I’ve included a note of explanation and description on most all of the CREATIVE images found below:
CONCEPTUAL / SURREALISM
FAIRY-TALE / MOVIE MEMES
My hope is that you will find these images & notes entertaining and perhaps inspirational…
“Lantern Moon at Windsor: Startled Version”
Notes: There are two versions of this concept, which frankly was not intended. Who is not fascinated with the tragic story of Windsor Ruin? I have visited the place countless times as a subject for Landscape images and more recently for drone cinematography footage I supplied for a filmmaker out of Hattiesburg. I’d always tinkered with a vision for an image that would bring a human back into the story of Windsor once again, rather than leaving her solely as a target of landscape artists and tourists posing for selfies with the massive columns sulking in the background. I developed my story in careful pre-production with a talented team that I recruited to help bring my vision of the necessary wardrobe and props into reality. After weeks of planning, it took a full day of gear load up, load out, setup and a lot of hard work, but production was brisk and we got a lot accomplished. Due to other assignments, we were going for several different styles and kinds of shots in addition to my “story” shot. It was a LOT to attempt, and despite finishing well after dark, we got it all done. In this particular image a maiden … or is she a ghost? … is “awakened” at a nefarious hour of the night by someone … or someTHING. What is it she is looking for? Who is she? Or should we ask what is she? What is it that she must uncover or locate? Is it some material thing, or is it some one? She carries a lantern that gives off warmth and light, yet it seems she is afraid. So here we find her, despite her own fear and trepidation, under a crescent moon breathlessly tiptoeing forward searching for … what was THAT?!!! And THAT is the moment captured in the image. The maiden was played by a beautiful model named Betsy Daggett. She did such a good job that I was torn between this image (which beautifully captured the expression and gesture I had in my concept) and another gesture she provided, which was just too good to not use. It can be located elsewhere on this page as well. Mysterious images for a mysterious and tragic place!
Notes: This advertisement for my own business includes an image I made of my daughter Ana when I was using her as a model to take some photographs in Francesco Scavullo’s style (he was a very famous and adept fashion photographer in New York who died in 2004). In this graphic design, I cropped Ana halfway across her face, which I find is often quite striking due to human faces being so different on each side. I rendered it in black & white, and used selection fill, clone stamp, and liquify in Photoshop to blouse out her hair and perform retouching using my Wacom tablet. At the end I chose a font that I like, changed the kerning to suit, and placed it in the dead space in the frame that I left for that purpose. Lastly, there is intent in the design and composition when it comes to marketing. The human eye is drawn toward 1) contrast; 2) brights and whites; and 3) our attention is extremely acute to seeing another human eye. If you use me for your ads and graphics, you can be assured we will be intentional about everything we put into it, and everything we leave out of it.
Notes: Latin for “The First Montage”: Photographically speaking, a montage is considered to be made up of photographs (literally a “jumble”) that are largely whole, and not melded into a background or other photos using blend modes and varying opacity in Photoshop (that is the particular duty of what we would call a “Collage”). Here, I’ve taken four of my photographs and used them in this composition, along with several layers of various textures (the textures were blended). The four images include: a sunset at Natchez, the columns of Windsor Ruins, the arched doorway to the entrance of Christ Church in Church Hill, Mississippi, and the smiling face of a female. (She is the least obvious, so those who like to look for Waldo may have a go at her). My main idea here however, was not to choose the images for their content so much as their shapes, textures, and patterns … but especially their color. This montage, though not strictly a pure version of one, is especially interested in the collision of shapes, hues, and the experimentation with color theory. Hopefully you find some beauty in the jumble.
“Brandon in DC Comic Style”
Notes: When I first created this piece I posted it on social media for my multi-talented friend Brandon McCranie (the subject holding the guitar and posed in front of his bottle-cap art). One of his online female friends however, was taken aback! Apparently horrified, she quickly lamented in a post that “he” (meaning me) “made you look like an old man!” So much for my efforts of stylizing Brandon in a DC Comic book style a la Sgt. Rock, Batman, and the Haunted Tank! Lol. (I loved those comic books as a kid!) I had thought it would be cool and a perfect fit to render him in that comic-drawn style since his pose (which we refer to as “gesture” in visual-arts circles) matched the zaniness of his hat and the entire context of the original photographic image, which seemed bent toward the idea that somehow Brandon had surfaced here from some foreign planet that gifts its natives with artistic and musical talent, and then sprays them with some elixir of extroverted coolness and sends them on their way. My thinking was, DC Comics gave us Batman, Superman, and good ole Sgt. Rock … I figured they may have darn well given us good “ole” Brandon. Silly me, apparently all I did was make him old.
