Child of Woman

Child of Woman

The latest and penultimate image in my #daughterofwoman series – Child of Woman! 

Yes, he is my baby, minus his head 🤪, and he was a bit of a wriggler to photograph! 

I wanted to keep the colours more harmonious in this image and less chaotic to represent the lack of cognitive dissonance in babies and young children compared with adults. 

Image details

I love the calmer feeling  in this one and the beautiful butterflies in the background. The background image is part of a scrapbooking paper booklet I found titled ‘Natural History Museum – From the Archives’.

All the papers in it are beautiful works of art and like old wallpaper or fabric designs. I had originally wanted to photograph vintage wallpapers to use as the backgrounds for this series. Unfortunately, Covid-19 meant I couldn’t go to the national heritage sites and stately homes to take the photos. It was such a stroke of luck to come across this book!

Lightbulb or not?

I toyed with the idea of not having a lightbulb for this image. I don’t believe babies are aware of cultural / societal expectations and pressures like older children and adults are, so perhaps the lightbulb was not needed.

But I loved the shape of the lightbulb and knew I wanted use it. I thought the shape was more child-like. This is the original lightbulb, no warp of distort!

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments. Are there any scrap bookers out there? 🙂

Take care,

Michelle

Creating shadows in Photoshop

Creating believable shadows in Photoshop is something that elevates composite photography. It is something I have found SO hard, over the years. I have tried different methods, all gleaned from YouTube and gathered a couple of go-to strategies. The same strategy doesn’t always work for every image.

Curves and select and mask

Select the area you want to shadow with the Lasso tool. Click select and mask and then feather. The more you feather, the softer the edge of the shadow. Remember, shows and darker and harder the closer they are to the subject.

Use a curves layer to adjust the depth of the shadow. Often a play in the highlights area is enough.

Painting shadows with the brush tool

Select a new layer below your subject, for shadows behind your subject.

Use the brush tool to paint shadows. Keep the brush fairly hard for shadows that meet the subject. I add a new layer for each part of the shadow as it moves away from the subject – dark, mid, light.

Reduce the hardness of the brush as you move through the three layers of shadow. I use a super soft brush for the mid and light shadows.

Reduce the opacity of the brush to as little as 4%. It’s easy to add more depth. Start light.

Sometimes I have 5 or 6 shadow layers for a subject, or part of a subject, adding a bit at a time. Plus it easier to get rid of mistakes!

Top tip for believable brush shadows! – Colour match the brush colour to the shadows on your original subject using the dropper tool!

Wife of Woman

Here it is, the second piece in my series ‘Daughter of Woman’!

Titled ‘Wife of Woman’, my aim is to create a ‘family’ in this series. The title concept links the pieces through them all being ‘of woman’, aka ‘born’ from a woman.

However, the main concept linking all the pieces is ‘the duality of the ego.’ The parts of us we show the world and the parts we keep hidden. I believe the parts we hide can often be our most beautiful parts (hence the flowers), which we feel too vulnerable to show.

We could debate why we hide our vulnerabilities in our society, but I might save that for a different post!

Head over to my Instagram stories to see the editing process.

Take care, Michelle 🙂

Daughter of Woman

This is the first piece in my new series.

‘Daughter of Woman’, Michelle Tasker


Inspiration

The lightbulb is from my house. I love it’s interesting shape and colour.

A pink gerbera I received in a bunch of flowers.

Credit: Unsplash

The work of Rene Magritte, particularly ‘Son of Man’. I enjoy working in Surrealism, it is liberating.

‘Son of Man’, Rene Magritte.
Credit: masterworksfineart.com

Concept

The concept behind this image alludes to the duality of the ego. The parts of us we show the world and the parts we keep hidden.

The lightbulb

The lightbulb symbolises intelligence and knowledge in western culture. A knowledge based, patriarchal culture, where femininity is weakness. Through this cultural direction, the ego portrays an acceptable character. The lightbulb gives an inhuman quality to our ego. Faceless, transparent yet hiding something.


