surreal digital photography

Surreal it certainly is. If your photo-imaging has centred around improving colour casts, removing litter and whitening teeth, take a look at this mind boggling book of images.

The authors take you on a heady journey from the practical (with introductory chapters on the gear you need together with the software and plug-ins) to the fantasy worlds of photographers who are at the cutting edge of artistic imaging.

Surreal digital photography has been well put together and clearly written with loads of tutorials and ideas throughout that open up an eternity of possibilities. Showcasing work by different photographers together with details of how they put their images together gives terrific variety and insight. Ruby Yelling, by Colin Thomas, demonstrates a modern day response to the classic cartoon, while My Friend the Cyborg by Stephen Hardy trips out to an eerie sci-fi world.

It’s easy for some to look at surreal digital photography and wonder what’s the point of some of the pictures. But that’s looking at it in the wrong way. This book takes the conventions of digital photography into the realm of digital art – which is quite a place to be. Sure, there will be a load of rubbish produced along the way, but there will be those who will go beyond and emerge as a new generation of artists.

Start here those who aspire! Salvador Dali would have loved this book - it gets the green man (GO) from me.

Highly recommended

By Barry Huggins & Ian Probert
Published by Ilex
192 pages
full colour
645 pictures
ISBN 1-904705-41-3

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Sofa by Todd Pierson - sample tutorial

In another of his signature photomontages, Todd Pierson has created a convincing illusion of surreal strength. This strong girl was more difficult than originally suspected because the couch had to be both safely supported and prevented from sliding on the wooden floor once it was tipped up. To make the effect slightly easier to pull off, the whole set was built in Pierson's studio, and his own three-year-old daughter became the star of the shot.

I first had to block the couch up and placed a 2X4 against it and the other side against the wall. I had my male model come in and give me the surprised, shocked look I needed. The seams in the wall are part of my studio. I knew they wouldn't be a problem because of the extensive Photoshop work I had to do on it.

I then had my three-year-old daughter come in and, being careful not to move anything, instructed her on what to do. (She takes direction very well.) She had to be in just the right position so it was obvious what was going on. Likewise, the doll under the sofa was chosen because it was easy to read as a toy
This photo was made without the blocks or 2X4 brace becasue I needed to have the wooden floor, the space under the couch, and the wooden floor reflections for stripping into the main shot. I also used monofilament to hold the lamp as if it was tipping.
After shooting the images, I realized I really needed some props to complete the room. This is why it's so important to plan ahead and make sure you have the set the way you want it before you shoot. Adding this photo and tree meant extra work for lack of planning the finished image.
This is how the masking looked as I worked on the final image. The tree, floor, reflection, table, picture and girl all had to be added in exactly the right position to make it look believable. Then the shot was complete after doing some detail work and cleaning up edges. You have to remember to always soften the edges of stripped-in items to make them blend into the shot.

And there you have it. The strongest three-year-old you will ever meet!


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© Vincent Oliver 2006
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