digital art

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? 


v1.son of man with logo.jpg

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?, 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. 



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. 





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.

Lost at Sea, the Series by Diana Lundin

So if you've been to this site, you've already been introduced to the dogs and cats, well, one cat, my cat, who appear to be lost at sea. Phoebe, the Frenchie, is in a crate on a placid sea, looking into the distance. Now my take on this one is she is looking at the coastline in front of her. She will be washed ashore and be saved. 

My friend didn't necessarily agree with my assessment. She says Frenchies can't swim and that she will drown. She said it made her cry. So the next one I created was of my tuxedo cat Kiwi. In this one, I had a helicopter ladder come down, showing that he was being rescued. 

And on the third (there is actually a fourth, which was really the first, but I don't consider it part of this series yet -- just the prototype of these), I had the Irish Border Collie and a Vizsla in the water BUT I also had a life preserver and a boat piloted by another dog coming in for the rescue.

So in my mind, rescue is the theme.

But my friend begged me to change Phoebe. Wanted a school of dolphins coming in to save her. I was resistant. I loved the melancholia. I loved the not knowing what will happen next (even though I know what would happen next because Phoebe is a rescue dog). Those are a couple of things that attract me to photography composites, the ability to create mood and mystery.

But it came down to one is not like the other... not good for a series. So to make my friend happy, I changed it. I found the solution that doesn't go against the original. Now you can see Phoebe is getting help. My friend said it's so beautiful, it made her cry again. It's subtle so it works for me. See if you can spot it.  

When you are ready to plan your own pet photography composite, I'm your photographer. I'm in Los Angeles. Call or write! 818.481.5214 or Let's create something amazing!



Shenanigans at the Thorne Miniature Rooms by Diana Lundin

Okay, this one doesn't have anything furry in it. Yes, it just has people. But here's what makes it fun. Last month, I went to Chicago and we visited the Art Institute of Chicago. One of my very favorite things there, and there were so many, it's fantastic, was the Thorne Miniature Rooms in the basement. 

One side has American interiors, the other side has European. Having just come back from trips to England and Ireland, I was especially interested in the European side. And of course I have a new composite involving pets that definitely involves an English setting. 

I didn't bring my camera to Chicago as it was really an excuse to see "Hamilton." But I did have my phone so I pressed it against the glass of the rooms (non-flash photography is allowed) and took several exposures of interesting rooms in the raw format. So when I came back home, I had sort of nice photos of these rooms. I say sort of nice because, hey, it's a museum with museum lighting so it's kind of dark. And dark generally means the images are going to be a bit noisy -- you know, digital grain.

I photographed the people more than two years ago for a Christmas card. They were all dressed up and because it was for a composite, it had already been photographed in mind for cutting them out. 

I assembled the image and voila! People in a miniature room. 

What do you think?

Together, we can create any world. Let's do it.