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Photoshop - a "collage of Polaroid prints"

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
In a thread on the Clipping Mask concept in Photoshop, Joachim Bolte showed the use of that function to create a stunning composite. It was a monochrome image of a horse, overlaid on which were several "windows" each of which show the corresponding area of the image but in full color and surrounded by little white borders (with small beveled edges!).

I've repeated it here:


Joachim Bolte: Collage

Asher praised the construction, and aptly said it was like a "collection of Polaroids" (he meant Polaroid prints, of course).

Joachim's description was "concise" - I'm sure that an experienced Photoshop walloper would have recognized exactly what he meant, but it took me (a Photoshop dilettante), a while to fill in what I think are the details.

Later, our new member Jonas Wendorf described a different technique to produce this same result, using the Knockout feature of Photoshop. His description was a little "concise", and again it took me a while to fill in the details.

Jonas' technique is perhaps a little simpler than what I believe Joachim's is.

I thought here I would describe what I believe to be Jonas' technique in (tedious) detail.

The project will be to construct a collage like that shown by Joachim: the main image is seen in grayscale, overlaid on which are three little "Polaroid prints" (exactly the same shape and size, although we could depart from that) exactly mimicking the corresponding area of the image but in full color, each with a white border. (I'll stop short of the beveled edge.)

Here we go.

• The base image must be on the Background layer. If it is not, demote its layer to Background status by using Layer>New>Background from Layer.

• Immediately above the Background layer, place an adjustment layer to render the image into the condition you want it as the background of the collage (I used Black and White). Set it to produce the desired effect.

• Above that establish a new ordinary layer - it will be empty. This will be our Knockout Layer 1.

• On Knockout Layer 1, construct a rectangle of any color you choose (I suggest not white) which will be the size and shape of your "Polaroid prints". I just make a selection that size and shape and then use Fill to make it the color I use. [I use an arbitrary orange - it makes it easier to see what happens further along.]

• Double click on the layer control bar for Knockout Layer 1 (not on any icon, its name, etc.) to bring up the Layer Style dialog.

• On the Layer Style dialog, choose Stroke. Make sure its check box is checked; if not, check it.

• Under Structure, set Size to the width of the white border you want on your "Polaroid prints". Set Position to Inside. Set Blend Mode to Normal. Set Opacity to 100%. Set Color to your border color (we assume white). [This will make the border on the "Polaroid prints".] (A beveled edge could be applied here as well.)

• Still on the Layer Style dialog, choose Blending Options. In the Advanced Blending panel, set Knockout to Deep. [This will make any part of this layer that is not opaque disable every layer below it down to, but not including, the Background layer. The point is to disable part of the "Black and White" layer that is taking the color from our image, letting the color show in our little "Polaroid print.]

• Set Fill Opacity to 0%. [This makes the colored rectangles on the Knockout layer not themselves appear in the composite image. Rather, we will see on those regions the original image, from the Background layer.]

• OK the Layer Style dialog.

• Suppose we want three "Polaroid prints" altogether. On the control bar for Knockout Layer 1, right click and hit Duplicate Layer. This will make Knockout Layer 2. Do that again to make Knockout Layer 3.

• One at a time, select the layer control bar for the Knockout layers. For each, move and/or rotate the layer content to position the "Polaroid print" it generates as desired. Note that the ones on the upper Knockout layers will (with regard to the white border) overlay the ones on lower layers.

Here's a screen shot of the Layers panel for the setup I describe:


Here's the result (not nearly so pretty as Joachim's horse!):


Thanks so much to Joachim and Jonas for showing me how to do this.

Best regards,

Doug
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Great Doug, Joachim and Jonas,

Now the next step! Real Polaroids would be slightly off exactness in angles and alignment. So some pictures could have a slightly different position of the entrance pupil of the lens.

Asher
 

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Asher,

Great Doug, Joachim and Jonas,
Amazing what 2.5 Germans can do (I make some presumptions there)!

Now the next step! Real Polaroids would be slightly off exactness in angles and alignment. So some pictures could have a slightly different position of the entrance pupil of the lens.
Not if shot from the same location (assuming one paid proper attention to the appropriate pivot point between shots), which is the situation presumably emulated by this conceit.

Of course, if we took into account the particular geometric distortion of the virtual Polaroid camera . . .!

Best regards,

Doug
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Not if shot from the same location (assuming one paid proper attention to the appropriate pivot point between shots), which is the situation presumably emulated by this conceit.
Unlikely. Besides, from all the museum pictures I have seen, one can hardly assume such exact positioning. The aberrant placements are part of the charm.

Of course, if we took into account the particular geometric distortion of the virtual Polaroid camera . . .!
At a minimum!

Asher
 

Doug Kerr

Well-known member
Hi, Asher,

Unlikely. Besides, from all the museum pictures I have seen, one can hardly assume such exact positioning. The aberrant placements are part of the charm.
I'm having trouble relating your comments to what seems to be, on the surface, the point of Joachim's composition.

That struck me as the conceit, so common in TV advertising these days, in which a "plain" image takes on vibrant life (in place) inside our picture frames, not that we have taken a bunch of color closeup pictures of a horse and pasted prints of them up on a B/W "poster" of the horse.

