When people see this picture and ask me if it really looked like that, I have to say no, not even close.
For starters, it’s a picture, an image on piece of paper or an assemblage of pixels on a screen. The representation is a 2-D object in a 3-D world.
And, to the other question: “Is it Photoshopped?” That’s easy. The answer is yes, absolutely. It took a lot of work to get it to look closer to what it actually looked like being there in person and not just the way it looked to the camera. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I can feel feel same muscles being used that I use when I am taking pictures. I am thinking the same thoughts and asking the same kind of questions.
And just like with taking pictures, the instruction is the same: stay with it until it can breathe on its own.
Here is an example: From the highway, I saw the abundantly backlit blooms looking as pretty as that pile Van Gogh guy stuck in that vase. I don’t even remember parking. All of a sudden, I had positioned myself in front of this natural work of art. I’m not sure what happened next first, the sound or the sight of the backlit bees. They were everywhere. I took a shot and looked at it in the back of the camera. It was perfectly beautiful. The frame and the exposure were just right. And I knew, immediately, that I was going to have to use Photoshop to save it. The picture only had one bee in it. From the humming I was hearing I thought there needed to be, at least, a dozen bees to reflect the feeling of what it felt and looked like to be there.
I knew exactly what I needed to gather to pull off the trick. I stood perfectly still, making sure the sun was completely behind the plant, reframed the picture and took a dozen different pictures that looked exactly the same, except for the position of the bees.
Later, in Photoshop, I picked a frame that had three bees and cloned in the rest from the other images. I took a bee, one at a time, and placed it in the exact same spot on the frame that had the three bees. The had to be in exactly the same position or the gradation of the sky would expose the trick. That would make it look Photoshopped. I didn’t want that to take away from how it felt to be there.
The sunflower is mine, in a way.
– Vincent Van Gogh
Napa County, California 2009