Warhol, Lichtenstein, Basquiat, Herring — the pop art gods of the late 70s and 80s; their startling and stunning work expanded the raw power of graphic imagery that still holds sway and influences many an artist to this day.
When you look at your photographs, the ones that have an inherent graphic quality to them, you might just say to yourself, “self, these would pop just a little more if I just added a spice, a little pizzazz, a little funk.” And that’s when you dig in the digital creative toolbox to find just the right item to take your photos to the next level.
The photos need to have a dynamic quality to them in the first place; perhaps exaggerated to a certain extent that make them somewhat comical in their unadulterated form… However, with a few flicks of the switch, twist of the dial and shift of the slider, you can make new and unique digital graphic art that might yield more responses that the naked photo alone.
Below is a photo I took au natural of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (deftly designed by Frank Gehry, and easily one of the most photographed recent architectural triumphs in LA) and gave it a pop art flavor (something I haven’t really seen for this subject, because of its so-called regal and important nature). It’s been turned in to something perhaps more potent.
The original image was taken on good ol’ fashion film, Kodak Portra 400 (as I love the way it records colors — lush, electric and exciting!) on a Nikon N80; notice the rich range of the blue sky and how the cloud jumps out at you, and the shimmering quality of the steel façade.
Anyway, I was thinking of running a bunch of filters on this in Photoshop, but the protocols of the various BeFunky Effects gave me a more concrete starting-off point.
After reviewing the Pop Art choices, I settled on “Preset 12”, because the Andy Warhol layout (2×2) with the bold explosions of primary colors was something that seemed antithetical to the typical photos I’ve seen of the Disney Concert Hall.
See a lot about crafting photographic art is being the first to do something, even if it’s a tried and true technique by applying it to something that’s not intentionally suited for the technique might yield curious and captivating results.
So, back to the Disney Concert Hall Image… Each iteration of the new image took explosive liberties with the color of the sky (maybe the most captivating element of the original photo… because when is an LA sky that blue? Unfiltered? Search me!), and turn the image on its head. It gives each image an “atomic” quality; something that harkens back to the ’60s when Pop Art was in its zenith and nuclear destruction was a reality.
The “pop art” images reduce the image down to its core graphic properties, and the results are eye-catching. The edges, lines and forms of the concert hall’s design is what most people (photographers, that is) are drawn to, because of the unique swooshing, flowing quality of the metal.
I played around with Preset 8 and Preset 1 to see how other known parameters would affect the final image… Preset 8 (on top) definitely invokes the ’70s.
And Preset 1 (on bottom) is interesting, if only to see the half-tone dots that would be used in silkscreen printing (for t-shirts and the like) and other old school commercialization uses.
What’s got me nodding my head in agreement about the three final images is that they are unconventional renditions of an oft-photographed subject, and they breathe new life into something that perhaps wouldn’t garner any attention (perhaps it doesn’t still, you tell me?). But you saw it here first! And that counts for a tremendous amount. Now, if I could only print these off at 6-feet across… scale can create art in its own right (that’s an Andy Warhol tip).
All Images Copyright © 2008 – 2010, Christopher B. Derrick. All Rights Reserved.