Fun with Photos – Blah to Ah Ha!

My interest in aviation has been well documented here, so what follows will be no surprise. Whenever I encounter an aircraft with my camera in hand, it usually turns into a photographic study, shooting from every possible angle, and many close-ups of features. On a trip to Universal Studios’ City Walk in Orlando, Florida one such encounter occurred: it was Jimmy Buffett’s Hemisphere Dancer on display in front of the Margaretaville restaurant.

The aircraft is a Grumman HU-16 Albatross, built and delivered to the USAF in 1955 for air-sea rescue service. These aircraft were still in service when I graduated from USAF flight training, and it was actually my second official choice for an assignment. Within two years, the HU-16s were retired and removed from the Air Force inventory. Buffett bought this one in 1990 and performed a complete and thorough restoration of the aircraft. He flew the aircraft around the Caribbean and South America until 2003, when he retired the aircaft from service to take its place in Orlando.

Jimmy Buffett's Hu-16 Albatross, the Hemisphere Dancer

Jimmy Buffett’s Hu-16 Albatross, the Hemisphere Dancer


I took my usual dozen or more shots from every angle I could.

And Now to the Point of this Article

The point of this article: find a photo you thought was going to be cool, but turned out sort of “ho-hum” and get into your photo editing program—any photo editing program—and see what you can create.

One of the photos I took was of the left engine. I like the image, but really it is an image only a pilot or aircraft mechanic can love, otherwise, it is sort of “blah.” So my self-assignment was to create an interesting image—suitable for display.

The original color image of the left engine.

The original color image of the left engine.

My first thought was to crop it and convert it to a black-and-white image. Although color film was common in the 1970s, black and white helped convey the “vintage” aspect of the aircraft. So now, it was a little less “blah,” maybe suitable for a history article.

The original image converted to black-and-white.

The original image converted to black-and-white.

My Corel PaintShopPro X4 includes a wide selection one-click image adjustments and effects. So the next step was to try a negative image. This is different, and by virtue of being different is more “interesting” visually. Still, it is not something I would simply print, frame and hang on my wall.

The black-and-white image reversed to a negative image.

The black-and-white image reversed to a negative image.

The next experiment was to select chrome treatment of the negative image. Now, I am beginning to get excited about achieving something that approaches an artistic rendering of the image.

The negative image manipulated using the chrome image option

The negative image manipulated using the chrome image option

Similarly, I tried the sandstone texture function for an interesting effect. It was okay, but I was looking for something more eye-catching?

The black-and-white image rendered using the sandstone texture effect

The black-and-white image rendered using the sandstone texture effect

Then I tried the outline image option. After several tries with different degrees of contrast I settled on this image. Printed and framed, this will be, in my opinion, an eye-catching image.

The outline option finally produced an image that I will print and hang.

The outline option finally produced an image that I will print and hang.

Finally, I had to try the “lens distortion” function applying it to the original black-and-white image. I like the window effect and the slight distortion of the image. It seems to add an element of depth to the subject.

The original black-and-white with lens distortion applied.

The original black-and-white with lens distortion applied.

If I were to issue a challenge, it would be this: Pick a photo you like, but that does not have a strong visual impact and work with the photo and a photo editing program to create something you would print and display. Since this all a matter of taste, whatever to select and achieve will be what you want and like.

Incidentally, this is not about using black-and-white, but exploring the capabilities of your photo editing software to achieve something you like: change colors, textures, lighting, shape, try combinations, etc.

Note: I have no association with Corel for the use of PaintShopPro X4. I also have Lightroom 4 and an early edition of PhotoShop Elements. PaintShopPro is what I would describe as an advanced amateur or entry level professional photo editing program. It is easy to use, once you find the button you want, but there are hundreds of buttons and many adjustments, so I am constantly relearning or rediscovering some of the lesser used functions.

All Photography: © 2014 Jeff Richmond

About/Contents Entry
Explore the creative possibilities of your photo editing software to convert a “ho-hum” image from “Blah to “Ta-Dah”

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