Creating Pictures: A Storm at Sea
While walking down a trail along the Marin shore of San Francisco bay I chanced upon a sailboat that had loosened from its mooring and was aground at low tide on the rocky waterfront. I had no immediate use for such a picture, but realizing that the photograph might come in handy for a composite image at some later point. I shot the boat from a number of different angles.
Months later I was shooting the rough seas off the coast of Marin County (at Rodeo Beach) when it occurred to me I could composite the sailboat into the seas and create a conceptual stock photo with themes such as danger, risk, challenge, and over coming obstacles. As it turned out, the sea didn’t look stormy enough, so I used the waves I had photographed to create a more impressive storm at sea. I used a darkly cloudy sky I had photographed years earlier in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I stripped out the sailboat, including all the various lines (ropes and wires) using clipping paths in Photoshop. Next I pasted the boat into the fictional storm and used a layer mask to make it look like the boat was actually in the waves. With a layer mask I was able to “paint” the hull in and out in different areas to create the illusion of some of the waves washing up against the hull.
Collecting images for future use
Recently I have created a number of stock photographs from photos that I have taken just to have on hand for future use. In one such case I set about creating a stock picture from one of a series of road photos I have taken over the years. After opening the shot in Photoshop I used Bridge to peruse through a folder of possible images I keep on hand. A brick wall picture I had shot some months earlier in a Berkeley neighborhood stood out for me. I copied and pasted the brick wall into the road picture. The process took about half-an-hour and cost me nothing. Again, a layer mask was all that was needed to reveal some of the weeds and rocks “in front” of the wall. The result was a stock photo accepted by Getty into The Image Bank brand.
The Need for Interiors
I am trying to add to my collection of interior spaces. I cringe when I think of all the office and other interiors that I have shot in over the years, and failed to take sufficient advantage of them. I make it a rule now to photograph any office space, or other interior, that I am working in for possible use in a future stock photo.
Another case of the success of having an interior space on hand can be seen in a stock photo of a woman relaxing on a commercial jet. In this case the picture I shot of an empty seat across the aisle from me on a flight back from Asia was the key. I started with that photo and used a model to pose for me in my Sausalito studio. I stripped her into the airplane seat and put a picture of a blue sky from my files into the jet’s window. The result: A stock photo which has been licensed numerous times as a Rights Managed image.
One just never knows what image is going to be right…or how it is going to be used. In yet another example an image shot of the ceiling of the Bangkok airport became a great background for a picture of a child astronaut. Turned on its side, the ceiling photo became an excellent high-tech background for a space station.
Creating a collection of composite parts is a key part of my stock strategy. When I find a place or thing that catches my eye I try to shoot a variety of angles, elevations, and lighting treatments. To create convincing composites all those little details have to be right.
By creating a library of composite parts I can make the rainy days amazingly productive!