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Thread: Bigger Than Life

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Bigger Than Life

    The Skull is the work of the French sculptor, Niki de Saint Phalle, when it was on display at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2006. It was shot with a Sony DSC-H1.

    I am going back through some of my previous shots to see what I can do in PP to improve them. Any C&C is most welcomed!

    Bigger Than Life

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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Nice creation.
    The image looks a little flat to me. You can try curves on it, some cropping & vignetting (to focus more on the subject)

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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Hi Sahil, thank you for the suggestions. Are you thinking of a square crop, perhaps something like this?

    Bigger Than Life

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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Looks better to me...
    What do you feel?

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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    In my opinion, you can use some dodging and burning on selective areas to give more impression of depth. The sculpture is properly exposed and crisp in sharpness. I think, what it lacks to give it the impact that it needs is the human element. If there's a man or a woman or a child interacting with the sculpture that would definitely make the shot more interesting. Just a thought, Frank.

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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Frank,

    I have to agree with Sahil - it does look a little flat. More-so, the background trees seem to be over-exposed and blur into the top of the sculpture (especially with that very hot reflection on the top right). Perhaps toning down those highlights would help. If you do crop, I would just take a little off the bottom and the left and leave the rest - I think the positioning of the sculpture in the frame is pretty good as-is, and I don't think you want to mess with that. Sorry, I can't give specific C&C help, because I'm just not that good at it.

    However, I also got to see that sculpture at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I was there in Feb 2007, and by the looks of your photos, that means only a few short months after you were there. I was back there in Feb 2009, but the sculpture had moved on... not sure where it is located now. Also there when we visited in 2007 (I think it was also gone in 2009) was the Frabel sculpture I posted here.

    I have a couple shots of the sculpture (including some from inside) I could share if you want, but I didn't want to hijack your thread, so let me know if you'd like to see them.

    - Bill

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Frank, here's a quick edit using dodging and burning, if it is OK with you.

    Bigger Than Life

    What I did is to add a new layer on top of the background layer. Filled this layer with 50% gray and then change the blending mode of this layer to OVERLAY. Using a black colored brush, I brushed on those areas where I think the shadow falls to darken them. If I want to lighten some areas, I would use a white colored brush to do that. Hope this helps.

  8. #8
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    I'm still in the process of teaching my eyes to see the artistic possibilities. <sigh> I can see the benefits of the suggestions after they are pointed out, but I feel I am learning, much too slowly for my enthusiasm!

    Sahil - that looks better, not as flat and the sculpture stands out from the background better.

    Willie - I'm having a hard time trying to figure out where to dodge and burn. I did whiten the teeth and eyes for the first post. I see what you mean about having human element involved. Perhaps I could PS some people into the image but I'm sure how that would work. Thank you for the suggestions!

    Bill, thank you for the comments. I did get other shots, including the inside, but I think this was the best composed of the bunch. Actually, there were maybe 30 pieces of Niki's work there in 2006, some of them were much taller than this one. She had a very unique art form.

    Many thanks for the C & C!

  9. #9
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Willie - I'm having a hard time trying to figure out where to dodge and burn.
    Follow the light. Burn the areas where the shadows fall (only with this image) since everything is too bright. On some images, you need to open up the shadows and do the opposite, you dodge them. The image will guide you on what to do, and of course your vision of the image why you took that shot.

  10. #10
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    I thought you were referring to using the Burn and Dodge tool. I didn't know you could do it with layer and Overlay. Neat! I'll need to carefully compare the original with your example to see the changes. If the original post was too bright, then the square crop image must be way over the top. I just ordered the Vision and Voice book that you mentioned earlier. I suspect that will help my lack of 'vision'!

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to help.

  11. #11
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I thought you were referring to using the Burn and Dodge tool. I didn't know you could do it with layer and Overlay. Neat! I'll need to carefully compare the original with your example to see the changes. If the original post was too bright, then the square crop image must be way over the top. I just ordered the Vision and Voice book that you mentioned earlier. I suspect that will help my lack of 'vision'!

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to help.
    There are about 5 basic ways to dodge and burn in Photoshop, but I tend to favor using the layer filled with 50% gray. It gives me more creative control. If I did it too much, I can just lower down the opacity of my adjustment layer and fine tune it. If I want to selectively burn some more areas without destroying or altering what I have already done, I could just add another 50% gray layer and darken some areas again.

    Regarding the book, David has about 8 - 10 vivid examples on how he edits his work in the book. His RAW image files (unedited) looks exactly just like what we can achieve using our cameras (others are actually underexposed, too ). It is his post-processing approach that makes an ordinary image captivating and full of emotions. I think that is also what lacks on my images. When I read his book, its like opening a Pandora box where your vision becomes vivid and with clarity as to how you will edit your work to coincide with your initial idea or concept of the image. I owe a lot of my post-processing skills lately with this little book. A bit expensive (about $40.00 after discount) but for me, personally, this is worth a lot with the knowledge that I have gained reading it. I hope you enjoy reading and learning from it, too.
    Last edited by jiro; 28th May 2011 at 03:13 PM.

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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    I just checked at Amazon, the book sells for $27.99 now. Much cheaper than when I bought it.

  13. #13
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    Whew! I was begining to think I had ordered the wrong book!

  14. #14
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    Re: Bigger Than Life

    For anyone interested in seeing The Skull sculpture and 59 other pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, NC has them on display in their "Creation of a New Mythology" now through October 3, 2011.

    For more information:

    http://www.bechtler.org/Collection/Niki-de-saint-phalle

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