Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Picture of Hope

By Christina VanGinkel

Framed pictures of altered photographs that you snapped yourself are a great way to use your camera to produce artwork for your walls at a fraction of the cost of purchased art. With the availability of both digital cameras and computer software to edit your photographs, it is possible for just about anyone to create a one of a kind piece of art.

Start by snapping some photos of a few subjects that interest you. It could be your kids, or a favorite view. The key being something that you know you would want to look at repeatedly. Snap many different views, including close-ups, faraway views, from the front, and behind, the point being to snap a lot so you have a lot to work with.

Examples from my recent pieces include two pictures that my daughter actually snapped. One is of my young grandson fishing. The overall scene is actually a view of a stream and lower portion of a bridge, with the backside of my grandson casting his fishing pole. Other than changing the mood of the picture slightly by softening it in Microsoft Picture It! Photo Premium 9, I did not really alter it much. I printed an 8 X 10 photo of it and framed it as is.

The second photo is also of my grandson. It is a close-up of his face. At first glance, it looks as if she snapped a photo that would never even be printed, let alone be blown up and framed. What I saw in the picture though, was his eyes, so expressive, so open to life, to hope for the future. I cropped the picture a bit more than it already was, and first turned it into a black and white photo. I liked it, but it was not what I was expecting when I was first drawn to the photo. The expression from the eyes was still there, but not to the degree that I knew, the photo had the potential to produce. I returned it to its original color and altered it with the antique affect, also referred to as sepia tone. The result was stunning. I now have a beautiful piece of framed art I call Hope.

The first time my daughter saw the picture framed, she asked me when I snapped it. To say she was surprised when I told her she had taken the photo, would be putting it mildly. She actually looked at me and said, no, she did not. It makes me wonder how often we, as amateur photographers, snap photographs that have potential to be much more than they first appear, but all we see is the flat product that is originally snapped.

By looking at your photos with the intent to make them into full size art, you may optimistically see what is often missed. Try to look past the photo's first impressions if something jumps out at you when you first view a photo. Consider what it is about the photo that draws you into it. Then, see if your photo editing software can help, by bringing that first impression into full-blown artistic inspiration. Maybe you will also be lucky enough to discover your own Hope of a lifetime!

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