The Lost Art of Photography | New Technology Brings New Opportunity

I have been going to art shows with my photography, getting many compliments and oohs and ahs, but very few purchases. They love my work, but few are inclined to break loose of the bucks. My favorite size to print is 16×24, which is full frame for my Canon 5D MK4, however nobody wants to put out the money to purchase.

Because of this I have been re-looking at not only the content, but also the image style. The capabilities of today’s computer technology means that the images can be altered in such a way as to render them similar to paintings. This puts the art into a different category to enter shows, usually Graphics. This is fine and beginning this fall that is the category I will be entering.
The purpose of this article is to let you know what software is out there for you to do the same…maybe not the style I will be using but creating your own special look.

The first step in creating that special look is to open the photograph you wish to alter in Photoshop. There are other photo editing software programs out there, but Photoshop is the gold standard. Once open, go to Filters>Camera Raw. The image will open in a new window. The first steps are to alter your shadows, highlights, exposure and anything of this sort that needs touching up. Once you get it right, then drop down on the front panel to Clarity. This is the worlds best sharpening tool and it does it with such fine precision you won’t open any photo again without using the Clarity tool. All of these tools are sliders, meaning you can slide it one way or another, and immediately see the results. Using the painting tools later on work best when you have excellent contrast and clarity.

Photoshop’s Camera Raw Filter settings

Photoshop has an Oil Paint filter (Filter>Stylize>Oil Paint) which works nicely, but is limited to what some of the other filters feature. It is, however, a great place to start. Adjustments to bristle detail, curvature, and ore giving you a lot of options. It will leave you hungry for more.

One of my favorites is Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4. Something to keep in mind is that all of these software companies offer free trial downloads to test out the software. The best thing about trying it first is once they have your name, they offer you discounts on the full versions. So by all means, download trial versions first. Snap Art gives you previews of what your art would look like with all of their options, and there are lots from line drawings, to oil painting, watercolors and so much more. Within each of those options are a myriad of other options and alterations. It is virtually impossible to achieve the same art as someone else unless you only use the default settings. Experiment, have a ball, the images you will create will be stunning.

The oil paint filter and layers are two things to help you create your own artistic look.

Another beauty of painting your photographs is that even if it isn’t exactly the finest of focus, you can save a great composition by altering it to look like a painting.

Corel has an exciting painting software called Corel Painter. I bought and downloaded the essentials version of the software which is under $50, depending upon the deal you are offered. Again, download the trial version, then they will offer you specials. The full version of Corel Painter retails for over $400, however they have been trying to lure me in with a $225 offer, which I may do. Painter Essentials is limited, just as Photoshop Essentials is limited. The exciting part of Corel Painter is that you get to watch it create your art, and you never know exactly what you are going to get.

Photoshop’s most powerful feature is the layers capability. If you aren’t utilizing this, you are missing out on a lot of features. Snap Art 4 puts the altered version right in your Photoshop document as an extra layer. I wish Corel would do that, but because they do not, I copy their alteration and then paste it in Photoshop as a new layer on my original file. By using the Layer modes (normal is the default) you can dial back the opacity, utilize the Multiply mode, or one of the more than 20 other modes to get different looks.

The best for me, is the fun I find in getting these wonderful, unique looks to my photographs, that are already good. The test run will be the end of September for a show I will be doing. We will see if they like it enough to cough up some money.

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