Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Digital Manipulation And The Flair Of Subtlety
As digital photography struggles for legitimacy in the fine-art world, we examine the role of image manipulation to evoke an emotional response from your audience
In one image, for instance, Morrison incorporates the initial garment drawings of designer Carol Yip into her final image of the realized outfit, creating a fashion life cycle that not only is intriguing, but adds to the ambiance of the image, the clothing and the industry itself.
“I really liked experimenting with combining graphic design and fashion with this shoot,” Morrison remarks of her work with Yip, which produced a series of images for the designer’s clothing line. “I shot everything on a white background so I could easily play with multiples, overlaying and rotating the images.”
Morrison demonstrates the mentality of the fine artist with this shoot and her approach to it. Encompassing the preproduction, studio session and postproduction in her initial concept of the final product allowed her to work in concert with her collaborator and client. Because of her forethought, Morrison could reference the original sketches while working with the model and choose how she was going to approach the model during the shoot itself, ensuring that all necessary components would be in place when it came time to digitally formulate her final vision. She ended up with a series of images designed to be slightly adjusted in postproduction. But don’t mistake the minor alterations for easy fixes. Though Morrison isn’t heavy-handed with her digital manipulations, there’s a specific intent with the design and implementation of each element of her final image.
In another of her images, Morrison utilizes the original photo of her model resting her chin on her hand to create the feel of cascading motion with the model’s arm. Morrison’s application of increasing transparency as the arm moves away from the model gives a sense of immediacy and mobility to the work that remains subtle, but is thoughtful and designed. In another image, several different stances of a single model have been collaged together to create a vibrant dance where the viewer is aware of several stages at once, but is also driven to evaluate certain moments more than others. In each of her images, Morrison demonstrates a control over each of the elements that she uses to capture her vision. Although the digital alterations are intentionally evident, they have been managed and implemented in service to a greater intent.
It’s that type of understanding of the medium that sets true digital fine artists apart from digital photographers. The myth that image manipulation is synonymous with vast alteration is being put to rest by photographers like Morrison. They’re demonstrating that, in practice, using the subtle enhancements and variations of the digital medium can draw focus to certain elements in the image while not overwhelming the viewer or the subject with a sense of fakery. Just because you can manipulate every element of an image doesn’t mean that you should.
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