Making Magic

Sarah here!

The thing I love about compositing is that it gives me an excuse to take pictures of just about anything, anywhere. I’m not a landscape or nature photographer (I leave that to Andrew), but you never know when you might want a particular scene as a background. Thus when we went on vacation to the Olympic Peninsula last year, I found plenty to keep me busy while Andrew and his brother were shooting waterfalls and epic forest scenes.

Alas, the rainforest was not as cool and lush and rainy as we’d hoped… in fact, it was hot and dry. We were also hoping for overcast skies, but we got sun with hardly a cloud in sight. Most of our photographs were taken in the middle of the day, since we had more places we wanted to visit during our brief stay than we had golden hours (and it was a vacation, so I admit, we were often lazy in the mornings).

In summary, we had hoped to capture magical green rainforests, but we ended up with a lot of brown and some very harsh light. It was still lovely, but it wasn’t quite what we’d been dreaming of. Below is one of my better straight-out-of-camera shots… I spent a lot of time at this bend in the path because that mossy lump next to the trail looked like some kind of beastie, and I knew I’d want to play with it later.

A scene from the Olympic Peninsula, straight out of the camera.

The out-of-camera background looks pretty flat, but it has good bones. With a lovely and interesting subject, some Orton glow, color toning, and a little straight-up magic, it turned into something that makes me smile to look at. Goes to show that saving pictures comes in handy sometimes, even you don’t quite know what to do with them at the time.

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Happy Photoshopaversary!

2015 Photoshopaversary 1

Sarah here. Today is a very special day for me… it’s my first Photoshopaversary! One year ago today, I downloaded Photoshop and took my first wobbly steps on the path of composite images and digital art.

I was already a pretty competent Lightroom user, and I’d used Gimp occasionally for simple things. Andrew had given me a Wacom tablet, which I now consider pretty much indispensable for Photoshop. I’d been playing with photography for about a year and a half and enjoyed it, but hadn’t really found that spark of inspiration… until I watched this SmugMug video on Benjamin Von Wong, and realized that photography doesn’t just have to be about capturing the real world. It can be about bringing the unreal to life. Picking up Photoshop was a step into a new world where anything was possible, limited only by imagination and skill level… and both of those can always be pushed further. I still have a very long way to go, but I’ve come a long way, and this is a journey without a destination. The journey IS the destination.

A quick shout-out to my Photoshop/photography heroes (more detail on them to come in later posts), in the order I discovered them: Benjamin Von Wong, Renee Robyn, Corey Barker, Aaron Nace of Phlearn, and Roy Korpel. I am awed by all of these artists, and their work regularly makes me say, “I want to do THAT!”

A million thanks to each of them for filling my head with amazing and beautiful images, and opening up new worlds of possibility and potential.

(I’m going to try to make an annual tradition of making a Photoshopaversary doodle, and I figured I’d set the bar pretty low on my first –last minute, wildly procrastinated– effort. It was a good chance to play with 3D, at least, which I haven’t done enough of yet.)

Misty Forest – Mt. Rainier

Andrew here.

“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir

The dense evergreen forests on the slopes of Mt. Rainier come alive when it rains. The immersiveness of a forest rainstorm leaves me with a feeling as if I have traveled back in time. The rain seems to separate you from the outside world and you realize that this forest is as it was millennia ago, and will be millennia from now, if we protect it. This is the Earth as it really is; and out here, you’re just another part of it, not the master of it.

This shot was taken along the Lower Lakes Trail in Paradise Valley on Mt. Rainier, Washington. We hiked up from Paradise Lodge along the Skyline Trail, followed the Mazama Ridge trail down the south side of Rainier, and decided to cut back in the general direction of Paradise Inn when a storm rolled in, taking the High Lakes Trail back West. It was hard to resist shooting scenes like this along the way, as the streams swelled from the rainfall and the forest took on an otherworldly feel with the clouds settled in the trees.

Hello internets!

Hello, peoples of the interwebs!  Sarah here, and I’m one half of Unnatural Imagery.  I’m a photographer and digital artist based in the Washington, D.C. area.  I’m a geek, and my work is usually influenced by fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and video games.

The other half of our duo is… well…. my other half, Andrew.  He’s the intrepid adventurer, a.k.a. nature, landscape, and macro photographer.  He’ll be weighing in here from time to time, too.

This blog will be a work in progress (what isn’t, really?), since we don’t know who will be stumbling over our little corner of the net, but we’re thinking we’ll use this space to share what we’ve been up to, show some behind-the-scenes, and introduce you to our sources of inspiration.

If you’ve managed to find this post, thanks for reading!  Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see here, and we’re looking forward to sharing our images with you!