Saturday, December 3, 2011

Art Imitates Life... with a little help from Photoshop

One of my favorite things is diving at night. The mystery of the ocean is intensified when the only thing you can see is what is illuminated by the limited throw of your dive light. It forces you to narrow your focus and to observe marine life with renewed interest and intensity. Colors pop in the bright white light that you project onto the reef and its creatures. The reef at night brings out a whole host of different creatures, many predatory in nature, who use the dark cover of night to ambush their prey. Night diving during a full moon can be particularly interesting, as many reef creatures use the tides to their advantage in timing their reproductive behavior.

I recall one particular night dive, when the conditions were just right. It was just around a full moon and the the diving conditions were optimal, with crystal clear water and calm surface conditions. Just off the reef was a shallow sandy bottom in about 20 or 30 feet depth. I rested on the sand and looked up in wonder as the light of the moon shimmered down into the ocean and danced above me and onto the reef. Dives like these can only be described as magical. That dive was many years ago, but it inspired the image I am currently using as the background on my website.

The image was created completely in Photoshop. I started with a solid black background, then used the radial gradient tool to created the blue water on the surface. Then I used the angle gradient tool, set to noise to create the rays of light streaming down into the water. I then used the radial gradient set to reverse and from solid to transparent to created a black layer on the bottom, to fade the rays out as they stream down. The ripples on the surface were created using the filter tool. First I used the cloud filter, then plastic wrap and scaled it down to simulate the ripples on the ocean surface. Finally I added lens flare and painted in a little more light, for the moon.

I generally do not like to manipulate my photos in Photoshop, but it is still pretty cool what you can create!