• Leslie Montgomery

Instructions - We Don't Need No Stinking Instructions

Before I continue with the topic at hand which I am sure everyone is curios about, I want to let you know I added those new collections to both my Pixels & Redbubble sites for Weather vanes and windmills. I decided to combine the two together in order to make the folder more interesting and also to give me an excuse to take more photos of wind turbines and farm windmills, both of which fascinate me.

I have been working this week on some of those weather vanes I told you about. It has been a labor of love but some of the photos were an example to me of "How not to do this" so in the future I expect the quality to be better in terms of angles. I need to make sure the arrows don't overlap the N,S,E,& W signs. All I can say about that is "We live & learn".

Anyways while working on these weather vanes this week I decided that my topic of the week should be about the filters I use when creating these images. I am not talking about Photoshop itself. I am talking about the various programs that work with Photoshop to help me turn my photographs into my creations.

I love my filters but they can be a challenge in their own right if you don't know what you are doing and to be honest when I purchase a new filter I have no idea of how it works. I always just dive in and figure it out as I go. A little fool hardy when some of these filters can be just as expensive, if not more so than Photoshop itself. Fortunately I don't require many filters. At this point I have more than I use.

These days I have two staples in my filter list and one that I bounce to now and then. All 3 are very important to me and my work but one more than the others. That one all important filter is Topaz Studio. Before Studio came along I had all the filters but in order to keep up with the times I needed to purchase all the associated filters all over again. Fortunately I didn't need to buy it all at once so I was able to rely on their many sales to catch a deal. Now I am loaded. I even have the newest sensation of their's, AI Gigapixel, which I use on every image I process now. I have loaded all my textures in Topaz so they can all work side by side with their own awesome textures. Now I only visit my own texture folder when I add new ones but only after adding them to Topaz. Many times I will just pour through many of Topaz's filters just to get ideas when I feel uninspired. It is hard to walk away from Topaz with no ideas even when you feel that block when entering Topaz. It is the Alien Skin of today IMO. I also have the old Alien Skin filters but have not looked at then in a couple of years now. Although in looking for the link to them right now I see I should maybe look into their newer software. I have a feeling this is going to cost me some money!!!

The next go to is a filter software I have felt some reluctance to for a while now but lately, since taking the time to learn how it works I have been using it more and more. JixiPix. I have still not looked at any instructions. I hate instructions and find they really can screw me up because they take the joy out of learning and if I don't enjoy the lesson I feel I have not really learned anything, or at least not really absorbed it.

I know that is a rather foolish attitude but I am willing to bet I am not alone in this feeling. Maybe I am a bit ADD but I have always saw myself as having that infamous left handed curse. As a south paw I have to take most instruction and reverse it all in my head but most times I just figure things out for myself. It is how I have managed my whole life so why stop now? This could be why instructions just confuse me.

Anyway back to JixiPix. Oddly enough, it first seemed too simplistic to me. I really thought the presets were all you could do with it and maybe tweak the presets a bit but maybe it was a boring rainy day or something when I opened the free program I downloaded a while ago. Yes, it wasn't as in depth as the paid programs but when playing with that I realized that it had a little more guts than I was giving it credit for. They were offering a sale shortly after so I bought one of their packages and did some experimenting. Slowly but surely I started using it more. They seem to have pretty clear instructions in their web site but I just can't stipulate it more.... We don't need no stinking instructions!!!

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the third of my favorite filter software. That being Dynamic Auto Painter by MediaChance. Again it would probably help to read the instructions as this is actually the filter I have had the longest of the 3 but have never felt a challenge with it. It does create beautiful imagery to a photo but I was always under the impression that you can do very little to influence the outcome of your image. It is all up to the program itself, which is a very powerful program. Turns out that is only the case if you allow it to take control of the process. There are ways to program it to do what you want and if it doesn't do what you want you can reverse it to retry. Also there is the whole after process that you have total control over. So it is not just a go to for me anymore when I can't get what I want elsewhere. I am rediscovering the power of this program coupled with the power of my own imagination. Again.... HELPS TO READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!!!

Anyway so you know, the image at the top of the page was created from one of my own photos, as always, along with first Topaz, secondly JixiPix and then back to Topaz. Of course before all that it started in Lightroom (which I am in the throws of teaching myself) and then carried onto Photoshop for some tweaking before and after all the processing, (many times I also have to rely on my own drawing abilities with the stylus pen) so I must say it is very true that software and filters can only work as well as your ability to work with them. Also you have to have the imagination to look at a photo and see what it can be beyond what it is. No software in the world can do that for you.

So I will sum this up with the knowledge - I am who I am and at this point I cannot see myself changing. Even if things could be easier if I did them the conventional way, I get by just fine with my method of discovery. I actually find it titillating when I stumble onto something new and different and at the end it is all part of the process of retaining what you learn. So with that I will leave you with a very famous saying from my all time favorite Mel Brooks movie - "Blazing Saddles" .... "Badges - We don't need no stinking badges!" (replace the word badges with instructions)

All My Best

Leslie :)