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Archive for December, 2012

I can’t remember now how I came across Phlearn.com, although I imagine it probably had to do with Googling some kind of Photoshop technique I was having trouble with. However I found out about them, I am SO glad I did! There is no better site on the entire internet for providing photography and editing tutorials. And so many of their episodes are free! They also sell very in-depth, comprehensive Pro Tutorials for a very nominal price considering the wealth of knowledge each one contains. I myself have bought and thoroughly enjoyed several of the Pros, and I’ve been watching their frequent free episodes with pleasure. There are few times I watch an episode and don’t exclaim, “holy shit, I had no idea you could do that!” at least once.

The thing is, Phlearn teaches me things that I’m interested in learning. Let me give you an example; I’ll introduce you to them the way I came to them, with an episode on editing your photo to give it a fairy tale feel. As soon as I saw the title, I knew I was in for something very different. The internet is full of information about Photoshop, and many tutorials, yes, but few like this. No other site comes close to matching Phlearn’s inventiveness, it’s constant ability to stretch and challenge itself and its audience, while simultaneously breaking Photoshop down into understandable chunks. I’d been editing my photos, doing composites and levitation photos for a while; I was not unfamiliar with Photoshop, but I feel that my skills have improved dramatically since I’ve been watching Phlearn. I would be remiss if I failed to mention Phlearn’s founder, Aaron Nace, and how much he personally adds to the learning experience. He is friendly and silly, and immediately puts you at ease, like your good buddy is talking to you. But that ease is combined with an unmatched, nearly omniscient knowledge of Photoshop, and a gift for explaining complicated things in a way that’s easy to grasp. Phlearn would not be Phlearn without Aaron… who is also unfailingly nice every time we interact on Twitter 🙂

Want some more examples of the kind of instructions you’ll be getting with Phlearn? Here you go.  Turn day into night.   What makes a good composition: Analyzing 7 great imagesHow to create a cinemagraphCreate stars and fog in PhotoshopChanging the mood of your photo with color and textureCreate scary eyes Make Lady Gaga-esque makeup.

The list of episodes just go on and on. They run the gamut from lighting, composition and other photo basics to the surreal and fantastic. That’s why I love them; they cover absolutely everything useful and interesting about photography and Photoshop. If I ever have a question about either subject, I look to Phlearn first, and there’s usually a video ready to explain it to me.

Plearn is so endlessly inspiring to me, it’s difficult to pick out just one photo of mine and point to it as a direct result of an episode. I tend to use bits and pieces here and there, and weave them into my photos naturally as the need arises. But, here are a few I can point to where the hand of Phlearn can be seen.

Hope Of Heaven When Their Lives Ain't Lived - I replaced the original tree in the background with a different tree I'd shot, "tailored" the dress to fit Veronica better, and did a lot of color work.

Hope Of Heaven When Their Lives Ain’t Lived – I replaced the original tree in the background with a different tree I’d shot, “tailored” the dress to fit Veronica better, and did a lot of color work.

The Rending - I used color toning techniques, light theory and created lighting effects all learned from Phlearn.

The Rending – I used color toning techniques, light theory and created lighting effects all learned from Phlearn.

The Importance Of Mortality - another self portrait.  I used lighting and light painting techniques I learned through Phlearn, as well as adding in the atmospheric "dust" or faint "stars," however you want to describe them :)

The Importance Of Mortality – another self portrait. I used lighting and light painting techniques I learned through Phlearn, as well as adding in the atmospheric “dust” or faint “stars,” however you want to describe them 🙂

 

