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  • Writer's picturePhilip Preston

Get Creative With Your Old Photos - Turn Them Into PhotoArt.

Pink Mophead Dahlia flower with photoart effects - Philip Preston photoart photography

At the time of writing this blog, the ability to travel away on photo trips in the UK or Europe for a few days is either difficult, or not possible, due to restrictions from the pandemic situation. For me, this means my camera equipment is getting used much less than normal, so few new images are being added to my photo catalogue. Fortunately, this does not stop new imagery being created, as modern photo editors and image related software provide many opportunities for doing more with our existing photographs. If you are into digital photography, chances are you already have some photo editing software, so if you are not already doing so, why not consider getting creative with your old photos and turn them into PhotoArt.

  1. 1. Combine Separate Images.

The example shown left is derived from a closeup photo of a mophead Dahlia taken at an annual flower show that exhibits perfect blooms of different flowers, ideal if you are looking for some nice floral images. Its a nice enough photo by itself, but in this case I combined it with another image (derived from my original Dahlia photo) of vertical coloured streaks. To achieve this effect, you will need photo editing software that can work with 'layers', whereby separate images are merged together using the 'blending' options within an image editor. I used ON1 Photo Raw 2020 for this example, but many other photo editors have the ability to work with layers and blending options.

2. Add Motion Blur Effects

Another option to try with your image editor is adding blur effects to an existing photo. There are various options including gaussian, motion and radial blur among others, but my favourite is motion blur. In the example below, the original photo was of a motorcycle rider and passenger travelling through a narrow street in Valencia, Spain. It was ok, but not particularly interesting visually. Using my image editor, I added a vertical motion blur filter effect to the whole image, then used masking to remove the effect from the motorcycle and road, which helps direct the eye in towards the motorcycle.

A photograph with added motion blur to produce a photoart style of image - Philip Preston photoart photography

Available as prints from my Pixels store - click the above image.

3. Add Paint Effects

Another creative option to try is paint effects software, where painterly brush stroke effects are added to your existing photos. There are a few options available, but I use Topaz Labs Impressions software, which provides a lot of preset options in the style of different painters or brush effects, but in addition provides the ability to control many variables that can impact on the final result, including brush size and shape, paint volume and opacity, texture effects (eg, canvas base), masking (applying effects in different ways across the image) and colour controls. You can also save your own preferred settings as 'presets' so the same effects can be applied to other images. In the example below of people crossing London's Millenium Bridge at sunset, I applied a scumble effect to give an impressionistic effect to the original image.

A photograph with added paint effects, Millenium Bridge, London, UK - Philip Preston photoart photography

Available as prints from my Pixels store - click the above image.

Monochrome photograph of the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain - Philip Preston photography

4. Convert Colour To Monochrome

I always capture my original photos in colour, but sometimes, things look better with just a simple palette of white, greys and black, namely monochrome photography. Its all a matter of personal taste and preferences of course, but if you have not tried converting any of your colour photos to monochrome, its worth a try and is easy to do. For the last few years, I mostly used Nik Silver Efex for my monochrome conversions. It used to be a free application when owned by Google, but now owned by DxO optics, it has been updated and is no longer free. Most, if not all, image editors will have some ability to convert colour images to monochrome, so give it a try with your own editor first.

Available as prints from my Pixels store - click the above image.

5. Combine Monochrome With Paint Effects.

Sometimes, nice results can be obtained by combining two (or even more) different effects. In the example below, I first converted a colour photograph into monochrome, then applied a paint effect to the image, giving some nice textures, particularly in the sky and water areas.

Blea Tarn, Lake District National Park, Cumbria, UK - Philip Preston photoart photography

Available as prints from my Pixels store - click the above image.

6. Combine Monochrome With Sketch and Motion Blur Effects

The example below is similar to number 5 above, but instead of paint effects, sketch and motion blur effects have been used on the image after converting it from colour to monochrome. As mentioned above, its all down to personal taste and preferences, but try combining different effects together and its likely you will produce some interesting effects that work well on your photos.

A monochrome photograph with added sketch and motion blur effects - Philip Preston photoart photography

In Conclusion

The examples above give some ideas on how your old photos can be transformed with simple techniques using photo editing software. These examples are not intended to be an exhaustive list, indeed, with the abilities of digital photography software editing techniques available these days, the number of possible options is big!

When trying new techniques, you will also be learning new skills, so even if you don't like the effect produced on your photo, it may be that the same effect applied to another photo produces something you do like. So, experiment, learn, develop new skills, apply your new skills, and then.........just admire your PhotoArt!


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