By Astrid Authier-Hall

During the month of June, I challenged Art Of Birding participants to create a piece of art from a photograph. For the weekly sparks, I suggested a few different artistic techniques to try. Read on to see the photos I selected as my favourites from the weekly challenges and also right at the end, two photos I selected as my picks for the month as a whole. It was really wonderful to see so many interesting images and ideas. Many thanks to all participants who shared images with the group.

To introduce the concept of creating a piece of art from a photo I decided to ask participants to add an element (or several if they wished) to a photo for the first weekly spark. There were some lovely submissions with frames and/or text added but the one that I picked as my favourite for the week was from Kathy Keddle (New Zealand). I found the composition really interesting (with a 50/50 split), the mono toning worked well, and I loved the eye contact from the sheep. She explained: “I had a photo of wool on a fence and decided that it needed something else. Playing around in Affinity again, I've managed to add some sheep. I didn't like too bright colours so went with a mono look”.

For the second weekly spark, I asked participants to use a creative technique to convert a photo into an image that looked like it had been drawn or painted. There were so many outstanding photos with beautiful art effects applied but I had to narrow it down and choose two photos. One was from Marion Skelton (New Zealand) which she created with the GoArt app. I loved the beautiful teal and copper colour palette used and could imagine it hanging on my wall as a piece of art.

The other photo that I chose from the week 2 submissions was from Anne Huggett (New Zealand). I thought that the subject matter was original and very cute, and the effect applied really enhanced the textures of the photo. The frame added was also a lovely touch. 

For the third week of the challenge, I asked participants to use a creative technique to make abstract art from a photo. I was looking for an image that was significantly different from the original photo taken. Again there were lots of great images to choose from so I ended up picking two favourites. One abstract image that really stood out to me was from Andrew Underwood (New Zealand). I thought the composition was really nice with a top and bottom border, the tones worked well together, and the effects used created a nice movement/texture in the image. He explains how he created the image: “Based on a ten exposure of the stick-figure signs outside the Saxton Sports Building, but mirrored and art-screened in SuperPhoto app”. 

The other abstract image that I chose was from Robyn Hill (USA). She mentioned that she doesn’t often use these sorts of techniques so it was great to see the result, which was lovely. I really enjoyed the interesting shapes and colours created in the image. She explains how she created the effect: “I applied a radial blur, then illusion and reflection effects, as well as a colour enhancement”.

For the final week of this creative challenge, I asked participants to combine at least two images to create a new piece of art. I left the brief quite open this week to allow people to take their art in whatever direction they wanted and it was lovely to see the varying techniques. There were so many great submissions and I ended up picking three that impressed me. I’ve never tried double exposures either in camera or digitally myself so it was really inspiring to see some of the results. I really liked Luke Goodall’s (New Zealand) image of a rose in his mother’s hands. The double exposure is cleverly done and quite subtle, and it’s interesting to take time to look at the translucent elements like the skin creases on the rose. 

I also really liked the double exposure that Becks McDaid (New Zealand) created digitally. I really liked how she had a clear intention for her image and created it. The colours are lovely and muted which works well I think. She explains: “I created the combined image in Snapseed. The original idea was to position the yellow dune flower as a kind of sun on top of the beach photo. I brightened the beach photo then overlayed the flower image. I then added a dark drama and then vintage filter. I adjusted the tones and curves slightly then added a slight vignette. It's a much more dramatic image than I first envisioned but really enjoyed creating something very new and very different”.

The third photo that I selected from the week 4 submissions was from Gayle Marien (Australia). It stood out to me as a lovely image created from careful layering of a subject and texture. The resulting image has wonderful colour impact and visual interest. She explains: “I photographed this daisy just after a shower of rain and positioned myself to get a single colour smooth background, but it was lacking interest and didn’t do justice to the dramatic colours of the flower. So this is what I did:

In Topaz Photo AI - Sharpened the image and removed noise. Then in GIMP - Cropped slightly to remove the orange patch to the left of the photo. Increased saturation and contrast. Copied the image and added that to the original as an overly to deepen the colours and merged these. Applied an image of rusting metal as an overlay – hard light mode. Masked the overlay so it applied only to the background and not the flower and merged the layers. Used the clone and healing tools to better bland the greenery in the bottom left”.

Finally, to wrap up I wanted to select two photos from over the whole month of June that really stood out to me as a work of art. The first photo is from Jerri Lantz (USA), who had so many wonderful images during the weekly sparks. From all of her outstanding photos, I chose this image because I loved the calm gentle mood, and the beautiful exposure on the egret. A lovely piece of art that would be amazing to hang on a wall! Jerri describes her image: “My photo of a great egret that I extracted in Photoshop. I placed a background under my photo and a texture on top”.

The final image is from Barbara Newton (New Zealand) who submitted this lovely landscape image. I really liked how the painting effect combined with the overlaid texture. Barbara explains her process: “Images processed in Bridge. In PS filter added/stylise/oil painting. Then three separate borders added: Border with overlay of texture (opacity 50%); see through border; and landscape version, stylised/oil painting with white border.

If you’d like to join the thriving Art of Birding community, head to - this month we’re experimenting with depth of field with Paula Vigus!

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