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Dispersion and Twirls in Photoshop

Set The Music Free 3

Dispersion and Twirls in Photoshop

With the current restrictions on going outdoors, many photographers are using this time to go through their back catalogues and learn new techniques. I am part of the fantastic SheClicks community for female photographers. Last week one member shared her experiments with the Twirl technique. I will add links to YouTube tutorials for both techniques at the end!

By the end of the week, we were all hooked! Between us all, I think we could fill a few galleries with these fun abstract pieces. You can also use the twirled images as overlays or textures. Some members used the effect to create an abstract background, revealing a part of the main image through masked layers. I loved some of the peacock twirls that others had done so I thought I’d have a go too! Here are my before and after images.

I decided this was the perfect time to finally learn a technique that I have wanted to do for years! The dispersion technique can be used to great effect to make your subject appear to be disintegrating, or exploding outwards. It’s a fun way to create a story for a portrait shoot. I went back to some images I made last year with my dear friend, singer-songwriter, Julia K. I’ll start with a simple edit where I have kept the background clean and simple. The act of singing appears to be reverent, a prayer to the gods.

Julia K

Initially we wanted to visualise sound through shapes and movement. It was a great opportunity to use long exposure and light-painting to frame a story within my images. We took inspiration from the name of her studios, Firespark, and brought in some indoor sparklers and fireworks. Yes, we did set off the fire alarm a couple of times! It’s such a joy to be able to work with a fellow creative, just exploring different ideas, even if they do sound a bit bonkers.

Firespark

I wanted Julia to be static in the images, with the sound emanating from her and surrounding her. We tried a number of different poses that allowed me to create in-camera double-exposures, as well as single images that I could turn into composites within Photoshop. Both techniques are creatively satisfying with similar, yet distinctive results. In-camera multiple exposures always have a more organic feel to them. Creating a composite using Photoshop gives you a much crisper end result. In these three edits of my image of Julia, you can now see why I had her looking up into the space above her. The spirit of music is reaching out to her.

I think I was attracted to the dispersion technique because it brings back that organic feel to a digitally created composite! In addition to using dispersion, I also brought in some overlays of musical notes that I warped, to give them a sense of movement as they explode out from the microphone. Including a bit of texture, with an overlay to the background, added to the organic feel I was looking for. I made three final images for Julia to choose from; full colour, monochrome and selective colour, that revealed the vibrant red against the black and white. Selective colour is very much Julia’s signature look, her brand. I knew she’d choose that one, but which look do you prefer?

I have called this piece Set The Music Free. It’s given me inspiration for creating more stories from other images in my back catalogue, as well as some future projects that I really hope to be able to do with Julia in the future! I hope this has given some of you a bit of inspiration to learn some new techniques and keep creative during this turbulent time. You can learn how to do these two techniques in the following video tutorials. Have fun with them!

Twirling:

Dispersion:

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ShareMonday2020 – Songbird Of Shadows

Songbird of Shadows

ShareMonday2020 – Songbird Of Shadows

Happy New Year everyone! A new ShareMondays tag and my favourite muse to start it all off. Happy Birthday to the wonderful Julia K, dressed as Brandon Lee (aka The Crow) for her Dead Famous party on Saturday night. She’s singing I’m In Love With A German Film Star with purity and passion, well, one of The Passions in fact, Clive Timperley on guitar! What a great party and I absolutely loved hearing two dear friends performing this beautiful and haunting song together. Thank you both!

Clive

Video by my wonderful hubby, Simon Williams!

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ShareMondays2019 – Electrify

Will Purdue - Electrify

ShareMondays2019 – Electrify

Experiments with multiple exposures and ICM (in camera movement), to express the feelings and attitude of music and musicians. These images are from the first part of the Americana Festival held at Fiery Bird in Woking over the weekend. Sadly I succumbed to a bug and couldn’t return for the Saturday evening or Sunday sessions! I’m glad that I did get to see and photograph Will Purdue (above) with his band, as well as Phil Coleman, Nick Hyde and Ajay Srivastav. The musical energy really was electrifying!

