Gary Irving: Edgy Composites with Precise Lighting Part 2

December 15

6 min. to read

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In collaboration with both Photoflex and Skylum software, Irving is taking us behind the scenes of his process so that we can see exactly what makes him tick and how he crafts his incredible images.

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Artist Gary Irving creates everything in his fantastical images. From the initial planning to the precise photographing of his subjects, and then to finally placing shadows and replacing backgrounds, Gary does it all.  In Part 1 of this series, which you can find here on the Photoflex blog, we looked into how Irving creates his component pieces as he manipulates light around his carefully posed and planned models so that they will fit right into the scenes he has imagined.  Once he gets all of the components together, Irving can take off in his post processing magic.

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After he was initially exposed to the possibilities of digital image compositing, he could let his artistic side flourish.  “If I get an idea I’ll scribble it out on a piece of paper and that’s my rough idea,” he says.  “Then I’ll work on that from there and then I just allow it to take hold and change as it goes.  I’m not a stickler on ‘that’s what I drew and that’s how it’s gonna go.’”  For this image he worked with for us, he had originally planned to have the Grandmother figure dropping into the pool, but he liked the image of her standing on the edge better, so he went with it.

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Irving tries to keep his options open.  He wants to be sure that he gets enough image to fit his original idea, but uses his studio set up as efficiently as he can to get a range of images that he might be able to use for his current projects or something in the future.  Once he starts to move his images around in post, he can find the right combination of models, props, backgrounds, and scenery to create the final piece.  When he works with his images, he allows himself to play and create in concert, and is never too hard on himself.  “Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out,” he explains.  “If one piece I’m working on is just not looking right, I’ll turn it off and walk away and go do something else.  Then I come back, pick it up maybe three or four days later.”

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It’s that ability to move around to different projects and keep his creativity alive and fluid that keeps him interested in creating new work and trying new things.  He never allows himself to get bogged down in a project or creatively stuck.  In fact, he sets a timer when he works on the computer to remind himself to take breaks, rest his eyes, and occasionally grab something to eat.

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Irving does try to limit his time in front of the screen, so any tools that he can utilize to enhance his vision while also improving his efficiency are helpful.  When he first tried Skylum’s Creative Kit he was intrigued, and then blown away.  “When I first opened up Skylum I thought, ‘Oh, this is kind of cool, this is kind of neat.’ But when I actually got into it, there’s so much that you can do with it.  It’s pretty amazing.”

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His favorite tool in the Skylum suite?  “Definitely the Detail Enhancement in Intensify CK,” he admits.  “I really want my stuff to look more painterly quality than photography.  I want people to look at my work and wonder if it is a painting or a photo.  That’s where I’m at.  Bringing the detail enhancement is where it’s at with that.”

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And he has used the photo enhancer presets and controls within Intensify CK to bring about that final, and consistent, look that has brought his images more and more attention.  As he continues to play around within the Creative Kit, he keeps finding more and more gems that he can apply to his fantascapes.

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