Jeff's Blog - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - Making an Abstract From the Woods

First, the final result...

    
The woods of Stony Creek Metropark, in Washington, Michigan

and now, the story...

I walked through the woods today after a long absence. Late September ought to feature bright red and yellow colors in the leaves around here, but the extreme heat we've suffered for the last couple weeks seems to have stifled the colors for now, so I captured this simple angled shot of the woods, hoping that the diagonal lines might create some interest to make up for the lack of autumn colors. The photo below shows the raw file, straight out of the camera. The real scene looked brighter and slightly more colorful, but this is usually the case with a raw file before post-processing. (A raw file records the photograph directly from the camera's sensor, bypassing the normal in-camera enhancements which produce the more pleasing finished photo. Many photographers prefer to do that enhancement themselves using software on their PC rather than giving up artistic control to their camera.)

    
The woods of Stony Creek Metropark, in Washington, Michigan

When I returned home I post-processed the photo to make the most that I could out of it. I warmed up the colors of the leaves on the trees and exhaggerated the reds in the fallen leaves to come up with this "improved" version of that photo. Basically I was forcing in the colors that I wanted to see, way beyond realism, since the actual colors were so much more muted and the angled composition idea didn't really make up for it. Then I sharpened the photo slightly and added a subtle vignette. I suspected all of this work was just slapping lipstick on a pig, but at the end I thought this was actually an "OK" photo after all.

    
The woods of Stony Creek Metropark, in Washington, Michigan

Since submissions for my camera club's meeting that night included the category named "Color Creative", which demands creative processing of photos, it occurred to me that if I overlayed a horizontally-reversed copy of this photo onto itself, I might end up with something interesting. I edited the photo in Photoshop where I duplicated the layer, flipped the duplicate layer horizontally, and tried out all of the blending modes which tell Photoshop how to blend the images together. "Difference" and "Lighten" produced cool results, but "Darken Color" turned out best of all and that's my final result posted below and at the top of the page. I also needed to boost brightness and contrast after blending the layers since the blending darkened the image substantially.

    
The woods of Stony Creek Metropark, in Washington, Michigan

I like the way the ground turned into a bit of a pathway, the vignette became exhaggerated, the expected symmetry of the patterns, and the surprising objects our minds can find in an abstract pattern like this, such as the large spider at bottom-center, and the several people and faces I can make out near the middle. What do you think?

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