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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Effective" City Lights

An ordinary evening scene can usually be transformed to something quite magical looking when filters are applied. In days past, when I used 35mm single lens reflex cameras (SLRs) and later digital SLRs, many special effects were done using add on filters. My favorite then was the cross-screen (CS) filter.

Last fall, I purchased an Olympus Tough waterproof camera for our trip to Niagara Falls. For myself, the one-time cost was preferable to spending $8-10 for a disposable waterproof camera and we woulve needed several of these. And, a huge downside to the disposable ones is they offered no preview so photos would not be seen until processed -- too late to get a better shot. Besides, the Olympus could be used for future trips, in all types of bad weather, and Amazon had refurbished ones; mine is also red.

AND, this camera also has built-in "magic" filters including fish-eye, pencil sketch, soft focus, reflection and my favorite, a cross-screen effect called sparkle. On our recent road trip to Roanoke, VA, I used this effect at the Norfolk & Southern RR yard at sunset. Then, I had fun with special effects in Picasa. These are only a few of what's available and I've included a brief description of each 

This is the original SOOC (straight out of camera) scene shot with the sparkle filter applied. No post-processing was done to this image.





First is "HDR-ish" or high-dynamic-range imaging, a set of techniques used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range (luminosity) than possible using standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in scenes.


The "orton-ish" effect comes from a slide-sandwich technique devised by photographer Michael Orton in the mid-1980s. This photo technique blends two completely different photos of the same scene, resulting in a distinctive mix of high and low detail areas within the same photo and adds depth and richness to the photo. 
This is the "soften" effect which softens the focus around a center point by using sliders to control the size of the focused area and also the amount of softness applied.
This is "B&W" (black and white) which gives the original color image a historic or nostalgic effect. Stark contrasts can enhance the subject matter.
Next is "focal B&W" which converts a photo to black and white, while keeping one circular area of color intact. Using sliders lets you define size and sharpness of the colored spot.


This last effect, "graduated tint" is similar to using a graduated color filter on a camera. It allows you to apply a colored tint to the top half of a photo. You can adjust the shade of the tint and the degree at which it feathers into the rest of the photo. This is useful for enhancing a sunset (as shown below) or making gray skies blue.

It was fun playing around with these special effects. These are just a very small sampling of the countless effects possible in this easy and FREE photo editing program. If you don't like a particular effect, it can be undone. I kept the original photo, then did alterations saving each with a different file name.

Have you ever tried Picasa special effects? AND 
Which of these effects did you find the most effective or dramatic?

15 comments:

Sandra said...

the odd thing is i had never tried Picasa, even though i have it on my computer, until 2 days ago, i was in a tutorial on a digital photography site and he said he was challenged to use only Picasa to edit his photos. he has Photoshop, the big one. anyway he gave a tutorial on picasa and i went in a played for about an hour... all of these you mentioned are in PicMonkey to. i use PM and PS for almost everything except to add graphics in Pizap. the one thing picasa does better than all these i mentioned is the pencil sketch.

Triumph said...

It's fun seeing the different ways a photo can look when you let go of the idea that it needs to look realistic. I haven't used Picasa for effects but have used it for face recognition tagging which it does well. Nice use of the filter for that night-light shot.

Montanagirl said...

Nice job with all the different effects. I have never used Picasa special effects. I might have to try it out!

Eggs In My Pocket said...

These look wonderful! Great to see what happens with a little experimenting and fun!

A Quiet Corner said...

Nice effects...I was going to get one of these after you posted you bought one, but I went with a Nikon again...:)JP

Grenville T. Boyd said...

I sort of remember seeing stuff like that..... without the filters... Jut had to look in your eyes!!!!:-))))
Grenville

William Kendall said...

I can see how this would be a good deal of fun!

Daisy said...

It's neat to see how all the different effects look and fun to see what you can create.

Cheryl @ TFD said...

It's like play time when I'm trying out different effects on my photos, but I usually always come back to the original. I like PicMonkey and Picasa. Also PhotoScape.

Elaine said...

It's fun to play around with different effects. Amazing how different you can make a photo appear. I use Photoshop Elements the most, but do use Picasa also. I like it most for doing collages.

Anvilcloud said...

It's fun to try different effects.

L. D. said...

I have never seen a camera like this. My daughter in law likes to buy the filters that make the special looks but then she has to buy one filter at a time. I like the photos.

barbara l. hale said...

I enjoyed the different effects.

Lincoln Madison said...
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