Georgie in London by Diana Lundin

Family friends gave Oliver a gift certificate for a custom pet photography session through my Modern Pet Portraiture for his dog Georgie. It took a while for it to get scheduled; Oliver, a native of the UK, is a television host who has a heavy travel schedule. Every time we got something on the calendar, it needed to be postponed because of his work.

But Georgie's getting up in years and Oliver was afraid that one day the girl he loved so much would be gone, perhaps before he had his session. And he didn't want that to happen. So we had a shoot at his apartment and on a hill near the beach in Santa Monica.

At my car after the shoot, I showed Oliver Phoebe Lost at Sea -- yes, the very same image on the home page of the Secret World of Pets -- and he knew Phoebe and had seen that image at her owner's house! What a very small world indeed! He asked if Georgie could get the Phoebe treatment. And I regretfully told him since we didn't shoot with that in mind, it might not be possible to create a composite. 

But then I got to thinking... quite a few of the images we photographed of Georgie were against the white wall of his apartment. And Georgie has a short coat. Animals with long or curly hair are pretty difficult to cut out in the best circumstances but dogs with a coat like Georgie's? Not so difficult. 

Oliver isn't from London, per se, but that is where I decided to set Georgie. I figured since Oliver traveled a lot, it would be fun to have her in her dad's homeland. 

Georgie has that air of mystery I love when I create composites. Look at Georgie... she's on the banks of the Thames, Big Ben in the background. What has her attention? What is she looking at? Why is a taxi there? Why is the door open? There are more questions than answers. You tell me. What is Georgie's story?

 

Pet Photography Composite

Welcome to the Art Gallery by Diana Lundin

I've already tackled the Birth of Venus, that little known work of art by Sandro Botticelli. I jest, I jest, everyone knows that piece. I recreated it with dogs and a Savannah cat and I love it so much, I even have it hanging in the den of the newly remodeled worldwide headquarters. 

But I'm working on another set of famous works of art. I have three squirreled away, ready to be introduced in 2018, and I'm working on two more. But I can't help showing off one of them now. 

Rene Magritte's Son of Man is truly a classic. And what could be better than Son of Dog? 

 

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Space, the Final Frontier by Diana Lundin

I'll be honest here, I am days away from returning to my Worldwide Headquarters after a two-month remodel. And for the past two months, I've been without my regular compositing tools... no big iMac, no extra monitor, no Wacom tablet, very little specialized software. I'm weeping.

And while I've been doing traditional pet photography (you didn't forget, did you? www.dianalundin.com), I haven't been shooting composite photography as it requires three lights and stands, a backdrop stand, and seamless paper. I have my cameras and some lighting but most of my equipment is in deep storage. But never mind.

I did a composite for a human client for her annual holiday card (third year running) and decided to use the concept, though not the actual images for a dog composite. And well, with my rudimentary equipment -- not really rudimentary -- I was able to produce Amelie in Space. 

Amelie is owned by a Los Angeles actress originally from Russia. So it is fitting that Amelie is in a Russian spacesuit. I did take the badges off but yeah, it's definitely a cosmonaut's suit. 

 

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Finny the Super Hero Revisited by Diana Lundin

I met Finny, a Cocker Spaniel, at one of my mild-mannered pet photography events I did in 2015. What impressed me about Finny was his eyes. Oh my goodness, they were so expressive, they were almost human. Because of those eyes, I asked Finny's owners, Tara and Yvonne, if I could photograph Finny. Also, when I met Finny, he was wearing a shirt and I knew I wanted him to wear a costume so he was a dog already comfortable in clothing.

I had just purchased a generic super hero cape and a cartoon type backdrop that had a nighttime cityscape with a giant moon. You can see that image we created on this site. In fact, I'll post it here.

I loved the idea, but the backdrop let me down and honestly I never wanted to use it again. It was vinyl and had wrinkles that were impossible to get out and it had a lot of shine on it. I had to darken the buildings, create yellow windows, add a new star backdrop. It was really a mess so I never revisited that concept.

Until today.

