The work, done by computer mouse, sort of feels like painting. This way of putting color on a photo blends the realism of un-retouched photographic captures with the artifice of hand-”painted” backgrounds. I’m sure it’s been done elsewhere, and as photo manipulation goes, it’s an elementary technique. For me it’s new. I just wanted to smooth out a busy background and had no intention of using the virtual “brush”. But when I saw the rainbow display of clickable colors on the screen, I was gone, in a whirl, like a kid with a box of crayons.
I find this brightens my flash-free indoor photos of black cats, dark cats, and even cats with lighter fur coloration. Even with strong sunlight diffusing in from windows, some of the backgrounds turn out rather dark. Adding highly saturated hues has made the subjects, their fur colors, and facial features, really stand out.
With Bud above, I chose a blue with a hint of violet because he had bluish highlights on his fur. Bud looks pointedly!
In a previous post I used the same photo, but the color wasn’t quite the intense teal I wanted. This is more like it! I’ve tried mainly greens with Little Buddy, because green is a color I’m passionate towards. Here is my post on black cats and ways to photograph them starring Little Buddy, an excerpt from my book: http://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/black-cats-in-sun-and-shade-a-painters-eye-view/
I find the hardest part is working around the whiskers and preserving their “real” look. I’ve often had to be content with a “sense” of whiskers. The spray of whiskers in the picture below worked out fairly well, I think. Another tricky area is edging up to the furry contours. The separate hairs are visible against the background and I want to preserve that. I don’t want a smoothed off division between cat and setting. I like things furry! Winsome Little Buddy has an expression both sweet and sly!
I never did any photo color enhancing before, or any retouching beyond evening out a stray speck of discolor. Photo manipulation enables artists to create fine art photos by enhancing colors and details. I haven’t tried any of those sophisticated techniques yet, so the subjects are essentially un-retouched in the first four photos.
These aren’t expertly done. I have the same fine finger imprecision I have with the traditional art materials I’m no longer able to use. Less set-up means I can do a small amount with virtual tools at the ready, but for me it’s very tiring so I can’t do much. I like the depth of the surfaces, although they fall far short of the transcendent luminosity, maybe even with multiple hues, that I’d like to have.
This photo of my Anna, now gone to The Rainbow Bridge, was taken in bright sunlight. There’s no way I can retain the play of the natural light in the backgrounds, so I leave only hints. Her tabby fur now sparkles; before, contrast was needed. A good sun soak would always make Anna smile!
Choosing a color complementary to the cat’s fur or eye color increases gleam. At the end of this post: http://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/cat-inspected-art/
there’s a picture of Bud with purple: Red-violet would have been the exact complementary to his yellow-green eyes, but medium violet, the split complementary, still lends zing to his gaze. I used purple because I like it, and because I thought it would look good with his deep sable brown coat.
I’m wondering if this technique would be helpful to those taking photos of shelter animals in need of homes. Someone with high level photo retouching skill could likely turn these out in a few minutes. I take much longer. It could counter any drabness of background, and would work for dogs too. As those with more art photo experience no doubt know, there’s also an easier way to put color in the background fast. You’ll first have to trace around the subject; the color will be a smooth unbroken surface, without the modulation of the painted backgrounds. I much prefer the latter, but when in a hurry, the flat color would also serve to show off the animals.
Found in Mom’s garage as a kitten, mini-panther Little Buddy has radial hypoplasia, so his forelegs have an unusual formation. He is 18 and a half years old. His story is in my book: http://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/announcing-my-cat-book-meowyall-a-feline-centric-memoir/
I’ll write an article about feline radial hypoplasia in the future.
To complete this next photo, we added other techniques.
This image of Little Buddy is a composite of two photos, one of the sleeping kitty and the other of refracted sunlight. It includes both some “painted” areas, and some changes to the subject. I shot both photographs, and decided exactly how I wanted one lined up over the other. My husband put them together in the photo enhancing program. This picture illustrates a point in my black cat essay cited above, and I might also place it into that text.
Slowly, I hope to improve in all these techniques, and use them now and then.