A quarter century of fun with digital image manipulation

Normally I don’t edit the photos I take, other than minor straightening, colour correction, scaling and adding copyright watermarks. But I realised the other day that I’ve been using image manipulation software in various flavours for about 25 years.

So this time I thought I’d have a bit of fun. I took this photo on a blustery grey-ish day in the South Wairarapa.

Original photo taken at 1/160, f.8 and 18mm focal length. Then dealt to. Who needs Instagram when you have Photoshop?

Photo taken at 1/160, f.8 and 18mm focal length. Then dealt to on the computer. No Instagram.

It’s purely filtering – the apparent fringing on the top right is an artefact of the process I used.

Can anybody guess what I did? Clue: not all the picture is actually filtered; and the effect is mostly a digital rendering of a well known film-photographic technique. You could, I think, do much of this in a darkroom with trays of chemicals and a stop-watch, old-style. But the computer’s faster, cleaner and not so smelly.

Your thoughts?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: More writing tops, science geekery and history. Watch this space.

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9 comments on “A quarter century of fun with digital image manipulation

  1. To a degree, I believe writing is a type of manipulation.

    • It is; writing, ultimately, involves the manipulation of words to provoke an emotional satisfaction both in the writer and reader. To me, photography’s doing the same thing, at that conceptual-emotional level. For me, expressing it, the whole is simply different aspects of what I try to express – different manifestations of the things I conceptualise and want to share with others.

  2. I like the effect, and even though I have some experience with Photoshop Elements, I’m far from an expert. I’m guessing you filtered out colors from selected areas, thus the telltale fringing between the trees and the sky. I also note that, aside from the red letters on the sign, there are no colors other than shades of blue and brown. Great job. :)

    • Thanks. Close! I did indeed de-saturate… What I actually did was (a) select the red lettering, then inverted the selection to eliminate it from the filters, (b) desaturated the colour, (c) added a warm orange filter, (d) solarised the result. Voila! I used Irfanview to add the copyright notice and re-size for publishing to the web.

  3. bevrobitai says:

    Ooh, ooh! Sir! *waves hand in the air* Is it ‘dodging and burning’, Sir? You selected the sky area with the selection tool and darkened it, possibly with a gradient tool as well. So much easier in Photoshop than in the old darkroom days!

    • Close…but no cigar. It’s mostly solarisation, applied to a de-saturated colour image over which I’d run a warm orange filter. Weirdly, the clouds popped into view – the actual original photo (and the sky on the day, to my eye) was quite grey. It appeals to my (entirely mildly) geeky nature to realise that the humble CCD on my obsolescent digital SLR can pick up such subtlety.

      The selection was of the red on that slightly scary sign – which I then inverted to keep it out of the filtering.

      Wa-a-a-a-ay easier than chemistry adventures in the darkroom, for sure!

  4. jjspina says:

    Quite an impressive result! Your talents are extraordinary in taking a photo too. I love the photo itself.

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