Behind the Scenes: Replaying Lost Memories

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My friend Julie (of Julie Belton Photography) shot me this day in a cabin and used that image to create a photograph she shot on a recent trip to New Orleans. She asked me to title the image for her and was so excited for the name I had given it, so I thought I would share the process on how I created the title for this photograph. This is how I work with titles - I start out with key works and work my way through what I feel connect best with my image. I also used a few textures that Julie released for download as a gift for everyone on HER birthday. Isn't she the best! Some of these made me drool. 

First off, let me lead into this by saying that this photograph literally broke my computer, Betty. It's strange how sometimes I'll find myself in a lull and not work on editing for a few days, but as soon as my ability to edit is taken away I seem to fall in what I've been calling "Photoshop Withdrawal." 

This was a pretty big edit, too. The full final file size of this image, along with its lighting/color adjustments and texture layers, equal a whopping 15.5GB large format document! I need a full-frame sensor, haha. That number doesn't even account for the expansion file separately made to stitch the image together. So, if you want the full number, add about 6 more GB's. YIKES! 

My friend Robert (of Robert Cornelius Photographyand I headed up to a photo-meetup that our friend Tatiana ( of Tatiana Lumiere Photography) was hosting in Valley Forge National Historical Park, a few days after Halloween. When we arrived we explored some log cabins on the side of the road, and we tried not to be blown away from the immense winds we were experiencing that chilly day. I went out that day without any real solid intentions on a concept I wanted to shoot. I skimmed my Brain (notebook) and I had a few ideas I was bouncing on, but I wasn't completely sold on them just yet. No reason to rush myself, always save ideas for later. 

After leaving the cabins, we went to a cool spot in the park where there's an old abandoned greenhouse. Earlier in the year, I was at this same location, and wanted to shoot something, but the light wasn't on our side and I didn't really have an idea to play off from, so I was more determined to finally shoot in this location for a new concept. I did what I usually do. I walked around and inside the greenhouse about two dozen times, trying to frame out an ideal point to shoot from. Rob and I stood inside and bounced a few ideas off each other, then we met up with the group again at our cars in the lot, full of bins filled of costumes and props.  

I stepped back and watched the others concepts come to life, while I was still developing a story I wanted to tell with this location. While standing back and watching Rob shooting, I watched the light peek out from nearby trees and hit the structure in the most amazing light. My heart starting racing and I saw the story in my head. When I get into go-time mode, I run around and act a bit crazy. You never know how'll long you'll get something special when it comes to light beams, you just have to move fast! 

I gathered handfuls of dead leaves and scattered them all across the lawn and in the bushes in front of the greenhouse. I love how the wind tossed them slightly, giving the scene a more authentic feel. Rob kindly stood in as my model, as I knew I would have to shoot him in multiple frames to make the scene work - a little too much work for a selfie this time. I posed Rob leaning against the door, and I wasn't feeling the story in that position. I ran back and forth several times, changing his pose and gestures. I added one of my briefcases into the scene to add a little more of a visual narrative element that would help guid the viewer to the story being created. My friend Julie stood on the side, helping reflect some light onto Rob in the scene. 

After all was said and done, with all the additional shots for the expansion completed (along with some questioning by a curious park cop who drove by) we packed up for the day and went to feed ourselves, ASAP! On these photo adventure days, we get SO focused on created, we lose track of our hunger until its in full rage. 

A few weeks later, I started working editing this photograph. After finishing the expansion for the image, I went and worked with the lighting adjustments. Fast-forward to six hours later and like the lighting, I group my adjustments and start playing the the color. Not long after this, Betty froze. I knew things were bad when the clock stopped working at the top of my screen. I had to shut Betty down, restart her, and see what data recovery I could do for the document. Three hours later, I was able to save around 80% of the work I did. Once the document was saved, I started working on the photo again, when Betty crashed, again. Long story short, this photo proved to be too big of a match for Betty, after all the years of pushing her limits.

A close up of a new photo I'll be releasing next Friday! 

Because of the holiday, It took about a week to get Betty returned back from Apple for repairs. Here video-card was fried, and she was't coming back with out a new one. In the end, that was way cheaper than buying a new iMac. Betty's home and not going anywhere! Now back to work!