Saturday, January 5, 2013
Putting Filters To Work For You
Scene With GIMP Lomo Filter
Forgettable (and very dusty) Scan of Same Scene Taken With Olympus Trip-35
"Filters" is an old word with a new twist. We used to screw real filters onto our lenses for various effects and corrections. Now, the Instagram kids have given it a whole new meaning. I suppose "filter" is an appropriate word, because you're putting your picture "through" something to change it's look - a digital process in this case.
Anyway, I've mentioned this before, but GIMP has many excellent "filters" and effects, as well as film simulations, and the list is growing because GIMP is Open Source - this means there are always enthusiasts out there writing new Scripts for GIMP Plug-Ins, and sharing them with the world. All you have to do, if you're already using GIMP, is join a GIMP discussion forum for all the latest news on new filters and how to get them. This works equally well for Linux, Windows and Mac - in fact, I sometimes find that although GIMP was originally made for Linux, since it went "cross-platform" years ago, new stuff often gets introduced to the Windows version first.
I'm not opposed to filters at all. In fact, as a "sentimentalist photographer", I find these effects most pleasing. They're a lot more like "enhancements" than "filters" really. I most frequently use the Lomo Filter (GIMP Menu - Filters > Light and Shadow > Lomo...), which in itself has all kinds of options and adjustment sliders - way too many to talk about here. Generally, I find that it works really well to make an otherwise crummy picture turn out looking spectacular- colours richen, picture elements get well separated - even dust from flatbed scanning of film negatives seems to mysteriously disappear, as seen above! Slap on a Fuzzy Border" and you've got instant sentimental nostalgia from an otherwise throw-away photo.