-Sigstop, Process

Process post! If nothing else, because I love making the animated GIFs at the ends of these things.

So I started a series a while back, -Sigstop, to play with more color and deliberation than I sometimes get a chance to on client work. For now it exists as just grocery produce and a few hand signals, though I'll be expanding it as life progresses and I find some time or fitting subjects. I'll walk you through what I can of my process here, though I do need to get better at documenting the actual steps while I'm doing them.


The Finished Products:

For reference, and for those of you (such as myself) that are too busy to go clicking though that link above - here are the finals - and remember, prints are available for sale



The Concept:

Unfortunately, I have no sketches to show. To be fair to myself though, these guys were fairly straight forward in my head from the beginning, and the glitching does lend itself to a bit of spontaneity as you'll see below. Past that though - what was I thinking? Several things, it turns out.

At first the image of a bunch of bananas where one was disintegrating digitally popped into my head. I'd been trying to venture away from my glitch portrait series, but continue the theme. I'd done those for ages and still have a few left to finish (sorry guys!), so I think I've mostly got that ground covered. What followed there was the Piacular series - which I'll cover in another process post at some point. There I was experimenting with the glitching process as it applied to a whole body, in an environment. Less investigating identity, more investigating the aesthetic and narrative properties. From there, between shooting more folks for Piacular, I wanted to try the glitching technique on a more focussed, manual level and to see how it behaved on brighter, more colorful backgrounds. To see what it was like to take the technique to high-resolution, large format executions. These meant getting more manual and deliberative. 

Technical experimentation is the main focus then - method/lighting/composition - but I do love the idea of suggesting a message. In the case of produce the obvious question relates to genetic engineering - the digital manipulation of an organic symbol. I'm personally in favor of it (particularly in the case of the imperiled common banana as we Americans know it), but the debate is fantastic to have. Learning new things is always good practice. In the case of the non-produce related pieces though, it gets a little more murky - and frankly, I'd love to hear what any of you guys think.



The Shoot:

Nothing very complicated here. Get my lights in order, just key and rim - make sure my background is black (the glitching process goes smoother this way) and make sure I've got a good white balance. Pretty straight forward.



The Glitching:

I take the straight shots, retouch them to be clean and presentable, and then export them out to be run through the ringer. As you can see, I generate a LOT of glitches. Nearly 200 in this example alone. The mobile app decim8 is my usual go-to, with a plethora of recipes that I run through in different iterations, combinations, and rotations. Again, and again, and again. Generally multitasking with my phone and tablet at the same time, while working on some altogether different project. Waiting for the processor on my old iPad to keep up, saving only maybe 30-40% of the ones that get generated. I generally know what I want going in, but on the far end of the process things tend to get a little (a lot) more flexible and subject to change and experimentation. For that reason I tend to go overboard on the quantity of these to cover my bases and not have to retread old roads.



The Build:

I take those glitches from above and cull them down to just a handful that appeal to me, importing them into the main image, playing with composition, color and effect. Some get used as guides, some get used as spice.

Obviously this animation oversimplifies the process, in that it skips - or makes light of - the tweaks on all of the individually sliced up, manually 'glitched' pieces of the solo banana of the bunch. It simplifies the compositional process that goes through a lot of back-and-forth as I'm putting the file together, but it does give an idea of the overall process. 

I'll generally take a few of my favorite decim8 outputs and use them as a loose guide for the manually sliced up item. After the initial division, I move and blend and mask and tweak each individual slice so that it comports with the image in my head, in so far as I have a specific image hiding in there. Gradually it comes more and more into place, a shadow is added, and an output file is made that can actually be printed. The bright RGB images often exceed the ability of standard printers to replicate, but I try to get the prints as close as possible. I'd rather give preference to the bright RGB files and treat the prints as separate entities altogether, given that the RGBs are so arresting. In many cases, such as this banana example, the difference between the printed and on-screen versions is slight - in others it is necessarily more pronounced.




While I think I may be drawing to the latter half or so of my affinity with the glitching process in terms of just creating more for creation's sake, I'm still a big fan of this series and can easily see a few more iterations thereof. Maybe I do some flowers, maybe I do some less organic items. I'll get there.

Any suggestions?