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Featured Projects

Photographer Manually Photoshops Her Image to A Create Unique Work of Art

By Hanssie on September 2nd 2015

When it comes to creating and retouching images, photographers usually use some general tools to create our art. We first get a creative spark, which then translates into a vision of how we want to create the image. Then we grab our gear – usually a camera and lens, maybe a Speedlight or reflector. Finally, once it’s captured to our satisfaction, we take the image to post, most of the time in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. That is the typical process, but sometimes photographers will think outside of the box and come up with something different, as Emmi Virtanen from Finland did when she created her own Photoshop “actions and filters” manually.

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Inspired by one of our guest contributors, Antti Karppinen, Emmi set about to retouch an image without the help of Photoshop. Choosing one of her images, she printed it three times – one normal, one negative and one toned. Ripping all the images into pieces, she took parts from each to create the base for the final image and then began her “retouching.” For filters, she used various household items such as coffee, sandpaper, honey and spirulina. As a final touch, she did a little “dodge and burn” with some fire.

I burned the edges and also the surface of the photo and it was a quite liberating feeling to just destroy it and see how the new image started to visually appear, like a phoenix from the ashes.

Emmi hopes that her breaking out of her comfort zone a little inspires others to do the same and to experiment with something different, breaking the “cycle of using the same tools when creating images.” See the final image below and the rest of Emmi’s work on her website here.

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The Final Image



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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Marshall Barth

    Outside the box, to say the least!!! Awesome thinking and execution for a one of a kind work of art !!! :{)))

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  2. Brandon Ward

    Thanks for the reply, Hanssie. I understand the pressures with SEO, but in no way is photo montage “Photoshop”, although I’m sure the product and brand managers at Adobe love this type of use of their brand.

    I suppose it’s artist’s prerogative to title her project what she likes, but it is just disappointing that basic photography terms have been lost.

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  3. Brandon Ward

    I’m pretty sure she didn’t use Photoshop, despite the click-bait headline. See, Photoshop is a software application…and ‘manipulating’ a print is what you can do without Photoshop, because, you know, Photoshop doesn’t work on physical paper.

    Cool output, but another weak headline to get our attention and grab eyeballs. Thanks, Internet.

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    • Hanssie

      I’m sorry that you disapprove of my title. Coming up with a good title that is interesting, SEO worthy and succinct is not an easy task.

      The artist herself called her project “Manual Photoshop,” and as Photoshop is photo editing software and she hand “edited” her photo, I can see why she dubbed it a manual Photoshop project.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Barry Cunningham

    I’m sure it made sense at the time, but I think you had to be there.

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  5. Isaak Kwok

    Beautiful! Great use of photoshop.

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  7. Dalibor Tomic

    Excellent!!!! Great Art!

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