Friday, August 26, 2011

Stock Photo Project: Voting Images

An Elephant and a donkey are in voting booths representing republicans and democrats in this funny political picture.
An elephant and a donkey serve to represent democrats and republicans in this humorous political stock photo.

A Request For Voting Images
My editor at Blend Images recently asked me to come up with some images centered around elections. I agreed, not so much because I think there is a lot of money to be made, but as a part owner of Blend I do think it is important to be supportive of the company. I think that at least some of you readers out there might be interested in my process, and so beginning with this post I am going to share this project with you.

Donkeys, Elephants And Politics
These days one of the critical aspects of creating images for me is finding ones that I am actually interested in doing. I have gotten too old, complacent and persnickety to spend any significant time on images I am not into. Oh well….  My first task, then, is (was) to come up with some ideas.  A while back I had created an image of a donkey and an elephant in a face off as a political stock photo. That one I had submitted to Corbis. But the idea of using a donkey and elephant seemed like a good starting point for me.  The ideas that came readily to me included a Donkey and Elephant voting, with their rear-ends protruding through the curtains of voting booths, and an elephant and a donkey debating on stage.

Voting Machines And Cool Images
Next I asked myself what are issues surrounding elections? Politicians on the stump all seem to be advocating change? How could I show that? It struck me that one of those collapsible voting booths, show against a sky that is changing from light and upbeat to stormy and dark could well communicate the concept...and look cool as well. Another idea that popped into my head was to show such a voting machine with money pouring out of it. OK, none of these ideas are going to set the world on fire…but for whatever reason, perhaps because I thought I could at least make them look cool, I decided to get to work. More ideas would probably come as I progressed.

Donkeys And Elephants In Voting Booths
I started with the donkey and elephant in the voting booths. I found the elephant I needed in my archives from a shoot in Thailand. The donkey image is actually one that my partner, Stephanie, shot in a zoo.  I "Googled" voting booths to get a sense of what they look like. Most of the ones with curtains used red, white and blue striped cloth. Being the stingy dude I am, I pulled out an American Flag I have and photographed it in the necessary configurations to use as curtains. I used a Hue and Saturation layer to turn every other red layer into a blue one. I used the pen tool to create a clipping path (and then selections) around the parts of the flag shots I needed, then used the liquefy filter and transform>distort to create the curtains in the positions I needed. I also photographed one of those collapsible voting stations. I used the legs from the station in combination with the flag shots to create my voting booths.

Elephants, Donkeys, Photoshop And Reflections
Next I used the pen tool to create selections around the donkey and elephant, then used “Refine Edges” to deal with the fur.  I also photographed a local gymnasium figuring it would be a good background for voting booths.  I put the images together, then duplicated parts of the animals and the legs of the voting booths, flipped them vertically, added layer masks, and faded the flipped images away, creating “reflections” on the floor.

Lose the Gym, Add White And On To The Next Image
When I finished the image the gym just didn’t work for me. It seemed too busy. I added a white background layer above the gym layer to see what would happen. I really liked it! It looks like the voting booths and animals were shot on white plex. Having the image on white makes it easy and versatile for people to use.  One down…a bunch to go! I will cover the next image in a future blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crafting A Concept Travel Stock Photo

Picture of tropical clouds and a jet aircraft reflected in clear blue rippling water illustrating the concepts of travel, vacations, and getting away from it all.
Going through my "Idea" folder of images resulted in this composite image illustrating travel concepts.

My Next Project And An “Ideas” Folder
Sometimes I find myself in front of my computer, having just completed an image, or series of images, but before having had a chance to figure out my next project, and still wanting to create a new stock photo.  At those times I turn to my “Ideas” folder.

Interesting Images With No Immediate Use
My “Ideas” folder is one in which I put interesting images, that I don’t really know what to do with, as I edit shoots or run across them looking for composite parts.  In that folder you can find patterns, portraits, background images, interesting light experiments, landscapes…whatever images strike my fancy, but that I don’t have an immediate use for. 

Perusing Photos And Finding Solutions
A few days ago I found myself in just such a situation…between projects but wanting to jump into making an image. As I perused the photos an image of light reflecting off of water caught my eye. A use for this image  (probably from a swimming pool shoot…but one that I no longer remember) has long eluded me.   This time, however, I believe I came up with a solution…or two.

Stronger Concepts And Multiple Uses
I could have submitted the image as a background image pretty much as it was, but I really wanted to take it to another level. What I was looking for was another image I could use as a reflection in the water and that would make for a stronger concept… one that had a legitimate shot at multiple uses.

Pretty Pictures, Tropical Vacations And Room For Headlines
I found the image I was looking for in a shot of tropical clouds from a trip to Hawaii. I faded the clouds into the water. Adding the clouds transformed the image from pretty reflections in water to a tropical vacation scene. I felt it still needed one more element. A silhouette of a commercial jet completed the picture. Now the image speaks of travel, adventure, vacations and getting away from it all.  There is plenty of room for copy and headlines, room for inset destination photos, and can be cropped square, horizontal, vertical or as a banner ad.

Many Uses, Similar Versions And Royalty Free
My gut instinct tells me it is a royalty free image: It can have many uses and isn’t a difficult image to produce.  Further, I believe that a version without the jet will also be useful in the marketplace and as an RF image the two similar versions won’t be a problem. Now the only question is…should I have had a suntanned, bikini clad woman swimming through the water? Hmmm, maybe I’ll take another look in that “Ideas” folder….