I became interested in a course, Photoshop Artistry, Fine Art Grunge Composition by Sebastian Michaels.

Highpark Spring comp 0709
This is a composite of four different photos and one specialty brush. These were all taken at High Park with the intention of creating a composite out of them.

I first learned of this course via Lightstalking where I was a regular attendee, sharing in posts and photos for critiques. I saw some of the members displaying their work after starting the course and they would talk about it. I watched some demo videos with some free downloads of textures and such at Photoshop Artistry Tutorial. I looked further into the course and looked up some of the students’ work and was blown away by the photos. I decided not only did I want to take this course, but I was and did make it one of my goals to accomplish this year. I just had to wait for it to go on deep sale.

So, being the type of person I am, I not only enrolled in his photo artistry course, I looked towards the future and joined Sebastian Michaels’ Creative Black & White Photo Artistry  course as my next lessons! Well, I am only into it about two weeks and I have already been shown some of the power of Photoshop and what can be accomplished with it. My first assignment: Take a section of this and a section of that, then add two of your own photos, better if one is landscape and then add this and add that. Are you kidding me? Yes, this is photo artistry, otherwise known as making composites, or as a verb, compositing, which is not to be confused with composting! But it is much the same. Throw a bunch of things together, throw some soil on top and mix it all up. You never quite know what you’re going to get, possibly just mulch!

So far, I have done a few composites and I do find them difficult. You see, in traditional photography, you have the photo already, the finished product. What you have to decide is the mood and presentation. Crop styles, textures, aged or vintage, or saturated and modern? You are essentially enhancing what is already there. Easy peasy! But in compositing, you take a few photos, backgrounds and such, and start building what is to become your finished product. For me this is like trying to bake something, throwing flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl without measuring, and then mixing it up without knowing what you are actually baking. The end product is unknown. Some elements look cool when you add them. Other’s…not. So, that has been very challenging not being able to depict the end product before I get there. It’s almost like happenstance, or by mistake. Mind you sticky notes where a mistake and look how they’ve revolutionized our society. All my to do lists are attached to my computer via sticky notes!

So for now, I am out collecting as many photos of interesting things as I can find. People, glasses, clocks, written papers, rust …. you name it, I need a photograph. Oh, and I must’n forget cut flowers, just cause, I seem to really be into taking photos of them!  And into Photoshop I go. I have learned so much about the power of Photoshop and what can be accomplished with it. Of course, it’s not very user friendly or intuitive. It feels like driving on the left side of the road – awkward. I was always drawn to the ease of the plug-in programs, Nik, OnOne and Topaz because they make the process of editing so easy. But I can now see their limitations. I am slowly remembering the short cuts of Photoshop and learning how to apply filters and masks and to brush in and out effects.

I have been told by others that once you get used to compositing, you actually start to direct the creative process, having a bit of a picture of where you want to take something or the mood you want to apply. But, I’ve been told, it takes practice. So, practice I am doing, although there is just not enough time in the day. In the meantime, if you want to see any of the students work of this course, Sebastian Michaels publishes a newsletter a few times a year to showcase the exceptional work of some students, Living the Photo Artistic Life. I have an album on my phone called “Inspiration” which contains some of the students work that just wowed me. I look at it during times of frustration when I create something and just think “That looks like crap….”

Then of course, there’s still about three months left of the course ….

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