December 7, 2008

Special Effects for Collage Using Photo-altering Software #1

Today, I salute the wonderful worlds of photographs and technology. How great is it that we can not only scan, enlarge, restore, share, create, and alter photographs old and new, but we can also share them by phone / computer/ websites /blogs / iPod / CD / DVD / flash drive. Sometimes I think this is all so wonderful that I hardly know what fun and creative technique to try next.

Of course it is one thing to work in Photoshop on a project for a client; quite another to "futz" around (or is it "phutz") and lose two hours of the day altering a photograph of your aunt and uncle so they now have the legs of the family dog and the ears of Mickey Mouse.

As a book designer I've given perfect skin, thin thighs, whiter teeth, younger eyes and thinner upper arms to many authors whose photos were about to grace a back cover. But I also like to use photographs, old and new, to create altered books, artist trading cards, collages, and whatever the heck pops into my mind. Technology has given us access to a pandora's box of visual treasures.

If someone had told me when I graduated from college that I'd use a phone, without a cord, to take photographs of my artwork to place on a computer that others would visit, I would have shook my head in bewilderment. Kind of like I do now when my younger son, a web developer/IT person, explains new software to me.

Anyway... today I was assembling things for an altered book. I decided to unify the many photographs by making the colors all a bit faded and "old-timey" looking. (see three photos at top of this article). This was accomplished by opening the photos in Photoshop, then going to IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > HUE/SATURATION and changing SATURATION to 50%. In some cases, I also used IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > PHOTO FILTER > SEPIA 50% to give a warm tone to the photographs. The roses above, for instance, were beautiful, deep pinks, yellows, etc., but for the project I wanted to use this photo for, I needed something more muted. I didn't want pastels, but just less saturation of color.

By doing this, the project which incorporates many pieces from a variety of sources, will hold together better visually. I used Photoshop, but any photo altering software will have the same capability, though the terms may be slightly different. At the left, you can see an example of the various effects you can get with photo-altering software.

In the first photo, nothing was's just as the photo was taken (this is Mark and me on our wedding day last year...yes, we had lunch at Smith and Wollensky's).

>In photo 2, I've put a "cool" filter on the photo.

>In photo 3, I've reduced "saturation" to 50%. I love this effect!

>In photo 4, I've gone crazy...The saturation is increased to full effect...100%.

>In photo 5, I've done something but don't remember what. Oh yes, I used "film grain" which is an "artistic" filter in Photoshop.

>In photo 6, I've "posterized" it using a filter in Photoshop as well.

This is a lot of fun and, depending on the original photograph, you'll get a variety of results. It's best to use photos that are simple, have few elements, or are close-ups.

I print my photos out on Epson Premium Presentation Paper, matte, 40 lb, to use in collages, atcs and altered art. For photographs to share or put in an album, I use Epson Photo Paper, glossy, at 4 x 6 inch size.

Happy creating!

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