If the latter was our mode, we might even use closeup pictures of several horses, or the horse and its trainer, or the horse and its trainer and her boyfriend.

That, by the way, of course, calls upon a wholly different technique in Photoshop.

Jonas' method (and Joachim's too, as I understand it, in its basic form) is intended for the "picture takes life in our picture frames" conceit.

I feel almost as if I have put up a picture of a donkey and hear that it doesn't look much like a zebra.

But lemme load my donkey-to-zebra filter.

Best regards,

Doug
 

Joachim Bolte

New member
I really love the knockout method! It's way easier than the clipping mask, because for every 'photo' you would need to make a copy of the original image there.

Only thing I would do different to reproduce my picture of the horse with the knockout technique is to not use a B&W adj.layer, but make a copy of the background image, make that B&W and then apply a gaussian blur to it. The blurring of the grayscale picture is part of the charme of it I think. The knockout will go straight trough it to the colored background layer at the bottom of the stack.

Love It! :)
 

Joachim Bolte

New member
@Asher

To get such an effect, where every picture has a slightly different standpoint, exposure and tone, I would still use the clipping-mask technique. For in that case, the disadvantage of having to copy the original several times to get multiple photos becomes an advantage, for you can alter every picture to look the way you like.

Another little problem would be that a polaroid has a slightly broader bottom edge than the sides and top. One would have to make the clipping masks, overlay a polaroid frame to that and then link the polaroids layer to the clipping mask layer to move and rotate simultaneously.

Sounds harder than it is I think, I'll give it a go later.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi, Asher,



I'm having trouble relating your comments to what seems to be, on the surface, the point of Joachim's composition.
Doug,

Of course, one can simply use a method like this. however it's too ordered and flat! However, here's a great example in Hana Davies' work of the dimensionality and disorder in a Polaroid cluster.







© Hana Davis: Collage fair use for editorial comment only

I thought the point of this discussion was the appearance of a likeness to the pictures we have seen made with real Polaroid instant images assembled together to make up one whole scene, not a collage of different scenes. After all, I was the one who identified a particular likeness, so I can push the metaphor. In fact these formations of adjacent snaps are very much valued and since the original film is no longer made fresh, (and the Impossible Project replacement are fragile, sensitive to moisture and tiny) a new method of getting the Polaroid look is indeed welcome.

It's no mere conceit, LOL, (although you used the word correctly). Just the use of the word in association with dismissing the value of further refinement, is not a positive move, IMHO.

Some displacement of perfect order would indeed benefit the assemblage of "Digital Polaroids" if they are to reach their potential in appearing like a collection of individual and spontaneous snaps made in an energized focused frenzy of creativity.

Asher
 

Joachim Bolte

New member
voila... as said, seems like a lot of work, but it's mostly a matter of copy-past... You will get one VERY big file though, because of all the layering. When ready it would be a nice idea to rasterize all groups.

As you can see from the layer-dialog, it's totally customizable, moveable and non-destructive. and you can warp or displace the picture contained in the polaroid however you wish, getting a result as in your last post.



Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Joachim,

Just give the images an incorrect alignment. Nudge/ stretch/distort them them ever so slightly: and that's what you've started to do. Great step forward. Voila!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Doug,

Just look at the pictures I have shown of the real thing. That's the richness we can readily achieve, but today, only if one has access to some stored discontinued film.

"Another kind of leg": Wrong assumption. The entire richness of the project is built on a common knowledge of Polaroid collages, period. So it's not another kind of chair leg, it's just the chair leg done according to expectations that are rooted in tradition and culture of folk who have experienced the real thing. One concept executed as well as possible as Joachim has now made the effort to do!

"Conceit": I thought I'd pre-empt your quoting the dictionary by saying that you used the word correctly, but you might have missed that, LOL

It's not a matter of your political correctness but just that you are raspy and stubborn!

Asher
 

Joachim Bolte

New member
I would have to say that I don't mind getting comments like this on pictures I edit. The idea behind the horse-picture was a different one than a polaroid collage, but I found it challenging to try the latter none the least. There's two paths in this: the technical one (I think Doug and I are on there), and the creative one (that I made a few steps on because Asher gave me a nice idea).

Those two paths always go together, and will lead to a certain result, but I don't really think the discussion is (or should be) about that result. It's more of a Zen-approach, the journey is more important than the destination. :)
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I would have to say that I don't mind getting comments like this on pictures I edit. The idea behind the horse-picture was a different one than a polaroid collage, but I found it challenging to try the latter none the least. There's two paths in this: the technical one (I think Doug and I are on there),
and what a great job!


and the creative one (that I made a few steps on because Asher gave me a nice idea).

Those two paths always go together, and will lead to a certain result, but I don't really think the discussion is (or should be) about that result. It's more of a Zen-approach, the journey is more important than the destination. :)
Exactly! After all the title of this thread is after all, "Photoshop: A Collage of Polaroid Prints" so technical and esthetic considerations are both needed!

Thanks for your wisdom! Humor, patience, forbearance and wisdom are great helpers when one is thrashing out ideas!

Asher
 
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