The Dragan Effect |

The Dragan Effect

4 February 2010

Meet Andrzej Dragan, a thirty two year old photographer, born in Poland.
There must have been hundreds of others with that profile, I guess, but I'm sure that none of them have a similar history.
Dragan was a student in quantum physics on the universities of Warsaw, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Oxford. During his studies he won several science awards and in the end he got his PhD Cum Laude.
Next to science he has won several national and international awards for composing music.
In 2003, Dragan became involved in photography, and the world of portraits hasn't been the same ever since. And that's of course - although I do find quantum physics also quite impressive - the real reason why he gets some space on my blog.
Let's have a look at the work of a photographer who once said in an interview with Paola Bonini that he "doesn't really likes photographing, but actually dislikes it".

When it comes to Photoshop art, there are always critics who’ll tell you that it's not real photography. And there always will be. Even though I do have my own opinion about this, I don't think it's neither the time nor the post to discuss this so if you think Photoshopped pictures are not real photography, then try to look at these pictures as something different. Say Photoshop art.

What Dragan does is emphasizing human details - like wrinkles - to be darker and deeper and he makes the colors more sober and pure, so the photo shows some similarities in style with paintings from for example Rembrandt.
This style is ideal for bringing expressions and emotions to pictures or for creating surrealistic portraits of existing people. The latter is exactly what Dragan did in "Old" The New "Dead" where he manipulated photos of famous - and often dead - people to show them how they would have looked if they were still alive. You can find some examples of this at Guanabee.

His most popular pictures can be found on his exposition Allegories & Macabresques, a neat connection of portraits of known and unknown people, one hundred percent Dragan Style. You can find an overview of the collection at Photoslaves.

This tickles the aspirant Photoshopper in you to try to create a similar effect, doesn't it?
Well it did to me, but my knowledge of Photoshop is rather limited, so I had a look around YouTube to get myself a tutorial.
Although it can sometimes be a bit boring and the example picture isn't that magnificent, I've chosen following video to guide me through the process because every step is explained and it's easy to follow.

What I did was opening Photoshop next to the video, always pressing pause when a new step was discussed so I could follow on my photo. After a while I didn't follow every adjustment anymore, but I went more for the feeling.
And here is my result:















The full size image can be found here

I need to say that I was quite impressed that I could make such a creation from the first time.
Lots of other nice examples of the Dragan effect - probably by more experienced Photoshoppers - can be found at Pbase

Have fun editing!

"Portrait is an illusion of looking at a real person"
Andrzej Dragan

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