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In the beginning there was this:

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Quartermaster Store, French Quarter, New Orleans

 

People have mentioned that they wonder what my art prints look like before I “twist” them, and are curious about the process.  I thought I would share some of my secrets and maybe you can create your own twisted picture using one of your own photographs.

Several years ago, after returning from a trip to New Orleans, I was heartbroken to find that a majority of the pictures I had taken were not very good.  They were blurry, the color was off on many, and images were cut off or not centered.  New Orleans is a very special place for me and each and every photograph I take is a tribute to her beauty and greatness, and also a point of reference to a particular event or memory.  The camera was to blame.  No stablizer and the viewfinder was slightly off.   Using the zoom feature was worthless.  Took me awhile to figure out that my camera was the issue and not me.

I was determined to save those photos somehow, some way.  I began looking into photo editing programs, and finding them to be quite expensive, decided to try some of the free downloadable programs before I made a commitment to such a huge expense.

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The programs that I found the most helpful were PhotoScape and PhotoFiltre.  Both are free programs and easy to learn.  Each one has a slightly different approach to editing the pictures.  PicMonkey is another fun program to use and for that you will need to upload the picture to use the program, but it will allow you to re-save it again to your hard drive.

After cropping and sizing (I use PhotoFiltre for this), its time to play!  Both of these programs allow for adjustments to the contrast, color, saturation and luminance.  There are filters that will allow you to add effects.  Would you believe that for 99% of my pictures, I do not add any elements?  The colors you see are actually there.  You just have to find them and to do that you need to play around with the saturation and hues.  You can block a portion of a picture and  adjust the settings in that portion alone.  You can enhance a particular color, or you can remove it completely.  The possibilities are almost infinite.

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Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond Virginia

I like to switch back and forth in both Photofiltre and PhotoScape using the same picture and saving (with a unique name of course) each time I like the effect.  I have pictures that have gone through close to 100 tweaks before I finally decided that it was perfect.  It can be a time consuming process and it will not always be successful.

Light plays a very important role.  I have found that taking pictures in the early hours between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM are best.  There is also the location to consider.  The light will be affected by location.  The early morning light in New Orleans is completely different from the light in Virginia at the same hour.  It took me awhile to determine why I was not able to create the same colors in my Virginia pictures when comparing them to my New Orleans pictures.

Monitors are another issue.  When I first started creating my art prints, I did not have a home computer and I used my work computer.  Lunch breaks were spent hunched over the keyboard.  It was not unusual to find me back at the office after dinner or in the wee hours trying to perfect a picture or two.  In those days, I also had to send the photos to a processing center to be printed.  Fast forward several years later, a home computer, and printer, and I had to practically re-learn everything all over again because the monitor at home rendered images differently from what I would see on my monitor at work.  Thankfully, it was not a long process and I was able to quickly jump back into the world of twisting and tweaking!
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So, why not try this? Download the programs, and start playing around with your pictures.  Make a coffee table book that showcases your creations (I have two now).  Make scrapbook pages, cards, or create a special picture as a gift for a loved one.  Hang them on your own walls (I do!).  The sky is really the limit.

The “after” pictures shown here are for sale and can be found in my shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/twistedpixelstudio.  Clicking on the after pictures will take you directly to those listings.

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