Restoring Her Stolen Heart

Every so often, when I take photos, I use a model or models for my photos.  I pay the model (as photographers should), I pay in cash (another plus), and if I plan on entering the photo in competition, I request that the model sign a model’s waiver.  Of course, I also make sure the model gets a copy of the photo for his/her portfolio, so all is good.

Several years ago, I asked my model friend Lauren if she would pose for a photo shoot.  She agreed.  I picked up a styrofoam valentine heart and wrapped it in orange-red duct tape, Lauren and I met up in Stillwater, she posed with the heart, and I removed whatever was in the heart’s interior – revealing the waters behind her.

Such was the picture I called Her Stolen Heart.

Her Stolen Heart. Nikon D700 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I took this photo in 2012Eight years ago.  And at the time, I used my Nikon D700 camera.  I still have the Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 super-ultra-wide lens, though.

I entered the picture in the New York State Fair at that time, but it was rejected.  One of the judges said to me, “Why in the world did you give her an ORANGE heart?  We would have put it on the wall, it would have won a ribbon, had you used a RED heart, brother…”

Well, it looked kinda red to me … but apparently, it wasn’t red enough for the judges.  Sort of like when people drive through red traffic lights, and they use the excuse to the officer who pulls them over, “But Officer, it didn’t look red enough for me.”

Earlier this week, I went through some of my photo archives, just in case a competition opens up and I have a photo at the ready for it.

Oh look, here’s the original files for Her Stolen Heart.

What I originally did was anchor my camera to a tripod, and then photographed the lake.  Then I asked Lauren to sit on the bench, she held up the heart, and I photographed her.  Then I combined the two images, digitally masking out whatever was in the heart, so it looked as if Lauren had her heart ripped out.  Figuratively, that is.  Okay, literally as well.  Jeez, what the hell did I use to make this work?  Corel Photo-Paint?  Yeah, probably.

There’s one of Lauren’s original shots, straight out of my old D700.

And as I looked at these eight-year-old photos, I realized that … not only was Lauren sitting on the bench, she was on one edge of the bench, and nothing was on the other side.  No person to sit with her.  So not only was her heart stolen, but the thief vanished as well.

Okay, let’s re-load this image – plus the background lake image – into PhotoShop.  I have to use PhotoShop, my copy of Corel PhotoPaint vanished a few years ago.

I adjusted some highlights … I cropped here and there … and just because I never want to hear the phrase, “Why the hell did you use an orange heart,” from another judge ever again … I shifted the image to a black and white construct.

And …

Folks, say hi to Her Stolen Heart, Mark II.

Her Stolen Heart II. Nikon D700 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, two images combined in PhotoShop, with Google Nik Silver Efex software. Photo (c) 2012, 2020 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Composition, folks.  By moving Lauren and the bench to the left, you now have this empty space on the right – for the beau that was expected, but then never showed up.  And you can still see the water behind the heart, as well as the reflection of the trees.  And by going with a black-and-white construct, I could boost the spindly grass, I could boost the nasty clouds, and I can add all sorts of emotive tension to this photo.

And this may … just may … be the oldest photo that’s ever gone from shutter pressed to possible competition season image.  Yeah, it only took eight years, but who’s counting?

Besides, if someone gives me too much guff, I’ll go find one of my old Nikon D70 photos from around 2007 and fix one of those up.  And don’t think I won’t. 😀