And no, I’m not getting paid in any way for this post; no one’s even asked me to write it.  I just genuinely love Phlearn.  It’s such an incredibly useful site that gives so much while asking for nothing.  Aaron Nace is committed to spreading knowledge as far and wide as possible, so that all can benefit from it.  That’s such a rare and worthy motivation.  So since other people who read my blog are also into photography, I wanted to make sure everyone knew about Phlearn, to keep the knowledge growing.  And maybe have the chance to thank Aaron and all the other people it takes to run Phlearn just a little bit for all their very hard work.  It is certainly appreciated 🙂
Don’t forget to order your 2013 calendar of my work soon if you want it for Christmas! The blank cards would make excellent stocking stuffers also 🙂
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I have always had a complicated relationship with sleep.  Even as a child, I usually dreaded bedtime and the nightmares I feared waited for me.  I remember often building a thick fort of my numerous stuffed animals, burrowing myself in the middle of them all, gaining a small feeling of protection from their fluffy bodies.

These days, of course, there are more layers to the problem.  My nightly rituals are long, complicated, highly structured affairs; multi-pronged attempts to bring on sleep including pharmaceuticals, natural remedies, special music, mental exercises, and a time schedule that must be adhered to.  And with all that, there are many, many nights when I lay in bed, exhausted, but unable to sleep.

It was on one of those frustratingly sleepless nights when my wandering mind started wishing there was someone I could pay to let me sleep; just a nice, straight-forward bribe.  And as I thought more about it, I wondered what kind of person it would be who would have the clout to send me into dreamland, and I decided she would probably have to be quite powerful, perhaps even the queen of dreamland… then my mind started imagining what such a queen would look like, and then I was quite awake.  I launched into designing the Queen, then naturally, if she is a queen, she needs subjects, so I started imagining them… and eventually I did sleep despite all the brain activity, and when I got up the next morning, I had a huge new series on my hands.

I want to do this right, and create the characters the way I see them in my head.  This is going to mean spending more time (and, dare I say it, money, little of it though I have) creating each character.  More time pouring over every detail about them; making sure I get it right.  And since my ME/CFS seems to have taken up permanent residence in my right (and dominant) arm, traveling up and down from my wrist to my shoulder and back again, setting up little camps of chronic pain as it goes, it’s likely going to take a while before we even get to see too many of the characters.  But they will be worth it.  Oh, how they will be worth it 🙂

I like my work to act a little bit as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind, and this series will do that more dramatically than anything else yet.  Much influence is being taken from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell; the kings of myth and subconscious.

Occasionally there will also be photos that simply capture the feeling of being in a dream, without necessarily introducing any new characters.  The first photo for the series that I shot was one of those; concentrating on the feeling of running, being chased but unseen predators, but having home and safety within sight.

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A Strange New World

The dress you see there is indeed that long, although the fullness was added to in post.  I created it for this series, and I made it with the skirt just absolutely as long and full as it possibly could be. I was rather hoping that either my dog or one of my neighbor’s dogs would end up in the photo, as they were all quite interested in what I was doing, but they managed to evade having a suitable photo taken of themselves 😉

Now onto my first character photo, let me introduce The Corner Keeper:

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The Corner Keeper

She is played by the very talented, and exceptionally kind, Anna Wood, an actor you might know from Mad Men, or the movie Chronicle.  Anna has the most exceptionally big and soulful blue eyes, which just draw you right in.

The Corner Keeper’s job is to hold onto memories you’re unable to face yet.  She will slowly sneak them away, away from your conscious mind, dragging them into dark and dusty corners where they will lay quietly in wait, for years if need be.  Any potential attention given to one of her memories will throw up a wall of dust, and once it’s settled, she and the memory are gone again, hiding in a new corner.  The thing about minds is that they hold an awful lot of cornersIf, however, you find yourself actually able to bear the memories again, she will gladly pass them on… not straight to you though, but into the hands of another who will help you take their weight back on.  But that will be dealt with in another photo.

And lastly… I now have greeting cards and calendars for sale!  Just in time for the holidays 🙂   If you’ve been wanting a print but are short on cash, getting a card is a great way to own a little piece of it.  The calendar features 12 of my most popular images, to add magic and myth to your home all year round 🙂

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