So since then, I've been creating my signature composites. And while I love the cartoon simplicity of the first Finny shoot, well, what's wrong with a little complexity? And actually, all I did was take the bones of that first image and create a secret world for Finny. I just added a night time image of the Los Angeles skyline and a giant full moon with clouds. Same thing, right?

What do you think? I think he really is a super hero. 

 

 

 

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How a Composite Image Comes Together by Diana Lundin

I recently entered four of my composite images in a contest and one of the requirements was to show all of the reference images used to create it. Well, first of all, it's not that much fun gathering all of these things together but instead of whining about it, I'm going to show you all four. 

Each of them has the exact photographs or objects used to create the images. Yes, if you're a faithful reader of The Secret World of Pets, you've seen these images time and time again. But now you get to peek behind the curtain. 

The composites take different times to create each one; one took me three days and then was tweaked for weeks. Other simpler ones may take a few hours. Again, it's the tweaking that can take time. I call it polishing the polish. One tiny thing you want to change and maybe only you will notice it can take so much longer than it does to initially put it together. I've heard it said of film editing and I'll appropriate it here -- you don't finish a composite, you abandon it. 

And just as an aside, sometimes composites can look really scary when you're laying them down. You often have to put a lot of "ingredients" into the mix and it is uugggggly. But then you start sizing things, moving things around, change their colors, add shadows, tones and lighting and miraculously it somehow all comes together.

So here are the four!

 Shhh...

Shhh...

 Love Song

Love Song

 Adrift

Adrift

Phoebe on Exhibit at dnj Gallery at Bergamot Station by Diana Lundin

So I am a longtime member of the Los Angeles Center of Photography where back in the day I took a lot of classes, particularly when it was the Julia Dean Photography Workshops. There, yours truly took many classes in lighting, both strobe and flash, and headshots, among others. 

The LACP has exhibitions annually for its members. You know, I thought it was maybe 50-75 photographers, not very competitive, but boy, was I ever wrong. 

I entered the fourth annual exhibition with five of my composites that you see on this site: Phoebe, the Frenchie, adrift; the Library; the Birth of Luna; the Aviator; and Kiwi Rescued at Sea.

Paula Tognarelli, the executive director of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts, was the juror for the entries. Surprisingly, Phoebe made it to the actual show at the dnj Gallery at the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica while the library made it into the virtual show. 

Let me tell you why it's amazing or at least amazing to me. There were 1300 entries. 1300! And only 51 photographs from 45 photographers made it into the gallery show. And only 55 images made it to the online gallery.

The opening was July 15... sorry I didn't get this out earlier but the exhibit will be on display through August 26. Check it out and ask yourself, does Phoebe belong here? 

Can't make the drive? check out the online galleries and see it as Paula Tognarelli intended it to be seen. 

Selected Exhibiting Artists at dnj Gallery - LACP's Fourth Annual Members' Exhibition - 2017

Selected Virtual Gallery Artists - LACP's Fourth Annual Members' Exhibition - 2017

Pet Photo Composite: Getting the Band Back Together by Diana Lundin

I did a photo shoot for my client with her two cats and new puppy not that long ago. It was very nice with one of my hand-painted canvas backdrops. The three of them all looked quite spectacular. 

Just in passing, I showed my client this site, The Secret World of Pets, and she was intrigued about having a creation made for her trio. She was a little on the bubble about it but what sealed the deal was her husband gave her lovely diamond jewelry for their anniversary and she knew she had to do something special for him. 

You see, he's a YUUUUGE concert fan. Goes to them all the time. And his favorite band is Phish. So she wanted something Phish-esque. She gave me a kind of "punch list" of things that would be nice to have in the composite. Now, I didn't know much about Phish but I really got myself an education filling this piece of digital art with as much detail as I could research about the band.

Her husband proposed to her right before a Phish concert and at some point, I will not go into details, a hippo with a party hat was involved. She showed me a hippo balloon kind of like what she was talking about. 

So off I went to create this. We had to do a second shoot for this because the first shoot against the backdrop wasn't exactly what we needed, though we did use some parts from it. I suggested my client take photos of the band on her cellphone and we would put the band in the phone screen. Then I suggested she flip her hair and we got a really fun one of that. 

