My social debate image inspiration comes from the world’s first Taniwha and Dragon Festival, a celebration of the bonds between Maori and Chinese people. In the festival, Auckland’s Chinese community were formally welcomed with a pòwhiri on to Òràkei Marae by Ngàti Whàtua warriors and whànau, and accompanied by a dancing Chinese dragon. I was a witness for this wonderful event and took lot of photos. Maori and Chinese can builds understanding and empathy as they have a shared experience of being discriminated against in New Zealand. According to a 2012 report (Working Together: Racial discrimination in New Zealand), Asian has the highest levels of racial discrimination, followed by Maori. The intended communication objective is to construct an image that will celebrate the bonds between Maori and Chinese people and build understanding with their cultural diversity.
I took a hongi image between a Maori-chef and a China old man in the festival. It is a very harmony picture which I would like to manipulate to reflect the bonds between the Maori and Chinese people. From the photos I took at the event, I look for the Maori and Chinese elements that represent the cultural tradition. Chinese dragon dance, a Marae and warrior are composed into the image. I have tried many different compositions. I used the layer mask as the non-destructive method to mask the portion that I don’t want on the image. I found that removing the background around lots of hair of the warrior is a bit challenging. I have watched a lot of Youtube videos regarding different methods that remove background around fine hair. I found one easy and quick method of doing that, especially using it against a light background in this image. I used part of the dragon to make the tattoo for the Chinese man to match the tattoo of the Maori-chef. The dragon tattoo was desaturated and put on the face of the Chinese man using the multiply layer mode. The background of the hongi image has been masked out and the background of the final image is using the background of the dragon dancing image. The hongi image with 70% opacity and with a Channel mixer applied to it is the dominant element that occupies 70% of the image and it gives a big impact for the viewer. Overall the image achieves my intended purpose of celebrating the bonds between Maori and Chinese people and build understanding with their cultural diversity.
I have recently watched Michael Bay’s latest blockbuster, Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth instalment of the popular robotic franchise. I was amazed to find in this movie that there were so many Chinese elements and what computer graphics could achieve. One of the Transformers scene shot in Chongqing scenic spot, China gave me the inspiration. The transformers were in a beautiful environment. One giant transformer was breathing fire. This is a real cool scene in the movie. For this movie theme image, I instantly thought that I could make one fake scene for a Transformers movie. I will substitute the environment and the transformers. The intended communication objective is to construct an image that will represent a scene that people will instantly know it is a scene from a Transformers movie. It doesn’t need to be an image from a particular Transformers movie as long as it looks like a scene from a Transformer movie – maybe a future instalment shot in Auckland.
I took some photos on Mt Wellington and purchased a pack of small transformer model at the Toys World and took some shots of them on the top of my green car. Firstly I played with the environment shots and tried to compose the location image using different photo combination and manipulation. I settled down with one main photo that the sky is substituted with two photos. I cut out of the city skyline and made it a little bigger. Once the location scene was done, it was easy to place the transformers in the location. In case I had to manipulate the image later on I used layer mask for the non-destructive manipulation. Then I took a few real fire photos and chose one fire photo under one of the transformer. I manipulated it and made it look like that the transformer was breathing fire. To create the effect of depth of field, the location images were duplicated and blurred using Gaussian Blur filter and masked out to make the foreground in focus and the background out of focus.
To make it look real, a layer for the fire effect was created. A colour adjustment layer and a curve adjustment only affecting the fire effect layer were added. For a similar tone for the image, a colour adjustment layer was created and applied to the overall image. The result is a photo-real image that represents a scene, that people instantly realise that it is a scene from a Transformers movie.
I found these Youtube tutorials are very helpful for my movie theme image.
I have tried other tutorials of how to remove background arount lot of hair in Photoshop. The following one is the quick and easy one. It uses backgound erase tool in Photoshop and the result is really good especially when you use it against light colour background
Other tutorials I have watched and tried are as follows:
Cut out part of the left transformer (too blur), blur more of the background, add fire effect (?) and color cast on the image.
Which one do you think is better?