My wise old grandmother (MWOG) was a very astute woman, even though all she had was a first-grade education. She dropped out of school when her dad died to help work the farm. It was from her that I first heard the expression, “Graduated from the school of hard knocks.” I believe it was one of best schools of her era.
MWOG was never witthout her camera, first a Kodak and later on a Polaroid. She was always taking pictures. Some were good, some were bad. None were ever thrown away because “they documented who was there.” Once those pictures came out of the cameras — they were “instamatic” cameras — she set them aside for the weekend when she would put them in her scrapbooks and photo albums. She would make cutouts — stars, houses, cars…. — and paste them in her books and albums to decorate the pages. She would write on the photos — front or back — the date, the people, the event…. She taught me that “what comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”
I have always taken her message to heart about a picture documenting an event. My photo drive filing system has two main folders: BAD and GOOD. Bad pictures could mean anything: picture too small to use alone, out of focus, too dark, too light, wrong color balance, overexposed sky, underexposed foreground…. on and on. I keep them because of….
drum roll please
Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Paintshop Pro, Photo-Paint, Picassa, Gimp, and many others, too many to list them all.
I used both Photoshop and Photo-Paint from their initial releases back in the 1980s through 1993 when I moved from Texas to San Diego. After 1993 I didn’t need them for my business. A couple of years ago I upgraded the old programs; that was an experience.
Adobe wasn’t happy with me since I had gone 17 years without upgrading, skipping Photoshop versions 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, CS, CS2, CS3, and CS4. That’s three or four thousand dollars they lost by me not upgrading every 18 months. They weren’t about to let me upgraded from version 3 to CS5 for a mere $300…. ha! I had to buy a full, new version.
Corel,, the makers of Photo-Paint and now PaintShop Pro, were only too happy to have an old customer returning to their fold. They were impressed that I had the serial number and registration number for my old program, and they happily gave me an upgrade price for the downloadable full program. Yeah, Corel!
I have been giving preference to Photoshop because it has turned into a very complicated program with a steep learning curve. Recently I discovered plugins, making Photoshop fun, too. One of the plugins I discovered is “Fractalius” by Redfield.
(Note that Redfield is a Russian company. I’m distrustful of the Russians. The verdict yesterday concerning Pussy Riot simply reinforces my distrust of the Russians. I paid with PayPal to give me some protection against a sham company although the mere fact that the Russians accepted PayPal gave me hope. Redfield doesn’t have an instant downloadable link on their web site, preferring to send a link via email, and stating at various stages that the email will arrive no later than (1) four hours, (2) 12 hours, and (3) 24 hours. After 24 hours, no link. I complained to PayPal and also send Redfield an email. Almost 24 hours later I got an email from Redfield with a link. I’m happy with the plugin but they probably won’t get any more of my business.)
Fractalius has to be the coolest little piece of software ever. I previously showed an example of what it can do (see Creating a work of art with Photoshop plugins). That work of art illustrates only a small fraction of the fun one can have with Fractalius. After playing with it for a while, I took two pictures that I’ve been dieing (or is it dying?) to do something with and started having fun. Here are the two original pictures:
Although the pictures are of one tree face, the two pictures are quite different in their focus. The top one has a big, white blob in the upper right, and the bottom one has poor focus on some of the tree and the background. Both were in my BAD pictures file folder.
I played with the two pictures individually and got this:
Not bad but I wanted a complete picture (don’t ask me why I didn’t just flip my camera 90° and take a tall picture to begin with….). I tried putting the two pictures together but wasn’t happy with the result. That’s when it occurred to me that I should put the two pictures together first:
I used Photoshop to clone some areas to get a little better focus, get rid of the white blob, and make the two pictures more seamlessly fit together. I didn’t spend a lot of time because using Fractalius would cover everything up anyway. No need to be Ansel Adams or da Vinci.
When I used Fractalius on the full picture, I got this:
If you don’t like the default product from Fractalius, you can play around with literally millions of different settings. Obviously going through millions of settings isn’t something to be accomplished in this lifetime, so Fractalius provides a randomizer button, too. Just keep clicking on that button and if you find one that you really like, you can easily save the settings.
In just five minutes I came up with nine more versions:
There is no such thing as a bad picture in today’s world because you can always make art out of it. Even Zoey the Cool Cat’s having fun:
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