Attempts at art with trees and snow

Even uncultured men with a technical disposition like me, who have spent a disproportionate amount of their time in front of a computer and don’t have an artistic hair on their head can on occasion, be inspired by art. So it was that some days ago I saw this beautiful post called Spirit in Karen McRae’s “draw and shoot” blog and it immediately stuck with me. A few days later I hastily took some photographs of some trees during a snow blizzard from behind an office window. I actually took six photographs, but three of them were really crap so I won’t burden your eyes with them. Then, at home I decided to try my hand at making the photographs more “artistic”. Yes, the fact that the original photographs were completely uninspiring helped. But the truth is that I was looking at my photographs and I was thinking of the beautiful images in the above post and I was wondering if I could somehow process them towards approaching that look. Before you get ahead of yourselves with anticipation, I would strongly advise you to keep your expectations low. No, I haven’t come anywhere near the quality of Karen’s work and in any case, the processing took me down a different route. Nevertheless, I actually do like the end result, also given the amount of time I was allowed to spend on the project. Remember, I am practicing guerrilla photography and guerrilla processing here, as The Wife and The Baby are constantly placing demands on my time – No, I am not complaining – Yes, you’ve guessed correctly, The Wife IS standing over my shoulder right now.

Here is the first photo:

Blizzard snow storm trees

When I first saw this photo at home, I was surprised by how good this tree on the right looked. I hadn’t noticed it at all while taking the photo.

I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do with the processing when I started and I experimented a lot. Initially I wanted to make the snow stand out more, then I went for the more “mysterious” look, then I decided that the tree on the right hand side looks rather nice and I made it stand out more. In the end I added this old “wet plate” look and ready made scratches. I am not quite sure it is better with the defects or without them, but anyway, here it is.

After finishing the first one I saw that I had completely deviated from my initial purpose, which was to move towards the direction of Karen’s work in her post. So the first thing I did when I started processing this next photo was to reduce midtones contrast and focus:

Fine art - Snow and trees - Notis Stamos

I wouldn’t call this realistic, but it’s actually not very far from the original unprocessed image.

Then I played around with colour temperature and saturation to get to warmer tones and add a bit more colour. Instead of going towards the warmer end of the colour spectrum, I ended up going towards the colder end. It’s just that as soon as I saw this greenish-bluish colour, I liked it very much and decided to stick with it. After that I sharpened the image, increased midtones contrast again and darkened the edges and voila – my favourite of the three.

I started processing the third one determined to achieve my original goal. The original image was anyway very abstract, just some branches and a lot of snow. I experimented with various filters and settings and gradually progressed towards this look, which I found pleasing.

Fine art - Trees snow - Abstract - Notis Stamos

I am sure opinions about this one will vary. The Wife rejected it after looking at it for all of 3 seconds.

I don’t remember in detail what I did to get to this look, but it was a combination of four Nik software filters (solarise, paper toner, dark contrasts and one more) at different opacities. At some point I had a slightly different and in my opinion better look, but then I changed something and lost that irrevocably. That’s amateurs for you …

Anyway, Karen if you happen to read this post thanks for the inspiration. For the rest of you, I hope you’ve enjoyed this account of my clumsy attempts at art and are leaving this page a bit more inspired than you came to it.

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