Feeling out filters



"Millipede" translates to "1,000 feet" in Latin. Despite the name, these arthropods don't have 1,000 feet or legs. They also don't look exactly like the creature shown atop this post  .... but watching them up close impressed me so much that they may as well have had a million feet and been the spitting image of the multi-colored spectacle shown above.

This image, however,  was enhanced with a mosaic Prisma filter. Until recently, I almost never used filters, but I've often disappointed in the gap that exists between the vision I see when I take a photograph ... and the resulting photograph.

I love having an easy-to-use (and inexpensive) digital camera that I can slip into my pocket and quickly use (on intelligent auto setting) but such an approach does have limitations.

Earlier this year,  for example, I witnessed a sunset that was filled with gloriously deep shades of pink and orange but took pictures that, in comparison, might as well have been a black-white-and-gray version of the experience.

I decided to visit the color controls and see just how much saturation would be needed to make the sky look the way I remembered it. I just kept moving that lever more and more to the right, watching the colors flood into the sky. I was frustrated and it felt so good to bring in the color, as if I wanted this photograph to make up for all the ones that never could measure up to what I witnessed. It's not like me to pop up the color that way, so when as I posted it online I apologized in advance, explaining that "This is me ... pumping up the color on an already beautiful color-saturated sky."

An artist whose work I much admire, responded: "I think of it as a a combination of what you see and what you feel while seeing, Colleen."

I loved hearing that ... because the photo did depict exactly what I was feeling and I felt happy that someone understood that.

A short time later, I discovered the Prisma app which helped me to see what the subjects of my photographs might look like as a drawing, painting, mosaic or even a dream. There are more than 20 different options. I've been experimenting for more than a month now and here are some of the resulting images.
























While I love the filtered images I've included here, I've experimented with filters on other photos and found that I liked the original versions better, or just as well.

When I share filtered photos, some people tell me they like my original photography better. I appreciate that but there are times when I feel a photo -- even if it's the best photo I've taken of a particular subject -- does not do the subject (or my feelings about the subject) justice. Sometimes the right filter helps me to bridge the gap.

It's not just for photos that I feel fall a little short of that mark, however. I also experiment with some of my very favorite images  -- and the filters present other possibilities that may inspire me to do more with a photograph, perhaps a drawing, painting or some thoughtful words or a story to accompany it.

While filters are nothing new, I'm just discovering that, in addition to being fun, they're a useful creative tool that works well for someone like me.

While I greatly respect and admire the work of talented photographers who've masterfully acquired extensive knowledge of their equipment and lenses, I enjoy the simplicity of carrying an inexpensive small digital camera that I can instantly pull out of my pocket and use while out walking. The thought of lugging around equipment and costly lenses -- or investing the time it would take for me to learn how to use them -- is prohibitive for me.

I'm more interested in observing the creatures I come to know in my backyard (and beyond) and then doing something related to the photographs I take in the process -- something that will help me to share that experience in a way that feels comfortable.

As I wind up this post, I realize that I haven't included any of the original photos -- so here's one of the millipede depicted atop this post (before I used the mosaic filter).  While I think this millipede is impressive with or without a filter --  the picture at top represents a combination of what I see and what I feel, while the pic below is reality. In this case, I love them both.