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Untitled: A Senior Surreal Photo by Alexander Barnes (2016)

In my surreal image, balloons are coming up from water. As the balloons rise, they are getting caught in a tree whose foliage is made of clouds. This represents my childhood escaping as I move into adulthood. I chose the color red because psychologically, it represents passion. Balloons were used because I used to adore them as a child, and the clouds represent my wonders. The single balloon escaping represents my childhood escaping.

I made this image using a composition of 4 images: the background scene, a walnut tree, a cloud, and a red balloon. For the cloud, I used polyfill held together with string in a studio setting so that I could isolate it and control the lighting of it. I then took this cloud and copied it multiple times and used layer masks to blend them together to form the foliage of the tree. I masked out the greater portion of the tree's branches and its setting to get the trunk and the lower branches alone and placed that behind the clouds. For the background, I took a high dynamic range photograph of the bay, purposefully including the two banks of sand so that I had a place for the tree to be placed. When I was satisfied with the trees placement, I added shadows to the tree to ground it in the image and make it appear as if it were at the location. For the balloons, I took a single balloon which I photographed in a studio setting as well so that I could cut it out. I decided that I did not want to include the string, so I masked that out and copied the layer and merged the layer mask. I then placed them in their respective areas and rotated or scaled them for depth and interest. I added a layer of black over and turned down the transparency and masked out areas where I did not want shadows. For the balloons in the trees, I took a brush I made from the original polyfill cloud and masked out the tops to make them appear to be stuck in the tree. Finally, I applied a black and white filter to it all and masked out the balloons in the trees to make them the focal points.
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