The “Artified” Photograph

Cat Nap

Because I painted for many years in traditional media (oils and acrylics), I’ve always had mixed feelings about photographs that are photoshopped to look like paintings. I always thought of it as cheating. There is a certain aesthetic and sense of awe that goes with knowing that someone actually physically created a visually stunning work of art with brushes and paint, and that they may have spent weeks, months, or even years completing it. Well, I’ve had to readjust my thinking a little.

In a previous post I wrote a tutorial about how mediocre photos can be transformed into stunning black and white images. Today I want to talk about other options for photos that would otherwise be headed for the trash bin. They may be a bit blurry, orange, unflattering, uninteresting, or whatever. While it’s true that many do belong in the trash, others may have a little something . . . even if you can’t quite put your finger on it right away. This is how it begins.

I tend to take a LOT of photos, which has led to my son referring to me some years ago as the paparazzi – inaccurate in my opinion because I don’t stalk celebrities. However, in certain situations, I will just keep shooting. For example, the photo above is one of about thirty during an impromptu “session” that began while we were waiting at a pub for my daughter-in-law to get off work and join us. I just happened to have my little Canon Powershot SD780 with me. Nobody was posing – it was just a case of mom playing with one of her toys again. Last night while doing some computer housekeeping, I came very close to deleting the entire series, one picture at a time. Eventually getting down to a handful of so-so pics that I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of,  I was determined to make them work. Enter Topaz.

Topaz is a photo-editing plug-in that has a lot of presets with effects that you can customize. Anyway, feeling that the photos were unsalvageable with basic editing, I decided to try out various effects (that were frankly quite hideous), but then I stumbled upon one that worked. I gasped. It definitely looked like a painting – one with the style and subject-matter loosely reminiscent of a Normal Rockwell. So I gave the same treatment to half a dozen others, adjusted the colour tones in Lightroom, and posted three on my son’s Facebook wall. He must have been impressed because he made one of them his profile pic.

Now I have a different perspective on “artified” photographs. Although I don’t plan on going crazy with it, at least I know that there are options for saving some photos from being deleted forever.



500px ~ Online Community

The deeper I get into exploring what my DSLR can do, the more I learn – not just about the mechanics of the camera, but DIY tricks (that can substitute for expensive studio equipment), post-editing tips, the best websites, etc.

I subscribe to a couple of photography magazines and occasionally venture into forums for information, and one recommended site that keeps popping up is 500px. It’s an online community for serious photographers, where you can join discussion groups, learn from the pros, and have your work critiqued.

Well, last night I signed up and uploaded several photos. Things started happening fast! In addition to seeing hundreds of jaw-dropping images by world-class photographers, in less than eighteen hours I had over 750 views, dozens of likes and “favourited” images, plus some comments and questions.

What surprised me was that in the first hour, one image (not my favourite) skyrocketed up to the Popular Page because its ratings were booming (the one above on the left). I honestly didn’t think it was the best of the series. I uploaded several more images this afternoon, and the image above on the right took off. The levels are Fresh, Upcoming, Popular, and Editor’s Choice in that order. According to 500px, this kind of feedback is useful when shortlisting your best work for a portfolio. It’s good to have an objective opinion, so I would have to agree.

In conclusion, I’ve tried other sites and 500px comes out on top. The interface is clean, the galleries are attractively presented, and the image viewing quality is absolutely stunning. Here’s the link to my page so you can see for yourself.

Bare Necessities

Beautiful StoneAs artists, we learn to adapt the resources that are available to us – whether they are limited, or plentiful. Our creative vision finds ways to manifest. The soul is resourceful.

No model? No studio lighting? No props? No assistant? No problem. The song will be sung regardless. History has proved it.

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