If you’re familiar with the work of surrealist Rene Magritte, it probably won’t take you long to realize which of his paintings I drew inspiritation from to create the above composite. You may not remembered the title Golconda, as Magritte’s titles were often as mysterious as his content but the vision of men wearing bowler hats and falling from the sky like rain, is pure Magritte.

            I had photographed the elements (my neighbor John and a late afternoon sky) over a year ago for a class assignment in which I was to produce three composites in the style of my favorite surrealist.  While I did submit three images, I ran out of time before I could finish this one. I rediscovered the files a week ago while searching for something I had archived for a client and decided it was worth revisiting.  Seventy-seven layers and a bit of masking later I think I’ll consider it finished.

The title Golconda was suggested to Magritte by poet friend Louis Scutenaire. From the 14th to the 17th century, Golconda was a city at the center of India’s mining industry and became a synonym for “mine of wealth.” What  was Magritte alluding to? Well, your guess is as good as mine.



More fun with Photoshop composites. Inspired by Renee Magritte’s “Time Transfixed,”which I saw years ago, at The Art Institute of Chicago. Four separate images, the Screen and lawn, a sky, the locomotive, the smoke. I added the locomotive shadow manually. I photographed the locomotive at Steamtown National Historic Site and the screen at Circle Drive-in, both in Scranton, PA. Steamtown is going strong with over 85,000 visitors last year. The Circle Drive -In is still screening films and hosts a huge flea market every Sunday. There’s more to Scranton than just “The Office!”

Homage to Magritte

The final assignment for my advanced Photoshop class, was to choose a Surrealist then produce three images in their style.

I’ve long been a fan of Rene Magritte so deciding who, was not an issue, the problem was which of his themes could I translate into pixels after a semester exploring selection tools, layers, masking and blending modes?

I went with his man in the bowler hat theme, like the man featured in Magritte’s most famous painting “Son of Man” but rather than obscuring the face with an object, like a green apple, I removed it entirely. Add a simple blue sky with cloud background and the crow for some added interest and I had the first of my three final images.

While Adobe Photoshop has made compositing easier, photomontage is not new. Oscar Gustav Rejlander, considered to be the father of art photography, created “Two Ways of Life” in 1857 by combining more than 30 negatives. Henry Peach Robinson’s “Fading Away” was created in 1858 by compositing together 5 separate negatives. 

For me the downside to photo compositing is file management and storage. I find it harder to delete images now as there may be some element in even the most mundane image that can later be incorporated into a composite. The crow in the above image is a good example, extracted from a mediocre beach scene captured while on vacation in California. I also find myself shooting more walls, clouds, textured surfaces, sunsets and landscapes that can be used as backgrounds for future composites.