David B. Smith’s “A Moment of Consequence,” The Genesis of a Photo Manipulation

Hawaii-born David B. Smith is an artist and printmaker working primarily in stone lithography and photo-polymer etching.

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"A Moment of Consequence "

Today he shares with us his artistic process involved in the creation of his piece “A Moment of Consequence.”

In 1987, David received his BFA in Fine Art Printmaking from the University of Hawaii followed in 1991 by a Higher Diploma in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.

Professional recognition of David includes his 2005 election to the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers, London, England as an Associate Royal Etcher ( ARE ).

David sees himself as a traditional printmaker.

“All prints are meticulously printed in a limited edition by my hand at the Honolulu Printmakers Workshop in Hawaii and Artichoke Printworkshop in London.

“With my work, I try to create a sense of the visual story … A dramatic pictorial narrative which will hopefully capture the viewer’s imagination as it does mine.

I love the aura of myth and magic and how it frees the mind to dream of possibilities.”

With the print, “A Moment of Consequence,” I wanted to create a sense of narrative, magic, to reflect traditional story telling through images that would entice the imagination.

My initial ‘spark’ for this print was a day-dream of a ringed cloud… believable in form yet surreal in it’s perfection.

There were a number of influences, which lead to my vision for this piece, not the least of which was a series of masterful engravings called “The Betrayers” by a leading Dutch engraver of the early Baroque period, Hendrik Goltzius.”

The Model

“My model Kenzo was the perfect choice as the subject for this print. With his strong athletic physique and expressive face I thought he would give the needed gravitas this print required.

Kenzo

To simulate the appearance of weightless flight, I placed Kenzo on a table covered in white sheets surrounded by 8’ panels of white foam board to create a ‘blank’ environment.

Once the photo is taken to a film positive anything that’s white will not read on the film, only light gray to a black tonality will be seen.

This will greatly aid my post-production work when it comes to separating my subject from his actual environment.

With the pose decided, we worked out the positioning of Kenzo’s limbs, hands, head and feet, as well as the emotional expression.

I climbed up on a ladder to get above him and started shooting …

It’s amazing how much of an effect one slight turn of the head or twist of a hand can have on the overall success of an individual shot.

It can be the difference between getting the emotionally engaging expression you want and a wonderful flowing line of the body… or not!

Since Kenzo’s one foot was cropped in the shot I chose to work with, I had to take it from another shot and “splice” it back on using Photoshop.

The same was with his head…

KenzoHe actually had a better expression in another shot …

So I lopped it off of that shot and placed it on the primary Kenzo photo.

Then the laborious task of erasing the remaining background began.”

The Background

“I was lucky to find a wonderful vista on an early Sunday morning hike just 10 miles from my home at Makapu’u Point.

Makapu’u Point looks back towards the extinct volcanic cinder cone of Koko head crater and Oahu’s famous for body-surfing Sandy Beach.”

To view additional details of the background and sky creation, click here.

“It took 5 successive photographs to capture this broad panorama on film.

These were then scanned and seamlessly connected using Adobe Photoshop to create the overall landscape you see in completed composite.

Now with my landscape created, I could start working on the one element that originally spawned the idea for this print,

… a ring of clouds floating above the earth,

which would give birth to my subject soaring through the sky.

I envisioned this cloud ring to be textually believable yet obviously a manufactured surreal element.

To do this, I had to appropriate a photograph of a storm front to give me that rounded cloud edge.

The ring was created by duplicating and then “butterflying” that quarter circle to give me an entire ring of cloud.

With the landscape and surreal sky combined the magical environment I originally dreamed of began to take shape.”

A group exhibition between the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and fellow print artists in Kenya was the initial exhibition venue for, “A Moment of Consequence”  at Kenya’s Museum of Modern Art ( RaMoMa ) in Nairobi.

For more of David’s work, click here.

Images © 2008 David B. Smith


 

 

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