When i found out that we had an extra few days before we have to present our images at our Summative Assessment i knew i had once thing i must do….re-edit Coronation Blue. I remover the distracting background, lifted the blacks a little using CURVES, increased the contrast, highlights & added some depth to the blue. I much prefer the image now, Sophie in the glass takes centre stage. Below is the before and after re-edit:
I have had the first image printed A2 and it came out fine in this size, i was intrigued at how the image quality would turn out. Now that i have done a re-edit to where i am happy with the image i will also have to get a re-print done.
My Coronation Blue Project has taken a little twist and a turn, which i was honestly freaking out about because i spend so much time focusing on a specific idea the thought of changing it makes me panic but i think this is all part of a creative process. I’m beginning to understand that any piece of art doesn’t have just one ending, it can change and grow along the way and this is what has happened to my project.
As i began to put my new images together in Photoshop i instantly felt awake because my creative juices were flowing, i had that spark that this was going to work and that i could make something of it.
There isn’t lots of screenshots because my laptop is running on very limited space at the moment and every time i did one Photoshop seemed to freeze up for a few minutes so i’ve had to keep them to a minimum! (I do have a brand new 5K Imac waiting for me to use but i have only just paid for the software and still need to install it as well as all my presets etc so its is just having to sit and look pretty for now until i have a spare few hours to devote to it)
I began by choosing one of the images of Sophie from the blue dress shoot that worked well within the glass. I also had to use a separate shot of the jug pouring so that i could have it come from higher up and from the opposite side.
Once i was happy with the basic alignment of those parts i then chose an image with the stem which i altered to make it longer (Tower).
I also had to get another image of the glass top with more of the blue liquid in it so that i could blend her dress and make it look as one. The blending was done by laying one image over the other and carefully painting away areas that i did and didn’t want with a layer mask. This was quite time consuming and took almost 2 hours to get right, it was difficult to make her look like she was inside the glass, i had to make a copy layer of the glass and overlay it over the top of her dress and in tiny sections paint away what i didn’t want whilst leaving enough so that it looked like the edge of the glass.
The ink images that i had weren’t going to work like Mark Mawson’s, i hadn’t managed to capture any that looked the way i wanted them to for this dress so i had to come up with another use of the ink…. splashes.
I needed to separate the ink from the background so again i did this using a method from PHLEARN
You use the Colour Channels to choose which is the most contrasting layer, make a copy of that and turn it into a selection. You have to use Levels and paint in some areas that the selection misses but it gets quite an accurate selection doing it this way. Below i added a black background behind my ink selection to get an idea of how it would look on the black background.
Next, i played around using lots of different parts of the ink to see what worked within the glass, once that was done i needed to cute Sophie out properly from her background. The hair was especially tricky, i used the same method as cutting out the ink but there wasn’t as much contrast in colour to make the selection easy and i kept getting left smudgy bits as you can see in the image below.
In the end i just carefully hand painted those out whilst zoomed in really close.
For the next part i somehow needed to try and get her arm to wrap around the pouring ink liquid…this took lots of experimenting and trying things that didn’t end up working (which is where most editing time is spent). I ended up using her arm from another image which was wrapped around material and piecing that in over the top.
I don’t have anymore screenshots after this point, but what followed was more editing of Sophie’s arm with the liquid which i eventually settled on removing her fingers and making her arm become the liquid rather than her holding onto it which make so much more sense.
There was lots of cloning, healing stamp, curves, colour edits – hue/saturation, matching all the blues to the ink, adding contrast, clarity & sharpening etc.
Until i got to here … ( My almost finished piece, i’ve gone all Picasso with the background but it just took shape that way and i actually was quite intrigued with the play on arrangement whilst still keeping the correct light directions.
How do i feel about the change of direction?
At first i was gutted because i’ve had this vision of the dress in the river for a while now and to not be able to bring it to fruition (yet) was disheartening, but it just shows that things don’t always go as you plan them and you need to be willing to take a new route and try something else.
This might not be the Fine Art type image that i was aiming for but it just wasn’t meant to be and it had it’s own agenda and ended up being a much more commercial image, i could see this in an advert….perhaps for a new Blue Gin like Bombay Sapphire 😀
But if i didn’t have to order the print today then i think i would definitely have another attempt at the edit, just to make sure i have explored more possibilities with it.
