I photograph this scene (which is at the end on my street) many times throughout the year. Whilst it wasn’t a spectacular sunset, and I’m looking south in any case, the sky is nicely dramatic and I felt it woild suit to the HDR treatment. I’ve even tried the HDR three ways, Google’s auto awesome HDR*, Aftershot Pro’s new HDR & Picturenaut. They are all ok, somewhat blurry, some with noticeable halos and/or don’t quite capture the time & place.
Which is all well and good but I would rather be experimenting with what is inspiring me at the moment. I am currently fascinated with what make Fred Williams’s work so appealing. Part of this related to scale, and it is pretty impossible to convey that here on a small screen. The next two parts are more easily tackled here. I find Fred’s work really captures the colour and texture or real places in the real world. The essence of the place’s Australian-ness. Many of Fred’s works don’t have a clear horizon, they are more likely to appear abstract up close, Just squiggly ornamentation on a strongly coloured ground.
My initial idea to find the colour ground, was pretty simply just create a background layer which is simply the image blurred. There are Gaussian blurs in most photo editors but in this case I am experimenting with picasa’s soft focus filter which is like a vignette only instead of darkening the edges it puts thing progressively out of focus.
The surface calligraphy or “ornamentation” was more about how Fred made his marks. I like to think of it as he was painting or writing in a special font, one that matches the texture of the scene and more than that tells the story of the place. Even more important was that there is often and economy in what Fred has written, a good precise without having to tell the whole story. So I was looking for a way to filter the photo to find those few lines, some key things that identify the place, without having to record all the detail. I first experimented with the pencil sketch filter in picasa but it was pretty lame (see image above) so I took this through the infra red film filter and then back via inverse colour filter (image on the right). Now I’m getting both simpler and still keeping the feel of the road and trees, without a detail overkill. The final step for now, also carried out in picasa, was to create a multi-exposure collage, which simply overlays the two images. The result was a greyed out mess so I undid the inverse colour and overlayed again. This time the detail is light and the coloured ground is still toned down but still brings a strong sense of the time of day
This image looks nothing like a Fred Williams painting and not a lot like a photo of the scene. Yet it pleases me. I am staring to understand what is important. I feel I’m on my way for an interesting journey.