Tree Creates Portal to a Fantasy World

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The finalist in all the experimenting.

The finalist in all the experimenting.

It’s time once again for ABFriday – After & Before Friday, sponsored by Stacy Fisher at Visual Venturing. This month’s photo was submitted by a fellow blogger, Cee Neuner.  To see her interpretation, click here. Click here to see all the other interpretations over at Visual Venturing.

Here’s the original photo:

Original photo by Cee Neuner

Original photo by Cee Neuner

As you see, the house is a bit ugly and a lot cluttered. I found it pretty uninspiring except for that tree.  I’m sure is why Cee took that picture – that tree is fantastic. It reminded me of the Wizard of Oz, where the movie starts in black and white, and when Dorothy hits her head and starts her adventure, it all goes to beautiful technicolor. I needed to know WHAT was behind that door. Curious minds wanted to know or better yet, invent a new world.

In my defense, this is all Stacy Fisher and Laura Macky’s fault. Laura added a moon into the February challenge (here), which made Stacy reposition March’s cherub into Seattle (here).  That made me decide to try compositing on this photograph! My skill set for masking, layers, and composites was minimal, so I found a great course on lynda.com by Julieanne Kost called, “Introduction to Photo Compositing”. It helped me tremendously and I played it a number of times as I worked with this.
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To that end, I experimented repeatedly and my bloopers are below.
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My first try was to mask the background so that only the tree remained, then drop the tree into a different picture so that you looked through the the outline of the tree to see a doorway beyond it. Good idea, but nothing worked. My technique is poor; had I liked any of the pictures, I would have cleaned that up more.

I decided instead to leave the house in, but change the doorway. The clouds only wasn’t quite enough, so I made the whole doorway into a fantasy portal that was lined with flowers. The desaturated result was a close second to the winner. I liked the petunias around the doorway, but the shape of the flowers just wasn’t quite right for what I was trying to do. Had I liked these, I would have gone back to the masks on the tree and restored more of the foliage above the door so the line wasn’t quite so straight (which I changed in the final photo).

I finally hit on a good look, but it still took a while to get my technique down. I created masks for the doorway and windows, then using free transform, worked in an image from Colonial Williamsburg that showed a house with the long path leading up to it. I only had that one photo with the blue sky from that shoot, so I used it for the door and both windows, adjusting with free transform to change the appearance of the trees and clouds. This kept the coloring the same for the sky and trees, which were brilliantly colored that day.

I did some minor cloning on the front steps, adjusted brightness, and added a frame from onOne. It sounds easy, but it took me a good amount of time to get something that I liked. To create the mask, I used a brush with a straight edge on it. Later, my favorite boy toy showed me several other tools that would have made the masking go much faster, as well as how to copy over the mask layers from one picture to another.
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But I got it done and completed a goal I’d had of learning how to use masks and layers better. I certainly got that accomplished (thanks Cee!).

Interested in how I post processed other photos?  Click here to see more.