I’ve been playing with Photoshops filters a lot lately, teaching myself how to use them, after years of pretty much ignoring them. I’ve poked around with them but never really taken a lot of time to understand how to use them effectively. It’s one of those features a lot of us dabble in without really appreciating the tools.
One of my favourite effects is Multiply – throw a colour or textured layer over a photo and hit multiply and the photo transforms itself. When I discovered how Multiply, I began to accumulate an archive of paper effects, colours and textures to use. The best ones in my Photoshop war chest are the macro shots of the odd things I spot in my meanderings around Toronto – yes I’m that weird person out there in -25 degree weather taking a close up shot of the cement wall or rusted light pole. I have a largish collection of great textured photos that includes everything from patches of rust, marble walls, pebbles and brush strokes on a painting. My favourite two textures are a rusted out pole down on Adelaide and Church, and a section of a dimpled concrete wall from the shopping mall up on Sheppard and Bayview.
I took this photo about a month ago on the right. It’s a big “meh” as far as photos go. Nice building, too much glare and a bit washed out.
Yea, kind of boring but I like the building. One day I’ll sit down with the various features on my smart phone and figure out how to take a better photo, but I’m more of a “point, shoot and hope for the best” kind of photographer. I’ll take a dozen photos in a flash and worry about them latter. Good thing I don’t have to pay for developing them.
I was going to chuck the photo and then decided it was a perfect one to experiment with. I pulled in the photo of the concrete wall as a layer. and used the multiply filter to give it an interesting textured effect. The copy I have is very large so I shifted the pattern around until I had the right effect. Then I pulled the opacity down to about 65. It was kind of cool looking but a bit rough around the edges so I went into filters to see what kind of effect I could create.
I applied the Cutout filter and poked the levels until I was happy with the effect. The effect is haunting.
Cutout is one of those odd filters that puzzled me for a long time. I simply couldn’t wrap my brain around why someone would want this type of effect – it always seemed clumsy and heavy handed. That tells you how little I understood the power of filters. The effect brings out the lighting in the windows, and compensates for the streetlight glare. I’m pleased with this effect. I think this one is a keeper.