Sunday, November 18, 2012

Video Fast Forward

Woohoo! I am so proud of myself. I have been a on wee bit of a learning curve with producing my own video tutorials and I am excited to announce that I am *FINALLY posting my first "test tutorial" for a large texture unit I am currently developing.
This test tutorial and the second test tutorial that is to follow, has been milestones for me in terms of pushing myself to learn a new complex technology rather swiftly. I am excited with the potential I see to continue learning and developing this into a great learning experience for my viewers.

Upcoming lessons in the Texture Unit will include:

  • Working with textures to create a painted look to photographs and digital art.
  • Creating an old master feel to photographic and digital artwork (a current hot trend within the digital art world). 
  • Exploring custom created color overlays and textures for various Chiaroscuro effects.
  • Using your camera to shoot for textures: including Bokeh and soft blurs.
  • Using fabrics, leaves, glass, and the likes to create textures.
  • Creating virtual textures in photoshop with no additional scanned in resources.
  • Using traditional art mediums to create textures...
                  and so much more....

My first "test" tutorial is done. This is just a really roughly hashed out test! But I am finally getting somewhere with all the hard work and late nights :)


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gellie Sandwich and Flare

I almost broke my promise of posting weekly blogs. Oops. I had a few things to write about, but I don't have a lot of time right now, and since I shared these stages of images with a fellow photographer earlier this morning, I decided just to use share them again here in this blog.
Mind you, I have been limiting the amount of freelance commercial work I accept and narrowing my focus down to just equine related commercial jobs; logos, editorial retouch/edits, etc. I will now be able to spend more time on my own work. Sadly the personal digital based work I have been creating for myself at this moment, pales in comparison to the work I do for clients within the realm of commercial art; where  "near-to perfection" as possible is the ultimate goal.
I look at my personal work and cringe and send works off to shows with a bit of remorse and embarrassment because I know, it is not my best. I know most of the stuff I have online at the moment, is not my best. I apologize for that. There are many reason I don't have a lot of work online at the moment. One of those reasons will be addressed in an upcoming blog dealing with artist contracts and what artists need to be aware of when negotiating for commercial work, especially their rights!

Today's First Commercial Retouch/Edit:
One client today wanted a purchased stock photo of theirs' enhanced with a new "red sky morning" stormy look for a company PowerPoint presentation. They also wanted it done so that the final image had the feel of being taken with lighting amplified by gels, in addition to intentional flare. This method of lighting is more often utilized in fashion and music photography.
The client had sent me examples of what they wanted-what I would label as dramatic and extreme. The new background sky photo is from my own stock.
( - this is a Pinterest folder I started to show some lighting techniques. The one image in here that is closest to what they showed me is the "nude", yes I said NUDE, in the water. However their example was even more extreme than this one. The photograph of the nude in the water was done IN CAMERA. That is not photoshopped gel lighting effects.

I always say that it is best to do everything IN CAMERA when you can. But I understand that not every photographer has the expensive lighting equipment to do such things, so sometimes it has to be fudged in photoshop, etc.

I have to also make note, for a second time today, of the certain irony there is, in fudging already enhanced/simulated lighting by computer rather than using flash/staged lighting. But it was fun!

Working time: 3 hours; give or take.

The original purchased stock
When I do assignments for lighting, I have to work first in black and white. I want to play with just the light and get a feel for it without having to think about the color. I feel this comes as a direct result from my artwork. Where most art I create starts as a black and white drawing and the color comes later.

Again, more black and white play, this time with a little light reflecting off the nose.

I start working the color and the flare in similar to how it may have reacted with the subject had it been done "in camera". Really its all a guessing game. Always study your shadows, its an embarrassing mistake if your light source is coming from a totally different direction than the shadows. I can't tell you HOW MANY amateurs make this mistake with photomanipulations. This becomes really obvious when artist has a few or more images pieced/stitched into one single composition and the light source is coming from all different areas in each image.
The flare was a little too red in the above and the gel to harsh on portions of the nose and cheekbones. I played some more with the image using omni lighting in PS. There are several variants of this "playing" and this image here was the client's favorite.

Detail of hair. If you intend on doing commercial retouching and editing, you need to make sure that you can separate every single little fly-away piece of hair and get edges of images in photomanipulations as "gentle-soft" and believeable as you can. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard photographers who do not have formal training and or enough experience in this type of work instruct people on making their edges SHARP. That is the worse thing you can do when combining images into a single piece of work. That is what gives the subjects in a work that "cutout" pieced together feeling. Also, one needs to make sure that there is no halo-ing in their work. Halo-ing is a capital offense in this line of work. Halo-ing is that aura a subject gets around its edge when the transition between the subject and its background or other elements in a photomanipulation are not precice and exact.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Contemporary Nostalgia-a Process

I am always asked about my working methods, so for this blog, I have chosen a to break a recent piece down to demonstrate how I take an idea I have bouncing around in my head and finalize it using my photography, textures, and digital hand painting techniques to create a photobased digital fine art piece.

