Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Going on a Picnik February 1, 2010

Filed under: garden art,photography — greenwalks @ 11:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

Prompted by an “assignment” at David Perry’s Photographer’s Garden Blog, I tried messing with the color saturation on a photo I’d taken recently, of one of my few but beloved pieces of garden sculpture.

Igor, as he is called, is a tiny house protector/gargoyle who sits beneath a cutleaf Japanese maple just opposite our living room windows. He is introspective fellow, all curled up in summer as in winter. Currently, his mood is mirroring mine, so I decided to give him his own photo feature today.

First, the original photo, taken with my new camera, whose niftiness I am still discovering (note to self: must read manual someday!), at dusk on a gray January day. I use the low-light setting a LOT – it was my main reason for choosing this camera, the Canon S90.

Igor in winter

Doesn’t he look like he’s using that leaf as a blanket? I think I spread some witch hazel leaves in that spot last fall, hoping to camouflage bulb plantings from marauding squirrels. I wouldn’t have thought the leaves would come in handy as gargoyle bedding.

David’s assignment, to take a photo during a low-light time and then dial up the saturation on the computer, prompted a test of the free software Flickr partners with, Picnik. Since they’re a Seattle company, they must know about adding color to grayed-out photos, right? So, I will forgive them their cutesy spelling. Here’s the “blue” version of Igor’s nap.

Igor in winter (modified II)

Probably a little on the garish side, but it was fun to toy around with the saturation and spectrum. I’m sure PhotoShop is way more sophisticated, but it’s also pricey and geared more towards Macs. I have a cheapo PC and no budget for photo software so free will just have to do!

Picnik can do basic stuff like cropping and red-eye correction, and if you have already imported your photos to Flickr, it’s pretty simple to just modify and re-save, or save a copy. You can see that in this last version, I cropped it a bit and changed the colors somewhat.

Igor in winter (modified I)

I must admit that I prefer my own garden photos largely unmanipulated, maybe because I feel like it’s hubristic to try to improve on nature, and also since I don’t consider myself an artist in any way. But digital photography tools can be so fun and easy to use, it’s tempting to get a little creative every once in a while.

Do you have a favorite photo editing tool? Or do you just try to use your eye and take the shot you really want?


8 Responses to “Going on a Picnik”

  1. fairegarden Says:

    Hi Karen, I love Igor! He is a pensive fellow and does need a few more leaves for his nest. We don’t like to mess with the colors either, except for Halloween posts. Your rhapsody in blue would be perfect for that spooky time! Cropping is a good thing though. We used to do more of that, and the contrast sharpening but have gotten the hang of shooting when the light is right so it is not necessary. We do have whatever came with Windows 7, but use the old Dell program Image Expert 2000 instead. We have both programs, but love the Image Expert and insist it be installed whenever there is a change, like the recent upgrade to 7. 7 is however vastly superior to Vista.

  2. Gardeness Says:

    I’m with you on keeping it real. But it is fun to play around. I use the basic tools in Picasa, and I believe Gimp can manipulate photos. Really, I just barely have time to take the photo, let alone edit it! Love Igor, as well. We have miniature gargoyles hanging on either side of our front steps to keep out the bad vibes! Look forward to the end of the month SAGBUTT.

  3. In checking my posts on others’ computers, I find that the color varies fairly dramatically, so I have stopped messing with that. Photoshop has a tool that allows retouching to eliminate an eyesore in an otherwise perfect shot. Sure, it’s cheating, but sometimes justified. I’m with Frances…cropping is the best tool, next to learning to frame the photo well in the first place.

  4. I agree with ricki…looking at my posts on different computers I realize that what I am seeing is not what others are seeing…plus I like the idea of leaving nature alone. The only time I mess with colors is when my (CHEAP!) camera failed to capture the real colors, (usually when taking photos late in the day) then I try and make them a little more “real.” I am lucky to have photoshop but pathetically don’t know all it’s tricks. Like having a super sports car that you only drive to the supermarket!

  5. Grace Says:

    Karen~~ I’ve heard great things about Paint.NET. Apparently it’s very similar to Photo Shop but, without the cost. It’s free, doesn’t use a lot of memory and downloads in about five minutes. I haven’t played with it yet but it looks promising.

    Picasa is easy and works great for cropping, adding the watermark and creating collages. Plus it is very compatible with Picasa Web Albums which is very compatible with Blogger–the path I use for posting photos on my blog.

    The Microsoft Office Windows Picture manager is where I first view my uploaded [from my camera] photos. I can lighten, darken or crop. I’m like you in that I typically use a lower aperture on my camera then brighten it if needed in Windows.

    It’s all fairly new to me but I’m completely addicted.

    Igor is very handsome, swathed in his crispy blanket. I agree about the hubris/audacity to change nature and will say that Igor looks like a Smurf in the altered photo. Did you see that coming? LOL

    • Igor’s blanket is perfect. 🙂 I discovered photo editing only about two months ago, and it’s only been about six months since the photography bug bit hard. I really enjoy cropping, straightening and improving the contrast on my photographs. I think you can definitely go too far, but I don’t want to be afraid of trying new things, like tints and soft focus and all the other stuff.

      I use Picasa, a free software which is quite amazing. Yesterday I learned to make my first collage, not a very good first effort, I’m afraid, and soon I want to try overlaying textures. I figure why not play with the tools I have access to?

  6. Catherine Says:

    I bought Photoshop Elements not too long ago, just to try for fun. It’s very hard to figure out and I really don’t have time to mess around with it. Other than cropping or maybe blurring the edges a little I don’t do anything with the color.
    I love Igor, he looks nice a cozy there.

  7. jean Says:

    Karen I am so glad that you made it to David’s talk. I realized at the last minute that I had a conflict with Isobel’s piano lesson so I couldn’t make it. I saw some of the garden show earlier in the day though and bought some peonies.

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