This exercise is about making interpretations for a creative purpose.
Choose an image that you feel is open to different creative interpretation(s) – an image with a lower dynamic range than usual will give more opportunities for varied processing.
Given all of the adjustment controls available in processing software, you should have no difficulty in finding different ways of interpreting the image, whether or not you shot in RAW. Some processing software includes pre-set treatments to give an antique look or sepia. Experiment with these, as they may give an interesting image, however, treat these as experiments only.
To complete this exercise, make three different versions of the same image, together with a written explanation of what you were trying to achieve, and an assessment of how well you think you have succeeded.
Taken from by book Photography by John Ingledew, To manipulate literally means ‘to use the hand’. Some photographers ignite our imaginations by creatively manipulating photographs in collages and photomontages. Manipulation allows the impossible to happen; objects of hugely different scales can interact, fantasies can be visualized and the tonally unexpected and ridiculous can be made to occur. In the process of manipulation, photographs are cut up and used as raw material. They can be juxtaposed, rearranged, added to, cannibalized and ‘Sampled’ in the same way that contemporary musicians now sample music. Prior to digital photography, photographs were manipulated using scalpels, scissors, glue, paint and airbrushes. Today, many photographers use the computer with processing software programmes, such as Photoshop, or Lightroom, instead of the more traditional physical tools. Photoshop has reawakened the art of photograph manipulation.
Where once viewers could see immediately that a photomontage or collage was the result of photograph manipulation, today it is impossible to tell whether an image has been radically altered in Photoshop. Computers allow images to be combined seamlessly. Although Photoshop can be a very exciting creative tool, it has brought about some developments with worrying implications for the medium of photography…. Fashion pictures in particular endeavour to hide manipulation. A mouth or eye from one picture can be added to the face from another. Bodies can be exchanged and smoothed by specialist retouchers known in the fashion industry and the ‘skin guys’, without us being any the wiser. Instead of meaning ‘to use the hand’, manipulation now means ‘to use slight of hand’.
However, for this exercise, rather than using ‘slight of hand’ in order to manipulate my photographs, I am going to ‘use the hand’ and manipulate my photographs so that you can tell they have been adjusted and altered and for them to look different to the original untouched photograph.
Hena Tayeb is a photographer based in New Jersey. She creates beautiful, abstract images. “I love to find unusual abstracts and angles allowing the ordinary to appear extraordinary. I zoom in and bring light to the details of things around me. Creating abstracts and bringing attention to textures and patterns. My husband and I, along with our two little boys love to travel enabling me to capture my adventures in bold, high contrast, dramatic photographs.” Hena Tayeb.
I found her photography after spotting her photographs up for sale on the website Etsy.
I love this photograph of the night circus. The lights are amazing and really stand out against the black night sky. I am unsure whether or not she has used processing software for this photograph, however, her own creativity has allowed her to pre-visualize how this would look as a final photograph. Her use of composition and the framing of the carousel is creative it its own right even without post processing.
Take me to Heaven is a very strong photograph. The Cathedral is very dominant in the photograph, and her composition and framing of the building itself, guides the viewers eyes towards the clouds in the sky. She makes you the viewer, feel as though you are standing at the bottom of the Cathedral, looking up towards the sky. She has clearly used processing software, which means she used her own creativity and interpretative processing in order to create this final image. She may have played around with different colour tones, black and white, sepia, vintage etc. However, she decided to choose Sepia. Choosing sepia has given this photograph a very vintage feeling. The details on the building itself are very clear and the lighting has enabled the building to stand out against the tone of the sky. I believe this could have also worked well in Black and White.
I really like this photograph Irani Sky. Her use of interpretative processing has enabled her to convert this photograph to sepia, allowing the clouds to look dramatic. With the light shining through, in my opinion, makes this photograph look very angelic.
Rather than using the sepia tone for this photograph, she has used processing software in order to make it look like a vintage postcard or an old vintage photograph. The colours are very muted and are not saturated, which gives it the vintage feel. This is a great example of how someone has used their own creativity in order to interpret how a photograph would look if the processed it a certain way.
I fell in love with her sepia image of a steam train. The use of sepia has worked very well with the subject matter. Steam trains are old, and using sepia has enabled her to create a very realistic, vintage looking image. It reminds me of an old photograph or postcard that you would find in your grandparents collection. I knew that I would be able to draw inspiration from this image, as it is similar to some of the photographs I took whilst on my steam train journey.
Taking inspiration from Hena Tayeb’s image Chug a Chug Chug, and in keeping with the train theme, I decided that my photograph of the front view of a steam train would work better if I converted it to the sepia tone.
With this image, I wanted to create a realistic, vintage photograph. I drew inspiration from Tayeb’s Chug a Chug Chug photograph, and converted it to the sepia tone. I began by cropping the image, in order to discard the piping towards the bottom of the frame, and to only focus on the front of the train. When converting an image to a sepia colour tone, the image could be either too pale or too over saturated. I wanted to create an image that was similar to Hena Tayeb’s photograph. I didn’t want an over saturated image, but at the same time, I didn’t want a pale sepia tone. I wanted the black tones to be dark, but at the same time, I wanted the sky to be bright, but not over exposed. I also wanted to keep as much detail as possible. This meant that I had to use multiple layers on this image in order to achieve the correct colouring. I think I have succeed in what I wanted to achieve.
Martin Parr is a well known British photographer who creates unusual, garish and over saturated photographs.
