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October - Season of the Witch

You may have noticed that the format of this image is a little different, and by different I mean not a close cropped self-portrait. I had the pleasure of working with the wonderful Kerim of Kerim Aktug Photography I have been working with Kerim for years now and could not pass up the opportunity to collaborate with him. As some of you may or may not know I am a profession Cosplayer. Kerim started out as a cosplay photographer and our friendship bloomed from a mutual love for photography, video games, and Bioware.

You never know how or where you will meet friends, but I am glad I won Kerim's cosplay photo session contest all those years ago and that we have been able to keep in touch since. He is the ONLY photographer I work with that will let me edit their images. As you can imagine, being a photo retoucher means you develop quite the opinion on what looks good for retouching, especially when it come to how you should look. Not to say that Kerim is not an amazing retoucher, because he does great work. But I really like to play with my images. As a cosplayer I like to create composites and not every photographer is trained in that field, since it is a specialized area of photography and editing. Luckily Kerim has always let me play with his images and has been a constant cheerleader for my work.

With that said, I present my Halloween self portrait (photo by Kerim Aktug Photography and editing and model by Amanda Swanson Photography.)

This is normally the part where I give you a long and often weird history lesson. As much as I would love to do an exposé on my knowledge on the many many many witch hunts there have been throughout history and the long term effects they had on woman's equality, I do not think my blog on featuring a fun Halloween photo is the right place to do that...maybe I should make a Podcast...

Instead I will focus on the fun photo day and explaining what I did to the image.

Kerim and I met at City Hall in Red Deer Alberta for our photos. Due to some health stuff I was running late, and of course Kerim, always the professional was not only on time, but arrived early to scout out locations. Luckily, we had planned that I may have health issues the day of, so this was but a minor blip in a otherwise awesome trip. Arriving early allowed Kerim to wander the downtown area and find a few really cool and creepy looking places for us to take photos. On that list was the City Hall you see in the photo. Kerim felt my outfit was very Wednesday Adams (which in his defense, it is a Dress I often use to dress up as Wednesday) and he felt that the building gave off very Adams Family House Vibe. Again, he is not wrong. I got to posing and doing my thing. We actually didn't spend a lot of time at this location, but we were in the area long enough that we did notice a few people watching us and pointing. Apparently this kind of stylized shoot is weird, or entertaining. Either way, we didn't mind too much. We photographed for around 2 hours and finished the day with dinner and chats. Overall a quite fun day. A few days later I received my images from Kerim and they are absolutely gorgeous. Like I didn't want to edit any of them, but I also promised Kerim I would turn some of his images into my fun photoscapes. So, I pulled out my stylus, opened my photoshop, and got to work. I knew I wanted to cover the steps in candles and pumpkins. That just felt like a given, as it was a Halloween shoot. I had also just purchased a set of element brushes and really wanted to try out the lightning brushes. In order for that to work, I would need to turn the day, into night. Not an easy trick. I actually had to spend some time learning how to do this. If there had been cloud texture in the sky that day I could have just adjusted the brightness of the sky and then applied a layer gradient, but that just wasn't the case. So instead I added a sky manually, using the channels mask technique, like I would for hair. Then I had to manually darken elements in the images that would be naturally dark at night, specifically the windows and trees. After that things were pretty simple. Create mood lighting, add glowing to the light sources, like the candles, and edit the skin and lighting of the subject (ie: me.)

My haunted photo has 212 layers (mostly candles and pumpkins), 53 groups, and is 1.67 GB. It took around 4 hours to create. Sorry no video this month. I did record one, but I just have not had the time to edit it. Sorry. It was mostly me placing candles anyway, and you don't want to watch 20 minutes of that right?

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