Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dandelion Daydreams

'Dandelion Daydreams' (shirley shelton©copyright 2011)

'Dandelion Macro' (shirley shelton©copyright 2011)
So, how do you add sparkle to an otherwise 'ok' image? The two images above demonstrate the creative potential of Photoshop and the fact that there are always different ways of developing an images potential.

Dandelion Macro (above bottom) was taken on a bright day using a 90mm Sigma macro lens. OK, it's a good, crisp shot with a nicely blurred background and I suppose I could have left it at that. But is it original or in any way dynamic? Perhaps not. Alas it echoes a million such images found in galleries across the web. Nice, well taken photographs but with little to mark them out as being hmm...


So enter Dandelion Daydream or... the danedlion makeover...
When starting out manipulating an image like this it pays (unless you already have a firm idea) to be open minded and to go with your instincts. This allows you to respond to 'chance happenings' (or those wonderful little accidents) which ultimately gives your work a more spontaneous feel.

So I open my image in Photoshop and after a few tweaks to correct levels and tone I duplicate it in the layers palette. This is where the action is. Where the image will take shape and ultimately suceed..or not!

Oh and remember, Photoshop will not 'cure' a badly taken photograph. It is not a cure for sloppy practice and if you don't have a strong image then go away and practice more with your camera!

Next I selected a few textures to play with. You can find sites all over the Internet supplying an infinite number of wondrous and varied textures. Or (as I did here) you can create you own from anything your imagination cares to find. In this case I used a texture I'd conjured up some weeks back using shattered windscreen glass (like tiny diamonds) on my flat bed scanner. Try it. A scanner makes an excellent producer of textures weird and wild!

Using this shattered glass texture as a second layer in the layers Palette I experimented with the different filters until I found the one that gave me the effect I liked. Then it was a case of taking the layer in Photoshop's awesome black and white adjustments and simply (and intuitively) working until you get the look you like. Then I added a sepia tint, checked levels and finally sharpened until I had what I wanted!

As I 've said before, these are not supposed to be detailed tutorials but rather a peek at my working methods. A look 'behind the curtain' at my working methods. There are those who fail to be impressed by work created in such programmes as Photoshop (usually those who have no idea how it works) claiming either that it is some how 'false' or somehow untrue as a piece of art. Others simply think that it's 'computer generated' and that you simply 'push a button' and...presto the work appears! Both are ill informed and thus nonsense.

An artist utilises the technology of the day. The Impressionists in the 19th Century utilised advances in paint pigments which produced brighter more luminous tones than ever before. You don't accuse Degas or Monet of somehow cheating?

Photoshop is a tool which allows an artist to take their work to another level or to experiment in ways hitherto unimagined. Personally I find that incredibly exciting!