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About two weeks ago, I posted a photo album on my personal Facebook page which was a series of “photographic images” that carried an illusion of being “Paintings” instead. I also posted the same set of images on my 500px.com account. The post was immediately followed by comments and emails, primarily seeking to have an insight into the technique with which these “painterly” fine art images were created. Being the nice guy I am ; ) (ahem ahem), I promised that I would share the technique through a post on Shuttermania Blog soon…
So here I am, preparing to divulge a secret ritual, known only to an elite few, practiced by even fewer!! ; )) OK… kidding aside… lets get moving and discuss our subject for this post… “Paintings Of Another Kind”.
Now it just so happens that I have had the opportunity to use at least three photographic techniques (if not more), with which I have created photographic fine art images which can closely simulate various kinds of painted effects. In view of this, I decided to break up this subject by specific technique. For this particular post today, I would be discussing and concentrating on the method more commonly referred to as Double Exposure, Multiple Exposure, or Exposure Composite.
Lets take a quick look at what we are talking about. I am sharing here, one of the images that I had posted on my Facebook album….
Now it may appear to be a painting or artwork created from within Photoshop or Adobe Painter, but trust me, this is an actual photographic double exposure composite and the amount of work done on this image under Photoshop did not include any usage of any kind of Photoshop brushes or such tools… the fact is that this image stayed within Photoshop for approximately three minutes… or perhaps less. You would soon find out as we proceed.
Lets quickly talk about Double Exposure or Multiple Exposure for a moment. Now many of you who may have handled film cameras might already know what a Double Exposure is. However for those many others who never used a traditional film camera, or who may have used it but are not conversant with the Double Exposure technique, a Double Exposure or Multiple Exposure is the superimposition of two or more images on a single frame of photographic film. Unlike its normal usage, where a new frame is advanced and placed behind the shutter place upon cranking the film advance lever, on a Double Exposure, an already exposed frame is held back and retained in its position and re-exposed to another shot, of either the same subject, or an entirely different composition. The image thus composed, turns out to be the result of exposing the same film frame twice, and the end results can be extremely dramatic, surreal and in some cases, literally out of this world. Lets take a look at the below example image to understand what a Double Exposure is.
This Double Exposure technique has been in use for ages. It has been used by most of the serious photographers sometime during their photographic lives, either for fun’s sake, or to appropriately create a piece of fine art.
This art of Double Exposure almost died with the invention of digital cameras and the reduction and to some degree, a demise, of the use of film based camera equipment. However thanks to a few digital camera offerings by Nikon and perhaps one or two by Pentax, the art of Double Exposure was given another lease of life.
However, in its currently maintained form with digital cameras, an in-camera Double Exposure is not a Double Exposure in reality, but is instead a Photo Composite, which is in fact a totally different technique, where a single frame is not exposed twice to from an image. Instead, two separately exposed frames are “Sandwiched” together to from a single image. For those camera’s which have this feature built in, one can actually take between two to nine, and in some cases, up to eleven images as multiple exposures, of the same or different subjects, and the in-camera “Software” merges these images together to form a Double / Multiple Exposure Photo Composite.
However, for a very large majority of camera owners, whose camera equipment does not offer the option of in-camera multiple exposure compositing, an almost identical option of photo compositing is available in post processing software of the likes of Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, the open source photo editing software GIMP and similar others on a PC based system and yet many other photo editing programs for those who use Mac based systems.
Why would the above details be relevant to the creation of these Paintings? you may ask. Well, primarily for three reasons. One, I wanted to share with you the details of the Double Exposure concept, and a brief insight into how it was originally done….. Two, amongst many photography newbies and enthusiasts, those with Nikon and Pentax cameras should refer back to their camera manuals to see if the “Multiple Exposure” option is available on their cameras, and if so, they are at least equipped with a camera which is capable of creating these type of Painterly images, in-camera, without a significant need for post processing their images in an external software……. and Three, last but not the least, all the others, myself included, whose cameras are not equipped with a “Double Exposure” feature, all they have to do is to take Two Images, “appropriate” for the creation of this kind of a Painterly image, and make a composite of these images from within their favorite photo editing software.
However, when I say ”Two Images, appropriate for the creation of this kind of a Painterly image” there is one key factor, and that would be CREATIVITY. Without the creative aspects in the making and selection of your two images to be composited, your final resulting image would not turn out to be what you may have imagined….. so… let your imagination go wild and see what you can creative.
Now, wasn’t this supposed to be a TUTORIAL??? ; )) Well guys and gals… I would certainly not part ways without sharing the promised technique which can allow you to creates these Paintings Of Another Kind. It is much easier than you may have expected it to be… so sit back and go through the exact how to of creating these photographic images with a Painterly effect using Double Exposure Composites.
