Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Little Pictures in Big Places

Places don't come any bigger than New York City. There's something wonderful around every corner. There are the biggies: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building -- Broadway.
You're expected to take pics of those. I'd think you had some wasting brain disease if you didn't. But I've done all those. Now when I go there, I am looking for the "little pictures."
The great "Little Pictures" are like fairies -- because you usually see them out of the corner of your eye and if you don't look again, they're gone with a tiny change of angle or a subtle shift of light.
If you've been anywhere near NYC, you know "The Dark Knight" is being advertised everywhere. I find the photo of Heath Ledger particularly spooky because it's a creepy pic. But more than that, it's a creepy pic of a dead guy which makes it even spookier.
This is my first "Little Picture." What's more New York than a subway station? What could make a picture of the fabled cartoon character, the Joker, more interesting than to turn everything around it into a comic book and leave the picture of the cartoon character as a picture? Have a good look at it. (Click on the photo and you can see it "big.") It's not hard to turn the real world into a comic book. I did some blurring and ghosting of the image and then I used Snap Art -- the Alien Skin plug in to complete the picture.

Speaking of Gotham City, how about the bird head? He (she maybe?) is a minor detail on a fountain. The effect of this little picture required no Photoshop work a all -- other than the light border. I wanted the creature to be glaring at something we couldn't see. I wanted the texture of the stone and the cracks to be part of it. I used a Macro scene adjustment with a flash so that the whole background blurred and we are left looking along the same line as the stone bird.
I can't take credit for the last "Little Picture" I want to share in this blog. We're all familiar with the 9/11 tragedy. My wife and I try to get by the site of the reconstruction as often as we can. She spotted this little fire hydrant on the other side of the fence and began photographing it furiously. I had no idea what it was that had captured her attention until I took the time to look.
This "Little Picture" is about a lot of things. It's about the texture on the fireplug and the solid feel it has. It's about the little sticker that someone went to a lot of trouble to put onto it...and it's about wondering about that certain someone and why they chose the words they chose and why they chose to put them onto a sticker...and if they actually intended to use them on the WTC site from the beginning...and why.
I really like this one. It was very hard to get because it required a macro and a flash to do properly. I used Photoshop fairly extensively to bring up the lettering on the tag and to build more contrast into the fire plug.
But on the scale of Cool Little Pictures, it ranks at least a 9 for me. It would have been possible to do more work on it. But I wanted the lower portion of the fireplug to ease off into darkness with light falling on the top and the wee label.
Seeing the Little Picture isn't always easy. Sometimes it's a flag hanging from a lamp. Sometimes it's a person crossing the street. But good "Little Pictures" tell a story. Or they ask a question. Or they make a point. In a dynamite graphic -- they do all three.

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