Wednesday, October 26, 2016


So what is hybrid photo art? Well, first of all, it is not my favorite thing to do with my photography, nor is it something for which I want to be known. That said, it can be fun.
I don't call it photography. It is just a different type of fun art. I don't pass this off as my photography because it isn't, though it does include a photograph--thus my term "hybrid."

I call it hybrid photo art because it is part photography and part computer software application. It's a form of digital mixed media, which I mention in my book. The base, or foundation, for each hybrid piece is a photograph. Then, different "filters" or software applications are added to the original photo image to create a hybrid---a modified version
or rendition of the original image. I always like both versions for different reasons. Non photographers especially seem to love this type of art.

Depending on the type and amount of software application(s), some of these renditions look like book illustrations; some look like pen & ink drawings; some look like something in a 

sci fi comic book; and some, to the untrained eye, can just look like awesome over-the-top photographs.

I'll start off by talking about different filters. The photo editing software I use offers tons of filters from which to choose. There are too many to list them all, but they include filters and sub-filters, found along the top task bar. For example, under the "Artistic" filter, found in the horizontal command menu, 
I have several sub-filters from which to choose, like Fresco, Plastic Wrap, Poster Edges, Cutout, etc. And there's more! Under each sub-filter I also have at least three sliders I can use to further fine-tune the final effects! Yes, it can be a bit intimidating at first, but just like anything, once you start experimenting with menus and sub menus you realize they are only options to select or ignore. 

There are two important caveats I should share with you: 1) Always save the original image.
2) After a while, I lose track of which filter and sub-filter I used on each final hybrid piece!
Having learned the hard way, I have now created a code for myself to keep track of what application I used for each piece. For example, If I have a piece I call "1955 Corvette," to which I applied the Artistic filter and Poster Edges sub-filter, I title it "1955 Corvette_APE." However, there are two filters that start with S-- Stylize and Sketch. In that case, if I used 

the Stylize filter, my title might be "1955 Corvette_STGE." That's my code for "Stylize" and "Glowing Edges," a sub-filter under Stylize.

There is nothing magical or "heady" about this. The two main tools are Filter and Select, both found along the top horizontal task bar. All I do is experiment with the applications, amount of applications, and slider increments. I look at the results and go back and fine
tune my adjustments if I don't like what I see, start all over, choose another filter/sub-filter, 

or simply conclude that filtration is just not going to work for me.

One more detail before I show you some examples. This is simply a personal decision, so 
I can't give you strict formulas or If/Then advice. Sometimes I decide to apply a filter to the entire image, which is much easier. Sometimes, though, I choose to apply it only to certain parts of the original image! Yeah. That can get a bit tricky and time-consuming. I have to be very careful to the selection I make (See "quick selection" under A on this link), making sure that it is a "clean" selection, i.e. that I don't end up making the application to the part of the image 
I did not want to change. Once I make the selection, I enlarge the image, using the Zoom tool (See "zoom" under Navigation Tool on this link). That way, I can toggle around the selected part to make sure it's "clean;" that I didn't miss anything or didn't select part of the background         I want to change. It's not rocket science; just careful spot checking and quality control.

I've kept you in suspense long enough. I'll start with an example that reflects the caveat 
I just mentioned above.

For this image of a 1961 Cadillac, I only wanted to apply a filter to the background without affecting the car itself. To do that, I carefully used the Quick Selection tool to select only the car. After I made sure my selection was a "clean" one, and with the selection still active, 
I then clicked on "Select" (part of the task bar across the top) and clicked on "Inverse" (found when you click on Select and see a drop-down menu). Basically, I told the software to inverse my selection, which made it select everything but the car for me to work on. Which filter to use is a personal choice. My most commonly used is Artistic/Poster Edges. This was the result.

I used the same approach, but different application, to this red/orange 1955 Corvette beauty. I can't overemphasize the importance of using the Zoom tool when making your
selection. It helps to better see all the small details--in this case, tail lights, windshield
lines, bumper lines, etc. 

For this piece, I made the same application to the entire image--no need to "select"
a portion of the original image.

Ditto on this one. The same filter and sub-filter might have a different "look" on different images, depending on the subject and different elements in the scene--like the street light in this downtown scene of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.                                         

This sub-filter (under the "Stylize" filter) is called Glowing Edges.

I used the same filter/sub-filter on this image as I did on the Cadillac piece. However, the effect looks different. To me, it looks more like a book illustration or pen & ink drawing, especially when seen on the high resolution piece.

There are two sides to the "art coin." From the artist's side of the coin, I like to call a spade a spade. If I do something severe to one of my images, like the examples above, I have entered a new form of art and I call it what it is. I don't apply filters, hoping to improve my photography, then pass it off or brag about my photographic skills, when I know there were other skills involved in addition to my photography skills. On the other side of that same coin, from the general public or consumer perspectives, who cares? If they like it, and they pay for it, great.

Most companies have different product or service lines. They're all different, produced by the same companies. This form of art is just one of my product lines. 

So, go out there and have fun with it. Some people like it; some don't. Bottom line: if you like it, that's all that matters.