In order to create the desired Painted image through the use of Double Exposure Compositing, you need at least two images. One would be the image of your Primary subject, which you intend to render as a painted output. This can be any subject, which could be rendered as a painted image. A second image would be required to be use as an “Etching” image. The “Etching” image is the “Secret Ingredient” in this recipe. This would ideally be a texture, which after being “Sandwiched” with the Primary image, would “Etch” its texture into the primary, thus creating the desired effect and finish.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use the same primary image which was used in the creation of the first photograph of the flower shared above at opening of this post. Lets have a look at this primary image…
Now let us take a look at a few possible images which we can use as contenders for the “Etching” texture. Just to retain some suspense, I am deliberately not using, as yet, the exact Etching Texture that I used on my Paintings. ; )) However for the purposes of this tutorial and in order to get your creative juices flowing, I would share 3 possible etching textures here…
As you may have recognized already, the first one is an image captured of a wooden surface. The second one is a deliberately blurred image of the sun setting as seen through palm trees. The third one is the image of a stone slab. We will shortly see how these textures “Etch” into our primary image, however, for the tutorial, we will use the image of the wood grain surface as our etching texture.
Once you have captured or selected your Primary Image and your Etching Texture image, its time to quickly bring these up into your favorite photo editing software. For this tutorial, I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS5, and I would move forward with the rest of the tutorial, sharing screenshots and a brief description, with the presumption that the reader knows how to use Photoshop or an editing program similar to it. If anyone amongst my readers do not know how to use a photo editing program, you simply run a search on Google and there are tons of written and video tutorials which would take you through and make you an expert in using your desired photo editing software.
Let us open the primary image into Photoshop…..
Next, open the Etching Texture image. You would now have two files open within photoshop.
With the etching texture image on your screen, press CTRL-“A”. This would select the entire etching texture image. Press CTRL-“C” to copy the etching texture.
From the open file tabs, select the tab of your “Primary Subject” file, and once the image is visible on your screen, press CTRL-“V”. This will paste the copied etching texture image onto the Primary image as a New Layer. Now you would have two layers within this file, one showing Your Primary image as your “Background” layer, and the etching texture image as the new layer, shown in this illustration as Layer 1.
At this point, from within the Layers adjustment box, you have the option to select and adjust the Opacity of each of your layer and create your final desired image. However a quicker way is to select one of the preset Layers merging options available with the Layers adjustment box. From the dropdown menu (ironically a “drop-up” in this illustration), you would be presented with several merging options. However, I have found that for the purposes of creating our desired painterly effect, there are three merging modes with works the best… the rest of them are not really of any good use for our immediate purpose. These options are “Multiply”, “Overlay” and “Soft Light”. For this tutorial, I used Overlay mode. You can choose any of these, depending on the end result you are trying to achieve. Since the selection and the resulting merger is not permanent, you can select and test the outcome… and if you do not like it, you can change it or revert back to the Opacity option to adjust each layer opacity manually.
Once you have reached this point, you are pretty much done with what you were trying to achieve…. a work which practically got completed in less than 2 minutes in reality. If however, you feel the need to add/reduce the overall looks of the image at this point, you can move to the next step……
You can do some final dogging / burning at this stage… meaning, you can add or reduce brightness, contrast, or amend your levels to adjust the overall depth, highlights and shadows within your image. Remember, whatever changes you are trying to do, are actually taking place on the “Selected” layer, so if it is the Etching texture layer which is selected, the image would get affected in a different way, and if your selection is your primary subject layer, the changes would create a different effect. Give it a try and you would explore and see different results with slightly different adjustments. I personally prefer to hold back the urge to minipulate the image any further, since once you start doing that, you enter the realm of doing more photo-shopping than just the compositing for which we were using the Photoshop software.
From the above process, once I was done with the Primary Subject and Etching Image compositing, the final results turned out to be as below:
So, how the other two Etching Images would have looked had it being used instead of the wood grain image? Let me show you the results of the sunset etching image and the stone etching image, when used with the same flower image as my Primary subject……
I also used two other textures… well, just for the heck of it ; ))
So, which were the images that I prepared to simulate “Painted” images? I will share a few here, and you can see the rest on my Flickr Set. Just follow the Flickr link on the right…..
That is all for now folks….. hope you enjoyed the tutorial and I am sure you would be able to create Paintings with Double Exposure Composites similar to or much better than the images shared here. Just remember, CREATIVE selection of your Primary Image and your Etching image is the KEY…. Your selection of the “Etching Image” is the secret ingredient in your Painterly recipe.
…. and talking of the Etching Image …… No, I have not forgotten….. let me share the main etching image, which was used with slight variations within each of the above “Paintings Of Another Kind”!!
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