Fine-Art Conversion

Fine-Art ConversionRecently, my good friend Karen Ippolito e-mailed me a fun self-portrait. Karen is a good photographer and a talented artist who has taken many creative photographs with her Canon EOS 5D. However, for this self-portrait, she used a tiny point-and-shoot digital camera.

Though the self-portrait is a good photograph, I thought it lacked the touch of Karen’s artful eye. So, with Karen’s okay, I started to play with the snapshot to transform it into a picture that better represented the creative side of the artist.

Before Here’s the original photograph with no enhancements or cropping.

1a1. The first step was to crop out most of the “dead space” around Karen. That was easy, but the new image size was now too small to make a print.

1b So I had to upsize the image by clicking Image > Image Size, which opened the Image Size dialog box. After choosing Bicubic Smoother (rather than the default of Bicubic), I upsized the image to 6×6.33 inches with a resolution of 300 ppi. Whenever you upsize an image, use Bicubic Smoother. (When you downsize an image, use Bicubic Sharper.)

The next step was to convert the color file to a black-and-white image. To do that, I went to Image > Mode > Grayscale.

33. Converting a color file to a grayscale image tends to make the picture look flat, so I boosted the contrast by going to Image > Adjustment > Brightness/Contrast and increased the contrast just a bit.

My picture was starting to take shape and look more creative. But there was more work to be done and fun to be had!

44. I like infrared photography, so to simulate that effect, I went to Filter > Distort > Diffused Glow and played around with the sliders until I was pleased with the result. When you use this filter, don’t settle for your first choice of settings. Experiment and take control of this filter.

55. One of the coolest filters is Render Lighting Effects (Filter > Render > Lighting Effects). When you choose it, you get a dialog box that gives you a tremendous amount of control over the lighting in an image. I chose Spotlight as the Light Type and experimented with the Exposure, Intensity and placement of the spotlight until I liked the effect. Now the picture looks like a studio shot, taken with a professional lighting system.

6. To add an artful frame to the image, I used a Camera filter in onOne Software’s PhotoFrame Pro 3 ( The frame I created is just one of a million or so custom frames you can create-if you use all the controls in this plug-in.

As a final touch, I added a black border around the edges of the picture. I used the Rectangular Marquee tool and selected an area of about 1?8 inch inside the frame (Select > Inverse).

Look closely, and you’ll see one more enhancement. Check out the whites of Karen’s eyes. I used the Dodge tool on the Toolbar to lighten them, which draws more attention to her eyes.

As you can probably tell, I had a lot of fun working on Karen’s shot! Now it’s your turn to transform your own shots into more artful images.

Rick Sammon has published 27 books, including his latest work, Rick Sammon’s Complete Guide to Digital Photography. You can meet Rick at the PCPhoto/Outdoor Photographer Magazine seminars. Visit Sammon’s website at for more information.

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