Getting gothic with Heather Burns

forest image by Heather Burns
The Whispers of the Forest © Heather Burns

In November, we welcomed Heather Burns to the club for an evening of gothic imagery.

We’d seen some of her images on her website beforehand – but we were quite unprepared for what Heather would show us at our club night.

Heather began by sharing some of her photographic journey with us. It became very quickly obvious that she has a wonderful eye for a great photo as she shared some of her early work photographing bands.

Her distinctive portrait work also blew us away and it didn’t take us long to understand why Heather is a two-times Master Craftsman with the Guild of Photographers: Heather’s technique, control of the light and understanding of the subject are outstanding.

But more than that, Heather has vision.

Rocinante © Heather Burns
Rocinante © Heather Burns

When she moved on to show how she creates her gothic-looking artwork, we were expecting intricate set-ups for her compositions together with masses of work in Photoshop – lots of precise selections and cut-outs, complicated masking and making the innermost technology of Photoshop work for her.

In the end, the Photoshop technique Heather used was refreshingly straightforward: a base image, a number of layers on top, a coloured texture, playing with blending modes and some dodging and burning and she was creating imagery that most of us have only dreamed of producing. Very little cutting out and no deep-diving into Adobe.

She told us that she always has a vision of what she wants to do with an image before she weaves her magic on it.

But Heather is a master of keeping things simple, too, and she left us all feeling that this was something we could have a go at without doing an advanced editing course first! 

However, she did cause some of us to question why we get up at stupid hours in the quest for perfect skies and ultra-sharp photos. As amateur photographers, that’s what believe we need to do; for Heather that just isn’t necessary!

So our thanks to Heather for a wonderfully entertaining, enlightening and inspirational evening.

Many of us will have a go at this technique. We can’t hope to come anywhere near the standard Heather has set through her years of practice and honing her vision and technique – but we’ll see what the club came up with next month!

The Mind's Eye © Heather Burns
The Mind’s Eye © Heather Burns

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