band portrait with fine art technique

Sound Bites Grill brought in the Steph Johnson Trio to entertain last week on Sunday night. Wow! It was wonderful. Steph has a really low smoky sounding voice and plays a silky smooth jazz guitar. Rob Thorsen was on upright bass and he was making beautiful sounds that I had never heard a bass make before. On drums Fernando Gomez showed skills mastered because he started drumming before the age of ten. All in all lots of good sounds. The Steph Johnson Trio will be right at home on the ‘Sound Bites Grill Wall of Fame’. I created a single image of Steph and one for the Trio. I used the *Lumix GX7. I’ve found this camera to have a great dynamic range which is extremely helpful in capturing the variety of mixed color stage lighting.

musician photographSteph Johnson live on stage at Sound Bites Grill.
See below for some ideas on the techniques used to create this look.

 The technique I am using is one I call ‘Photo-Synthesis’. It starts with a base image, or in this case multiple images of the band members. They are all cut out, even if they are going to stay in the same position and placed on their own layer. After the musicians have been put together into the composition texture layers are added by placing images of metal, rock, walls or grasses or – you get the idea – almost anything will give a different look and feel as the various blend modes of each layer are adjusted. The blend modes allow the layers to interact with the layers below in different mathematical ways. The old ‘if this, then that will happen’. Shuffling layers, changing blend modes, and adding masks tweak the look. Where the individuals were placed on their own layers makes it possible to add drop shadows and lighting effects to enhance the depth selectively.

steph Johson trio photoThe Steph Johnson Trio at Sound Bites Grill in Sedona, Arizona by Bob Coates Photogrpahy

One last tip is adding the autograph messages from the band. Because it would be difficult to track down the individuals after the photographic art work is completed I have the musicians sign a blank white piece of paper with a black Sharpie marker just as if they were signing their autograph. This is scanned and brought into the final composition as a layer. The image is inverted turning black to white. Blend mode is set to screen and the signature magically blends into the image with no muss no fuss.

If you would like to learn more about how I work with Adobe Photoshop in creating this type of imagery I am available for personal coaching or if you have a photo group I can present a program. As a *Panasonic Lumix Luminary I could be sponsored for your event. Give me a shout to get details.

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