Burning skull self-portrait

burning-skull_3044

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is Warmth.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

skull-portrait

“If something burns your soul with purpose and desire, it’s your duty to be reduced to ashes by it. Any other form of existence will be yet another dull book in the library of life.”
― Charles Bukowski

Check out WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge for more: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/endurance/

Natalia Kuternoga

Model: Natalia Kuternoga

Model: Natalia Kuternoga

The Process

  • At first I shot photos of the model, Natalia Kuternoga in the studio of the Polish photographer Jacek Ura.
  • After the photo shoot I did some basic adjustments to the photo in Adobe Lightroom, exported the result and opened it in Adobe Photoshop.
  • The first thing I did in Photoshop was to make selections to separate the model and background.
  • Then I created a displacement map from a photo I took of a worn down graffiti wall in an old fort near Krakow in Poland.
  • I added the displacement map plus a few details from a color splash photo.
  • Separated two copies of the models left eye. Changed the settings, dodge and burned and finally merged the layers when I had my wanted result.
  • Brushed in a couple of leaves from the standard Photoshop brushes
  • I then changed the overall colors of the photo by adding several layer masks (the following numbered list is reversed, so # would be the bottom, # 5 on top):
  1. a black & white layer
  2. gradient map red/orange set to color and with lowered opacity
  3. copy of gradient map set to soft light and a very low opacity
  4. a gradient fill ranging from dark to light green and set to soft light
  5. a color balance layer with a medium opacity and individual settings for the shadows, mid-tones and highlights
    • The first layer was set to screen mode with a high opacity before I brushed out the unwanted parts leaving the effect basically on the left side of the photo.
    • The flames was added as 3 layers from two different shots I have in my catalog.
    • The second layer is another photo of flames, set to darken and medium opacity. Also on this layer I brushed away the effects using a layer mask.
    • The third flame layer is a copy of the second, but now set to luminosity with a medium strong opacity (and off course with an individual layer mask like all the other layers).

Now the image looks something like what I wanted it to look, so it’s time to go through all the layers and layer masks, change the opacity if needed, brush out masks, and do minor adjustments. I decided to make another copy of the eye, create a selection, border the selection and paint a white circle. I sat the blend mode to lighter color and lowered the opacity and fill drastically,  so that it left a hint of some crazy iris but without becoming too dominant.

Model: Natalia Kuternoga.

Photo, execution, idea, design, layout: Cardinal Guzman

This was my entry for WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Hue.