Monday, March 12, 2012

Turning a Photo into a Book Cover

Last week I finished designing the book cover for my mystery novel, Artifact, that comes out this summer. This week I've been doing the interior layout to the book. Therefore I've been too busy to do much in the way of photography lately. But I realized I have been working on some cool photography—just not in the way I usually do.

Today I thought I'd show the process I used to turn a photograph I took in India into my book cover.

I took the photo below of Red Fort in Delhi, India, almost fifteen years ago. It's a nice enough photo, but not especially great. But I love the structure of those arches, so the image stuck with me. When I scanned a batch of my old negatives several years ago, I digitized the photo.

Once I knew I'd be designing my own book cover for my mystery novel, this image immediately came to mind, since the plot involves an artifact from India that has somehow wound up on a Scottish archeological dig.

I knew the photograph wasn't strong enough on its own to become a book cover, but certain elements were. In Photoshop, I turned the image to black and white, and used Threshold to make all the values of the image black or white—no shades of gray.

I liked the look of that high contrast image, but it didn't lend itself to the kind of background image I envisioned. So I inverted the image, with the result show below.

Now this was an image I could use. In InDesign, I took the image and applied some color and used a transparency to show a map of the UK behind the Indian arch. Here's the final cover.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Saving my Old Photos of Prague

It was over a decade ago that I visited Prague. That was before I switched to digital cameras, and I shot two rolls of 35mm film during the few days I spent in the city. I was shooting high speed black and white film, which doesn't play nicely with airport x-ray machines. Many of my photos from Prague were damaged. The photo immediately below is one of my favorite undamaged photos from my trip to Prague. But now that I've been spending time going through my old negatives, it occurred to me that I could attempt to salvage some of the prints in Photoshop. Digital salvation isn't as good as the real thing, but it has still been fun to see the foggy prints come back to life. The second and third images below show two photos I'm in the process of restoring: the stone detail of the Charles Bridge and the city lit up at night.

Shooting digital brings its own challenges. While the images on memory cards won't be damaged by x-ray machines, they can still get corrupted, as one of my friends learned the hard way recently. And  even though you can fit hundreds of photos onto a memory card, you need to remember to download the photos so you don't lose them if anything happens to your camera or card. I've got over a hundred photos on my camera right now, so I need to follow my own advice.