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A4 EYV – rework

[Recreated from pdf after blog crash]



I’ve reworked my OCA assignment 4 (original here) after doing some additional research. The original post provides full context for the work. Here, I provide information about the additional research, my process, the final images and my conclusion.

My additional research focused on two main areas: a) other photographers who have used the moon and celestial bodies in their work (see post here); and b) the use of fruit, vanitas and chiaroscuro in art (see post here). In addition, I completed some technical research and experimentation on the use of Photoshop to create an artificial deep-space back drop (see post here).

My original assignment aimed to show an apple as a symbol of the moon, with a flash used for shaping. I concentrated mainly on the technicalities of the lighting set up needed to obtain the shadowy sphere of my apple against a dark background. For the rework, I have have stuck with this concept but looked at how it might be enhanced.

The work of Ansel Adam and Susan Dergres includes wonderful but very di”erent images of moons; Adam’s traditional precisionist style is at the opposite end of the spectrum to Dergres’ camera-less work in terms of approach. However, both their work includes the moon itself, not something purporting to act as a symbol of the moon. Kevin Newark’s Protoplasm work of discarded carrier bags floating in canals however, give the appearance of celestial bodies. Their dark watery backdrop gives this impression. I also needed something other than a pure-black back drop for my apples to make it clear what they were to symbolise; otherwise they are just studies of apples.

I considered trying to somehow create a backdrop and re-shoot outdoors, using water, but felt that this was at odds with the original concept of creating light ex nihilo (in the studio). I decided to use a purely digital approach to creating the backdrop and making composite images.


After some experimentation, I arrived at method in Photoshop of creating a deep-space scene. In summary, this involved starting with a black background, adding noise with filters (to act as stars), adding blur to the stars to create a more natural look (Gaussian blur filter) and then adjusting the levels for a good level of blackness and the number of visible stars (so making some noise no longer visible). This made the basic backdrop. To this I added some blue and yellow colour layers through brushes and gradient masks to add more complexity to the blackness and finally another layer of larger hand-brushed stars in white. The detailed layer settings were adjusted to add glow.

I then combined my original apple photos with my deep-space back drop – it took some trial and error to arrive at the final approach. Firstly, I resized the images to my 1500 by 1500 pixel deep-space construction. I pasted deep-space into the apple workspaces and created a duplicate apple layer above the space. Then carefully using a mask and brush I unveiled the deep-space around the apple. The final touch was to create bright star by rendering lens- flare to show the direction of light and add to the chiaroscuro e”ect.

Back in Lightroom, some final adjustments were made to levels and a vignette effect added.

The approach to photographing the apples is detailed in the post for the original assignment (see here).


I’ve nick-named this project ‘dark side of the apple’ as there is something slightly comical about apples in deep-space.

As a creative experiment in digital imaging in Photoshop, and in the achievement of my objective of providing a contextual backdrop to my original ‘apples-as-moon’ photos, I feel the work is successful. On a technical level, it achieves the practice of lighting an object in a studio environment, and digitally manipulating it to arrive at a composite image. I’ve tried something for the first time.

In the future, I’d like to experiment with the techniques in a context of slightly more realistic combinations of photo elements. What can be achieved through digital manipulation rather than elaborate staging of images and how would the results compare?


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