However, before I begin, I would like to say that as both a digital artist who has worked in the commercial world as an illustrator and concept designer for the last 12 years and as a photographer, who has studied photography since 1998 in art schools ( Hartford Art School and The Maryland Institute of Art, aquiring my BFA/MAT/MFA) I am passionate about defending both as separate "art forms". I will label all my works accordingly, so as not to take away from either field, nor contribute in anyway to the mass of confusion that exists between those two "worlds."

In my opinion, "Fine Art Photography" should be, photography that is created utilizing methods that mirror what we have been able to do in the darkroom and outside of the darkroom during the film days. The reason being is that the digital arts have been, for the last 20 or so years incorporating elements of the photographic picture within various processes used by digital artists. These techniques have been firmly established as digital art techniques and are recognized as such in the commercial/editorial realm and now within the "fine art world"(as slow as this later recognition has been among the upper echelons of the fine art world, who on the broad spectrum still view digital art with an err of caution and a touch of hokem.)

The fact that we have photographers utilizing extreme techniques that are conventionally used in the commercial/editorial world labeling their work as fine art photography, is adding to the confusion of what digital art is and what fine art photography is. Having said all this, those of us who have been trained in the digital arts world, can instantly recognize a doctored photo. Especially those photographers labeling their work as SOOC or done with "minimal" processing. We know who you are!

Nothing gets me so heated as seeing someone using their Photoshop skills to create a photo manipulated image and passing it off as a SOOC image to the general "gullible" public. Or using digital extremes to elevate a photo into the world of "digital art" but labeling it as "fine art photography."  I also have a major issue with a digital painter using a photo as a base and smudging the crap out of it, doing this doesn't make it a "DIGITAL PAINTING". That is still a photo based digital art piece. A true digital painting is, from start to finish, an image that begins as sketch, as in the traditional form, and is then painted digitally.

There are many shows and galleries now, requesting to see the digital working files and the references used  before accepting images, whether they be digital art or photographic art. Which is WONDERFUL news to me, as I do not want to see either art form lost to each other.

There will be new technology on the market that embeds, like a digital thumbprint, a strand of hexidecimal code into photographic and digital works that will in a sense, store all the information of that image. Meaning any digital art creations, will carry the code of ALL pieces of photography, web found images, and copyrighted images, etc within it! I am waiting patiently for this creation to come to fruition as such technology will greatly help in copyright issues.

The image that I am demonstrating with here, is what I would personally label as Photo based Digital Fine Art and not Fine Art Photography due to the amont of digital processing I used to create it.I created this one quickly, so I don't consider it to be at its best where technical skill is concerned. I created this for this blog.

The image above, is the main piece I am using for the final photo based digital art piece. My computers are custom built with the best processors I can have (or afford at this point and time in my career), as the only way to truly create print ready digital fine art, is to work as LARGE as possible, scaling and reduction apply to digital art just as it would with illustration and art created by traditional media. If I am creating a piece of work for a 10x10 print size, I generally work with 20"x20" at a MINIMUM of 300dpi, sometimes higher and sometimes larger. The final digital image resulting here, will be 80"x80", roughly over 6.5 feet, because I want the print to be 3.5' by 3.5'!

I use Wacom Tablets (Cintiq and Intuous), for final editing and proofing, I use a HDMI cord attached to my large screen TV to go over my image wtih a fine tooth comb. I just have to make sure the color calibration of that screen is similar to  what my computers are set at.  The large screen TV works nice and to be honest, I don't want to shell out 10k or more for a computer monitor that size, I am not a large scale commercial studio, so I have no need for that equipment, but if anyone wants to give me one, I will gladly accept it! On a side note, some of James Cameron's computer screens for the creation of  Avatar cost in excess of 400k.
People with limited processing capabilities may work at the 3.5'x3.5' size at 300dpi or more and hope for the best. Or they may work as large as they can at 72dpi 110"x110" or larger. But I have generally found that the larger I work both in DPI and actually image size, the better, tighter, cleaner, the final image is when reduced down to the actual print size.
I also want to note, I DO NOT ADVOCATE the usage of ANY commercial print company for the creation of true giclee prints etc, (as in meets the standard for archival and collectible insurance requirements). I use FAA to offer general customers an affordable option to true Giclee prints while offering published prints directly from my studio or if the job is too large, from my favorite fine art printer to the collectors who want a piece that can be registered, insured and handed down for generations. If you are wondering why the upper echelon collectors of the art world don't waste their time on FAA, Cafepress, Zazzle, etc, it is due entirely to the print quality etc. You can look for a blog about how to print true giclees and will be listing some wonderful fine art printers that I recommend for their quality of published prints in the future!
will be using the foreground of this image
will be using the background area of this image
merged backgrounds but not blended...see the line across the bottom
playing with color balance, shadow, of the subject image
still playing and tweaking

starting to blend the the two background images together
still blending and playing with colors and levels in the photo
I moved the subject image to the created background and decide I didn't like the background

I have taken out the distant portion of the background
I added more foreground to play with depth of field

I decided to add hounds from another image I had, what's a Master Hunter without a few of his hounds?

