Experimentation: Bleached out backgrounds

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I came across Bruno Cattani’s Carousel series in a recent issue of the British Journal of Photography.  In this series, Cattani photographs carousels from all over the world, focusing on their unifying features.  What I really liked about his work was the appearance of the brightly coloured carousels each set against a washed-out background.  The article described his work as follows:

“The carousels in his photographs burst with colour, while their surroundings are bleached out – an aesthetic decision he made to isolate them from their context and emphasise their dreamlike quality”.

I decided to have a play around with this technique for myself.  In looking for a brightly coloured subject, I settled on a photograph that I took a few years ago of a Tibetan monk performing a ritual dance in a British cemetery.  The subject seemed particularly appropriate, considering that I was trying to create a ‘dreamlike’ quality in the final, edited image.

I opened the photograph in Photoshop and used the quick selection tool to create a new layer with the figure of the monk in his skeleton costume.  I then used a few basic adjustments to brightness, contrast, curves, colours etc. to get an effect that I was happy with.  In the end, I think that the edited image, is rather more interesting that the original.