“The Turning Angel”
Notes: The Natchez area truly has many, many locations and objects that are the target of image-makers, but none perhaps is more photographed than the Turning Angel at The Natchez City Cemetery. It is difficult to get a unique image of that somber statue, which was placed over the graves of employees killed in an explosion at The Natchez Drug Company in 1908. Of course, the angel doesn’t literally turn, but as it’s located so near Cemetery Road, jittery drivers passing the ancient and dark cemetery at night were more than half prepared to see something spooky in their headlights. So, when their beams suddenly swept across the pearly white marble of the statue, why they could have sworn that the thing turned! Here, I’ve washed out the ugly telephone and electric wire pollution so prevalent in Natchez and caught the angel in a sunset silhouette. I then placed the silhouette of the Angel in a background gradient of the Sunset’s glow, and finished by adding several heavy oil-painting style textures using blend modes in Photoshop for a nice and unique “painterly” composition to a very familiar scene.
“The American Queen”
Notes: This composite was made during a time when I was heavily into landscape photography in my production, and in post-production I was often experimenting with what I could do to make more artistic (painterly) styles of visuals with my photographs. That marriage – of photography with more fine-art style remains a fascinating one for me. Way back in high-school at what was then “South Natchez High School,” I was most focused of all my subjects, in art and journalism. In art I was learning to further my paint and sketch talent under Mr. Greer, and in journalism I was learning 35mm film photography under Mr. Charlie Ross. Isn’t it strange how things can come full-circle in life, and decades later be merged into a form that has roots far back into one’s existence? The piece above is of a time when the Casino’s “steamboat” (actually just a docked barge mocked-up to look like one) was in the background along the Mississippi River at Natchez. One can also see the bridges spanning the river to Louisiana in the background as well. The Casino has since closed down and been removed. In the foreground is the true river steamboat, the elegant “American Queen.” I crawled along the riverbank to the vantage point I wanted, and took the shot. It was composited in Photoshop with over fifty layers of adjustments, textures and filers applied and blended to reach this finished state. This piece was featured in the online magazine “AWAKE: Living the Photo Artistic Life – Pushing Photography Further” (Issue No. 2 – April 2015), along with works from artists from all over the world.
Notes: On the evening of this day, I came across a solitary soul fishing along the banks of the lake at the Natchez State Park. I asked him if he minded me taking some shots of him while he fished and he patiently acquiesced. In the past I visited this park quite regularly to take photographs, but have not been back in quite some time now. The sunsets are amazing there, and usually everything is quite tranquil (unless a photographer shows up and invades your space). The piece is rendered in Photoshop by taking the original image over from Lightroom after first processing it there. Then, in Photoshop, textures and filters were applied, along with additional retouching. The goal of the image was to convey the peace and quiet of the Park, fishing, spending time alone, and the amazing beauty and wonder of our world at sunset.
Notes: Evil people are always working actively to look like something that they are not. However, those of us who consider ourselves “good folk” sometimes act and speak in ways that are not completely genuine. It may not be an out and out lie, but there are times that we say and do things through fear, ignorance, insecurity, shame or embarrassment that present us as something more than what we really are. We protect the ego, the image … and sometimes strain and twist ourselves into pretzels in our attempt to make ourselves seem smarter, more likable, more lovable. We hide the warts at all cost and play up to the hilt the better angels of our nature. The piece represents the unmasking. It symbolizes letting go of the false image – the mask. It means taking off the mask, putting it down, and working purposefully to become less deceptive and more genuine. The mask is my own.
Notes: This graphic design image was done to convey the human (and spiritual world) struggle with both natural and personal evil. A particularly relevant scripture on that subject is found in Romans, and I included the reference in the text of the piece. I served as the model, with a mask, and shot the image with a timer. The candle and Crucifix were added as symbols, and I took those images as well. The crucifix is a particular style used often by Exorcists in their work with demons, and has a St. Benedict medal encased in the body of the Crucifix itself. The candle of course portrays light as opposed to darkness (et lux in tenebris lucet … “and the light shines out in the darkness”). Fire is also a powerful symbol of the Holy Spirit.
“Roots of Power – Point of Purchase Display”
Notes: The Point of Purchase (POP) display is a very common (and effective!) way for merchants to sell their products. As people go through the checkout line nowadays they run a gauntlet of advertisements and displays that appeal for a last-minute purchase. This is a graphic designed for a company selling gardening supplies, with their theme being something on the order of taking control of your garden, i.e. “The Roots of Power.” My idea for a visual capturing this assignment was a dude “kitting up” to go to war with the weeds in his garden. This was not a real-life assignment, but one given me by my Commercial Photography mentor Don Giannatti. My image had to fit the frame given me, complete with the text, which could not be moved. This challenge – that of shooting to a strict layout that must illustrate the given theme – is a common one in Editorial and/or Advertising photography.
< IMAGE TO THE LEFT
I took this eye from a photo of one of my models into Photoshop and removed all of the skin color and texture around the eye, and worked on it graphically to create a colorful square logo design for my business, effective for site icons or social media sites with square aspect ratios, such as Instagram. I can build one for you!
