Post image for Tupelo Impressions

Tupelo Impressions

October 31, 2012 · 19 comments

Leaves Left Unraked

I have missed two entire months.  For the record, I fell off a ladder onto my studio floor on Aug. 30.  Six broken ribs, separated shoulder, fractured skull, and concussion.  Life can change in an instant.

Much recovered by now except a residual paralyzed facial nerve that keeps my left eye from blinking.  It is taped shut and my vision is compromised.  This is the same eye that had the detached retina surgeries 2 years ago.  Then, I was excited by new ways of seeing.  I started this Mental Seeds blog as an outlet to communicate with new ideas and try new techniques.  Now I need to push even further.

I need to rebel against the blur.  I stumble around trying to see the nuances and there are none.  Go flat, no depth or dimension. Impressions are all I can do.  Push Photoshop beyond what I thought I would ever do.  Go bold.

There is a new filter in PhotoShop CS6 called Oil Paint.  Lots of controls and permutations.

What I have not figured out is how to scale the effect I like.  Depending on the file size of the photo, the filter (all art  filters) have different effects.  The strongest effect is when the file is small, no doubt because there are fewer pixels to push around.

In the first photo, of my rake resting in a pile of Tupelo leaves, the  working file was 1000 pixels wide.  The surreal leaves seem liquified.

This next is 2000 pixels.  All the settings on the filter remain the same; but the effect is diminished.

And this one is 5600 pixels, the native raw file size, a size to make a nice print.

All three are interesting treatments, but the oil paint filter is not strong enough to radically alter the large file to match the first image.  More work.  More to learn.  If I want to make a large print I need to figure this out, but blog size it looks great…..


To show the filter affect on the 5600 pixel image, I have sliced out a 600 pixel segment, from the top of the tree trunk.  (I use 600 pixels wide because that is 100% of the viewing size on this blog.)

The filter effect is much more obvious when viewed here at full size, but still not nearly the same affect when the same filter is applied onto the smaller file-size image.

Just for grins here is a 600 pixel crop out of that smaller file-size photo:


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet Davis November 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

First, Saxon, I know how cosmically disappointing the latest setback must be to you, as a photographer. As you know, I shared a little in your retinal situation but my vision is actually more acute in my RD eye, even with scleral buckle, so it didn’t affect me the way it might have, and yours did obviously. Then to have the ladder outcome. Ah, me. But I love your never-give-up spirit, and your way of approaching this sloshing glass as half-full. Having said that, I actually like the 5600px file best, because it doesn’t liquefy the image the way the first one does, and turns it into a watercolor feel of autumn, yet with enough detail to discern the actual still-life “painting”. I am 4 generations behind you in PS, but I know about the art filter effects a little. When I want to abstract an image, I often first run it through the Watercolor filter of an old (no longer available) Microsoft Image Composer program that I kept specifically for that effect. When I’ve made one pass through with that one, then I import into PS and use theirs on the prepared image. But I don’t understand why you can’t use the different scales on any size of image. It’s just memory, isn’t it?


saxon November 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Janet – Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Each of the effects has its own merit but I really want something obvious impressionistic jolt since bold sensations are what it takes to get me excited in the garden these days. Subtle water color gauze are what I see and I am tired of it – give me bold blur…

The problem of scale has nothing to do with memory but everything to do with pixel size and viewing distance at 100% enlargement. Impossible to show on a computer screen really, since not even the 1000px photo is displayed at full size. If I get round to it I will amend the post to show a detail of the 5600 photo at full size.

What I will need is a way to interpolate up the small one or make it a vector object of some kind. Still much to learn so I shouldn’t try to pretend to know what I am talking about…


Donna November 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I too was going to say memory, but more from the standpoint of Preferences>Performance>Memory Usage. Make it almost 100%. You could ask the Photoshop Guys on their blogs. I don’t use these filters very often so I can not help out with any other suggestion.

My gosh your fall was a bad one. I am sorry you had such a bad accident.


