Blurring the Boundaries of Photography and Illustration

| November 28, 2010

A New York food vendor

This treatment may not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoy exploring the boundaries of imagery that are possible with new digital tools. In this case, I took a single shot from my Canon 5D Mark II DSLR and processed it with native Photoshop capabilities and plugins from Topaz Labs and OnOne Software.

The plugins will not create an image any more than a brush will create an oil painting. First, a vision is required and this image fulfills it for me. The original reason I took this shot was the visual lure of the bright lights and the way they amplified the atmosphere created by the heat and steam of the cooking process. In the end, that is what I wanted to communicate in the final image

The trick to getting this look is taking a vision and deciding which path of tools and processes will get you to where you want to go. It is really just experimentation in the end. Sure it takes time to get there but, if you achieve your vision, the journey is worth it. I first try to nail down a compelling composition to make sure my efforts in the end will not be in vain. I then try to get the key elements of contrast and color in place before running the plugins. When running the plugin, in this case Topaz Clean, I fiddle with the settings to try and get the look I want. I then adjust contrast and color again to move the image down its path. As a final touch, I used the Angel Glow preset in OnOne Photo Tools to add the glow to the highlights, which was part of my original vision for the image.

At some point I want to make a short movie using this process as the visual effect. That would require processing each frame of the movie, which is 24 frames per second, and then reassembling them into a final movie. That is a lot of processing so the subject matter better be pretty compelling to begin with! We’ll see if I ever find the time to tackle that one.

For reference, below is the original image I used to create the one above.

Original image

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Category: Photography, Travel

Comments (3)

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  1. Dana says:

    I really LOVE the way you processed this one. I do have to check out the tools you mentioned.

  2. Lee says:

    Thanks so much for the comment Dana. These are fun to work on because the plugin works really well. Good luck experimenting and yell if you need anything!