New Camera, New Software, A study in possibilities

Warning — this is a fairly long post with lots of pictures

Got a new camera, something I’ve wanted for years. The new technology is really impressive. When I started as a cartographer / engineer years ago; digital cameras were really expensive and special. We felt lucky to get pictures that were a 1024×1024 pixels wide because each pixel meant a separate lens element. The cameras cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; of course these were special ones used to take pictures from airplanes. At that time, 10 meters or 30 feet per pixel was considered good. Now we look at free pictures in google earth good enough to identify people.

My small handheld camera represents the best of that technology. Yes it was inexpensive; but takes great quality pictures. Lots of options; I can take panorama’s, various filters, automatic or manual mode, movies and more with a small device about the size of a deck of cards. And it only cost 200 dollars.

But this camera interacts with my PC, not the IPAD. I’ve gotten used to working with Snapseed—it’s quick and easy to use. And with it; I can do lots of different things with my photos; enhancing them to better tell a story. Well there is no easy equivalent for Snapseed on the PC. The PC version of the software is a bit more powerful than the IPAD version and a bit more difficult to use. Plus it costs 149 dollars in the US. And right now I’m broke because we are paying for the trip to Europe. So I’m not buying new software.

Luckily there is a fantastic public domain package called GIMP. You can read about it at:

Started in the mid-90’s; this package has an incredible set of tools. And it’s not that hard to use. I began playing with a single image and with that created a series of very artistic images. The blowup images are snapshots of image portions at 100%

Here’s the original


First thing I did was rotate the image and play with the brightness, saturation, and color functions. All the other pictures started with this one. Not perfect—it’s going to take a while before I’m comfortable with these tools. But you can see how the image is not as washed out and has more vibrant colors. Take a look in particular at the blowup section because there are a lot of interesting changes coming.



Now I play with the RGB color schemes. While it is possible to create very dramatic changes; I wanted something a bit more subtle.

crutches_edited2 blowup3

Next was an artistic filter “The VanGogh Effect”. No one confesses to understanding what the code does. Probably could figure it out as it is sort of an intriguing problem. But it’s not worth the effort for me.

crutches_edited3 blowup4

Here’s an edge following algorithm. I’m not sure which one. But the basic idea is that the software identifies edges of features based on differences between values of adjacent pixels.

crutches_edited4 blowup5

And here is the impressionistic painting filter plus some other stuff. Don’t know what the algorithm does; but I like the effectds.

crutches_edited5 blowup5

Here’s a threshold filter. What that means is that every value below a set point is set to black and everything above is set to white. One uses a slider to adjust the threshold point.

crutches_edited6 blowup7

Next we use on of the glass or water filters. I can’t remember the name. But the effects are stunning. The second blowup was at 50% of the original images – needed to show the plant leaves.

crutches_edited8  blowup8 blowup9e

Insert crutches_edited8.jpg and blowup_8 & 9


The next one is another line following algorithm along with a few color changes. You can actually see the pixelization in the blowup photo. And you can see why a high quality, high pixel count image is useful – it makes it easier to identify unique objects.


blowup 10

The next image is a grayscale version of the RGB image. Useful for understanding how to do shading.




And the last image was using the emboss function. I like this picture.



The possibilities for artistic creation are fantastic although there is a learning curve. It’s a real image processing package with all the fancy filters. I can do anything I want with it – extract features like buildings or people, enhance various features, clip and paste pieces into layers after playing with the software. I do recommend trying the software –after all it’s free.



Author: Heres to ART not Cockroaches

Welcome to my life. My life as a mom is changing as the kids grow up, leave home, and build their own lives. This gives me a chance to rebuild myself as an artist, develop a spiritual path, and most fun of all, start going out on dates with my husband. Come here the stories about the small things in life that can make one very happy. Dogs running on a beach, great breakfast dates, kids and their adventures, and my own adventures in this wacky life. I'll share some of my progress in learning art while juggling a full time job as an engineer. And best of all, it's a chance for me to practice writing stories while keeping in touch with my kids. I look forward to hearing from you. Comments, thoughts, and invitations to meet for coffee are all welcomed. Enjoy the stories.

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