Monday, December 5, 2011

New Toy

It has been suggested that I should bring my photographs into the 21st century. It is true that I am pretty much mid 20th century. I do manipulate images but I have only used the standard software programs. But today it’s all about HDR and “actions/scripts/filters.” I have resisted using filters because it seems that the photographer is giving over a great deal of the creative control to whoever wrote the action. Also, if I am going to argue that there is more to photography than documentation then I am going to have to argue that the action needs to add content to the photograph and that can be difficult to do.

They bill it as a tool that makes the professional photographer’s job faster and easier—I would beg to differ and frankly can’t imagine a professional photographer getting a lot out of these actions but I suppose some do.

Anyway, I have downloaded a trial of Nik’s Color EFX and am trying to decided if it is worthwhile to blow a hundred bucks for the product key. Here is a few of the ones that I have done so far. Some are not far from the original but some are substantially changed.

None of these are a single filter and all have had additional work beyond simply applying a filter. Not all photographs respond well to filters. I determined a long time ago that the best photographs for manipulation were the ones that were not well done to begin with. I think the same thing applies to adding filters. I have always thought that filters were mostly used to salvage less than stellar photographs and having worked with them for a couple of days I have decided that the less than stellar photographs are the ones that take to having filters applied. I was very pleased with almost all of the photographs originally shot with the Lensbaby. Dark photographs do not work as well and of course I like dark photographs. I found that the photographs that I had not previously processed genearlly worked bettern than the ones that I had not for that reason. I was seldom impressed with just applying one filter and even after multiple filters some took additional work. It's a fun process and it probably won't hold my attention for very long, but for the time being I'll play.


  1. Enjoyed reading about your latest toy. It looks like fun and I personally love the look of a lot of photos where texture is applied, though I have never played with it myself. My favorites are 1, 2 6 and 9 (they are gallery worthy IMHO). I look forward to seeing more of your photos using these filters if you do decide to click the "buy" button.

  2. Jan, thanks for the reply. I have spent a couple of extra days playing with Color Efex. You can see them all at

    Here is my problem. I have always seen actions to be the lazy way out for tweaking mostly unsuccessful photographs. I discovered back when I did a lot of my extreme manipulations that even there it worked better on photographs that had not originally made the grade as straight photography. In playing I have chosen mostly photographs that were originally rejects. I wanted to see if my assumption was correct but I also wanted to see if actions could be applied in a way that better masked the fact that the original photograph was lack luster. I have no idea whether or not I succeeded. In some cases I made fairly minor tweaks to the photograph and, yes, I think that for the most part the tweaking added some interest to the presentation—but it is not something that could not have been done in standard imaging software with only slightly more difficulty. On some of the photographs that were rejects, unusable in their current state, in some cases, it added enough to actually make the photograph of some visual interest. However in those cases it moved the “image” well beyond my personal acceptance of “photograph.” I never objected to that when I was doing extreme manipulations so I see no reason to find that highly objectionable here.

    My previous take on actions was that they frequently were like any other processing gimmick—they called so much attention to themselves that it was painfully obvious. Most, IMO, read as mentioned above as attempts at salvaging rather than as attempts at moving the image forward. Does that all sound convoluted? It is because so much of my thinking on photograph is obviously convoluted. How much is too much? I think I keep changing my mind as to where that point is which questions why. Do I change my mind to support me doing it but not accepting it from others or do I have no reason to object to others using actions because I think it is cheating? Oh, the discussions we have with ourselves!!!! LOL Yeah, I’m most likely getting this for Christmas since there is a 15% discount during December. To which I quote Jan Ward, “WOO HOO!”

  3. I absolutely applaud your entrance into the world of actions, filters and plugins.

    I have been playing around with them as well, using them to manipulate the image into what I'm seeing in my mind. I love the richness and uniqueness it adds to an image; to me it's taking a photograph and making it into art. I like the creativity part of it all.

    I have become a digital packrat, saving free actions and filters wherever I find them on the internet.

    I also agree with Jan about those being gallery worthy.

    I'm trying to find a balance between the photography I love and the artsy side that would love to create. Can't say as I'm too successful but I can see your imagination and creativity have taken your images to a different level.

    Well done Gary!

  4. Thank you Bekkie. I am still vacillating between whether it is good or bad. One day I go one way, the next the other. I think if the image is a little off beat to begin with that it possibly works. Most of my photographs are to conventional to really take full advantage of the manipulations.

  5. Gary, I do not believe for one minute that it has to be a good or bad thing. Enjoy yourself, don't get tied up in semantics! You might just come up with something really unique! I'm playing with textures and painting, when I get time.