Contemporary Nature Photography - Venetian Blind Images
By Dr. Robert Berdan
May 7, 2012
Tundra Swans in an Ice Cave - in this photo only the tundra swans were extracted and placed on a separate layer above.
I have been thinking a lot about ways to creatively enhance or modify photographs in some new way and its harder than you think. When is the last time you saw a photograph presented in some new or different manner? Nature photographers tend to be conservative and most want to stick with a documentary approach. To some even the mention of using Photoshop or other editing program is taboo. The truth is that every image a photographer takes is manipulated in some way however small and the camera does not see the same way the human eye does. The choice of lens, use of filters, exposure time, camera settings such as sRGB, Adobe RGB, color mode etc all modify the final image in some manner. Film was no better, each brand had its own color palette and characteristic graininess. Even our choice of lens and focal length modifies the view before us. If the intention of the photographer is to document an animal, scene or person then by all means photographers should try to minimize any kind of manipulation. However, if the intent is to create art or interpret nature then I believe a photographer\artists can apply any and all means they see fit to fulfill their vision. Not every photographer will agree with me and its OK to disagree. Some photographers don't believe photography is art, again I would disagree but that's a topic I will deal with in another article in the future.
White tailed-deer and Rocky Mountain Foothills
I enjoy experimenting and trying new techniques and tools in photography. When Michael Orton created his impressionistic style of photographs by sandwiching two slides together where one image was overexposed 1 F-stop and out of focus and another image 2 F-stops overexposed and sharp - the slide sandwich resulted in an impressionistic looking image (see my article on Impressionistic Images and the article by Michael Orton). Other photographers attach Lens Babies to the front of their camera lenses to distort the images, others jump up and down or move their camera during exposure and some photographers resort to using a Pin hole to take pictures. The goal is to modify or interpret the image or scene in some creative manner.
Adobe Photoshop permits so many ways to manipulate an image that its staggering, however coming up with some new way to manipulate an image isn't easy. The images in this short article are the result of experimentation inspired by an image I saw in the Book "the Art of Close-Up Photography by Joseph Meehan page 86) and it got me thinking what nature photographs might look like if I combined them in strips. Would this cause a viewer to focus on one plane then switch to the other or would viewers see both images simultaneously;y? These photos are the result of some of my experiments. The procedure is relatively simple to implement and is is described below.
Prairie Crocus in snow and Pond with fresh snowfall
Rainforest and Ice Cave
Creating Venetian Blind Photos
1. Select and image an open it in Adobe Photoshop. Turn rulers on View>Rulers
2. Create a series of vertical guide lines by clicking and dragging lines from the rulers , keep the mouse clicked and drag a series of vertical guidelines over the image. I created a series of lines 1 inch in width.
3. Double click on the background layer so its transformed into a normal layer.
4. Select the rectangular selection box and draw a rectangle to select the first compartment created by the guidelines, then hit the Delete key to remove a section of the image. Repeat these steps but alternate each segment so the image looks like that below.
Image above with alternating slices deleted - the blue lines are the guide lines.
5. Open another image and make sure it is the same size and dimensions of the image you just sliced. Drag the sliced image overtop of the new image and align it. In the bottom of the layers palette from the Fx menu>Select Drop Shadow. The shadow adds a sense of depth to the image. Flatten the layers and save the image and you have a Venetian blind photo.
Image of a rattle snake mixed with landscape from Killarney National Park, Ontario.
I find that if both images used have complimentary colors such as warm and cool tones the effect seems to be more agreeable. I am not sure how these "altered" images will be received, but ask yourself when is the last time you did something different in photography? I admit different doe not mean good in fact I am not sure I like the effect, but what the hell it was fun to try even if the images are a bit disconcerting.. If you think these pictures are strange do a search on Google for Contemporary photography or visit some of the links below. I believe it's good to be open minded and one of our greatest gifts is our imagination.
Wolf and Moose
Contemporary - existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time. When contemporary is used in reference to something in the past, its meaning is not always clear. But as is the case with modern paintings, contemporary usually refers to abstract, experimental or unusual work and in this respect I believe the photos above fit the definition as contemporary. Truth is I don't know if anyone else has tried this effect before with images of nature, but my intention is to continue to explore new photographic ideas and present them on this web site. RB