smoke quickly disperses.
When you look at a photo showing a fantasy world, there is often that moment of armament on how the final photograph looks so real and yet unreal at the same time. That is because good compositors use real elements from real photos and have the ability to blend them in well. Of course, there is more to this art than just selecting photo parts and throwing them together. In fact watching how a composite comes to life is almost as looking at a piece of art that is disconnected from the final photograph.
Photographer and retoucher Renne Robyn records her process of compositing a photo and they are a delight.
Yes yes I know, There is another post about expanding a dress” (thanks for remembering), this is however, a totally different…kinda…mostly…it is, you guys. You see that post was about taking what is already a dress and showing how to make it larger and more glorious. The knowledge I’m going to attack you with today is about creating a dress from scratch out of something that was not a dress…at all.
Ah, “photography”, you loosely defined word that everyone seems to have their own definition of. It’s amazing how polarizing you can be, isn’t it?
And one of your most polarizing aspects seems to be exactly how much retouching is considered reasonable. Purists claim no retouching of any kind is allowed (then they usually reference Ansel Adams, which is quite ironic considering the amount of dodging and burning he brought to the field), while others gladly accept Photoshop as a regular part of their photography tool-belt.
In general though, there’s a viewpoint around the photography community, that too much Photoshop is a bad thing. That it destroys photography as we know it, and those who retouch an absurd amount should be banned or beheaded or at least mildly reprimanded (depending on which Facebook group you happen to be in). But before we all start gathering our pitchforks, can we maybe examine this concept of over-retouching for just a second?