I hang out with one of the local art organizations here in Spokane (www.spokanerrafa.com) and in an effort to motivate members, we started having what we call a periodic RRAFA Challenge.  Someone gives the members a challenge, like do something with only two colors or do a project with a tree as the major subject.  We started this after we noticed a jump in our art quality during a show we held last year that had a Mandala theme.  Some of my efforts at Mandalas, or more accurately, Tondos can be found in Fred’s Galleries.

One of the RRAFA Challenges earlier this year was do a Notan.  After my first couple of “huhs” I started looking at examples of notans and found that these were nothing more than what photographers think of as photograms.  A photogram was the first darkroom project I ever did some odd 45 years ago.  We went in the darkroom, set the enlarger to cover a complete printing frame, set a piece of light-sensitive paper in the frame, emptied our pockets and arranged the contents on the paper, exposed the paper and developed it.  Of course the students who did this the most “creatively” got the better grade.  Anyway, once I got the notan => photogram into my head I was ready for the challenge.

Hmmm, after playing around in PhotoShop for a while I thought the threshold adjustment might be the way to go with this project.  Now, to pick a subject, again hmmm, a collage of images might be a place to start.

Dug around in some old images I took at Chief Seattle Days (http://www.suquamish.org/ChiefSeattleDays.aspx) a few years ago and came up with these two snapshots.



Suquamish Canoe                                                Tlingit Dancers

The canoe was the easy part.  Select the canoe, create a layer mask from the selection, and adjust the threshold until you get black.



The dancers were not so straightforward.  Selecting them was quite tedious but I thought this was the best selection….of many tries.



and the threshold looked like this.



From there, I started a new image.  Make sure you set the background to white.  Since I have become a fan of smart objects, I turned my masking results into smart objects and imported them.  I also thought a black border would balance the the image over all.  Here is the result:



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