Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Arachnophobia VI: The Bone Collector

Just a couple of minutes ago, as I was sitting (in a café, as usual), working on the next picture in this series, two kids, about 6-7 years old, asked me what I was doing. I told them I was working on a picture with a giant spider in it. The new picture does not look like much yet, so I showed them this one. They liked it. Then, an older woman, probably their grandmother, called them away. She showed no interest in what had her grandchildren so intrigued. That, and a conversation I had yesterday, with two friends, made me reflect on the nature of imagination and curiosity.

Why is it that so many adults seem to have lost their imagination? Is it a biological phenomenon? Is it the environment? A bit of both?

I can tell you what I do to keep my creativity alive:

I feed the creative engine by reading, by watching movies, listening to music, looking at art made by others. I actively seek out new experiences when I can.

I process the creative raw material by thinking about it, by talking about it with my friends, and by writing this blog.

I express it by writing, photography, and by dabbling with other media, like the 3D image above.

I was over forty when I started with photography. Today, I'm 56, going on 57. In many ways I feel younger than I did when I was 30.

Maybe I ought to just be happy that my crumbling brain has retained a few, occasionally firing, creative neurons. I can't help but be a bit bothered though, when I see so many people younger than me, who seem to have lost their curiosity and imagination.

Over the years, I have tried to help others fan their creativity, hoping that they, in turn, will do the same for me. I have gotten a few very good friends that way, and they mean a lot to me, so in that sense it has worked.

My failures greatly outnumber the successes though. Granted, I do not know everything that goes on in the lives of the people I encounter, but I do get the feeling that in many cases, there is not a lot going on.

Then again, perhaps I am just projecting my own emotions on other people, when I imagine that there is an ember of creativity in there, just waiting to get fanned into life, to become a self-sustaining fire.

Perhaps most adults are happy just the way they are, living a life where each day is like any other day, and the highest ambition is to spend a day on the beach, doing nothing. (I shudder as I write it. To me, a day on the beach doing nothing is sheer hell, an unendurable punishment, and something I flatly refuse to subject myself to.)

Better then, if I want company, to look to the creative fires already burning out there, than to try to build fires by fanning ashes. By the way, alone or not, I need to do something about the lack of contrast in my pictures. Sigh! They still look a lot better in my head than they do when they are finished. I got some frank and forthright advice yesterday, when I met my friends. I am going to do my best to follow it.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Camping with Dinosaurs (a.k.a. Guess Who is coming for Dinner?)

Cassandra Högfeldt in the Cavewoman genre picture Camping with Dinosaurs.
Camping with Dinosaurs is my first Cavewoman genre photo composite. I have made a number of pictures in the genre before, but they have been all 3D, with 3D characters I have customized using Daz Studio.

Thanks to a recent photo session with model Cassandra Högfeldt, it was possible to create the picture photographically.

I had created a storyboard for the picture that we used when discussing the picture before we shot it.

Dakotaraptor Attack, the storyboard for Camping with Dinosaurs.
Where do you get the idea for a picture like this? Well, Edgar Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan started it with his 1913 novel The Cave Girl.

The Cave Girl is available as a free download at The Gutenberg Project.
The Cave Girl features brutish stone-age cave-men, and prehistoric monsters on a remote, very isolated island. No dinosaurs though. for those, we'll jump to 1993, and the comic artist and writer Budd Root.

In December 1993, Basement Comics released Cavewoman #1, featuring the heroine Meriem C. Cooper. The comic was created by Budd Root, who has credited the comic Little Annie Fanny, and paleontological artist William Stout as the inspiration for Meriem and her adventures.

It is worth noting that the director of the 1933 King Kong was Merian C. Cooper. It is funny, but I have never seen anything written about the similarity to Meriem C. Cooper. It seems like Budd Root paid homage to a major source of inspiration, and then didn't talk about it much.

Meriem Cooper was born in 1980, but through time travel, she ended up alone 65 million years back in time. Well, not completely alone, there is Klyde, a 5m tall genetically enhanced gorilla with an extremely bad temper.

Thus, the scene was set for a series of comics about a young woman adventuring in the Cretaceous period. Eventually, more time-travellers arrived, and the stories got a larger gallery of characters.

Burroughs and Root are the most direct influences on Camping with Dinosaurs. Of course, every Lost World genre book I've read, from Arthur Conan Doyles's The Lost World to Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, and movies from King Kong and onwards, have also been strong influences.

If you want to see how the scene was built up using a mix of photography and 3D, have a look at my post at ArtStation.

Now, I'm going back to making more pictures.

Be seeing you!

Monday, 27 May 2019

Hide and Seek: From Storyboard to Final Image

Cassandra Högfeldt is hiding from a T-Rex, less than successfully.