“Bygone Railroad Days”
Notes: Young people have no idea that there used to be a thriving railroad industry in Natchez. My father worked for the railroad, and so did my brother and I. There used to be a tug and barge that brought railroad cars back and forth across the river, and the “incline” railway that went down the banks to meet the barge was quite an operation. It was supported by massive trestle pylons driven deep into the sandy loess soil. On top of them were the massive crossties and then the steel tracks and switches. Now, all of that is gone … except for the pylons. The image above took quite an operation to capture, as I had to crawl and climb my way through and over snake-infested kudzu and river debris to get next to them. The railroad is gone … and now, so is my father and my brother. But, I still remember. I will never forget.
“Stars Over Windsor”
Notes: There are many magical places to stargaze in our area that are relatively devoid of light pollution. A couple of my favorites are Emerald Mound and Windsor Ruins. At Windsor there is not even a street light in the parking area, which is great for enjoying total darkness and gazing at the celestial bodies. In this photo, I stabilized the camera on a tripod, angled it upward, opened the shutter in bulb mode and simply “painted” the columns with a flashlight (yeah, there’s really a bit more to it than that…). It took a few tries to get the light evened out, but this is the final result. The quote (from a song by Daft Punk called “Get Lucky”) is one I appreciate because it affirms the fact that we are all “Homo Viator” … humans on a journey. That is what the ancients always referred to themselves as. It’s only been when Science rose to a level of religion and the so-called “Age of Enlightenment” swept the masses into naive condescension that mankind threw away that ancient designation and arrogantly traded it in for “Homo Sapiens” … men who are wise. Okay, so we apparently have deemed ourselves as “arrived,” so what need is there to improve, to grow, to reach for the stars? Obviously, I believe that modern man is full of hooey and that the humble (and truly wise) ancients were much closer to what we really are: human beings on a journey, on a path toward making ourselves better, and that we really do need to reach for the stars. That’s what I’ll raise my cup to!
“Lantern Moon at Windsor: Foray Version”
Notes: This is the second version of “Lantern Moon at Windsor” and is entitled, “Foray.” (The other version – “Startled” – is higher up at the beginning of this page.) This version is one that struck me as equally effective, although it was not what I had in mind when planning the shot in pre-production. I was fortunate to have the beautiful Betsy Daggett as my model, and she was simply amazing through all that we put her through that day. I give my models guidance and direction, but also balance that with some freedom for them to do their own thing. Here, she struck a pose on her own that has powerful gesture in my opinion. I particularly like the off-centered and a bit downward gaze with a blank expression, and the radically bent wrist and fingers position of the hand that is holding the lantern – that’s a nice touch. This image also captures her elegant beauty. One can tell she is striding forward, and can almost see the lamplight glow dancing on the columns as she glides past.
My Business Logos
Notes: A few examples of my own business logos and their progression over the past several years. Graphics are produced using Adobe’s Creative Suite of apps.
Three Stain-Glass Windows in Rodney
Notes: These three windows in an old abandoned Church in Rodney, Mississippi, are often photographed due to the stunning light quality and the light-play on the old floor of the Church. Here, I’ve taken one of my images of the subject and applied several filters in Photoshop to achieve a unique, more graphic look. I find it pleasing to explore the entire range of what is possible: from extremely gritty ultra high-resolution, journalistic style of street and documentary photography … to the crude, blurred, and color-raw photographic art image. I find wonder and amazement in all genres.
Notes: This second montage is truer montage in that the images are simply placed together on a single frame. It can be an effective and powerful way to display the variety of one’s work (or products!)
Notes: There is simply too much to talk about with this subject, so I’ll just allow the visual to speak for itself.
INSPIRE ME! ANIMATION VIDEO
~Graphic Design – Animation~
Notes: I created the INSPIRE ME! Animation Video Series in order to hopefully bring a bright spot to someone’s day. Designed to pop onto one’s social media page (such as Facebook and Instagram) the execution is rather simple: take one of my still images, combine it with an inspirational quote or scripture verse, and animate it using Photoshop. Others have so graciously shared their lives and art pieces with me, which have helped and inspired me in countless ways. This is simply one of the ways I can give back.
St. Mary Basilica’s Clock Tower at Dawn
Notes: A drone photograph flying behind the Basilica captured the clock tower in silhouette and the bright amber glow of the morning Sun. I took the RAW image from the drone’s camera and rendered it in Photoshop to achieve an artistic feel. The drone is able to supply me with angles and POV that I could never acquire otherwise. It is simply one image making “tool” among many in my toolbox, but an important one nonetheless. One final note: I have always found silhouettes fascinating in their stark boldness. Our universe is filled with absolutely amazing shapes, and I truly enjoy the adventure of exploring for them and capturing their beauty.
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