Monday, December 2, 2013

The Problem with Filters, Why and Why Not?

On the left is the original from a point and shoot camera, the middle is just filtering and adding a bit of saturation to colors and shadows and the final is just playing with colors and saturation.
I remember just starting to use Photoshop, every week I  would discover a new filter to use. One specific filter I remember and definitely have witnessed its overuse is the lens flare tool. So why not use the tools you have? Why not go crazy with colors and effects, throw in some multiple fonts and maybe some shapes and you have a work of art right? Here is my problem with filters, they can often make the simple pure act of capturing an inspiration contrived or overdone.

lens flare versus same filters with more subtle effects.
I have spoken recently about an image having just enough, nothing more or less, a complete and final inspiration stands on its own and the viewer enjoys the piece as a whole. A poorly or overused filter can cause more of a distraction than an improvement on a work. I am impressed when the viewer who knows how to use filters and is aware of their effects can not pinpoint what filter was used but the image is cohesive There is a beauty to purity and capturing something the way you actually envision it and even more amazing is subtlety especially when creativity tends to strive for all the bells and whistles.

A well used filter will allow just the right amount of highlight or low light to a scene or work and allow the over processing or under processing of an original, it gives the creative professional an opportunity to push an effect or allow more options to the original image. Of course this is all subjective and my idea of overuse or contrived is anothers' masterpiece so allow for opinion and personal style to dictate what is too much. I happen to love subtlety and I believe there is not much that we can improve on  images of nature which are to me, pretty amazing and perfect in their own way. For the abstracts and non-representational creatives, of course you decide what is perfect and what is too much but we have all seen the overuse and cheesy effects it is up to creatives and their own vision to decide what is over the top and where cheese becomes genius.

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