Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo art magic February 1, 2013

IF THERE’S ONE THING I’ve learned about photography, it’s that you never stop learning.

Take, for example, my recent discovery that even not-so-good bad images can be salvaged via the magic of digital editing.

Well, you’re probably thinking right about now, “Duh, Audrey, everyone knows that.”

Sure I am aware photos can be cropped, sharpened, contrast changed, etc. I’ve used all of those basic editing tools.

But how about transforming a ho-hum, out-of-focus and/or low-light photo into a work of art? It can be done with minimal effort. I basically just play around with artistic and other editing tools until I achieve results which please my eyes and fit whatever mood or effect I’m trying to achieve.

Most important, I approach my photos from an artistic, rather than a purely photojournalistic, perspective.

Now I know everyone is not going to like artsy photos. When I gushed to my husband about the images I’d edited, he viewed the “before” and “after” and stated emphatically that he preferred the originals. I wasn’t about to sway his opinion. He was clear on that.

That said, here are some original and reworked photos from Louie’s Toy Box Farm Toy Show held recently in St. Peter. I aimed primarily for a more vintage look, in most instances, given the subjects are vintage collectibles. With other photos, I emphasized strong lines and colors, or lack thereof, for a more modern art approach.

BEFORE:

Problem: Focus and glare issues.

Problem: Not bad, but some focus and glare issues.

AFTER:

Solution: Apply cartoon tool to reduce glare and lend a more vintage look.

Solution: Apply cartoon tool to reduce glare and lend a more vintage look. (That’s a rotary lawnmower, BTW.)

BEFORE:

Problem: Out-of-focus and boring photo.

Problem: Out-of-focus and boring.

AFTER:

Solution: Simplify by converting to black-and-white and then apply the posterize tool. This emphasizes the element  of strong lines.

Solution: Simplify by converting to black-and-white and then applying the posterize tool. This emphasizes the element of strong lines without the distraction of color.

BEFORE:

Problem: Totally out of focus and in need of cropping.

Problem: Totally out of focus and in need of cropping.

AFTER:

Solution: Apply the posterize tool to divert the eyes from focus problems, thus emphasizing the interesting lines and strong colors in this image. Also crop.

Solution: Apply the posterize tool to divert the eyes from focus problems, thus emphasizing the interesting lines and strong colors in this image. Also crop.

BEFORE:

Problem: This photo of a child's Gilbert Chemistry Experiment Lab does not have issues and could be published unedited.

Problem: This photo of a child’s Gilbert Chemistry Experiment Lab does not have issues and could be published unedited. But I wanted to give it a more vintage look.

AFTER:

Solution: With the cartoon tool application, I added a subtle vintage vibe to the image.

Solution: With the cartoon tool application, I added a subtle vintage artsy vibe to the image.

Now if I was particularly tech savvy, which I am not, I’d be capable of producing even more creative photo art. But I’ve much to learn still and that keeps photography interesting.

THOUGHTS?

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling