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Thread: Photos as "Paintings"

  1. #1
    CNelson's Avatar
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    Photos as "Paintings"

    Below I have posted a photograph processed to look like a painting. I recently started playing with this capability and opened up a gallery in my website dedicated to such images. (It’s at: http://www.chucknelsonphotography.com/p154840061) I find that some photographs make better “paintings” than photos. I think this is because “paintings” tend to stimulate the imagination and one can get away with more color, contrast and special effect in a “painting” without losing image credibility.
    I don’t know if there is a market for photo “paintings” but I am enjoying the freedom to go places with images that photographers haven’t traditionally gone. I know other photographers are doing this and it would be fun to see what you are doing so feel free to post here.
    Chuck

    Photos as "Paintings"

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Hi Chuck,

    That's a very nice effect there, I really like it, the only thing that slightly troubles me is the light tone of the tree trunk, almost makes me think it's been lit by something that's the wrong colour (sorry color ) temperature.

    I'll be off to look at the rest in your gallery later this evening.
    This is just the kind of thing that makes C in C such a constant delight and education to us all.

    Thanks for posting this,

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    You do seem to have picked a style that is fairly appropriate for the landscapes Chuck, as you say, giving an impression of a confidently sketched modern acrylic and displaying wider range of colours and tones than one would by sticking within boundary of photography. The mono is quite good too. Don't go for the horses or waterfall close up.

    I agree to the general principle that it is necessary to do something by way of PP to raise what the camera collects to include a human heart element. I would however feel I had tried and exhausted the possibilities of 'enhancement' and general style before going over the boundary you have leapt.

    Also certainly more succesful to mind than the grubby oils and draganized things one sees around (or did last year)

  4. #4
    CNelson's Avatar
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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Thanks for the input Dave and Chris. I realize I'm working in a rather fringy area of photography. Some of the images I converted to "painting" are good photographs in their own right. I've just pushed them beyond the conventional to see where I ended up. A few of the images were nice but not impressive photographs yet turned out really nice as paintings.

    I studied art through high school and some in college but was not good enough to do anything with it. I just enjoy and appreciate most art. (I'm not a big fan of extreme abstract.) One of the things I notice in art, especially oil painting, is that the artist often uses colors (or is it colours) that I would never have thought would work....yet they do. When I play with colors in a photograph I sometimes find unusual constituent colors manifest themselves. I dump many images when the colors don't work but I guess I really like bold colors and impressionistic images when I go for the painting look. I will never give up my efforts to just be a good photographer with realistic images but sometimes the artsy look creates a look or "feel" that pleases me.

    Most of the relatively few people I have shared the "photo art" images with have reacted favorably but some have expressed a preference for more realistic or photo-like images. I have seen some masterful images created by using the smudge tool in Photoshop. Here's a link to some: http://www.innographx.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18

    I have only printed out one "painting-like" photo, this one: http://www.chucknelsonphotography.co...5736/e394abb75 and it looks really good. In a month or so 'll put it in a gallery with some of my other prints to see how people react to it. Whether there is a nich or market value in such photo-art or not, I enjoy playing with it and that's worth something.
    Last edited by CNelson; 28th January 2009 at 10:50 PM.

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Quote Originally Posted by CNelson View Post
    Thanks for the input Dave and Chris. I realize I'm working in a rather fringy area of photography. Some of the images I converted to "painting" are good photographs in their own right. I've just pushed them beyond the conventional to see where I ended up. A few of the images were nice but not impressive photographs yet turned out really nice as paintings.
    Fringy? I tend to think things like this fall into the category of "It's OK to break the rules, but, if you do then the result has to justify it". If the result is good then you were justified in breaking the "rules" - if it doesn't work then at least you got an education.

    Im my opinion, these work - not something I would probably do myself - but something that's appealing and no-doubt saleable to a certain segment of the market, which to me would justify doing it.

    So GO GET EM CHUCK!

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    CNelson's Avatar
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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    I don't think I can argue with that logic Colin. The next sound you hear will be that of breaking rules.

    Chuck

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    I had a look at your image earlier this morning and did not have time to comment.

    Colin Southern, has made exactly the same point I first thought - "not fringy", not at all.

    It is just another manipulation of the medium - and as mentioned for this scene I think it works quite well - though it would not work for all scenes, IMO - just like in the "old days" we would choose an image for particular attention for some specialized darkroom manipulation, like BAS RELIEF as one example - your is just as appropriate.

