I titled this post "A Painting or Photograph?" because I'm getting more and more comments from folks that my images almost look like paintings. I find this feedback really cool because that is the style photography I am most attracted to. I've worked pretty hard to develop that "signature look" for my own work. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but it's mine. Although there was a time in my life wherein I took up oil painting, I quickly found out that i don't have the patience to be a painter. However, my love for oil paintings lives on and I am most impressed by luminist painters. This type of painter uses color and tone to create a glowing effect in their work. Painters of light....I'm sure everyone has heard of Thomas Kinkade, who is a luminist painter. But, the absolute best luminist painter, in my opinion, is Robert Finale. I'm going to attempt to add a hyperlink to his website right now. <a href="http://www.robertfinaleeditions.com"> Robert Finale </a>
I doubt that my hyperlink will work (I'm computer challenged), so the website is simply robertfinaleeditions.com
You've got to see this guy's work.
So, when I began photography my goal was to incorporate this style of accentuating light into my images. I wanted my images to look like a cross between paintings and photographs, fusing these two artistic genres together. Hence, the name "Phusion Photography."
How I Created This Image
This particular image was a challenge because I wanted a very warm lighting for this scene, but the weather and time of day was not ideal. Having missed the "golden hour" opportunities immediately following sunrise and before sunset, I knew I had a lot of post-processing work to do on this one. To make matters even worse, this image had a ridiculous amount of chromatic abberation. First off, this is an HDR photograph, which required 5 exposures, -2 to +2. After it was processed in Photomatix, the tonemapped layer as well as all 5 original exposures were stacked into their own layer and opened in Photoshop (tonemapped layer should always be on top). I did the usual examination of all the layers to see what i wanted to incorporate into the tone mapped layer. When merging information from one layer to another, via a layer mask, I always use a very low opacity setting on my brush (around 15%). Once this process was done, I noticed severe chromatic abberation. I tried to fix it through Photoshop's lens correction filter. Didn't work. This function usually doesn't work, especially with HDR images, because it causes blurring and you lose a significant amount of sharpness in your image. NOTHING WORKED!! At this point, I had to get creative, so i discovered a method of removing those terrible color fringes for HDR images that actually works. Here it is....Use your sponge tool, set it to desaturate, and set opacity to around 40% to start. Zoom into your image at 200% and with a very small brush size, color over the fringing. WARNING: This is a very long and tedious process, but can be quite soothing for the obsessive-compulsive individual. I'm a little OCD, so I actually enjoyed doing it. The bottom line...it works! The next task was to make the image look as though it was taken during the golden hour. This involved a lot of 'painting in light' as i call it. Picking different colors in the yellow/orange family, using different blending modes, a very low brush opacity, and knowing where to paint in colored highlights and shadows. This process should probably be its own posting, so I will write a detailed post in the near future on how to do this. But for now...get out there and take some pictures!!!