The lead singer of Phish wears glasses and has facial hair and plays a certain kind of guitar. Check. The drummer wears a dress. My client found a toddler Phish dress on etsy and bought that. Check. The bassist plays a specific bass. Check. We didn't have a fourth band member, a keyboardist, so I found a hippo in kind of a dancing position (don't ask; the hippo is actually walking, I just turned it) and put a party hat on it. 

Concerts, it turns out, are hard because if you show the whole stage, the band members look small. If you show it more closeup, band members go missing. Go ahead and look at concert photography, you'll see. It's kind of tough to compose it. 

In the collaborative process, I began showing my client the scene as I went along. She sent me a video that showed a sort of scene she wanted to match. Balloons were involved. I put them in but my balloons were oblong. They needed to be round. I found one long green balloon; in the Phish video, they were white so I drained them of color and made a lot of them. I found another cute hippo and turned it into a balloon in the upper right corner.

Oh, the mini-trampolines! Hard to find. Got 'em.

Once I laid down the ingredients, so to speak, it looked as realistic as Colorforms. Yes, you all are too young to remember Colorforms, but it was a very 2D look. I needed to add lighting and shading. I added new concert lighting to augment what was already in the background so it would give the band members some red and blue lighting.

A few touches here and there and we got our band. Oh, the name SCAMP, which is sort of in one of the fonts Phish uses? It comes from the initials of my client, her husband, and her dog and cats. She came up with it and it was brilliant.

This is a very personal storytelling image. The elements are from my client's life and favorite things. It was really quite a privilege to work with her to put it together as a surprise to her husband. 

I can do it for your pet, too. Send an email to the Secret World's Secret Headquarters in a nondescript ranch house in suburban Los Angeles and let's create your world.

Photo composite of animals in concert.

North by Northwest: A Movie Poster by Diana Lundin

I did a recent pet photography shoot with Sailor, a beautiful German Shepherd. I took lots of running shots of her. Gorgeous dog. And then... and then... well, as much as she looked great running in the park, I thought another running scene might capture part of her essence.

Yes, a Hitchcock movie. "North by Northwest." The vision of Cary Grant running as a biplane (I think it was a crop duster, no? It's been ages since I've seen it) chased him. In a cornfield. Somewhere Mt. Rushmore is involved. So I Googled "North by Northwest" and there are just tons of Cary Grant running. Hmmm. And then I saw a very graphical movie poster. It appears it was rereleased and a new poster was made. It looked easy enough. I had an afternoon to kill. And so that's when I attempted the poster.

Friends, when I tell you I didn't know what I was getting into when I started out, you can take that as the truth. It was far harder than I thought it was. 

I found a stock photo of Mt. Rushmore that looked like it would fit the bill. I found a tile floor that would work. And after that, it got complicated.

You see, in an earlier post, I told you I don't draw. Well, truth be told, I'm not a graphic artist, either. Every time I want to do something in Photoshop, I have to learn it. Which is actually great, I know enough about Photoshop to know when I can't do something and have to learn it because it is a really complex program. And I don't know that much about type. And the type on this poster has to have perspective. I actually found out what font was used in the poster and I happened to have that so that part was easy. But putting in that perspective. Yes, it was tricky since I rarely use perspective outside of straightening a few buildings here and there. 

And then I found a really hard way to make that red runway type thing. Turns out, once I finished making my first draft, I discovered a really easy way of doing that. Figures. 

Then I cut out Sailor. Usually, composites are photographed against a gray background. But the running dog was in a park so I had to cut her out there. That wasn't the worst part. The worse part was the crop duster. Now again, you'd think, a plane on white wouldn't be that difficult to cut out. Oh, but it was, it was. I had to leave Photoshop, which has the worst masking tool ever, and go to Topaz ReMask 5, my go-to program for complex cutouts. It does a great job. To do a great job, it takes a long time. But I did it. 

I had to fool around with making things fit so it's not exactly like the Cary Grant version. But I like it. Want to recreate a movie poster with your pet? Or even just you? Yes, I shoot people, too. 

Send an email to the Secret World's Secret Headquarters in suburban Los Angeles and let's create your world.