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Seeing ‘Roger’s Red’

Roger's Red leaf oil Paint filter

Leaf of grapevine ‘Roger’s Red’, backlit on my fence, swirling

Some days, simply venturing out with the camera is truly a tonic.  With full intent to go capture some photo or another, I escape the office, get out of doors, needing, indeed craving for photos to wash over me, allow me to click a shutter, to respond and create.  And add some more products to the PhotoBotanic store.

On this stormy autumn day I put on a rain suit so I could plunge into plants or plop on the ground.  I went looking for raindrops in the garden.  And I went out into California’s wet winter spring when the native plants emerge, when rebirth and vitality fill the air, when the first real rains make me giddy.

After hours of exploring, looking, wondering what I was seeing, what I could capture, I walked into my back garden through the gate covered with ‘Roger’s Red’ grape vine.  This one big leaf slapped me up the side of my head.  Whoa.  An elemental opportunity.

OK Mr. Leaf; I see you, you’re right – I should take your picture too.  Something is happening here.

Coming into the garden this way, down from the woods on the hill, the leaves were back lit, the red intense.  The color shimmered and swirled in the moody gloom of the brooding storm, with a sudden red revelation dancing against my face and my one good eye.  The camera was not going to see what I was feeling.

I can now begin to pre-visualize how I might use PhotoShop filters, so I found an angle that might show promise for later with the computer, for the inevitable return indoors.   Last month, in my Tupelo Impressions post, I went into detail of how to use the Oil Paint filter, and here with this swirling red beauty of a leaf,  I anticipated opening the digital toolbox again.

The specifics are not important though I will say after cropping the scene square and cloning in three extra leaves in the bottom of the frame for balance, I then used Oil Paint with the various control sliders to get the painterly effect.  The specifics are not important because for one, I am flying by the seat of my pants as I learn the tools.  But more importantly this Mental Seeds blog is my excuse to explore my changing vision and post personal work, not pretend to know what I am doing …

Don’t all artists harbor questions about their direction ?  Maybe this is why I wanted to see what else was in this image besides the shimmer, so next I isolated the red leaf against a white background as a silhouette – a photobotanic illustration.

Progression of effects, from shimmer to illustration.

The plain white silhouette is a nice enough illustration, but I thought it would be fun to see how the painterly style might look on the white background.  The swirly, airbrushed look that works so well against the moody garden looked too wispy and soft for a botanical look, so I dug deeper into the toolbox.

This final version begins to take on the style of a wood block print and, I get the shimmer AND the illustration.

The design is now available on merchandise in the PhotoBotanic store.

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