I had a few ideas for both a movie poster and album cover, sketched out and everything, but the deciding factor was the original image of the streetlamp, church, and house I took on a whim while I was walking my dog.
In the same way that I could tell that the director of the pilot episode of Californication was the same director of the pilot episode of 24, just off of the vibes I got from the atmosphere of the shows, I could feel the vibes of the band X Ambassadors from this image I took. It’s the contrast of dark and light that made this band come to mind, as each of their album covers incorporate a dark rim/background with an illuminated subject in the foreground. Often, the color scheme is either a dark blue or orange and since orange and blue are contrasting colors on the color wheel, those are the colors I chose to make stand out in this image. To do so, I adjusted the curves, levels, and vibrance of different aspects of the image. I made the sky more blue than it originally was, and I brightened the orange lights from the house and the street lamp to make the color stand out. Since the pathway was originally taken elsewhere in the day, rather than the evening, I had to lower the curves and levels as well as burn parts to make it blend into the black background. I used the dodge tool to lighten a space where the street lamp would have illuminated the path.
Originally, the entire image was flipped so everything was facing the left, but I wanted to have a more centered piece so I flipped the image entirely and then flipped the streetlamp individually so it would be facing inwards. The challenge here was that the sky was lighter around the center and darker behind the street lamp, so when I flipped the lamp inwards, the darker part of the sky stood out against the lighter sky from the original image. It took me a solid hour of trial and error, but I ended up using the clone stamp tool to take samples of the lighter sky and with the softest brush level, I levelled out the colors of the sky. Even so, it looked a little off, so I adjusted the curves in order to make the sky darker and blend the different tones.
What I learned from this experience is that it doesn’t take a lot of editing and manipulating to create an impactful album cover. It just takes a solid idea and good music playing in the background.