Friday, June 15, 2007
Bert Monroy - Re-Creating Reality
Bert Monroy is a Photoshop master who uses software like a brush and canvas all at once. He's not a photographer, but a digital painter who pushes the software envelope to create his art
Tools & Techniques
While Monroy's approach may not be standard issue among photographers, he says many of his tools and techniques should be. Photographers flock to Monroy's lectures to study at the feet of the Photoshop guru. His understanding of digital tools and composition, color and light makes him an ideal teacher.
“It's important for photographers to know that it's a very powerful tool,” Monroy says. “It's best for them to learn as much of it as they can and master those parts that are crucial. If you're faced with a problem, somewhere in there is a solution. If you can imagine it, you can do it in Photoshop. It may be a combination of filters or techniques, but somewhere in there is the solution to just about any problem you can come up with. It behooves the photographer to take the time to sit there and play—to really understand the breakdown of channels and how to manipulate different channels to enhance your retouching capability, to manipulate contrast without distorting colors by working on the Red channel because that's where the contrast is, to be able to sharpen detail by simply going into the Green channel. It's understanding all of these functions that are available within Photoshop.
“It's a toolset,” he continues. “Once you really understand the features, things like calculations and Alpha channels, they're powerful tools and most people don't use them. I tell my students the most important thing is to sit there and play. Open up a filter dialog box and put in 5 or 50 or 100 or -100 and see what happens.
You all of a sudden see potential. It's not just, How do I get the red-eye out? How do I go in there and make that eye glow, make that eye shine and sparkle and look alive?”
Adds Monroy, “When I'm experimenting, one thing I like to do is turn on Actions, so along the way Photoshop keeps track of what I'm doing. If the end result is really cool, I can go back and look at the notes that it's taking and see what I did. Instead of having to stop and write something down, I can let my imagination go and then sit there and do things and the program is keeping track.
It's an experimentation process. It's always a combination of things rather than just one tool or one effect or one filter. No one thing does it all.”
Although photographers, illustrators and painters may be using the same tools, their results are philosophically different. When it comes to reality versus abstraction, Monroy's take is different than that of most photographers.
“I'm creating the real world,” he says. “You're creating the fantasy world.”
A Macintosh computer with dual 2.5 GHz processors fully loaded with RAM and a tremendous amount of disk space.
Says Monroy, “That's basically my main machine. I'm waiting for the Intel-based Mac, and for that I'm going to wait until the Adobe Suite is taking advantage of it. Speed is crucial—if I'm working on a 5 GB file and I do a Gaussian Blur, it's a wait. I'm kind of spoiled. I remember a long time ago if you wanted to change a little type, it meant calling up the type house, waiting for the messenger to pick up the manuscript, waiting for them to do it and then the next morning getting the type back. And now it's like, I've got to wait 43 seconds for this to happen? So we're kind of spoiled, but still while I'm working, I really want that immediacy.”
To see more of Bert Monroy's images, visit www.bertmonroy.com.
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