The Bike Ride is an illustration I did in October 2012. While at the covered bridge outside of Sergeantsville, NJ, I was there shooting a series of Autumn landscape photos as well as the an HDR of the old Ford Pickup Truck that was located not too far from the bridge. The whole scene there was a photographers dream. You have the last standing covered bridge in the state of New Jersey, that alone is enough reason to stop and shoot. But you have a very old small cottage style house. I call it the “Galvin House,” because when I was a child, old Mrs. Galvin (101+ years old) lived there. And then you had and old Ford pickup truck sitting right next to the road. It was Autumn and there were many nice angles to shoot down under the bridge at creek level. So, yes I was “working the area” as a photographer would say. I was on a time limit as I had somewhere I had to be and time was running out. I saved the truck for last. As I was done shooting the truck I started to walk back to where I was parked and a gaggle of bicyclists came filling into the intersection and stopped. I looked at them (as any photographer would) to survey their photo worthiness. Nothing really struck me as to “want” to take their photo, but when I made eye contact with this one lady I could feel that funny little feeling that she wanted her photo taken. I’m thinking about time and I have to be moving on. I try not to look at her but she has a look that says “why are you not taking my photo you asshole” really… she had that kind of look. I looked at her and smiled, and I had to walk right next to her to get to my car. She looks at me and says in a very pleasant and kind voice said “we are all photo ready” as she held her arms open as to welcome the camera her way. So I quickly mounted the 24-105mm and started to shoot. More of her group was still arriving, as they arrived the leader signaled to move on and the group started to quickly dissipate. I quickly gave my new friend a card and said email me. Well… she did and I had one good photo of her with two friends and she liked it. The rest were blurry, or some other imperfection. There was this one photo where she was mounting and riding away at the same time. It was a horrible photo for many reasons, to close, strange angle, and the composition was off.
And that was the photo that this illustration was made from. I’m not going to even waste my time to do a side by side comparison, just believe me when I say it was a bad photo. But not bad after I used my typical treatment of “Dry Brush” and other little Photoshop tools to turn it into something worthy of at least being able to look at. And actually for me, I liked it enough to make a nice print to hang. I also use the print to show clients who might want to have illustrations, so they can see the detail first hand. The printed version looks very nice compared to the web version you are seeing.
So to conclude: I would like to say that this is how my illustrations were first born… from bad photos. Yes I have made illustrations from good photos too. But some of the crappiest photos make the best illustrations.