Skull Floating Over Ho Chi Minh City – Black and White

Skull floating over Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, surreal artwork in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Godseye 2. The 2 is due to this being the second iteration (to state the obvious). The first is in color.

I seem to like breaking off a lot to chew… The tilt-shift effect—ie, the blurring—is entirely fabricated. For those who’ve never heard of it, real tilt-shift is created by a special camera lens. The problem is in determining which parts of the image would be blurred with a tilt-shift lens.

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Skull on Textured Cream and Purple

Skull on textured cream and purple background. Art photograph by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Classical Levity. ‘Classical’ because the image brings to mind ancient Rome and old paintings. Not even exactly sure why, perhaps the colors.

All my artwork involves a lot of experimentation, but this one even more so than usual. I slowly built up the textures, which, as well as adding a canvas-like look, had a strong influence on the direction of the color.

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Pink Skull on Cloud

Pink skull sitting on a pink cloud, surreal artwork by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Then We’ll Come Down. What came to mind when thinking of a title for this were lyrics from Dumb by Nirvana.

There’s no especially strong link, the only thing in common is the cloud, yet it seems fitting. The part of the song I’m talking about goes like this:

We’ll float around
And hang out on clouds
Then we’ll come down
And have a hangover

Then We’ll Come Down is a bit oblique, but I like that in a title.

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Skull Floating Above Walkway

Skull floating over walkway, surreal art photo by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Oblique. Purely based on the angle of the skull. And it’s a nice word with alternative suggestive meanings, perfect for a title.

This is a massive revision. I previously did a version in which the colors and composition began to sit badly with me. To the extent I had to either delete it entirely, or redo it.

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Giant Skull in Pillared Shelter

Giant skull in pillared shelter on the bank of the Thames, surreal artwork by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Ten Pillars. Another title in the continuing theme of literal with a poetic ring. As well as the visual, language aesthetics are important to me, too.

Quite a lot of finicky trimming and processing in this image. The ‘before’ picture had a pleasingly shaped building, but the background was busy and awful. So I got to work editing. The following image shows the base photo and the finished product side by side.

If memory serves, the hills are from a photo taken in Sri Lanka.

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Giant Skull Hovering Over Sri Lankan Landscape

Giant skull hovering over Sri Lankan landscape, surreal artwork by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Below. Concise, but poetically suggestive and open to interpretation.

It’s a simple composition, but I think quite effective because of that. Maybe surprisingly, it’s a composition of at least three images, if memory serves.

The landscape was taken in Sri Lanka, and the sky is from a New Zealand photo. I actually thought a more dramatic landscape would be the way to go, but this simpler one proved better.

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Giant Skull on Stairs in London

Giant skull sitting on top of spiral staircase in London. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: The Welcoming Committee.

Another image that pre my skull work was okay, but not interesting enough to stand on its own. However, upon the injection of a giant skull, the image was immediately compelling to me.

Juggling the skull’s perspective, position, rotation, light, and shadow presented the usual challenge inherent to this type of composite photography.

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Skull Hovering Over River in Florence

Skull hovering over the Arno river in Florence, Italy. Surreal art photo by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Interloping, Florence. I did three images with this title format, a black and white version of this, plus Interloping, Vietnam. Nothing too deep and meaningful about the title, I just like the narrative overtone the word interloping adds.

Getting the reflection to look right in this was really challenging. This type of photo compositing (basically merging multiple photos into a single realistic-looking scene) is like a puzzle. You start with an idea, and pretty much experiment until it looks right. Each photo presents its own problems—you have to match light and shadow, color, and even focus.

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Eroded Skull in Black and White

Eroded skull with parts of face missing, art photograph in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Black Erosion. Literal, but with a nice ring to it. There’s also a color version of this, which is why the ‘black’ part of the title is there.

I really like the shape of this skull, and its degraded condition.

Perhaps some would find it hard to believe given the subject matter, but I aim for a light feel to my skull imagery. However, I have to admit I failed on that front with this image. It turned out eerier and more gothic than anticipated.

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