Before i started i created this mood board with an idea of how the dress was to look and some shooting inspiration:
Mood Board Images collected from Pinterest, details at end of Blog
Using the Blue Tulle that i purchased i began to create a blue skirt by simply knotting strips of tulle around a waistband of tulle. This is where the project began in my tiny living room where me and the kids do our thing…
… it soon spilled out into the hallway as it was taking shape! I made 2 layers, one longer than the other so that i could play with the length of it once Sophie had it on. It needed to be long so that there was lots of excess material that i could composite into the river.
I used 3 rolls of tulle for the layered skirt and left myself one roll for creating the top of the dress.
I used the black backdrop because it would be a good contrast against her skin and her hair when it was lit which would make it easier in post production when she needs to be removed from the background.
This consisted of one Jinbei EF-200 LED Continuous light with a large ball diffuser. I used this set up because i plan to have a sun setting in the background so i only want her to be lit from that direction. I blocked off our windows and used a large reflector to bounce a little bit of the light back onto her face so she wasn’t in total darkness.
Nikon D750 + Sigma Art 50mm 1.4
1/200 F4 ISO 800
Roy also sat in on the shoot to record some behind the scenes for his Coronation Blue Documentary.
Shooting the ink.
Before i delved into shooting something that i haven’t done before i thought i’d have a little search through other artists work that involved ink in water.
Mark Mawson, creative photographer from London specialises in shooting inks in water and has won many awards for his images as well as having his Aqueous video projected onto the wall at Buckingham Palace for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Concert.
It felt really strange when i was looking through his portfolio and coming across his royal blue aqueous dress because that was almost exactly how i had pictured using Roy’s ink with Sophie’s dress. No surprise though, so many creative minds in this world we are constantly stumbling over our ‘original’ ideas that turn out to be not so original after all.
Today Roy and i went back to the studio where he gave me my bottle of Coronation Blue Ink to use in my creation.
Roy brought his pop up studio so we could bounce the light into the fish tank and i used my Jinbei continuous light over the top. My camera was set up on a tripod and set to Burst so i could take lots of shots continuously once the ink was dripped in.
The idea was to set up the fish tank and using the bottle dropper to drip ink into water and photograph it’s movement which i can then use to link the dress with river that i plan to put (digitally) Sophie in.
(Image By Roy Barry…. behind the scenes)
Camera Settings: 1/200s F5.6 ISO 800
These are a selection of the images that i took, at the time i was happy with them (viewing them on my camera) but once i looked at them properly on my computer i realised that i should of used a much faster shutter speed to freeze the motion and get a much sharper detailed capture. But i had no option to go back and re shoot because i only had one day left to shoot the river plus edit and get ready for print so i had to make do with what i had (as usual lol).
Today i was to find the perfect river …. sounds so easy
BUT it was sods law that unlike the past few days of cold but sunny and lovely blue sky weather that we have had today decided to be dull, foggy and with what we call in Scotland ‘Smirry Rain’ the stuff that gets you soaked even though it’s not really raining!
Unfortunately with the completion deadline looming i had no other option but to just go out and do the best i can.
So i set off on my hunt for a river, the River Dee through Erbistock isn’t far from where i live, about 1.5 mile walk so that was first on my list. I was full of cold and my throat was killing so this wasn’t an enjoyable trip and the fields i had to walk through were so muddy i felt like i was walking in treacle but i was positive it was going to be worth it as i was about to find the perfect background for my image.
After walking a mile my positivity was feeling as sloppy as the muddy field! I couldn’t find an area of the river that would suit my image and then i found a big puddle in the field which looked like it had potential so i took some shots of that in the hope that i could perhaps merge several of the images together to create what i needed.
Then i got distracted and found some interesting spots that i might revisit for future composites:
I decided to call it a day then so i walked home and couldn’t wait to take my muddy boots off and have a hot drink!
Before i turned my computer on i knew in my stomach that these images weren’t going to work but i had to give them a go anyway so i spent an hour trying to assemble something similar to my vision and it just wasn’t happening.
And my gut feeling was right….
It didn’t matter how many bits of the puzzle i tried to put together it just wasn’t working but just before me meltdown commenced after spending almost my whole day on it i remembered something i had read:
“If something isn’t working, start over. It should be easy, if it’s not easy you’re probably doing something wrong” – W. Morgan Rockhill
SO in light of Mr Rockhill’s inspiring words it was time to start over….
