The Art of Virtual Photography
The emergence of digital art has proven to be a formidable venue for creating elaborate works of art. Every industry requiring visual communication including providers of visual products, benefit from digital art in some way. Photographic still/motion imagery production is no longer hindered by physical limitations or cost prohibited using digital art. If it can be imagined, it is likely that a digital artist can produce it.
So what does this mean when it comes to the viability of traditional photography? The answer can be determined by the origin and purpose of the end product. Things that are of personable or tangible value will always require traditional photography, either film or digital in order to document or illustrate them as something authentic rather it be a person, place or thing. Special events, news media or documentaries for example place high value on original and authentic photography.
Even so, everything we know or can imagine can originate as impersonal or of a non-tangible nature when it is the product of the imagination. Featured cartoon TV shows or animated movies are examples of digital based products that originate from the imagination. What makes such productions feasible and a necessity is that solely imaginative based products cannot easily be produced using traditional photography because of physical limitations and cost constraints.
For these reasons, I am enjoying greater creative freedom with expanded capabilities in virtual photography and 3D human figure design in the production of digital art. The temptation of a virtual venue is to go hog wild given a vastly flexible imagination. My creative balance comes by tapping into or emulating what is tangible especially things that are popularly endearing. The oddities or creative uniqueness comes with not having to deal with physical limitations when it comes to things like human safety. For example, a 3D cliffhanger scene of a person down to one finger can be visually edgy without subjecting anyone to real danger.
One of my choices of a tangible and endearing subject to focus my virtual creativity on is ballet with emphasis on ballerinas. My objective is to produce contemporary wall art prints, dance posters, and large canvas art based on ballerina concepts and themes. As in the real world, props, costumes, makeup, hair design, human figure 3D models and etc. have to be procured to meet production goals. The benefit is that the cost comparison to tangible counterparts is so far less and sometimes free that I was able to gather much of what I needed for the price of one highly fashionable performance outfit for a real person.
None of the above is conceivable or useful without having a virtual platform to work within that allows for a collection of virtual elements to be integrated and manipulated in production. Two available platforms I use for 3D human figure design and posing are Poser Pro and DAZ Studio 3D. Regardless of experience, there is a learning curve involved with 3D human figure design but training resources are plentiful and mostly free. As of now, DAZ Studio 3D a powerful platform is also available for free.
Once you have developed a workflow, configured, dressed and posed 3D human figure models according to planned scenes, you are ready for something akin to photo shooting, specifically, positioning a virtual camera, virtual lighting and rendering an image. Poser Pro and DAZ Studio 3D has built in technologies that can perform this task well including scenery design. There are also options for those who have access to higher end 3D platforms such as Cinema 4D or 3D Max. These applications offer higher end lighting and rendering at greater speeds. You would have to export the 3D human figure models and sceneries in formats that can be imported for use in such higher end platforms to make use of them. It is well worth it if this option is available when rendering high resolution large scaled and highly detailed prints.
After learning to work through laborious processes with increased speed, I was able to produce collections of ballerina-based works of art with various themes. One of the edgiest or “visually risky” is among my “Sky Dancer” collection with a ballerina posing on pointe atop a hot air balloon high among the clouds slightly silhouetted by the light of the sun. It appears to be daring and dangerous but it is impossible for my virtual ballerinas to be subjected to real harm. Nor would I portray them being harmed. Real ballerinas are a source of my creative inspiration and I consider them to be superbly talented but sometimes I go a little super in my portrayal of them. I regard them as being super because of their hard work, endurance, and perfection of performance skills so I exercise my creative freedom to express that.
While we may weigh the pros and cons of the art of virtual photography, we cannot ignore the commonality of uniqueness and authenticity, which garners favor in a world that consumes both reality and virtual reality media. Photography produces one uniform product regardless of the production process, a collection of pixels or points of light that are printed, projected or arranged on a viewing screen. One can conclude that at the final point of delivery, the line of demarcation that once determined what is real versus unreal is dissolved by a masterful production of pixels and points of light.