This is an image I took of Rachel nearly a year ago now. I went back and edited it again because I felt like it would look really beautiful in muted warmer tones.


Here's a before and after shot of hand and color editing. Straight out of the camera it was more cool, but I always love to add a bit of warmth. Rachel is just perfect in every way.


Create the Incredible Contest with Sue Bryce and Lara Jade

Photographers Sue Bryce and Lara Jade- two of my favorite photographers- did a workshop together on CreativeLive (an awesome resource for artists of all sorts) called "Create the Incredible". A lot of it involved composites and putting together your visions in Photoshop. The ladies decided to run a contest with the same name, and the winner would get a Skype session with either Lara or Sue. So, of course, my competitive nature kicked in, and I entered.

Sue provided the following image, taken on a tall ladder during the workshop. We were supposed to make something incredible with it. It can be seen on her blog here:

Immediately when I saw the image, I thought of a series I did in high school that were composites of ballerinas dancing on the moon. I thought of weightlessness. This idea was even more engraved in my mind because I had recently seen Gravity.

I didn't want to use any images that I didn't take myself for copyright reasons. Sometimes that's a grey area and I don't like to cross with. I remembered that I had taken pictures of the moon a few years ago with my dad's Nikon. I cut that out and made the model "stand" on it. At first. I made half the moon show on the canvas. Later I decided to extend that and make the whole moon show.

I then made the skirt flow around the moon. I wanted it to be long and for it to encompass the moon. I love movement, so I made sure to add motion blur. I duplicated some areas with the clone tool, and stretched some areas with liquify. I didn't want that duplicated cloning effect.


Next I looked for tutorials on how to make starts on Photoshop. It took a while to get this right, and for them to be large so that they were visible enough. I also think I used some dust and scratches on Alien Skin to really enhance the stars, but I did that as a final step. I've included my exact star texture below. Feel free to click on the image and download it for use. Please don't claim it as your own or redistribute it.

I placed these elements together in black and white: the model, stars, and moon. It felt like it needed more. I thought about the movie Gravity and how things move in space. I decided to add a radial blur around the whole image. To me, it added both movement and focus on the subject. After a few tweaks, and some critiques from friends, I was done.


I love the concept of this piece, and at the time when I submitted it I was pretty happy. When it comes to composites, I have high standards. It can't look cut up- it needs to be incredible cohesive. I am still proud of the piece. When I submitted it into the contest, I knew it would be a fair contender. However, it didn't end up winning.

There are several flaws that stand out, now looking back on it. For one, when I saw the other entries, I noticed several others involving the moon. Ouch. My idea wasn't as creative as I had hoped. The choice of black and white made the composite blend in with the other entries. All of the contenders with color took a risk and I played it safe. It lacked the depth and mood that color can really create. I also did sloppy editing on the model. This was prior to taking advanced levels courses, so I struggled with contrast and knowing when to stop. There were some truly incredible entries that made my piece look like Photoshop 101. We had the option to submit as many entries as we could make in the allotted time, but I was so content with this that I didn't push myself further. Overall, I love this piece, and I'm disappointed in not winning, but it was a learning experience and a reminder that I should be thinking beyond my first ideas.

Image credit for the model above: Sue Bryce,
Feel free to use the star texture above, but don't claim it as your own or redistribute it.