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