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Venice, Italy Rooftops
Copyright Andy Richards 2017

Lately, it seems like I have kind of run out of material.  I have never really done this right.  By definition, a blog should be short.  Punchy.  Something that commands the usual surfing reader’s attention (with a typical attention span for online content which is very, very  short).  Short is something I have never done well.  🙂 Other than the odd, current controversial or otherwise interesting content, most of my posts have more recently been almost travelog style, of my photos from places I have visited.  Nothing wrong with that, but I cannot travel to new places, 24-7.

By definition, a blog should be short.  Punchy

Recently, as I was post-processing images from my latest European trip, I noted a couple of photos that might be good subjects for some experimentation.  I have been thinking about spending some of my winter months trying some new post processing techniques for a while now.  So this will segue into that phase.  In 2013, we visited Venice for the first time.  I made an image on the Grand Canal somewhere (I couldn’t tell you where it is) and began “playing” around with my NIK plugin, ColorEFX and its “detail extractor” and essentially by happenstance, “saw” a kind of oil painting look, which became a very large, print which now hangs on the wall of our living room.  I thought I had discovered a new “technique,” but as I “played” with other images, soon realized that not every photographic image lends itself to the treatment.

Short is something I have never done well.  🙂

Unfortunately, I know very little about my main processing program (Photoshop, with NIK plugins), other than how to optimize photographic color images.  So my work here will, in all probability, be pretty amateurish – at least to start.  Critique (constructive – obviously 🙂 ), will be welcome, as will references to sources of learning.  But here we go.

The opening image was taken of the Venice Rooftops, during a less interesting portion of a tour of the Doge’s Palace.  The yellow umbrella drew my attention.  I didn’t really see the “oil painting” until much later, during the post-processing stage.  But is is one that I think lends itself to that kind of treatment.  I am not sure I pulled it off.  🙂

Beach on Amalfi Coast
Amalfi, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

The Amalfi Beach image looks to me like one that could be a painting.  I added some grain to it, but it still looks awfully “photographic” to me.  I can see I need to do some studying.  I also note that the colors in many of these images are pretty vibrant and I am not sure that they are realistically within a painter’s palette.

Burano, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2013

By decreasing the contrast and saturation in the Burano image, I think I may have come a bit closer to a painter’s palette.

Daisies
Copyright Andy Richards 2013

By decreasing contrast and saturation, I was able to create a more “pastel” look for these Shasta Daisies, captured in my yard.  But I not that the NIK software does some color conversions that I don’t care for, and I will have to learn more about how to control that.  I particularly note that the whites tend to turn grey and a bit dingy.

Colorful Buildings
Burano, Italy
Copyright Andy Richards 2017

For these buildings, I was trying to obtain a pastel look.  Again, I think the color seems a bit luminous for my taste.  But simply changing global saturation and contrast would not allow me to get the look I sought.  I have work to do.  🙂

Santorini, Greece
Copyright Andy Richards 2017

For the Santorini image, I again fiddled with global contrast and saturation.  I then used NIK’s Viveza to add back some pinpointed saturation for the colorful buildings.  I added grain again.  It is closer, but still appears a bit “photographic,” at least on my monitor.  It may well be exactly what I would like in print.  I will have to experiment a bit with my inkjet printer.

Big Bay Lighthouse
Michigan Upper Peninsula
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

I “worked” this one (maybe overworked 🙂 ) pretty hard.  After using the NIK ColorEfx detail extractor, I decreased global contrast and saturation.  It was still too in-your-face for my taste – especially the lighthouse brick.  So I created a layer mask, severely reduced contrast in Photoshop, and then brushed it back in around everything but the lighthouse and the clouds.  Note how the lighthouse trim and top goes to gray?  I need to figure out how to preserve the whites.  I created a second layer/mask and did some work to make the railroad ties less realistic looking.  It will be interesting see how it prints, though I am concerned that the clouds will not print well.

Temple Rokuon-Ji
Kyoto, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

The last of my first run at these; the Rokuon Temple in Japan, again was a lot of “working.”  I found it especially difficult to make the foreground grasses and the water look “painted.”  I used Photoshop’s “oil paint” filter, but will need to do some serious homework in order to really understand what the settings do.

I will come back to this early in 2018.  I also would like to work on some B&W conversion (but find that one pretty intimidating).  Would love to hear comments and be pointed to good resources.

As 2017 comes to an end, I am, once again, appreciative at how many blessings we have.  One only needs to watch the news to know that as often as we bitch and moan, many of us have an awfully good life, and I personally have had many blessings, wonderful family and friends.  It also makes me pause a bit and think about the many folks out there who don’t have such blessings.  I have been able to do a number of small things for others over the year, including participation on some foundation boards, and giving to a number of charitable organizations.  But it is never enough.

Merry Christmas to all.

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One Response

  1. Andy, are you aware of the oil paint filter in Photoshop? It is under Filter > Stylize > Oil Paint. Try it. I think you will like the result and it is much easier than everything you’ve been doing. You can always apply NIK filters afterwards if you want.

    A couple critique comments: I like the first one but the halo along the mountain/sky edge needs to be fixed. Here’s a simple solution to that. Take your clone tool, set the blending mode to “Darken” or “Darker Color”. Use a small soft brush, sample the area near the edge and paint over the halo. Just swipe along the entire edge and the halo will go away. Since the sky is darker than the halo, the halo will take the color of the sky. Since the mountain edge is darker than the sky, that color won’t change.

    Your colorful buildings are nice but they suffer from wide angle distortion. The windows on the left and right should be parallel to those in the center building. A painter would paint them straight. In Photoshop, go to Edit > Transform > Skew or Distort and straighten it out. Also, I’d take out the posts in front of the buildings.

    I will be leading the Photoshop SIG for the Photo Club in Sun City Texas in 2018. I’ve discovered that a lot of people there use Photoshop but they really don’t know how to take advantage of its power. For most of them, Lightroom will do everything they use Photoshop for. I plan to show them some of the power options exclusive to Photoshop. Wish you could attend. I might be able to teach you a few things.

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