…. yet i only had ONE HOUR before it was time to pick the kids up and i was meant to have everything shot by then GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
The concept of Sophie in a river was not going to happen today, i had to slap myself across the face “wake up and smell the coffee Suze you’re wasting time on something that’s going to require more time that i actually have”
So i changed my mindset…..I had to modify my original plan, keep the idea of the ink pouring through Sophie’s dress and becoming one but the concept had to change. If i had been commissioned by a client to produce this piece of work then i had to create something which was another twist on the original idea so that i could deliver.
Subject – Coronation Blue Ink
CORONATION – CELEBRATION – CROWNING – TOWER
Aha… Sophie being poured into a tall tower like glass in celebration of the coronation via the blue ink! ….perfect
Problem 1: No studio, less than an hour to shoot before i pick the kids up
Resolution: Make-shift studio on my kitchen worktop using flashgun, black card as backdrop and white paper in front of flashgun as a softbox.
Matching the studio light set up:
Problem 2: No blue ink (Roy accidentally knocked it down the floorboards in the studio)
Resolution: Watered down blue toilet cleaner will have to do!
Problem 3: No tripod and no assistant to pour
Resolution: Get on with it!
The process wasn’t easy i was having to slightly squat whilst pouring toilet cleaner accurately into the glass whilst taking the photo and trying to hold the camera steady… not my most clever idea but it was desperate measures! I took some full length shots of the glass first from varying angles:
Then moved on to the tricky pouring:
This was with the flash on the left and then i moved the flash & diffuser to the right but a bit further away just to get some shots with a bit of fill light on the right side to match the light on Sophie and her dress.
I took a lot of shots….. but i have a much better feeling that this is going to work, so now i just need to make it happen in Photoshop!
I have been asked by my lovely friend and fellow student Roy Barry to be part of his Coronation Blue Project….
“I was recently lucky enough to rescue a large and unopened bottle of “Coronation Blue” Ink-a quart in size, produced 60 years ago(at least), this bottle had probably spent its’ entire existence at the back of a school or office stationery cupboard, gathering dust, just waiting to be used as the lifeblood of some young creative’s imaginative musings.
I couldn’t stand the thought of this bottle of as yet uncreated Art being thrown into a skip, so decided to build a collaborative project around it, by inviting as many Artistic friends as I could, to each take it in turns to take custodianship of the bottle and its’ contents, create something vibrant and meaningful with it, then pass it on to other like minds, so they may do the same.
My initial intention was to get all of the Art and Writing collected back here in Wales, and to have an exhibition based on the bottle’s journey and its’ meeting with creative minds, all over the world. I now realise that rather than just being the creator of the idea, I also want to create something meaningful in the project and intend to visit my fellow collaborators and photograph and interview each in turn, and ultimately intend to produce a documentary and book based on this global Art project.
I look at this bottle of beautiful indigo liquid and dare to dream of fabulous and as yet unborn works of Literature and Art, all waiting their time to be brought to life, to shine.”
– Roy Barry
I am so excited to have the chance to create something unique from this ink, what i plan to do is use the ink in one of my composites and i was inspired by Roy’s video of the ink being released into water.
The way it moves and flows is really hypnotising and instantly reminded me of a long swirling sweeping dress like the one from Cinderella.
I then came across this video from Benjamin Shine, an incredible artist from Surrey who uses different mediums to create portraits, i was blown away by how he uses tulle and an iron to make these dynamic floating images.
And after watching this is sparked another piece to my composite, i will photograph my daughter wearing a dress made out of tulle that i will make the same colour as Roy’s ink and then combine the image with the ink and water so the tulle dress has elements from the swirling ink in the water.
A very quick sketch i made on a piece of paper while i was out walking (always good to have a pocket full of receipts and to-do lists and pencils!!) as the different elements that i have discussed all started to come together and form in my mind.
She will be pulling blue tulle down from the sky and as it meets her body its wrapped around her into a dress and then the bottom of the dress will blend into the swirling of the Coronation Blue Ink in water. The background needs to be nondescript, i want the focus to be only in the centre so possibly a a flat field and sky that is all, it will be deep rich but slightly desaturated colours, even the blue will be a little desaturated but not too much so that it becomes flat.
I will be working on this in January, more to follow…..
I then created a Mock-Up Composite using these web-sourced images and a screen shot of Roy’s ink in water:
To create this:
Rather than me try to sketch it, it made more sense to assemble a mock-up composite to build a better visual as a guidance of how i need to the separate elements.