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.