One of my favorite parts of putting together an issue of Relief is working with the photographers and graphic artists who help the outside of our journal look as good as the work we publish inside. You see, I'm well aware that, while we all know that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, we're all prone to do it anyway. Fortunately, Relief has developed great relationships with gifted visual artists who contribute to covers that are as original as our vision for a Christian literature that is both true-to-life and beautiful, gritty and wonderful. The cover of our current issue is a composite of two images. The central image (the tree and sunrise in the doorway) is cropped from a landscape taken by J. Brisbin, a former Relief author and photographer whose work we featured on our last cover. Like his last, this image demonstrates the high dynamic range (HDR) technique, which is a favorite form of Brisbin's. As he explains it:
HDR is simply a way to capture an image that pretends it has more dynamic range than it actually has. The eye can see about 15000:1 contrast ratio, while photography can usually only capture 300:1 to 500:1. Highs get overexposed, lows get lost in shadow. HDR algorithms seek to compress multiple exposures of an image that expose various parts of that 15000:1 contrast ratio in "slices" by altering the exposure, then combining those images (3-12) using special software. What makes HDR cool, in my opinion, isn't this technical side of it, but the artistic result of the tone mapping software. Different algorithms produce different results and a vast range of effects can be produced by manipulating the knobs and switches in the tone mapping software. It can be time-consuming and takes a lot of trial-and-error but with the right composition, the effects can be stunning.
The second -- and much less technical -- image of the dark foreground, was taken by my wife, my youngest son, Josiah, and myself during a hike at a nearby abandoned and run-down house. (Actually, I took the picture from inside while they stayed safely outside and prayed the roof would not collapse on my head). With some clever arranging by Harriet Brewster, who also designed the cover for our last issue, the result is an image we're calling "Lazarus, Come Forth" for its juxtaposition of desolation with hope and beauty, and to hint at this issue's themes of isolation and communion.
And now that you've seen the cover, click on over to our store and pre-order a copy of your very own!