Nov 8, 2014

Guest Tutorial by Humberto Dominguez

Initially when I spotted this photo by Humberto Dominguez (@salopalo on Instagram), I asked him if I could feature it as part of The Whole Story series. Humberto responded by offering to provide a tutorial for the image, so I jumped at the chance to be able to see his creative process. Take it away Humberto!



Tutorial by Humberto Dominguez
I have been on Instagram roughly two years. What drew me in, in addition to an appreciation of photography, was the potential for developing my creative and artistic exploits. I am a practicing lawyer, but one of my avocations has always been painting.  Due to time and space constraints, my work on canvas (and any other tangible surfaces) has slowly diminished over the years.  The love of painting perhaps explains why many of my posts display a painterly look or style. Aside from the painterly theme, I see my work infused with geometry. Growing up, at times I thought I would be an architect. I love working with lines and defined shapes, and ideas readily come to my head when I see a photo in geometric terms.  I would love to be active on other platforms, like Flickr etc, but there is just so much time during the day.
My editing process is varied, unpredictable and often driven by the subject and also my writing, a form of which usually accompanies my posted work. I do most post-processing of photos on the iPad mini. I start and end most of my posts with Snapseed, with often up to 30-60 steps in between. I use every imaginable trick or gimmick to retain high resolution on the imagery and achieve my vision. Because I rely on what I consider inexact means, I often wind up surprised at the final result. Part of the reason why I find creating or editing a picture immensely rewarding is the fact that it is a tedious process as well. This may also be because I abhor reading instruction manuals, much like do-it-yourself furniture material, and thus I may be missing shortcuts used by others and may find myself continuing to reinvent the wheel on my future edits.

For this particular piece, I first chose my background: a photo I took by the Verrazano Bridge.  


I then turned to my staple apps: photo crash (PC) and photo crash fright (PCF). I use photocrash apps because they are the most easily-accessible source of PNG imagery.  The problem with the apps is that you can only add one image at a time without a decidedly perceptible decay in the quality of the photo. In order to add elements to an image without losing resolution, I "trick" PCF or PC into thinking the inserted image is a new photo. I do this by first adding some additional element, either in PCF or PC or another app, and then come back to PC/PCF where the image is now recognized as a new photo. Using Handy photo I later erase the unnecessary "trick" gimmick element.

Going back to the edit, using PCF, I superimposed on my Verrazano background one of their standard images, "faceless." 


I erased about 1/3 of the head, guided by my visualization of it as a 3D image-with my 3D background effect to be added next. Using Handy photo I then cut and blurred the facial features.  Next, using the above trickery back and forth between PC, PCF and sometimes WowFx, I added a white background over the missing 1/3 of the head. 


I erased along the contours of my imagined 3D head.  I then inserted, once again using PC, a dark background into the top of the head and then excised an area in the white background to create the effect of a rim around the faceless face.   The vision I had for this post was an allusion to the works of the painter Rene Magritte.  He is perhaps best known for a painting depicting a man wearing a bowler hat with an apple covering his face. 


I found a comparable hat in Wowfx and placed it above the image.  


I had also decided early on that I was going to use an apple in this post.  Now, where to find an apple!? I usually do not use Google images, so I was stuck with a poor excuse for an apple, once again from PC.  Their "bad apple" comes with a set of teeth. Come to think of it, most imagery from photo crash or photo crash fright I find unusable, sophomoric "as is," so cosmetic work was needed to fix the problem. 


Neither Handy photo nor any other erasure app I am familiar with was able to save this bad apple for my post. Playing around with the parts of the bad apple, however, I then found the solution: using the top portion of two of these bad apples together, again using the back and forth pseudo-technique described above. Thus I created the effect of two apples stacked together. 



Before moving on to filters, I added the body of an umbrella and placed it in the back of the white rim, creating the illusion that perhaps the hat is not really suspended in mid-air.


Despite my efforts to hoodwink the photo crash apps into keeping the resolution high, I noticed shadowing and decayed colors in the image. I used distressedFx, stackables and mextures to make the final look presentable and mysterious.


About Humberto:



My name is Humberto S. Dominguez.  I am originally from Ecuador, but have lived in the US since my childhood, mostly in Brooklyn, N.Y.  From early on, I have always been interested in various forms of art, but avidly practiced drawing and painting.  While I harbored ideas of making a living through art, I eventually went on to major in political science in college.  As a symbol of my continuing ambivalence, even after graduating from law school, I found myself showing my portfolio at a prestigious art school while I should have been studying for the bar exam instead. For over twenty years I have been working as a lawyer in a non-profit setting, practicing immigration work. I turned to Instagram perhaps as a way to reconnect with my then diminishing forays into painting, which was becoming more costly and taxing because of lack of space. 

You can follow Humberto on Instagram @salopalo

Some of Humberto's favorite apps (I even found 2 I didn't have here!):
Snapseed
ArtStudio
FilterstormPhotoCrash
WowFx

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