Sometimes You Want Some Whimsy

Sometimes as a photographer, you just want to flex the creative muscles--sometimes you just want some whimsy.  And, a summer Alice in Wonderland shoot that was organized by the amazing Stephanie Lemmon and Sally Molhoek yielded a ton of gorgeous fine art child shots that were just crying out for some special treatment.  So, I had some fun in Photoshop.  And, I love the results.  They aren't reality, but then again, Wonderland shouldn't be, right?  So, I am going to do something a little different here.  I am going to share shots straight from my camera, as well as after I added the gusto, so that you can see where I started and where I ended up.  And for the photographers reading (or the nerdy folks who like technical stuff) I will also try to give a bit of information about the processes that I applied in Photoshop to make them magical.  

First up is a shot of the Mad Hatter.  The original image obviously didn't include the crazy sparkling mirror or (my favorite part) the reality-bending tea pouring from the teapot.  But, seeing the original, I knew exactly what this needed!

The Technicals:  I played with the background color using both curves and levels adjustments to darken it down quite a bit.  For the mirror, I used a custom sunburst that I created in photoshop.  I applied it as an overlay using screen blend mode.  Then, I altered the color and opacity, and added a bit of blur.  For the tea, I used a stock image of tea on a white background.  I removed the white, and then basically cut, pasted, and stretched tiny little pieces of it, putting it together like a wee little puzzle.  Fun!

Next up, a bit more simple, but still a bit of Wonderland flare.  I give you Alice, who wasn't always standing on a strange little knoll.

The Technicals:  After applying some simple clean edits, I fixed the burned out grass up a bit using a few hue/saturation layers and one brightness/contrast layer.  To make the little hill, I used the transform function, particularly the warp tool.  I pulled down on the two edge circles to bend it.  It just gave it a bit of a surreal feel.  And that's what you want in Wonderland!

FYI I am saving my favorite one for last.  So, keep reading.  Ha!  Next up is a shot of the Queen of Hearts.  It was filled with nice golden-hour light.  But clearly there were a few issues to take care of.  Then, it needed a little sparkle.  

The Technicals:  Obviously there were some distractions to take care of, the kid and pole.  Those were done with a combo of cloning and content aware fill, as well as some cutting and pasting of pieces of dress.  I also played with some curves layers to adjust the color, to make it a little less realistic. But the real fun is in that background.  I applied a radial blur that focused on her, and then I used a mask to wipe it off of her and some of the foreground.  So, it is almost as if she is hanging out in a vortex of trees.

And now for my most favorite edit of all of them (yes, I seriously mean most favorite, I like it enough to ignore the rules of grammar). I give you: Wonderland's Edge.  

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And here is the original.  Clearly, she wasn't floating in the sky!  When I shot it, I knew I wanted her floating in the sky.  Something about the look on her face, the gaze off into the distance, made me want to go here.  And let me tell you, it was a BLAST to create.  Hours sitting in a chair at the computer, but a total blast.  Here is the original:

The Technicals:  well, where do I start?  First, this was a composite of three basic images.  Alice, the sky, and a stock shot of a ravine.  I took pieces parts of the ravine, and cut and pasted them together to form the rock that she is floating on.  I used a whole complicated series of masking to get the rock and Alice on top of the sky.  Much of this depended on using the refine mask functions, which allow you to control the edges of select portions of the image.  I didn't do a ton of work on the color, because both the sky and Alice were shot at about the same time of day, so the light matched reasonably well.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the before and afters of some of my more creative edits.   In any event, it is really fun to try something totally out of the box once in a while.  I love the creative side of photography and the ability to use it as an artistic medium.  If you have any questions, just drop me a line!  I am an open book when it comes to questions about the process.