“Martin Parr is a chronicler of our age. In the face of the constantly growing flood of images released by the media, his photographs offer us the opportunity to see the world from his unique perspective. At first glance, his photographs seem exaggerated or even grotesque. The motifs he chooses are strange, the colours are garish and the perspectives are unusual. Parr’s term for the overwhelming power of published images is “propaganda”. He counters this propaganda with his own chosen weapons: criticism, seduction and humour. As a result, his photographs are original and entertaining, accessible and understandable. But at the same time they show us in a penetrating way how we live, how we present ourselves to others, and what we value.
Leisure, consumption and communication are the concepts that this British photographer has been researching for several decades now on his worldwide travels. In the process, he examines national characteristics and international phenomena to find out how valid they are as symbols that will help future generations to understand our cultural peculiarities. Parr enables us to see things that have seemed familiar to us in a completely new way. In this way he creates his own image of society, which allows us to combine an analysis of the visible signs of globalisation with unusual visual experiences. In his photos, Parr juxtaposes specific images with universal ones without resolving the contradictions. Individual characteristics are accepted and eccentricities are treasured.” Thomas Weski
As Thomas Weski quotes “the colours are garish and the perspectives are unusual”. I could not agree more with his statement. Martin Parr’s use of over saturated colours, helps to draw the viewers attention in. Once you are drawn in to looking at his photograph, you realise that they are of unusual and sometimes odd subjects or people. He tends to photograph situations in which people are caught unawares or situations which people don’t usually think of as a photographic moment.
His photographs remind me of growing up in the 90’s, with colour film cameras. Often enough, family members would show me photographs similar in colour tone to Parr’s, very over saturated and exposed incorrectly. Although the clothing in the 90’s was very bold and bright, therefore it could have just been the clothing.
Keeping the same train theme, I had an image in mind which I knew would work well if I drew inspiration from Parr’s work and over saturated the colours. The train in my photograph is a bright green. I took the photograph whilst the train was moving, which caused the surrounding trees to look as though they are swirling or moving. I managed to keep the train mid section in focus. I knew that if I could over saturate the colours in the image, and make them bright and bold like Martin Parr, I would end up with a really unusual and interesting photograph.
For this image, I used several layers. I sharpened the image first, in order to make sure I kept all of the detail sharp. I then enhanced the hue and saturation, which brightened the colours to make them more vivid, like Parr’s work. I had to make sure that I didn’t over saturate the image or hue, as I found that the colours began altering, the red became pink, and the green was turning blue, so I had to get the levels just right. I then enhanced the contrast to make the colours brighter and the shadows darker. I am pleased with this result. It came out exactly how I wanted it too. It is very colour saturated like Martin Parr’s photographs. It also has a similarity to some of Andy Warhol’s images.
Metin Demiralay is a photographer based in Istanbul. He creates beautiful, magical and dreamlike photographs. He uses his creativity to use post processing software in order to produce final photographs which have interesting colour tones.
When I saw his photographs, what struck me first was the warm, autumnal colour tones, similar to sepia. Similar to Martin Parr, he saturates the colours in his photographs and may indeed use blue filters or orange filters and the hue and saturation tool, in order to make the blue sky and orange wheat, stand out more. He also uses interesting compositions within his photographs. His use of colour and colour tones, help to create vintage style, dreamlike photographs, it also appears as though he uses a type of Vignetting Tool in order to produce shadows around the frame of the image, in order to add a dramatic effect to the photograph.
I really wanted to try and produce an image with similar colour tones like Demiralay. Rather than using a train as my subject matter, I decided to use a lamp on the side of the train station. The lamp was framed by the trees and plants, which was similar to how Demiralay frames his subject (Woman), in his images with the wheat.
For this image, I began by sharpening the image to make sure the detail was sharp. I then added several layers to the image, in which I added warming filters, and colours such as orange and yellow, in order to achieve the autumnal colour tones that Demiralay uses. I altered some of the hue and saturation, contrast, and lightened and darkened areas. I then added a Lomo camera effect to the image, to produce the shadowing around the edges. I am pleased with the image. I was able to produce the warm colour tones, similar to Demiralay. I would have liked to have produced the blue sky like Demiralay’s, however, I am unsure of how to do so.
I am pleased with the results of the processed images. When reading through this exercise, I had some ideas of what I wanted to produce. I found it helpful studying the photographers first, as I was able to draw inspiration from their work, which enabled me to produce the final image I wanted. I did have some difficulty, as I taught myself how to use the different tools in Photoshop. I did use my Practical Photography magazines for some tips.
John Ingledew, Photography. Laurence King Publishing, London, 2005. Manipulation, Pages 97-100.
Taken while enjoying a warm summer New Jersey night at the state fair. The lights illuminating the night sky. Hena Tayeb.
The Notre Dame Basilica, Cathedral in Old Quebec City, Canada. Hena Tayeb.
When traveling from Tehran to Shiraz in Iran, the sun was setting surrounded by these gorgeous dark dramatic clouds. Hena Tayeb.
The surprisingly arid, cactus covered terrain of Aruba. The iconic California Lighthouse in the background. Hena Tayeb.
Chug a Chug Chug, The Essex Steam Train in Connecticut. Hena Tayeb.
Think of England Book, Phaidon, 2004. Martin Parr.
England. Bristol. Car boot sale. 1995. From the series British Food 1994 – 1995. Martin Parr.
England. Ramsgate. 1996. From the series New British 1994 – 1996. Martin Parr.
Woman Sunbathing, Spain 1997. From the series Common Sense, Published by Dewi Lewis, 1999. Martin Parr.
Woman Sunbathing, From the series The Last Resort, 1986. Published by Promenade Press 1986. Martin Parr.
Set of Unknown Photographs, By Metin Demiralay.