ENGL539 Image Project

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ENGL539 Image Project, a set on Flickr.

I chose this collection of images to capture the tone of  this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

To create one must be able to respond. Creativity is the ability to respond to all that goes on around us, to choose from the hundreds of possibilities of thought, feeling, action, and reaction and to put these together in a unique response, expression or message that carries moment, passion and meaning.

The purpose of this image essay is to inspire young women to seek, what I believe to be a distinctly feminine, intuitive nature that is the source of their creativity. The muse, a traditionally female image, has been sought for in vain by those who confuse her passion with sexuality . When fully realized, the intuitive muse within all women is a creative force, powerful beyond words.  My audience is the young woman who has come to recognize her powerful completeness as separate from the the constraints of a culturally sexualized model and is reawakening to her true creative nature. I hope my image essay inspires her.

The order in which the images are presented  moves the viewer from the awakening of the moment of creative impulse to the pollination of the fertile mind.  Next, the unfurling of the imagination uncovers the hidden music of the mind that lights the creative fire within. The final  photo represents the moment of awakening to the unique emotional response that creative expression allows.

Image Search

The original Creative Commons images for this project were found on Compfightusing only one search word, passion, for the entire project.  My purpose was to explore how others defined passion in unconventional and creative ways.  Of course, there were the inevitable, tasteless images that confused lust with passion, but I wanted a deeper and more thoughtful meaning. I found passionate images about nature, music, and more from all over the world. Passion is a global experience, I learned, reflected through art, culture, media, and community.  This worked beautifully with my quote about passion and creativity. I decided to choose from the numerous images which were predominantly red for many of my images because I felt that my audience, sensitive and poetically inclined college students, would make the immediate connection of red with passion.

Image Editing

Image 1.

Original CC image posted at Flicker by Rickydavid

First, I decreased the saturation of the strong, red color in the cloth by one setting so that I could demonstrate (imply) increasing intensity (passion) as I moved through my set of images. Next, I used the Burn tool to darken the woman’s eyelash and brow line.  Finally, I decided to crop the image to focus on the eye even more.

Image 2.

Original CC image posted at Flicker by aurelio.asion

I decided to make some changes to my original editing of this image because as I explained above, I wanted to start out with a less intense color and build up as my set progressed.  I believe this made for a much better image overall too.  Originally I had increased the saturation by two settings. This caused a loss in the detail of the umbrella.  In my final edit, I decreased the saturation by one setting.  I sharpened the image by two settings to increase the correlation of the ribs in the umbrella with the bare tree branches. I retained the rotation which placed the sky in the upper left corner which gives the appearance of the woman glancing up at it from under the umbrella.

Image 3.

Original CC image posted at Flicker by Digital cat

The butterfly image demanded the most attention because the color scheme was so different from the others that it created a distraction.  I wanted to emphasize the one perfect choice to be made out of many options (the butterfly choosing its flower). First, I changed the hue to de-emphasize the butterfly and emphasize the flower that represents “the hundreds of possibilities” in my quote. Then, I sharpened the image to the highest degree.  Finally, I used the White Balance on the fluorescent setting which really created a nicer background by getting rid of the dull olive color.

Image 4.

Original CC image posted at Flicker by Emily’s mind

This photo had a lot of glare on the violin that I softened with the Burn tool using the darkest exposure and the hardest brush.  I also decreased the exposure by one setting which enhanced both the wood and the hand.  This was an important change because I wanted the reaching hand and the violin to have equal importance to the composition.

Image 5.

Original CC image posted at Flicker by Kerekes Janos Csongor

At first, I couldn’t see how a perfect rose could be improved upon, but then I decided to experiment with the Auto-Correct.  This created a vibrant, fiery center-point to my symbol of “thought and feeling.” I liked the effect so much that I used the Dodge feature to highlight all of the brightest edges even further.  Finally, I sharpened the detail by two settings which set my rose on fire!

Image 6.

Original CC image posted at Flicker by Jillian.Xenia

I made three changes to my final image.  First, I used Auto Correct to brighten the image which I found to be too dreary for the overall tone of my composition. This gave the model a rosier complexion (passion, I suspect). Next, I decreased the saturation slightly to soften the over-all effect, especially the background.  Finally, I highlighted the whites of her eyes using the Dodge feature with the smallest brush, using the softest focus.  Now this image appears glistening and powerful; full of “passion and meaning.”

The Learning Process

I used two tutorials to facilitate the learning process for this project, one from Linda.com, and one from Youtube.  Eventually, however, I had to just dive in and experiment with the tools.  Photoshop Express was very user friendly, and I would definitely use it again for another project.  Using Express first gave me the confidence to try the more in depth version Photoshop in the future.

This project represents more than merely capturing the spark of creativity; it involves a psychological dredging of the mind for meaning.  Ascott says, in his article “The Construction of Change,” that when we discuss process “rather than the artwork which results, to attempt to unravel the loops of creative activity, is, in many ways, a behavioural problem” (128).  The two may be ultimately connected however, by the human mind that often interprets life through the most dominant sense, that of sight.

I would like to further reinforce this point by noting the importance of what Austin and Doust , in their book New Media Design, call “emotioneering” tools in providing human experience in the virtual world of gaming. Even by using high tech New Media tools, the authors say that “we appear to be unnerved by seemingly real but alien and bloodless characters, which are intended to simulate our own humanity” (145). This project also seems, for me, to reinforce that art and the science of human psychology are difficult to separate.

Ascott, Roy. “The Construction of Change>” The New Media Reader. Ed. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985. Print.

Austin, Tricia and Richard Doust. New Media Design.London: Laurence King Publishing, 2007. Print.


Posted on February 6, 2012, in ENGL 539. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sharon,

    On your Flickr you need to put the quote in the description under each photo in the essay. It also would be nice to have your quote somewhere at the top of your blog post. There’s a tool in word press to set apart important quotes. It is a little block that has a quotation mark in it.
    I think your photo essay is very beautiful and well thought out. It’s cinematic in a sense. I like that you connected the photos with the deep shades of red. When reading your response I thought it was interesting that you searched for pictures just using one word, so that you could describe passion in various way. That is an interesting concept.

    You do a thorough job describing your process in editing the pictures. You need to add your editing process in a note on each Flickr picture.

    I did not see any commentary on your purpose or audience. This is something that is require for the project.

    Good luck,

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