Ashes to Ashes...

by Pino Pino February. 20, 2021 150 views

I needed to come up with a graphic for a Lent project so I did the only reasonable thing... I dumped ash from the fireplace all over our oak dining room table.

Yeah, that look you're making with your face... multiply it by ten and you're getting close to the look my wife had on her face.

Good news... it worked.

Better news... it cleaned up nicely.

Best news... I'm still married AND allowed to sleep inside.

We are currently under quite a bit of snow and it is flippin' cold outside (we actually 'owe' degrees - negative temps outside) so I was very happy I had not burned through the 'men will be men' allowance on this one.

So getting to the deets of how I made this work...

I laid a black plate on the table... then I laid thick wooden L, E, and N letters on the plate... then I poured ash on and around the plate - covering everything. Then I carefully pulled the letters out and scraped the T.

As I tweaked little adjustments to the ash to 'perfect' the LENT there was a learning curve... DON'T BREATHE! The slightest exhale when dealing with precision placed ash is... well... it ain't good.
PROCESS: Remove wooden letters from ash... refine 'text'... surrender to need for oxygen... grunt - remove ash from eyes... begin again... repeat entire process three times... learn to breathe to the side like popeye... get distracted and allow mind to wander while internally congratulating your self for working out solution... forget to breathe to side... repeat process - again.

And VIOLA!

Organic looking LENT - like a priest wrote it on your head with his thumb.

I mounted the camera on a tripod pointing straight down from above the controlled chaos adorning our formal dining furniture and popped off shots with a remote trigger.

This is a photo of my first attempt at testing out my theory on how to get this shot... from here I added WAY more ash and worked out (after a few attempts) how to get the letters cleaner internally but also less sharp edged... ultimately involved various very tiny paint brushes.

This is a photo of my first attempt at testing out my theory on how to get this shot... from here I added WAY more ash and worked out (after a few attempts) how to get the letters cleaner internally but also less sharp edged... ultimately involved various very tiny paint brushes.

How did I get the Carmelprays.com text and logo so perfect and readable? Um, Photoshop displacement map of the vector logo. Needed to be brand consistent and very readable so had to go the 21st century 'techno cheat' method for that piece. Not proud of it but got the job done.

From there I did a little Photoshop magic to do a few more variations - but the part everyone comments on and seems to be drawn to (The phrase "powerful image" has been tossed about... he says modestly.) is the organic LENT so that was well worth the effort to do it 'old school' - and ultimately worth the risk of sleeping the proverbial (frozen) dog house.

Some uses required no text so for this I photoshop'd out the LEN and moved the cross over the logo...

Some uses required no text so for this I photoshop'd out the LEN and moved the cross over the logo...

And after the fact it was decided we needed it in Spanish so I cheated - use content aware fill to expand the ash enough to fit the longer word and then applied a displacement map...

And after the fact it was decided we needed it in Spanish so I cheated - use content aware fill to expand the ash enough to fit the longer word and then applied a displacement map...

I wish I'd done this all in camera but time and the need for clean edges on the logo and CarmelPrays.com text did not allow - those perfect edges are even harder than you think to get organically.

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Gethin Thomas 1 week ago

She's lucky it was ash not embers, or maybe you were lucky.smile

1 week ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Gethin Thomas 6 days, 20 hours ago

Yikes! Nah - we did fire early one night and photos late morning the next day - and I picked them up by hand to make sure no little burn-ey chunks smoldering in there... so played it EXTRA safe.. smile

6 days, 20 hours ago Edited
Camellia Staab 1 week ago

Nice work, and yes I would have had your wife's look as well if I had seen your mess. Glad you posted something here...thought you were gone forever, but happy to see you are not smile

1 week ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Camellia Staab 1 week ago

Thanks! Just been running in circles - excited to get some time with my cameras! smile

1 week ago Edited
Paul Moreau 1 week ago

Love the effect, don't completely understand all the post-processing and love the thinking and story of how you evolved your thinking.

1 week ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Paul Moreau 1 week ago

Thanks! I think I'll have to do a YouTube video of how I did it - setup, taking the shot, and editing...  my wife will be THRILLED that I'm dumping ash on the table again...  smile

1 week ago Edited
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