    I think this style lends itself to verge on near oversaturation of colours.

    Also I think you need to control the sharpness - too sharp and the acutance will destroy the idea you are wishing to create - or at least my interpretation of it.

    WW

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Bill,

    It's just occured to me that you might not yet have seen some of Chucks images in his gallery - in my opinion some of the bird ones are quite breath-taking.

    If you get a chance, point your browser at:

    http://www.chucknelsonphotography.com/p380705736

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Quote Originally Posted by CNelson View Post
    I studied art through high school and some in college but was not good enough to do anything with it. I just enjoy and appreciate most art. (I'm not a big fan of extreme abstract.) One of the things I notice in art, especially oil painting, is that the artist often uses colors (or is it colours) that I would never have thought would work....yet they do. When I play with colors in a photograph I sometimes find unusual constituent colors manifest themselves. I dump many images when the colors don't work but I guess I really like bold colors and impressionistic images when I go for the painting look. I will never give up my efforts to just be a good photographer with realistic images but sometimes the artsy look creates a look or "feel" that pleases me.
    The fact that you have studied art must be the secret why most of yours work and so many other do not. I likewise did some art-colour excercises during architectural education and am grateful to have it to apply as one arm of photo-enhancement. I find it most useful in re-inforcing the receding planes in landscape work....and love using slightly abstracted light/shadow contrast after the manner of J.M.W Turner
    Photos as "Paintings"

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Ha, now I remember Mr Nelson....you already posted some when you had the Canadian goose....that serie is really nice...(and some are ridiculously sharp! I am just jealous...)

    the painting serie is very good as well. I think that some could be pushed some more to the paintings world (like 9 or 11) but then again, maybe you stopped there bc it would look like overdone...
    all in all, really nice, very clean and I like it...(sounds like a lot of work....and I think my fav is #2)

    btw, it might be interesting to have a comparaison with the original pic....could you post a couple?

    Vincent

  11. #11
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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    The fact that you have studied art must be the secret why most of yours work and so many other do not. I likewise did some art-colour excercises during architectural education and am grateful to have it to apply as one arm of photo-enhancement. I find it most useful in re-inforcing the receding planes in landscape work....and love using slightly abstracted light/shadow contrast after the manner of J.M.W Turner
    Photos as "Paintings"
    Chris....I love that shot with the rainbow and dark sky...REALLY good!

    Chuck

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Quote Originally Posted by atvinnys View Post
    Ha, now I remember Mr Nelson....you already posted some when you had the Canadian goose....that serie is really nice...(and some are ridiculously sharp! I am just jealous...)

    the painting serie is very good as well. I think that some could be pushed some more to the paintings world (like 9 or 11) but then again, maybe you stopped there bc it would look like overdone...
    all in all, really nice, very clean and I like it...(sounds like a lot of work....and I think my fav is #2)

    btw, it might be interesting to have a comparaison with the original pic....could you post a couple?

    Vincent
    OK Vincent...here's the image I started with when I opened this thread. The original shot is HDR. I think the original is a pretty good image in its own right but I also like the "painting" version...in a different way. Makes a good before and after comparison.

    Below that is the image I started with to make #2. It's the same tree but I returned during the winter to try to document the seasonal change. I desaturated the image then started to play with it as a painting...actually it ended up more like a pen and ink. The original is also HDR and you will also see the color version on my website. I think the black and white version is more interesting.

    Photos as "Paintings"

    Photos as "Paintings"
    Last edited by CNelson; 30th January 2009 at 12:00 AM.

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    So Chuck what tools were used to create the painting? I have had interest in doing this with a few of my photos.

    Was it a particular software program etc? I would be interested in knowing. What you have done has sparked my curiosity. Unlike you I haven't had any experience with a paint brush.

    Theron
    Last edited by Theron; 30th January 2009 at 04:28 AM.

  14. #14
    CNelson's Avatar
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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Quote Originally Posted by Theron View Post
    So Chuck what tools were used to create the painting? I have had interest in doing this with a few of my photos.

    Was it a particular software program etc? I would be interested in knowing. What you have done has sparked my curiosity. Unlike you I haven't had any experience with a paint brush.

    Theron
    My procedure will vary from image to image but it typically goes like this. I shoot in RAW and convert to JPEG making any appropriate adjustments. I then process the JPEG image in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro Photo (a Corel product). A typical processing will involve adjustments to brightness, contrast (curves) hue-saturation, sharpening, noise reduction, cloning out unwanted details or blemishes. Both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro Photo have a variety of filters you can use to achieve different effects.

