Man in the Tree


The image to the right is another personal work I did not long ago. I remember I was at the Centre Island hanging out with the Dragon Boat team of my university. I am not really part of the club so I got a bit bored when they started to talk about club logistic stuff. I walked around and saw this beautiful old tree, whose truck has a big chuck of protuberance that looked like a human crawling. I shot several pictures of the tree - its trunk, its branches, its leaves high up, as well as the its surroundings. I had in mind that I would probably stitch those images together to produce a very high resolution photo in post, and thus I tried to keep my lens in the same plane when shooting the those images.

I ended up getting a total of 81 megapixels in Photoshop after stitching all the images together, but cropped out all the jagged edge and down to 52 megapixels to make it a rectangular image. I then went to my collection of dancer portrait I shot for Julian Desmond from May this year, and was lucky enough to find a shot that fits perfectly into the tree - the curve of his back, hip and leg matches perfectly with the curve of the trunk protuberance.

To blend him into the trunk, I simply used the most rudimentary method in Photoshop: layer mask. I literally just put a layer mask on top the dancer photo, and start to layer mask out portion of his body. To blend him better, I used a size 4 pixel brush (keep in mind that the whole image is 52 megapixel), on 100% opacity, to paint over his skin and reveal the tiny crests and texture of the trunk. It is a very tedious process and it takes me several hours to have done the job. I do wish there is a quick filter in Photoshop that can do the job for me, on the other hand.

In addition, I also drew some shadows and highlights (burn and dodge) on the picture to make it more believable. I feel like if I spend more time on this image, I could further improve it. However, unless zooming in very close, it looks believable enough to. Thus, I think I can trick the viewer's eye in prints.

Model credit: Julien Desmond, Model Mayhem 3384167.

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