I'm on the last leg of an online class I'm teaching and something came up during one of my critiques that I wanted to elaborate on and so I thought I would post it here instead of only in the class. It's a fun exercise and it always encourages me to play around with my pictures (in Photoshop) and to have no expectations.
I call it "Flip/Flop/Blend."
The first photo you see is of a building I shot in Salem, Oregon. I love buildings like this. But then I thought, what would happen if . . .
What if I took that original photo, made a duplicate layer in Photoshop, flipped the photo vertically, then ran through the blending modes? The square photo (the second photo in this series) shows you what it looked like (and no, I don't remember which blending mode gave me this look and it doesn't matter -- every photograph is going to be different).
What I like about this second (flipped) photo is the lovely warm blue and pinkish cream colors that show up beautifully. I also like all those rectangles. I like the feeling of mystery, because at first glance, the building looks normal. But then you look and wonder, what the . . . ? In addition, I think the square format is perfect for emphasizing all those square and rectangular forms.
But there's more. Photo three in the series shows you what the image looked like before I cropped it to a square format. I like how the street appears in the top of the frame as well as at the bottom.
Then look at the next shot for an even different look. And finally, just because I could, I made it into an orb.
This is fun stuff! Is it fine art? Well, yeah, kinda, maybe. It's different. It's interesting. And it all started with just my "Flip/Flop/Blend" playtime.
Let's go on to the next image, which is much brighter (not much sun in Salem, Oregon that day, but there was lots of sun the Boston morning I photographed the second building).
I liked the blue sky and the bold forms of the building, but didn't really like it as it was. So, once again, I duplicated the image in Photoshop, flipped it, flopped it, or rotated it, then ran through all the blending modes each time just to see what I'd get.
The three images you see below the original one are the best of the bunch I created.
What's my point in all this? Well, for me, I like to be surprised by my work. A lot of the time I come home with decent photos, but they're pretty much what I saw at the time. And I tend to ask myself, what can I do now?
So, just for the heck of it, I'll bring one of my pictures into Photoshop, make a duplicate layer, rotate or flip the layer, then run through the blending modes. A good percentage of the time nothing wonderful happens. But every so often I'm shocked and surprised and delighted.
Shocked, surprised and delighted, for me, is a wonderful way to begin my day. How about you? Have you surprised yourself with your work lately? If so, let me know -- I'd love to see what you did. ©Carol Leigh
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