Did You Call Me a Professional Fraud? Cheers!

I’ve been accused in the past by loving family members (who will remain nameless here) of being a “Professional Fraud”. And while there could be some elements of truth in that moniker, I none-the-less actually take this name-calling as a compliment to my imaging skills rather than an accusation of wrongdoing!

This project is a good case in point of exactly how I’ve come to earn the title of Professional Fraud. My approach champagne-glassto digital imaging work has always been based on the goal of fooling the audience. My goal is to create an illusion that is so convincing that the viewer of the image will not be able to tell exactly what I did to the image. I like to say, “My best work is the work that no one ever spots!”

Which brings us to the champagne glass you see here. I’d not be so brass as to suggest that an experienced eye would not be able to see what I’ve done to this image from within Photoshop. But I would venture to bet that the casual viewer would not have a clue as to the true extent of the retouching that has been done.

So…what exactly was done? Let’s see, there are probably some obvious things… I dropped in a gradient background, cleaned up and smoothed out highlights and lighting on the glass and seen through the champagne. Sure those would be obvious. But not exactly right.

Truth be told, this glass of champagne never existed. Every pixel of this image was created from within Photoshop without the benefit of any original photography or other source artwork. I started quite literally from a blank white canvas. From there, step-by-step I created this glass of champagne using a laundry list of tools available in Photoshop.

Why did I do this rather than make an original photo or (perish the thought) just buy a stock photo that can be found online royalty-free and dirt cheap? Let me tackle the stock photo issue first. Why not just buy a stock shot? Well… I am a professional photographer! It would be hard for me to conceive of a good reason I should ever buy stock photography when I could create the image myself.

That of course leads directly to the second question. Why on earth, as a professional photographer, did I not simply capture the image I need rather than build it in Photoshop? Well, I considered this but there were two reasons why I did not create my own original photo.

First, I had a tight deadline (2 or 3 hours), which didn’t allow the time I would have needed to gather all of the elements, set up the shot and shoot it. There just wasn’t time. Second, I really felt that I could produce the image I wanted more quickly by building it from scratch in Photoshop. I felt that the result from Photoshop was going to be superior in the end anyway. I had control over literally every single pixel that made up the image. Every bubble in the champagne could be what and where I wanted. The color of the beverage, the shape of the glass, the visibility of the background… all completely under my control. In the end it seemed the most efficient route with the greatest control.

I think it worked. Call me a Professional Fraud. I’ll take it well. In the end I got the image I needed with minimum fuss or hassle, met my deadline and spent precious little budget to do so.

If you are interested in learning more about how I created this image in Photoshop, leave your comments and express your interest. I may pull together an overview/tutorial on it if there is interest.

Oh, and before you go there. I do know the image is not flawless. There are some elements that should be in the image that I just did not have the time to get to. (Remember the deadline I mentioned above.) I won’t name the flaws here, but if you do I’ll give you kudos for your sharp eye!

One Response to “Did You Call Me a Professional Fraud? Cheers!”

  1. Shaun Andrews  on June 2nd, 2009

    That looks great for 2-3 hours worth of work—color me impressed! I’m not much of a photo-realistic guy myself, but only because I lack to patience and talent. Great work.

    And I didn’t know you had a blog—I just subscribed. Keep the good stuff coming!


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