Deconstructing An Image

October 31, 2013 § 4 Comments

"Bagel & Apples"

“Bagel & Apples”

"Transformer & Birds"

“Transformer & Birds”

I mentioned in the past that the two photographers whose work had the most impact in my life were Pete Turner and Phil Marco.  Pete Turner was known for an almost surreal look usually incorporating vibrant colors.  It was like he was doing Photoshop before there was a Photoshop.  After one look at his images, I knew I wanted to be a professional photographer.  I decided to go to school and study photography.  Fortunately, Cleveland had a fantastic art school…The Cooper School of Art, and they had a tremendous commercial photography program.  Unfortunately for me, or so I thought at the time, the course was all about studio work…big view cameras, studio lighting, nothing that Pete Turner did!  It was at this time that I was introduced to the work of Phil Marco.  My teacher, Andy Russetti, a fantastic photographer in his own right, had the same style and even the same rep as Phil Marco.  Soon, I became fascinated with still life photography using soft studio lighting.  Soon, I was shooting Phil Marco style still life stuff in the studio, and Pete Turner stuff outside…talk about a scitzofrenic photographer!!  Anyhow, I still do both, hopefully not confusing art directors too much.  So here I am today with a couple of images that I did within the last month.  A softly lit still life of a bagel and apples,  and a power transformer with birds flying around.  Let me “deconstruct” each one with words and some behind the scenes and/or before and after images.  First the Bagel and apples.  Pretty simple…start with very soft moody lighting, increase the texture, and play with the brightness.  For the texture, I used the Topaz Adjust filter to dial in the texture…just played around until I liked what I saw.  No set formulas…if I did the same shot tomorrow, I might decide to increase or decrease the texture.  Then, I used levels to darken the whole image, and then painted out the effect on the bagel, apple butter, and knife using a mask.  I liked it, but decided to now use levels to to brighten everything, but again using a mask I reversed it and painted the bright areas only on the bagel, apple butter, and knife.  The final result was getting the bagel, apple butter, and knife to separate from the background while only using one light on set.

"Bagel & Apples Right out of Camera"

“Bagel & Apples Right out of Camera”

"Bagel & Apples Step 1"

“Bagel & Apples Step 1”

"Lighting The Set"

“Lighting The Set”

"Bagel & Apples Final...One More Time"

“Bagel & Apples Final…One More Time”

Now let’s go outside!  I was walking around a local park, when I saw this transformer off in the distance.  I liked the simplicity of the shot, but I also thought it could be the start of something more intricate.  While I was shooting, a couple walked by and mentioned all the turkey buzzards flying way off in the distance.  I shot a few of them for my files.  I went home and figured I could add the buzzards around the transformer.  When they actually flew away from me and toward the transformer, they were like specks.  I selected the buzzards from the various shots and placed them in various relationships to the transformer.  It looked pretty cool, but I wondered what a more dramatic colorful sky would look like…that Pete Turner influence took hold again!  I added the sky, but changed the tones a bit.  Hope you like the final result!



"Bird #1"

“Bird #1”

"Birds 2 & 3"

“Birds 2 & 3”

"Birds 4 & 5"

“Birds 4 & 5”

"Bird # 6"

“Bird # 6”

"Bird #7"

“Bird #7”

"The Last Effing Bird...I Promise"

“The Last Effing Bird…I Promise”

"Transformer and Birds...Step 1"

“Transformer and Birds…Step 1”

"Dramatic Sky"

“Dramatic Sky”

"Transformer & Birds Final...One More Time"

“Transformer & Birds Final…One More Time”


















§ 4 Responses to Deconstructing An Image

  • says:

    Hi! I nominated you for the Semper Fidelis Award! 🙂
    Please get the badge at and get more info.
    Happy Friendship Day! 😉

    • ideafill, thanks! Having you like what I do is award enough! Happy Friendship Day to you too…I had never heard of this, but it sounds like we should have a “Friendship Day” at least once a week!

  • Gazda Cluj says:

    Pensiuni Craiova

    This is the right webpage for anybody who wishes to
    find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost
    tough to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa).
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    • Is it Gazda, or Pensiuni? Thanks for that great recommendation! I try to keep things simple. I know how “lost” I felt in the past when I tried to learn things from someone who knew a lot, but couldn’t express it simply. My favorite sports writer in my local paper(who wound up in the Baseball Hall of Fame’s journalist section) used to say he wrote as if he was talking to one person sitting across from him having a cup of coffee.

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