Added more to the sky with cloning and digital hand painting. Also decided to make the sky more "moody".
Tweaked the sky a little more with blue and the photomanipulation part is "done".

Prepping the final photomanipulation to get it ready for the digital art processing with textures and such. Basically playing with color, sharpness, shadow/highlight, grain, etc.

I am playing with four textures on top of this image after placing an ochre overlay set at 45%

I ran my dream blur action over the piece and applied three more textures to give it a vintage look and tone down the piece. This step is done to personal taste level as some may like the look of the above piece better, especially if they like saturated colors and a sharper look.

Slightly more tweaking of color which you may or may not be able to tell on your screen at this size, watermarked and done! Well, done for now. So in short, this was a rather "quick" example of a photo based digital art piece, which I entitled Contemporary Nostalgia. Centuries old sport and a Master Hunter Checking his Iphone :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pseudonym, Digital Art,Projects & Then Some...

Yes, the autumn winds bring great change. As many people know, I have come to a point in my creative career where I can shift gears and focus more on doing the stuff I love doing, horses, photography, digital, and traditional work. I have spent the last year steadily rebuilding my portfolio to showcase the direction I am going with my work.

I am no longer, as of 2013, doing commercial work outside of the equine industry, that is to say, I will not be doing gaming and concept design and illustration work that is focused in that genre. Since returning to my photography and fine art endeavors full time and finding a demand for my work, both in the traditional and digital mediums, I have taken a leap of faith to pursue what I love; anything that involves creativity and horses, animals, and fantasy, whether it be by camera, paintbrush, or computer.

I can now focus on creating consitent bodies of artwork in the areas I enjoy that are entirely of my own point of view (from my heart), and not what I am told to do by an art director, etc. My personal fantasy work is an area I am expanding upon and will be licensing usage permissions within the commercial market. But I am in control of the images and what I am creating and who gets to use them.

Many people know that I have been quietly and consistently creating photo based mixed media/digital art for my collectors for the last 10-12 years. But due to a "conflict of interest" circumstance with a previous job, I haven't gone out of my way in openly advertising such works or my illustration and have been working under a pseudonym since 2002.

I am now free to work as I wish, but I am keeping my "art" name as that is the name most people, clients, customers know me by, and I like it. In all actuality, it isn't that far off from my real name anyways. My first name is Lyndsey, however I use my middle, namesake, as my last name. There is a rather long winded story behind this and I really don't feel like writing it all out. If you ever meet me in person, we can talk!

Now that I have come out of "hiding" I am starting to show my work more in the "fine" art world and equine art world. I have done a lot of shows within the digital art world and this is due partly because digital art still gets overwhelmingly snubbed by the "fine art" or as some say, "high" art world. One of my personal goals is to assist in elevating digital art into the "higher" realm. I want people to realize that it is legitimate, it is in fact an art form and a medium, and I want them to see how versatile a medium digital art (on a whole) truly is.

People who see my digital based work in person, and not just online, are blown away way with it. They cannot believe that my pieces have their roots in digital media. Which, as an illustrator on the commercial market, always blows me away, because what I am doing has been done in this realm of art since the advent of photoshop. These techniques are now suddenly hitting the photography world and people are going stir crazy with it.

I have to laugh at this phenomenon, as its old news to me. Using textures in photography is as old as the art of photography itself and isn't something that is "new" to the practice since the digital age entered the picture. Processing images isn't just a digital thing either, some of us who studied in the "film" age remember spending hours upon hours, dodging, burning, piecing, blocking, playing with multiple exposures etc to get many of the same results photographers are getting with Photoshop. Its just a hell of a lot easier now! Its rather unfortunate to realise there are a lot of people in the industry who do not have the historical knowledge of photography, and don't realize that A LOT of what they are doing digitally can in fact be done in camera or outside of the computer.

Enough on that rant, I am really writing to let you know that this blog is in the process of being merged with the Glass Eyed Pony Photography blog. I have decided it is going to be a lot easier for me just to maintain one studio blog, and since GEPP is essentially a subsidiary of SHS, it makes it easier for me and less time consuming to maintain one official blog.

That's it for now!

Current projects I am working on:

*Finishing the last Spookie Shoot Sessions that got pushed around due to Sandy.
*Two upcoming Faerie"Tails" sessions that I can't wait to get started on.
*New Logo for Windsor Farm
*A handful of commissions
*Processing Images of the Goshen Opening Hunt (my personal portfolio work)
*Model Shoots
*Working on the online shop
*Shooting artist reference stock
*And adding the final editing touches on the first Tutorial video