Cooking Up Some Interest

I was idly fiddling with Photoshop CS3 this afternoon and thought I would have a little play with the Filter Gallery. I’m not normally one for over-using filters with my images, but I wondered if some shots could be improved with a little creativity. Here are three quick recipes for cooking up some interest in your pictures, even when they might seem pretty uninspiring to begin with.

Delicious Apple Tart

I started with this:
[Rather stodgy Apple Pie – two halves of an apple on a wooden chopping board]

Slightly dull, not much punch in the lighting. Here’s how I cooked it up:

  • Levels – setting the black and white points gave the image more contrast
  • Filter Gallery – Watercolour

And the end result was a much better picture:
[Apple Tart – I like this much better, especially the edge of the cut half]

Accompanied by Sweet Music

I started with this:
[Discordant – the purple background isn’t helping]

I liked the close up composition, but that background bothered me. Here’s how I cooked it up:

  • Levels – setting the black and white points gave the image more contrast
  • Black & White – using the Maximum White option for more punch
  • Filter Gallery – Glowing Edges

This is how it turned out:
[Sweet Music – a much more graphic shot, enhancing the shiny chrome]

Makes Perfect Dining Al Fresco

I started with this:
[Misty Morning – the village pond through the fog, in Histon]

It was atmospheric to a certain extent, (I used another from the same shoot for Day #44). But I wasn’t so convinced about this one without some cooking:

  • Levels – setting the black and white points gave the image more contrast
  • Filter Gallery – Fresco

Which gave me:
[Al Fresco – an intriguing painterly effect]

I hope you liked my recipes. How did I choose the filter for each? Really, just by trying them out, looking at the preview and deciding whether they suited the images. That’s the tricky part!

I shall be having a go at some other images in due course. You might like to keep an eye on my Flickr set, Fun With Filters, to see the results of my experiments.

January Review

I’ve managed to keep up the My Year In Pictures project throughout January without too much trouble. They’re not all masterpieces by any means, but I’m pleased with most of the shots. Some days it was a quick grab shot with my compact camera, others I managed to get out with the DSLR specifically to take some shots (and get some exercise!)

First, I thought I would show you some “near misses” that almost made it as shot of the day during January:

[Patsy – one of the carousel horses I found in the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – was nearly pin-up girl for Day #5]

[Blue Dragons – taken at the Brisith Museum, nearly ousted Neal Archer as subject for Day #7]

[Linesman – another shot from Chelmer Park, more abstract than the goal posts which represented Day #9]

[Sunset Over The Barn was another image from the end of a great walk around Margaretting Tye, on Day #22]

[Log Shadows – more tree details from the pictures taken on Day #24]

[Fogbound was a close runner up to the trees and bracken on the foggy Monday morning of Day #28]

So apart from the near misses, how has the month gone?

As well as posting each day to my blog, it’s been great fun participating in the 366 2008 group on Flickr. They are a friendly bunch of people, and because the group is relatively small (80 or so now), you recongise names more easily, and it’s lovely to get feedback from them. We’ve also been inspiring each other in direct and indirect ways. And I think we’ve all noticed that we’re now really looking at everything as a potential subject, no matter how ordinary it might initially seem.

Nobody lives a life of excitement all the time, so inevitably some days’ photos are going to be mundane, or the chance to be creative is limited. It didn’t help that we had some absolutely atrocious weather during January. The challenge then becomes trying to find an intriguing angle for an everyday object or still-life at home. Lots of us in the group confess to have had the “late-night panic” at some time during the first month – you get to that certain time of night and realise it’s dark and raining outside, you haven’t taken a picture yet so you must get something in the bag before midnight chimes!

I don’t know if the challenge will get easier or harder as the year wears on. I’ve made a list of “back up subjects” which I’ve used when inspiration has been lacking – and add to it whenever I think of something I might not have the time to take straight away. Running out of ideas is certainly a worry. But on the other hand, on some days I’ve felt more creative than I have in ages – perhaps I just needed the “excuse” to take a picture!

Anyway here’s to February!