Sunday, January 13, 2013

Beyond Layers Day 73-74 : Wishing Stars

This week's lesson was inspired by a book cover illustration in which a butterfly is trapped in a jar.  The rest of the background is heavy with texture (Is it any wonder this image appeals to Texture Lovers like us?)

Kim shared 2 textures and made her own lovely and buttery Butterfly image.  

There's just something so sad about a butterfly in a jar--in an "I-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings" kind of way.  You know it doesn't belong there.  If a butterfly is in a jar, it's probably dead or otherwise preserved--or just hatched from the caterpillar / pupa stage.  There's a lot of potential and hope in that scenario.   I guess the book title set me up for the former.  I'll admit, when I see a dead butterfly (or a dragonfly), I pick it up and take it home with me.   Why?  Out of respect for something free and beautiful and wild.  That butterfly/dragonfly was once alive--It had a life and a purpose and a free will.  Beauty.  And it could FLY!   Life behind glass is deminishment, anyway you look at it.  [Here's I'm also thinking of Snow White in her glass coffin, dead to the world, but perfectly preserved ...]  That said, I have a small box of butterflies and dragonflies--so delicate they would disintegrate at the slightest touch--one of them did, unfortunately.

So I borrowed one of Oliver's potion bottles (again) and was thinking about what else I could put in the jar to make a statement, more than just a beautiful image ...  It's the wrong season here for Fireflies, Dragonflies, or even flowers ...  What else?

I was thinking about curiosity cabinets or the specimen jars at The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia or the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow (Sorry, I'm a health science librarian by day so medical specimens and morbid anatomy appeals to me.)  
Not quite the feeling I was after here  ...  I wanted this image to soar!  So I kept thinking ... What else comes in jars?
Canned goods lined up on shelves.  
Rumplestiltskin's Jars of potions and other magical ingredients.  

   I liked the Magic train of thought.  I wanted to keep it positive, about potential and possibility ...  Finally, I took a couple of stars from the bookshelf and set up the still life and started arranging the scene and snapping pics until the camera battery ran out (Don't you hate when that happens?)  I took the lid off the jar, to let some of the Simple Magic out so it could do it's work.

 Here's a sample of the straight-out-of-the-camera shots.  Pretty blah, huh? 
I usually do some basic edits (cropping and basic lighting adjustments) in Picasa.  I usually try "I'm feeling lucky."  Often, it works great--sometimes not.  It's easy enough to undo.

This is what I got with I'm-feeling lucky in Picassa.  WOW!  Looks like it upped the brightness and contrast--I'm not sure what else.  I loved how it really brought out the schmutz on the bottle and the color in the top star.  It looks like it's ready to be "activated" and wished upon.   I didn't feel like this image needed any additional textures. 

Then I pulled it into PhotoShop Elements.  I copied the background layer at Multiply Blend Mode.  Then I played with adding some textures, but they didn't seem to work with this one.    I found a suitable quote and added the text.  Finally, I added an edge burn to frame it.

I also pulled it into RadLab.  I liked the warm and cold treatments of Warm it up, Kris

and Cool as a Cucumber, but they effectively cancelled each other out when I layered them.  Or perhaps it's more accurate to say the warm and cool balanced each other.

It was so much fun flipping through all the still life shots I had taken for this assignment, that I decided to make a little movie out of it.  Kind of like one of those little cartoon flip-books my brother and I used to make as kids.  I could really tell how the first images were kind of practice pieces (believe me, I deleted a bunch of those).  Towards the end, more of them were keepers.  If not keepers--workable.   Enjoy :

If you actually go to Picasa Web Albums, you can speed up the slide show to 1 second / slide.  That makes it more dynamic, and more like that flip book.



Beverly said...

Michelle, this is absolutely fantastic!! I love the little slide show at the end, after reading about how you ended up with the magic look! Quite a fun process! Love you finished image!

Beverly said...

Michelle, this is absolutely fantastic!! I love the little slide show at the end, after reading about how you ended up with the magic look! Quite a fun process! Love you finished image!