Alan Kaplan  

Sphere of Influence by Alan Kaplan

May 2020 - Sphere of Influence

May 2020 - Alan Kaplan

Original 1

May 2020 - Alan Kaplan

Original 2

May 2020 - Alan Kaplan

Original 3

About the Image(s)

The background is one that I made in nearly 2019, and it has become one of my stock backgrounds. The sky was created with the gradient tool. The mountains come from a photo I took whose origin I can’t find, and the desert is really a beach in Namibia. Layer masks help me join the parts. Several Surrealist artists use(d) desert-like backgrounds. I imagine this is to keep the focus on the foreground.
I found directions online for how to make a sphere. There are quite a few, and I’m sorry, I don’t know which one I used. I extracted the man using Select > Subject in Photoshop and used the “Q” key and a black brush to clean it up on a layer mask. I also used the “X” key to toggle to the white brush to clean up any mistakes I may have made with the black brush. I extracted the crucifixion in a similar way.
The shadows were created using a soft brush on a separate layer and I reduced the opacity to about 49% on the more gray shadows and did not reduce the opacity on the shadows of the columns. On the gray shadows, I used Gaussian blur to soften the edges of the shadows. The closer shadows should be darker and the one farther away should be lighter, but I see things through the prism of Alice’s rabbit hole

This round’s discussion is now closed!
10 comments posted

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Hello Alan,
I like your composite. I think the variety of cultural and historical ideas is very clever. I also noticed that you added shadows for everything except the sphere, which makes sense since it is sort of magical. The shadows of the monuments in the background are too long compared to the shadows in the foreground, but look good compositionally.
One question, where is the original greco-roman monument? Thanks.   Posted: 05/06/2020 13:16:48
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
Stephen, I replied to your feedback earlier, but it seems to have disappeared. Thank you for visiting and offering feedback. There is a subtle shadow for the sphere on the wall. The darker, longer shadows of the columns are intentional to create a little disequilibrium in the viewer. It seems to have worked. The columns are located the remains of the Temple of Zeus in Athens, Greece.   Posted: 05/10/2020 14:59:31

Aavo Koort   Aavo Koort
Another well composed and sharp image. Just to nit pick:
the left edge of shadow behind the wall is not parallel
with the other shadows.

I also use great backgrounds from Namibia - one of my
favorite countries.   Posted: 05/07/2020 16:36:55

Peggy Nugent   Peggy Nugent
A very interesting image, Alan!
There are a lot of things that appeal to me here - the colors, the balance of the dark sky against the bottom half, the simplicity of each element (which invites me to consider each in itself as well as its place in the whole).
I particularly like how everything points to the sphere - the man's gaze, those lovely long shadows of the pillars.

Because of this direction for my eye to keep returning to the sphere, I feel as if it should have at least a bit more visual weight than the man. His white garments really draw my eye, and the sphere doesn't quite balance it for me. I might consider making it a bit bigger, or a bit more impactful somehow. Just a thought.   Posted: 05/08/2020 16:57:32
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
Peggy, your feedback is very interesting. On the one hand you say that you like that everything points to the sphere, but on the other hand you say that the sphere should be more visual. Both of my parents pursued art as a hobby and both enjoyed surrealism. As a result, I have been exposed to surrealism since childhood. There is no one style of surrealism, but one has to peruse not just glimpse a surrealistic image. My April image was the least complex image I have submitted. Most have required a more careful viewing. If one allows oneself to be distracted by the brightest spot of an image, then the rest of the image is seen only at a glance. I hope the contemporary surrealism artist, Michael Chaval, illustrates my point. Your feedback requires me to self examine which is why feedback of the PID groups is so valuable. Thank you.   Posted: 05/08/2020 19:12:02
Comment Image

Brad Becker   Brad Becker
Alan, Another very compelling image. Thematically it is outstanding. The interplay between the different elements invites the viewer to tell the story. I find all of the elements quite pleasing. I like your idea of making a sphere. I wonder if it would be even more magical if you were able to make it look more three dimensional. My only other suggestion would be to soften the shadows from the columns slightly, but that's a personal preference.   Posted: 05/10/2020 13:13:27
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
I agree about the sphere, but the tutorial I followed couldn't bend the columns any more. I got frustrated and included the sphere as it is. Perhaps a poor choice, but I saved it as a PSD as well as JPEG, so I can always come back to it.   Posted: 05/10/2020 14:37:38

Kathy Triolo   Kathy Triolo
An otherworldly, interesting composite.

Since I find art like this so personal, I wonder what kind of feedback I can give you.
When I see your composites, what would you like me to comment on?
Thanks!   Posted: 05/10/2020 13:27:38

Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
I'm not sure what you mean by art like this is so personal to you unless you are referring to the Christian/Muslim religious content. Both my November and my June 2018 entries contain religious content--Jewish and Druid. Religious content IS personal, and that's why I use it. It evokes an emotional response. As far as what I would like you to comment on just look at the feedback to this image: "clever," compelling," "interesting," "otherworldly," and "personal." I have mentioned before you joined Group 54 that I have an art history background leaning toward surrealism. Surrealism is my goal; that's why the shadows of the columns are darker than the other shadows. The total of the comments above seem to reflect the surrealistic nature of my image. I can't dictate what you should say. Please just look at my images as art and respond as if you were talking to a friend while walking in a museum (I should be so lucky).   Posted: 05/10/2020 14:54:50
Kathy Triolo   Kathy Triolo
thank you for your reply. It helps to understand your perspective and gives me guidance for understanding your artwork and providing feedback.   Posted: 05/13/2020 11:13:45