Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What do photoshop filters do?

When I first started poking around in Photoshop a while ago, I wondered what all the various filters DID. How did they alter pictures? What effects did they have? (And what right do I have digitally-manipulating everything anyway? Doesn't that make me a crappy photographer? Well, if you're a purist, probably, but I get into that more later....)

For now, here are some examples.

Photoshop Filters, visualized

THIS photo (which is actually harshly overlit and pretty boring) turned into a pretty image with some easy clicks. Here's the original:

Original photo: BORING.

1. Glowing Edges Filter:
(Select "Filter," "Stylize," then "Glowing Edges")
2. Ink Outlines Filter:
Enlarge to see how each petal has a handtouched quality now.

(Select "Filter," "Brush Stroke," then "Ink Outlines")
3. Photocopy Filter: 
You can alter the color by changing the foreground and background. I used red & white:

(Select "Filter," "Sketch," then "Photocopy")
4. Stamp Filter
I can almost see this as hotel bathroom wallpaper or curtains (which can sound either delightful or repulsive depending on your taste).

(Select "Filter," "Sketch," then "Stamp")
Each filter has slider bars so you can adjust the results as you like. I love playing around with the options.

So, this question has come up before and I've been thinking about it.

Is it wrong to Photoshop your photos?

I have mixed feelings about digitally manipulating my pictures. I have enormous respect for photographers who don't -- they're so good they don't need to. Or maybe they're also more moral or steadfast to honor the authenticity of their photos. However, I alter mine.

Purists find this loathsome. But I'm not out for any contest. I do it for fun. If I found equal enjoyment picking up lint balls or cooking, whatever, right? I'm not touting grand claims. Mine is the quiet contentment of the immersed.

Most of the time I only alter levels (which adjusts contrast) but Photoshop rocks -- the watercolor filter is my favorite. 

Photographer vs. Designer

I don't call myself a photographer (notice this is an art journal?) but I do call myself a designer. I guess that's what designers DO: we fuss with things until they look nice. (Yes, "nice" is subjective.) Interior designers don't create sofas and pillows and rugs but rather arrange them until aesthetically-pleasing.

I design myself too -- each morning I step out of the shower and commence a very primate-like grooming ritual involving hairdryers and curlers and makeup and a large boar-bristle brush.

Buildings in vibrant downtowns which are cleaned regularly don't attain the muddy (yet authentic) flat grime of ghettos. Manicured lawns, assembled by ambitious suburban neighbors, look very different then natural  meadows. Yes, much of society is designed.

So, I continue to appreciate both art and design, and thank you for stopping by for a peak.

ps. I have fake plants. ;)


Mary said...

Wellll Being an artist and photographer, I have mixed feelings on this too. However, if you're not claiming things 'true' and 'real' when they are manipulated, I see nothing wrong with that. And it sounds like you're doing what you love, so keep doing it! If other people love it too, great! (I totally dig the wall-paper effect in red/white and think I don't play enough with filters, now!) As a photographer, I do try to get a 'good image' and not do much in the way of manipulation (removal of a distracting leaf, a bright spot, dust, what not) and see how good I can get. On the flip side, I like playing with images when I don't like them very much and see what they can become (like your examples!).

Anonymous said...

Since photography began, photographers/artists have been manipulating images. Ask any historian of photographs: they are never what they seem. As evidence they are interpretations. So yes, it's ok to manipulate images. They are art.

Anonymous said...

There are many many print techniques and "hand made" art, that some see as having more intrinsic value. Perhaps there was morework involved in the older techniques, but to have access to programs like Adobe Photoshop which allows for (less waste) in trying and failing and trying something that may be a mistake and finding something intriguing and completely new, I am of the opinion makes a 'dabbler' not only feel like an artist, but it challenges us with the question; Who is an artist?
- B