The Image That SHOULD Have Won the Apocalypse Assignment!

Boy, with a blog title like that, it sounds like someone is chewing on sour grapes. :-) Naw... what happened is the Apocalypse Assignment closed for entries on January 18. On January 19 I was out shooting and came across the perfect background scene for a concept I've been wanting to do for a long time. On the 20th I shot the model, edited the image, and waited a very long time (like everyone else) for the image to be approved.

Many of the Assignment subjects and images really won't sell very well but I enjoy doing them because they're images I normally wouldn't do so it's a nice change of pace. It's also a challenge to teach yourself new photo editing tricks. These skills come in handy for regular stock pictures and other endeavors you immerse yourself in as you progress in your photography career.

The Apocalypse Assignment actually had me learn some new tricks, one of the images I did submit required some internet searching for a particular technique. I followed the little tutorial and duplicated the effect, but the problem was I had created a separate image and dropping it into the final scene was well beyond cut and paste. It became a puzzle, a series of steps to solve and I successfully pulled it off. And I had a lot of fun having a unique image standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the other best-of-the-best images and photographers on DT.

I know I'm being light on details, but let's show you the image that SHOULD have won the Apocalypse Assignment:

I was out shooting indoors at public venues and saw the potential of this scene right away. I snapped away with different angles and camera settings and was thankful I had my wide angle lens with me.

So that's lesson number one: When you're out shooting, a scene you normally would ignore may have uses for stock if you recognize the uses it may have. For example, buried in my portfolio is a scene of a dry cleaning store. I shot the image through the window when the store was closed. I then photographed the model and put him behind the counter in the store.

If you teach yourself photo editing skills, you will give yourself more potential for creating stock-oriented images without having a studio or renting a venue!

OK... going back to our little scene of the mad scientist. One problem was the TV video screen. There was an image in there and we know you can't have images that do not belong to you. My first thought was to make it a blue screen like a computer but a solid color didn't seem like a good idea. I could have made it a gradient which would have been better but... no...

What I did was to select the area inside the video screen and then I created DIFFERENCE CLOUDS. I played with different colors until I thought I had a good fit.

That's lesson number two: What can you do to enhance an image? In this case I worked out a way to make it look better and remove the image I did not own.

Lesson three would be shooting the model. You have to think of how the model will be photographed so the person can be dropped into the image and have a natural look. You also need your photo editing skills for removing the background from the model.

The scientist came out perfect. I used the burn tool to create a shadow underneath him.

I had all kinds of issues with the victim. The way the victim was standing and the way he was inserted into the machine, it did not look natural at all.

This is lesson four: SOLVING PROBLEMS. What I ended up doing was cutting and pasting the machine underneath his feet and extending it higher. This gave a greater feel the victim was inside the machine; a three dimensional look is important.

There was also the problem of "being a victim." What I mean by this is the model was wearing a pair of shorts. It just looked too fake for him to be wearing shorts. Have the model nude and it greatly reduces potential for sales. I did another cut and paste; I copied the bottom part of the machine and "raised it up" over the mid section of the model. No fake pants and no naughty bits.

The blank video screen with the difference clouds looked pretty good but it seemed to be lacking. Well... it's a video screen... what could be on the video? You can see how I resolved that and thus completing this little house of horrors.

I hope these little tidbits of photo editing and problem solving are a catalyst for exercising your potential for creativity. A store front, an ice cream stand, an office, every day scenes that are not worthy of stock, you can do so much with them if you SEE THE PICTURE THAT ISN'T THERE.

Think about it; suddenly you're not limited to just shooting objects on your kitchen table because the entire world can be your studio! Have fun and be creative!

Too bad we couldn't have voted on this image in the Assignment. :-)

Photo credits: Wisconsinart.

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Nice concept very well put together. I find it a very hard exercise to imagine how to put a puzzle of various images together, and then of course actually putting the pieces in place doesn't often work smoothly. Time consuming too, for sometimes very few sales... tough learning curve but can be a lot of fun.


Nice shot :) But what I'm thinking while I'm reading this is how I'm going to get a shot of sour grapes - LOL


Great background on the image production. Creatifity is your key!


We are on similar journeys. I'm discovering also the value of collecting ones own backgrounds for later use. Composites are a lot of fun and take a lot of work and learning. Weather or not it pays off is the question.


I am like you and appreciate the assignments as they help give one a nudge to think about a project and then push your image-anation. All I can say is thank goodness you missed the deadline! ;)))

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