Hide and Seek is a picture in the King Kong series of pictures I am working on. The idea is to show scenes from Skull Island, Kong's home.

There is a bit of a twist: Some scenes are more or less related to the King Kong movies, but not all of them. In the movies, Skull Island is populated by a primitive people that worship Kong. There are also ruins, remnants of a more advanced civilization. There is also the great wall that runs across the island, keeping the humans who live on one side safe from the terrors that roam the island on the other side.

That means the island has been discovered by humans at least twice, and maybe three or more times. According to Wikipedia, people from Southeast Asia reached the island about 3,000 years ago, and it was they who brought Kong's ancestors to the island.

The storyboard I created for the photo shoot. Note that the direction of the light is different from the finished picture.

Skull Island is located west of Sumatra in the movies. Sumatra may have been reached by the ancient Greeks. Thus, it is possible that Greek seafarers also reached Skull Island.

If the Greeks did it, why not others? Romans? Vikings? The crew of the Nisero in 1883? George Edward Challenger? There are plenty of possibilities.

I've got plenty of material to work with, or invent as I go along.

If you want to see the first picture from the shoot with Cassandra Högfeldt, click right here.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Rite of Passage: From Storyboard to Final Image

Rite of Passage: Final Picture vs. Storyboard
I have a set of storyboards that I have been building up for more than a year. Recently, I did a photo session with photo model Cassandra Högfeldt, which gave me the opportunity to create photographic versions of some of those storyboards.

Cassandra did a great job. I do the best I can. Sometimes that means working on the same picture over and over, until I get it just right. Sometimes I have to settle for not completely wrong, but since nobody but me knows what the picture looked like inside my head, I can usually get away with it.

Actually, being insecure about your work, is beneficial, up to a point. It makes you strive to improve, to push yourself to be better, no matter how good you get.

Of course, if the insecurity gets the better of you, you can lose the confidence you need to finish a piece, but when that happens, I discuss the problem picture with a friend or two, and that helps.

Cassandra and I were well prepared for the photo session. I had storyboarded everything, and she had looked through the storyboards and selected the pictures she wanted to do before the shoot.

Before the shoot, I printed all the storyboards and laid them out on a table in the studio. (The "studio" is actually a room meant for parties and meetings that I hire for photo sessions. Works very well, and it is alot cheaper than having a studio of my own, or renting one.)

We went through the storyboards and determined which ones to shoot, and the shooting order. Then we got to work.

The picture you see here, Rite of Passage, is the first of the pictures from the photo session. There will be more. Lots more.

Be seeing you!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

King Kong V: On the Run

Agnarr Fast running from a very large predator on Skull Island.
It is obvious in the King Kong movies that humans have lived on Skull Island for a very long time. There are people living there when the protagonists arrive. There is the great wall that is obviously very old, and there are ruins all over the place.

So, I got to thinking about what Skull Island must have looked like a thousand years ago, when the wall was much newer, and still maintained, when an advanced civilization flourished on the Island. From time to time, groups of seafaring people must have found the island.

What if a group of vikings did? What if those vikings included Alice of Sandby and Agnarr Fast, from the Alice: Demon's Gate storyline?

Up until now, most of my King Kong pictures have been closely related to scenes in the movies. While I still have a couple of movie-inspired scenes in my head, this picture is where I start to mix in elements that were not in the movies at all, and that is where creativity begins.

Be seeing you!

Saturday, 27 April 2019

King Kong IV: In the Forest

King Kong IV: In the Forest

I wasn't happy with the gorilla model I used for the first two pictures with King Kong. It was based on an first generation Genesis 3D model. That meant it was limited in movement and expressions, and, even worse, it did not have realistic fur! The fur was just a texture map. It worked when I repainted images, and severely reduced the amount of detail, but it was nowhere near a photorealistic gorilla.

Yesterday, I bought a Genesis 2 based gorilla model. The model is designed for use with the 3DLight renderer, which I normally do not use. Initial tests look pretty good though. The hair is Look At My Hair (LAMH) based, and looks pretty good. It is not Hollywood movie quality, but I believe it will suffice for my purposes.

It might become necessary to convert the gorilla model from 3DLight to iRay, but this is usually a simple procedure. I have tried it out on some other models, and I believe it will work for the gorilla too.

Back to work on more pictures. See you!

Sunday, 21 April 2019

King Kong III: Showdown

My main focus for this image was the action. I wanted to get close, while at the same time getting a decent view of what is going on, so I went wide angle, and forced perspective.

This is certainly an image that could be tweaked a bit, but I'll leave it for now, and move on to the next idea.

My goal is to have enough King Kong storyboards for a Kong-themed photo shoot.

Why not check out the previous two pictures in the series?