Fine art photography by Craig Boehman. Let's talk photo compositing.
The Day Clones Fell From Sky
Fine art compositing has been my primary focus since lockdown in India began in mid-March 2020. I'd only dabbled with it up till then, having taken only simple images and mixing them together.
A popular example of photo compositing would be a picture of woman's face morphed in with a forest, a sky, or waterfall. Another popular one would be the levitation image, where the subject would initially lay down over a chair or stool and pose in such a way as to look like he or she is floating or falling. The photographer would then remove the support piece in Photoshop and add other elements to create the final image. The results can be quite impressive and even inspiring.
For me, the highest form of composite photography reaches into the conceptual. Because it's by far more difficult to pull off simply because creating something that's beautiful or cool isn't the end game. Not to say there's not a lot of planning and work involved in creating strictly aesthetic pieces; there always is, if done effectively. But the concept forces the photographer to work for it. The ideas behind the piece require looking at old work for sourcing imagery (especially if you're living through a lockdown phase in Covid-19 2020 times) or creating new work, which requires the kind of planning one might expect from a commercial shoot.
The thing is about compositing, if you don't document the production you'll likely forget the details over time. I look back at some of my past efforts over the course of the last eight weeks and I can't for the life of me remember how I pulled off a few of my shots. Which is why I'm going to break down The Day Clones Fell From Sky, as it was conceived, right down to the final edit. I literally just completed it last night!
Here's the main background image. I shot this from a bridge in Berlin in February of 2016. There's nothing particularly special about it. In fact, I don't like the edit I did on it initially. Also, it's just not the kind of photography I personally like to look at it. I remember taking the shot strictly as a tourist in awe of the city itself - it was such a beautiful morning that I couldn't resist.
The boy in the image is Krishna, a resident of Mumbai who lives close to Versova Beach. My friend and I were photographing him performing running forward flips. I took many shots because at the time I was looking for the most impressive pose mid-flight. I've included four examples below of black-and-white edits which I've shared elsewhere.
I used more than 20 different poses of Krishna from my unedited shots. Many of these weren't impressive in and of themselves. The point was to collect diversity. I wanted all kinds of poses so that when I placed the images they wouldn't look too similar. I did duplicate a few of them and placed them way in the background or simply rotated them in different ways. Selecting, editing out the backgrounds in each image, and figuring out where to place each "clone" was the most time-consuming part of the process.
The other main photographic component is the texture I used for the background. For image compositing, I'm discovering that textures are extremely important for adding mood and for helping the composite gel more as a whole.
For this image, I really struggled to find a texture. In fact, I was stuck making several test edits of the final image until I stumbled upon the idea of using an existing texture that I may have shot from my archives. For a painterly effect, I wanted something rough. Problem was, I hadn't shot textures out in the field exclusively because compositing as I know it now wasn't on my radar at all when photographing in India. But I did come across something I had taken in an unlikely place: the Darukhana ship-breaking yard in south Mumbai.
I downloaded this full image from my archive and honed in on the section of the ship below the tires and above the scrap materials at the bottom of the picture. That vertical pattern and horizontal lines can be seen in the sky of the final image, which I've included again here so you won't have to scroll all the way up to see.
The rest of the work involved color and lighting edits, of which the coloring didn't happen until after discovering the right texture to use.
The Day Clones Fell From Sky is my favorite composite piece to date for the simple reason that it incorporates two themes which I'm pursuing. They are both old themes hailing from the time before I had re-discovered photography: clones and falling. I won't explain here my fascination with these subjects. But I will point you in the direction of one old recording of "Clone". I only want to mention that the process of putting this all together wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been thinking about two concepts near and dear to me.
"Clone" on my Soundcloud account: https://soundcloud.com/craigboehman/clone
I'm available for commissions for fine art composites for your business needs, whether it be book or album covers, article headers, creative portraits, or just something for your wall. Contact me at info@CraigBoehman.com