Summary

My article  was about the Urban Death Project, which encourages people to be turned into compost when they die rather than being buried or cremated in traditional ways. This option is more environmentally friendly, natural and gentle, and allows people to contribute to the land, even after they have died.

For my final image, I manipulated 6 images together to create one image. My aim was to communicate the idea of a gentle, natural, clean-green death rather than the somewhat violent cremation or chemical loaded burial processes. I also wanted to communicate the passing on of life that occurs in this composting process. I achieved this objective using many of the things we learnt in class, including semiotics, colour, composition and digital manipulation.

I used an image of a tree in my piece because trees are an abundant part of nature, and a healthy, green tree really speaks “environmentally friendly”. I used hands in my image because of their association with holding and caring for things. Humans use hands to touch and they can be thought of as gentle. With these ideas, I merged the images of the hands and the tree together to represent humans taking nature into their own hands and caring for the environment. I buried the hands in dirt to look like the roots of the tree to signify the way composting allows humans to contribute and pass life on to the environment when they die, rather than being buried in a box. The hands act as roots, grounding the tree and giving it life. I was going to use a clear blue sky, however I quite liked how the clouds gave a sense of movement and dimension to the piece. As a final touch, I wanted to personify the tree in a way that showed life being passed on. I decided to add a pair of boots hanging from the branches.

I used colour in my image to evoke a feeling of calm and tranquility- humans becoming one with nature. Keeping the palate simple was important, so I used only green for the grass and tree, blue for the sky (though I lightened it a little so it wasn’t too distracting) and brown for the soil. Blue and green are often used to evoke peace and tranquility and brown is a very earthy colour by nature. The only colour changes I made were to make the green of the grass match the green of the tree so they looked like they came from the same photo. I also placed a warming photo filter over the entire image to help tie all the colours together.

I used the rule of thirds to help guide the composition of my image, as it was the layout I felt gave the best sense of balance. As I was aiming for a balance between man and nature, the rule of thirds was a good guide. My aim was to have the eye first attracted toward the base of the tree, then guided up and down to see what is on either side. I placed my grass line on a third line as this gave a good balance between the ground above and ground below and provided an intersection between the tree and ground. I also decided to use three hands, rather than the one I originally intended, as it provided better symmetry and balance between the tree and the roots.

As I am new to Photoshop, the digital manipulation of my 6 images was the part I had most difficulty with. The techniques we learnt in class definitely helped, along with video tutorials. I cut out my tree and placed it on my grass with the sky background. I then made my cross-section by blending a separate image of some dirt with the dirt and grass I had already. I also added some grass on the top to blur the blunt grass line and make it look more natural. Manipulating the tree and the hands together was difficult because of the shadowing on the tree. I also layered more dirt over the hands and fingers, covering some and not others, to make it look as if they are in the ground.

Overall, I am proud of how my image turned out as it was my first ever Photoshop project. There are definitely things I would do differently next time but it has all been a learning experience!

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