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Bear with me, this is a journey

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I have fallen in love with Tim Owens’ Averaging Concepts using Flickr visual assignment. I liked it so much I did it before #ds106 Summer of Oblivion even started.

Then today came Lou McGill’s post Layers, which took the idea to a whole new level. I still aspire to make something as wonderful as the final image of his her dad. But that’s not the direction I went today, though I did push this averaging thing a little further along in a different direction.

It was Tim Owens’ averaging tutorial post that pointed me toward the work of Jason Salavon, in particular his portrait project. I am crazy for these things, these “atmospheric meta-portraits”.

As it happens, I had a ready-made image series to experiment with. In summer of 2009 I took a Drawing I class, and our final project was this: dress up as your alter ego, shoot a bunch of photos of yourself, pick the best one, crop it to the right proportion, print an 8×10, and use that as a reference to enlarge and redraw at 16×20 inches using our choice of media. We could draw black and white or color images. I chose to create mine in color using art markers. So you can see the photos I started with, here is a video I made documenting that drawing assignment.

So from the photo shoot from the drawing project, I had 62 photographs that were of similar composition. I decided to make an averaged portrait. I followed Tim’s tutorial. When I saw the result I was happy with it, but I still wanted to try adding it to another photo, like Lou McGill did. I tried some other photos in my catalog of images but I just wasn’t happy with the juxtaposition for any of them, and then it hit me:

Animated GIF.

I brought my final selection photo, the one I made my drawing from, and masked it using the Quick Selection tool to grab only my skin, feathering the selection about 60px and then turning that selection into a layer mask. I liked the Soft Light blending mode, but you could still see my face too clearly, so I reduced the opacity to 10%. Then I made an animated GIF, playing with the timing and whether the masked photo layer was on or off, varying the opacity when it was on. I only needed eight frames to get what I was after – a sort of flickering in and out of the more discernible version of my face.

So here is my final result, an animated GIF + amalgamated self-portrait using averaging. I’m liking it.

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