The Long Walk and Taking Pictures of Nothing for Composites
Two years ago I moved into the house where I currently live and it's a place on the edge of the metropolitan area. Here the subdivisions crash into farmland so you get a mix of neighborhoods and fields corn, depending on which street you're on. I like to go for walks, mainly just to stay healthy, but I find the walks have a way of giving the brain a chance to work through the the problems of the day or to just wander. If I have the time I will walk for four miles, which takes about an hour. The halfway point is an old Wisconsin dairy farm with a small herd of cows. When I reach the barn I turn around and head back home.
On occasion I will think about some of the concepts I would like to do for my stock portfolio here at Dreamstime. I may brainstorm for ideas or work out the steps involved for creating a particular scene. On this particular walk I was thinking about some of my recent uploads where the pictures I had taken were photographs that I no clue what to do with. But the images became handy at a later point in time.
I recently was shooting with a model and I had this fuzzy image in my head of some kind of "fairy princess" in the woods but I wasn't quite sure what the final concept would be. I envisioned some kind of forest scene and the girl reaching out for a butterfly. It wasn't exactly an original idea either so the whole thing bothered me.
The model told me about a park not too far away where there were little bluffs and cliffs and she suggested they might work. I had free time that day so I did a quick drive over and indeed there were rock ledges and cliffs. I hiked along the trail there, taking pictures of the rock formations, not knowing if they were of any use. They were really pictures of nothing.
That's what I was thinking about when I reached the first half mile point of my walk. There's an old farmhouse and little business here and a working farm. To get to this point you walk out of the subdivision, go past a church, and the land changes into fields of beans and corn. The crops are near the time for harvesting though the field corn will be left to dry. The stalks will turn a golden brown and eventually be cut for silage, feeding the dairy cows in the area for the winter.
A big, huge dog at the farmhouse bellows at me when I go by, he being afraid I'm intruding on his territory. Dogs have yet to comprehend that roads are for public use.
I turn down a quiet road, and it will lead to an old seminary. There is nothing special about the seminary but it's been there for 150 years and it owns a large track of land. Because of this, the land has never been developed and you can walk along a road surrounded by huge oak savannahs, a rare thing in an area where the axe attacked virtually everything before the 1900's.
Right away I saw the potential of the rock ledges and I created several images of a fairy princess in the woods but for whatever reason, the images were lacking. They just did not work. About a week went by when I was researching some other ideas and after a few queries I came across some software that is primarily used for 3D rendering and animation. However, artists also use the software to build various fantasy and other types of scenes. The software is free but you have to purchase add-ons for whatever your project entails. The best part of this arrangement is your purchases are licensed for use within your creations.
After spending a few days of learning the software and playing with the starter kit it came with, I realized how I could use objects and scenes to enhance my photography. Instead of a fairy princess reaching out to a butterfly, I inserted a dragon instead. I also purchased wings for the girl to give it more of a fantasy feel. The wings I created on my own were horrible.
When you reach the seminary on my walk, I make another turn and the road passes between two huge fields of crops. The farmer alternates what is grown in order to keep the soil rich. This year the fields are full of tall stalks of corn. They become home for a variety of insects and the crickets and other noisemakers play their orchestra in a grand serenade for any pedestrian who wanders along this quiet road.
I began to think about other images I've created where I photographed various scenes with little merit but they came in handy at a future date once a concept formed within my head. I was taking pictures of things I didn't see. Only until later did they turn into photographs and only after I was able to create composite scenes in Photoshop. I also realized the potential was limitless. Instead of walking around and trying to find things to photograph, all I needed to do was to search through my imagination for ideas and then create them later.
By using the world around you and the power of digital imaging and editing, you are no longer at the mercy of being limited to whatever is in front of your camera.
I reached the barn and turned around to head back home. Storms had passed through earlier and there were grandiose clouds in the sky. The setting sun made them glow in soft colors, and some were turning purple. I did not have my camera with me but that was OK, I've taken pictures of clouds like these before.
The crickets played their songs as I walked along the road and past the fields of corn. It was an interesting concept of how I saw myself always taking pictures of nothing because it somehow intrigued me but the image would prove to be a worthy scene or concept once I figured out a way to use it. I had been doing this for years but I never really thought about it much. I think the catalyst was discovering that 3D software. No longer did I have to discover a scene to photograph. All you have to do is purchase it.
It's merely a matter of having the right tools. A good camera, good photo editing software, and a good imagination. It was my imagination that discovered the 3D software. My imagination dreams up numerous ideas and concepts and it drove me to looking around and asking about software tools. I suppose it's a process of evolution in your career as a photographer. It is forbidden to alter scenes in certain types of photography, but with conceptual photography, anything goes. It's not just fantasy art either, there are many directions you can go depending on your imagination and what you think you can sell.
The old oak trees silently stare at me as I go past the seminary and the big dog voices his displeasure. The dog is big and acts tough but it's easy when he can hide behind the fence. It's close to being dark when I get back home and the fireflies have begun their evening rituals.
I think about the dog being limited by his fence, but the imagination knows no boundaries. I begin to wonder what I create next from photographs of nothing. There are no limits when creating composite images, and they can be derived from pictures of nothing.
Photo credits: Wisconsinart.
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