    If I want to take the image to another level, too make it into something similar to a painting I have a number of options in addition to the filters mentioned above. I can use the smudge brush (Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop) to create "brush strokes," move shade or color or add shape. See the link in my post above re smudg brush art. I sometimes play with extreme unsharp masking to see what I can do. More recently I have added TOPAZ Adjust and Simplify to my software and these work in amazing ways to convert a photograph into a "painting."

    In short (actually it's too late for that isn't it), there are a number of tools and techniques available and one has to play with them to create a look that you like. Some images are best left alone, others make good paintings and every image is unique and one technique doesn't fit all. Sometimes after I play with an image in Topaz, I will take it back into Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro for fine tuning or cloning touch up. As with any other art form you work hard to please yourself and the end product may or may not please others. I find the process very enjoyable and I like the freedom to experiment. I am new to this and I'm sure my techniques will evolve.

    I hope this helps, have fun.

    Chuck

  15. #15

    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    I have started playing with this as well and found that certain photos work well and others not so well. Photos with fine details didn't work.

    I created mine as an action so that all I have to do to find out if it might work is use the action. I can always redo if I think it will look good, but needs some different tweaking.

    This one worked well enough, maybe some different tweaking

    Muskoka chairs resized.jpg

    This one would have been nice without the swans..........does not work with the swans
    29-01-09 013-resized.jpg

  16. #16

    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    This were done with the Topaz filter.

    29-01-09 014.jpg

  17. #17

    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Last edited by McQ; 30th January 2009 at 05:40 PM.

  18. #18

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Quote Originally Posted by CNelson View Post
    My procedure will vary from image to image but it typically goes like this. I shoot in RAW and convert to JPEG making any appropriate adjustments. I then process the JPEG image in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro Photo (a Corel product). A typical processing will involve adjustments to brightness, contrast (curves) hue-saturation, sharpening, noise reduction, cloning out unwanted details or blemishes. Both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro Photo have a variety of filters you can use to achieve different effects.

    If I want to take the image to another level, too make it into something similar to a painting I have a number of options in addition to the filters mentioned above. I can use the smudge brush (Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop) to create "brush strokes," move shade or color or add shape. See the link in my post above re smudg brush art. I sometimes play with extreme unsharp masking to see what I can do. More recently I have added TOPAZ Adjust and Simplify to my software and these work in amazing ways to convert a photograph into a "painting."

    In short (actually it's too late for that isn't it), there are a number of tools and techniques available and one has to play with them to create a look that you like. Some images are best left alone, others make good paintings and every image is unique and one technique doesn't fit all. Sometimes after I play with an image in Topaz, I will take it back into Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro for fine tuning or cloning touch up. As with any other art form you work hard to please yourself and the end product may or may not please others. I find the process very enjoyable and I like the freedom to experiment. I am new to this and I'm sure my techniques will evolve.

    I hope this helps, have fun.

    Chuck
    Interesting.... I hadn't bothered with the filters in that way before. I only have CS3 to work with. I pulled up the filter option and tried some variations of that. It looks like it just requires some imagination and a little elbow grease. Thanks for the response.

    Theron

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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Chuck, I just have to say I envy you growing up in upper NorCal. I spent my first years in the Mojave desert, and well, it goes without saying that there's not that much great here except sunsets! I really like how you've turned your photos into more of a "dream". I especially like the original HDR shot you took (the one you opened the thread with). I haven't had too much luck (especially in full daylight) with HDR. So this is some hope!

    And I really like the first horse image you have posted in this style of shooting.

    Good stuff

    steve

  20. #20
    CNelson's Avatar
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    Re: Photos as "Paintings"

    Thanks for the kind words Steve. I know how lucky I was to grow up where I did. My book "Life at The End of a Dirt Road" was written to to share the wonderful experiences I had growing up on a working cattle ranch. My interest in photography started with trying to capture some of the familiar scenes I grew up with. As I moved away from the ranch for college and work, my appreciation for country living increased and photography helped keep the memories fresh.

    Keep looking and shooting. Santa Barbara must have more than sunsets to shoot. Keep experimenting with HDR and whatever else blows your hair back. In addition to learning the basics of your equipment, keep developing your eye for what makes a good photograph. It may be a distant sunset on the ocean or a mushroom at your feet. I don't think there's an end to the learning curve in photography. The more I learn the more I realize I have yet to learn.

    Chuck

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