Julie Walker, Basic Creative Techniques, September 25th

Our last meeting featured a practical demonstration of creative photographic techniques lead by member Julie Walker.  As well as outstanding wildlife photography, Julie is renowned for her strikingly atmospheric creative images in which different photographic elements are brought together in a single image using Photoshop, a proprietary image processing software package in widespread use with photographers. Julie is skilled in exploiting this software to produce her award-winning creative images and was our entertaining guide to the techniques she uses. The information flow was enlivened by other knowledgeable members occasionally suggesting alternative methods of carrying out certain specific procedures. This exchange of know-how made for a lively interactive meeting.

Julie started off by introducing us to the use of texture layers to introduce interest into the backgrounds of images which would otherwise lack impact. The textures were abstract photographs of natural elements such as sand or stone as well as rust and even bathroom tiles. The textures were copied onto the image to be transformed and then selectively removed from unwanted areas to allow the subjects to show through and leave the texture only in the background. One of the examples which she showed was of some fighting stallions in the Carmargue region of France. On a dull day the background sky was featureless:


but by overlaying the texture below


the whole image gained impact and a painterly feel.


In another worked example, Julie produced a textured background for a portrait which was sympathetic in colour with the model’s dress and considerably enhanced the image. She also showed us how to change the colour hue of the texture to suit any image to which it might be applied.


Another example involved multiple textures layered on top of each other, some blurred or subdued in colour or detail to give the desired painterly effect.


All of this involved a huge amount of creative inspiration and we were in awe of Julie’s artistic vision which shone through in the finished image.

After the break, Julie showed us how she creates her composite images in which various photographic subjects are introduced into other backgrounds and contexts. The Carmargue stallions made a reappearance with three different horses being relocated to a forest setting. The horses were ‘captured’ using the selection tools available in Photoshop. After copying them into their new environment, considerable further processing work was necessary to achieve realism in the final image.


Julie emphasised the need to ensure that the lighting and shadows on the various subjects were consonant and that the colours of the subjects were in balance with each other and with the general environment of the image. It was also important to preserve a natural perspective by altering the sizes of subjects so that nearer subjects were larger than distant subjects and the furthest subjects were paler.  Her composite images often included layers of texture as well, so as to create her trademark painterly ambience. Indeed, what came over very much in Julie’s presentation was that the techniques that she tutored us in were the essential tools to be used to realise the creative vision which is the starting point for producing the photographic image. The audience were enthusiastic in their appreciation to Julie for introducing us to these creative tools and how to utilise them.