Donna November 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Oh, forgot too. If it is a printing/size issue you could try onOne Software,


Saxon November 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

This interpolation software (from the classic Genuine Fractals), may work up to a certain amount of enlargement, is not the same as using the filter on the native size. I may end up trying it though … Thanks


Saxon November 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for dropping by Donna. I’m sure it’s not a memory problem, it has something to do with the number of pixels the filter can actually affect.

I have added some more photos at the end of the post to better show my dilemma.


Donna November 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I had to do a RAW file myself to see what was the problem. You are right. It is the actual size of the pixel itself in the large file. There is not a way to scale up in size past 10. I did find running the filter over and over on the same file got closer to the desired result, but in between passes, adding a bit of a blur to cut down on the harshness and smooth out the strokes. Plus I kept shine low. After ten times it got near to the result, but I actually preferred less of the effect. I tried other filters but none were effective. Using the Mixer Brushes might help, but that is a lot of work. I also did it on leaves for comparison. I too like your first image. That is why I suggested Genuine Fractals. You can go up to 1000x increase I think.


Saxon November 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Donna – Very cool you pursued this yourself. Want to link your experiment ? I too tried multiple passes of the filter (maybe I need to try 10X!)but had to keep re-adjusting levels. I kept going back to the first. I don’t own Genuine Fractals, and looked at the link you provided. I think it indicated up to about 400% interpolation ? Maybe I’ll try their 30 day free trial …


Donna November 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I added it to my post with a link back to here, so some viewers will most likely pop in. The second image is the filter run on a selected part of the center portion many times and readjusting the sliders. The first image was my preference, not the really swirly one. I am convinced it is the pixel size. Too many of them and too small. I think you are closer on Genuine Fractals at 400% but I know I read somewhere hey got good results at 1000%.

Laura November 2, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Saxon, I’m so very, very sorry to hear of your accident! I hope you continue to recuperate.


Saxon November 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Thanks Laura. Recuperation is slower than I expected and is my excuse for not fulfilling the promise I made to myself of doing at least one Mental Seeds post (personal work) a month. I am now even more determined to pursue this, and hope I will refrain from explaining why. Just do it ….


Susan Ferguson November 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm

This image and some of your other recent experiments would be great fabric designs. Bold and colorful and wonderful to live with. Imagine the 600 pixel crop out as drapery and upholstery fabric. I’d buy it! Mark Kane, another photographer friend I love, has been thinking about fabric as well. Check this out-


Saxon November 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Susan – I think Mark and I will be needing an agent….


Janet Loughrey November 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Saxon, these are all beautiful. My knowledge of PS is rudimentary and I’m only on CS3 so I don’t have any pearls of wisdom to offer, but the filters are one part of PS I enjoy playing around with.

I’m so sorry to hear you are still struggling with your vision. I hope the long-term prognosis is that your eye will improve. Being a photographer myself, I can’t imagine not being able to create images. It’s such a part of who we are. My best wishes for your continued recovery.


Saxon November 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Janet – The struggles I mention on the post are really just background for those, unlike you, who knew nothing of the accident. Vision is no worse than when we spoke, though it is frustrating that it is not better in recent weeks. This post will be the last I specifically mention it. Whatever vision we have, is what we use to communicate. I do hope I will stop analyzing why I am trying these new things, and simply do it….


Saxon November 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Fun to explore this together Donna. I like what you did yourself with the swirly leaves on your blog, especially teh less filtered one
The experimentation and play is all part of the craft. Thanks again for playing along


Donna November 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Thanks Saxon. I appreciate you linking back. Funny it would be on a post I did not use my DSLR for most images and instead used a Coolpix. I am planning on taking the Coolpix to St. Lucia instead of the Nikon D7000 and my heavy FX lenses, so I need the practice. Oh so do I miss what I can’t use from the better camera. That should be a post in itself. Finding a way to get the same results with less.

My ‘art’ was a quick process, but a repeated one. The more filtered version was still the same file, but a selected portion of it to run the filter over and over. Faster process time and less work for the filter algorithm, but it did not come out as nice as what you did on the smaller file. Thanks again. Loved the challenge.


saxon November 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

The best camera is always the one in your hand


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