The flower

The flower symbolises beauty and fragility: the Divine Feminine. It hides through fear of judgement, of not being good enough.

The wall paper and clothing


The clashing patterns of the wallpaper and and shirt are distracting. It shows the war between the masculine and feminine. A war that creates chaos.


The irony of the human condition is it requires both the masculine and the feminine to work in harmony. Human beings and are both Yin and Yang, regardless of gender. The suppression of either, results in chaos.

Fine Art Photography Awards

I entered ‘Through The Flamingo Glass into the 6th Fine Art Photography Awards and received a nomination for the third year running!

I don’t enter many awards or exhibitions so I am thrilled to be nominated in the Open Theme category.

Through The Flamingo Glass: Open Theme Nominee

The Albatross Series

Back in 2017, I began struggling with my mental health. A lot of things happened in my personal and professional life in the years before but I chose to push through instead of reach out for help.

Consequently, one day I broke.

A woman sits bent forward on a wooden chair at a 45 degree angle to the camera. A gold hinge is embedded at her waist, allowing her to hang lifelessly forward.

The Albatross project came out of my counselling sessions. My counsellor was amazing and counselling was pivotal for me. The images started as responses to visualisation exercises during these sessions. Once counselling had finished, The Albatross Project became a cathartic process. It journeyed through destruction, rebuilding and rebirth. Until one day, I didn’t feel the need to create those images anymore. I had the desire to create different art, for the first time in almost two years.

There are unfinished images for this series and concepts that never got started. I had so many ideas for the brokenness, each idea being the visualisation of emotion, often pain.  I’m interested in how they would turn out being in a different place mentally.

A woman crouches on the ground, hands protecting her head In front of her is an old hurricane lamp. the lamp provides the only glimmer of light. She is surrounded by darkness.

However you choose to express what’s going on with you, the important thing is to express it. Get it out. Keeping everything in puts tremendous strain in your mind and your body. Eczema, IBS, allergies can be some of the symptoms your mental health is under stress. As well as panic attacks, trouble sleeping, self – medication with substances such as alcohol, trembling, forgetfulness.

The list is long and varied, which is why it can be difficult to realise that your mental health is not in good shape. Withdrawal from friends and family can be a sign. Often when you really don’t want to talk to or see people, it is the very time that you need to be taking to them. Make it either a professional counsellor or those in your very inner circle. Nobody else has earned access to the inner parts of you. I am so lucky to have an amazing immediate family. I’ve shed a lot of unnecessary and toxic people. My inner circle is small, but mighty :).

Woman sits on floor with her back facing. there are two larges holes in her back.

I have shared my own personal experiences and learnings. I didn’t realise I had so much to say! Everybody’s experiences are different, yet equally challenging. What is important is that we share them, in order to dissolve the taboo.

What I’ve learned: You’re not crazy. You’re working through some tough shit. You’ll get through it. You’ll be stronger. You’ll be wiser.

Check out the rest of the series in Collections

Fine Art Photography Awards 2019

Happy to share that both my latest projects have been nominated in the 5th Fine Art Photography Awards.

Part of ‘The Albatross’, titled ‘Journey to Restoration’, was a nominee in the conceptual category.

Time Thighs was nominated in the open theme category. Happy days 🙂

Back lamp Part II

Another awesome lampshade. ‘I’m kind of in love with this one, it’s so pretty. I may have to use it again.

The processing turned out slightly different on this image. I love the depth of shadow under the lampshade and through the back and how it contrasts with the flatness of the chest of drawers.

Conceptually, I’m exploring the meeting of functionality between forms: the living and once was living; the static and supposedly animated – although not in this series! The materials these objects were made from were all once parts of living things. Now de-animated for our functional consumption and aesthetic requirements.

Lampshade courtesy of Wolf & Badger

Back and chest of drawers: my own.