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ShareMondays2019 – Stick With It

Stick With It

ShareMondays2019 – Stick With It

I had a great photoshoot with drummer Andy Gray yesterday! It was a shoot that was testament to the resilience of creatives in the face of adversity. Andy’s bad back and my multitude of medical annoyances were NOT going to get in the way of the creative photoshoot we had planned!

Using the rehearsal space at Firespark Studios with the wonderful Julia K has allowed me to get back to a style of photography that I have always loved. For me, portraiture needs to tell a story. Sometimes a minimalist, subtle image can carry that story in a far more powerful way than a traditional portrait. Andy’s drumsticks are an extension of himself, in much the same way as my camera is now, or my brush was when I was painting.

When you stick with the thing you love, not just what you do, but who you are, the means by which you choose to express yourself aren’t just tools any more. The connection becomes organic. I am my art. Julia is a spark of creativity and Andy is his music!

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The Sound Guy

The Sound Guy

The Sound Guy

When you go out to listen to live music, whether in your local pub, community centre or at a big arena, there’s more than just the musicians at play! This is Bern, he’s one of the volunteer interns who have been trained to play their parts at the Fiery Bird in Woking, as a sound or lighting engineer, stage manager, production crew, front of house for example. Bern isn’t new to sound engineering, running sound for The Loft in Basingstoke, assisting at various local open mics and for his partner, singer-songwriter Celia Barrett, at her performances. My hubby, Simon, has also been training with the new sound desk at Fiery Bird. I’ll stick with my photography, or “magic camera” as Celia refers to it! I just loved Celia’s reaction to a quick edit I did of this image using my phone and Snapseed. She shared the image saying “Bern takes real pride in getting the best sound for musicians and this photo reminded me that we should never forget to thank the Sound Guy. Thanks Bern”. Actually, it was the most liked image from the entire Acoustic Sessions set that I posted to Facebook. The Acoustic Sessions are a new, regular music night, hosted by Claudia Stark, local singer-songwriter and long time member of The Phoenix Cultural Centre (who run Fiery Bird). This and a monochrome from the sequence I shot of Bern were my favourites from the night too. Just something magic about the rim light from the simple desk lamp! I shall post the muted-colour image for this week’s WexMondays as a thank you to all the hard-working sound guys out there at music venues across the country.

The Sound Guy

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ShareMondays2018: Sing

Hazel O'Connor

ShareMondays2018: Sing

The brilliant Hazel O’Connor, performing with Cormac de Barra, at the Farncombe Music Club on Saturday Night. She’s singing Rebecca to her lost but unforgotten friend. It was so very moving! I’m also entering this into this week’s Fotospeed challenge.

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Under The Spotlight

Julia K performing with The Diamond Hearts

Under The Spotlight

My dear friend and muse, Julia K, performing with her 80’s music band, The Diamond Hearts on Saturday evening. So much emotion conveyed in her performances! Her passion for the music she performs is palpable. The Diamond Hearts capture the hearts of their audiences wherever they perform! This high contrast mono is my entry to this week’s Fotospeed challenge. I hope that everyone out there is as entranced by Julia as her audiences (and friends!) are! If you would like to find out more about the band, or make a booking for an event please visit The Diamond Hearts

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Heavenly Music

Logicaltramp at the Farncombe Music Club

Heavenly Music

On Saturday evening, while the snow was falling outside, we were inside St John’s Church, venue for The Farncombe Music Club, listening to the heavenly sounds of Logicaltramp, a tribute to the mighty Supertramp. The wonderfully atmospheric lighting to accompany the music created a vibrant backdrop on the white walls. The whole ambience of the evening was a real tonic! The spirit of Supertramp was most definitely alive and had quite a few of us dancing in the aisles.

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L’Amour Looks Something Like You

The Masked Musician

L’Amour Looks Something Like You

You came out of the night,
Wearing a mask in white colour

Kate Bush from the album The Kick Inside

The mysterious, masked musician performing with the band Cloudbusting – The Music Of Kate Bush at the sold-out 40th Anniversary show, celebrating the album The Kick Inside. I promise to unmask this special guest in a write-up about this amazing concert that we went to on Saturday night. For now, I will add this piece of mystery into the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed photo challenges.