One-to-Three Photo Processing Challenge: February 2022

Lately, all my photographs are either birds, squirrels, or a great deal of snow. Well, it’s winter and it’s February in New England. Even were it not for the lockdowns, this time of year in this part of the world is limited by the cold and the weather.

So, given all things going on in my photographic life, it was going to be a Grackle or lots of snow. Grackles are more interesting than snow

Grackles are rather magical looking anyway. Put them in sunshine and they glow in rainbow colors. Well, at least the males glow. The girls are a solid brown, a sensible color for a working avian mom. Also, given their amazing colors, no version of monochrome seemed to make much sense so I decided to see if I could make the magic more magical.

I used a graphical remix on this one to make the bird look more like a drawing. Not bad.

I used a “dark graphical” formula for this one, maybe to emphasize those yellow eyes and the slightly menacing look which is natural to all Common Grackles.

This version is called “Wonderland” and it’s from the “Fantasy” collection of Topaz filters.

Overall, if I were to take a vote on these? I like the original. The dark graphical is interesting and has merit, but the other two variations don’t add anything. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t an improvement, so why bother?

I don’t do a lot of complicated processing unless the pictures have issues like blurriness that can’t be resolved by sharpening or denoising but I like the image enough to play with it. Sometimes, an image just looks like it needs to be an “illustration.” I’ve done that with some flowers, especially when I have a lot of pictures that are essentially the same. The processing lets me do something different with the “same old” image.

The process of changing a photo to monochrome is based on the nature of the image. Sepia or black & white works exceptionally well for images where I want more texture and less attention to color. Also, sometimes color distracts you from the nature of an image. For such images, monochrome works best.

However, the Grackle isn’t that kind of image. Without color, it’s just a dark bird with light eyes, so the color stays. And anyway, all my snow pictures look like black & white because that’s what our world looks like this time of year. Until spring comes, we are black, white, and gray except for the brightness of the birds.

Categories: Anecdote, birds, Challenges, Grackle, Seasons, snow, Technology, Winter

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19 replies

  1. We don’t have grackles here and I always thought they were just black. Your photo catches some beautiful iridescence. I agree with you it doesn’t really need an arty effect. The graphic remix is kind of cool. The other two are nice enough but, to my eye the last two the iridescence doesn’t stand out as much. In the darker one it is muted and in the colorful one loses the contrast between the dark bird and the colors.


    • Sometimes, you need to work a bit to bring colors out. This is often true with grackles because if the picture is dark, you can’t see any colors. In this particular picture, there was more than enough light. I liked the darker one but the other two? Not so much. So yes, I agree. Sometimes, enough is enough. I should have picked one of the photographs I can’t do anything with because it’s too dark or blurry. That would have more been interesting 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been messing with using Topaz with pictures where I like the composition but the quality of the photo is a problem. Your photo was lovely to start with.


        • I should have used one of the MANY pictures I can’t process because they are blurry and/or dark. Honestly, I just used the first picture that came up and I liked. it didn’t need help, but i sure have plenty that REALLY need help!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I liked your post. Sometimes just experimenting is fun.


            • I do a lot of it, but I don’t usually post those experiments unless it really comes out special. The ones I did of my Easter lily were great and i don’t’ remember how I did it. I have a lot of the older Topaz filters. I used a lot of combos until suddenly, it worked. Most of those older filter are only working sometimes with the new PS. I don’t even LIKE the new Photoshop, but I haven’t found anything else to take its place.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Never used Photoshop. I used to use LightRoom. Great program, but I had to leave it behind when it went to the cloudy subscription model. I travel to places where I have very limited internet access so I need stand alone. Right now I use Raw Therapee and the GIMP, which are open source. Powerful but not necessarily as user friendly as the Adobe products, and free is a pretty good price. So much to learn and experiment with…


  2. I like the second one too.


  3. I like these pictures very much, Marilyn, especially the middle one. It reminds me of the raven in The Hobbit.


    • Some Grackles are less colorful. With those birds, you can play more with color since the bird doesn’t look like a rainbow on a tree branch. I love the menacing look of Grackles, especially because they are very easily rousted, though they do keep coming back. We are having one of THOSE days today. Horrible weather with sleet, hale, and COLD. I understand they are hungry. Unfortunately, I simply can’t feed that many birds. I wish I could.


  4. I agree with Fandango. I like the original and the first edit. The dark one does look more menacing as he says too.


  5. I like the original and the second one that looks like on of your drawings. The third is kind of menacing looking. The last one, meh. I was hoping you’d pick up on this challenge, given your photographic skills.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should have picked one of the many photos I have that I have yet to find a way to process successfully. Too dark, too blurry, to much background messiness. Sometimes the subject is interesting, but the amount of work exceeds my interest level. The third one IS kind of menacing, which might be what I like about it. The others don’t really improve on the original, so it seems like extra work to no good purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These are good real good. Congratulation Marilyn.❤


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