A Little Magic

Photographically, the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a demise. Not being able to move close to people due to restrictions to limit spread of the corona infection, has pretty much put an end to people photography—and my work as a photographer, since I am a photo reporter and photograph people.

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t really written any new posts about photography and creativity over the last weeks. Now you know why. It’s been hard to sit down and write about something I don’t practice daily.

All the more I was inspired by a post on the blog The World According to Dina published this week. Hanne Siebers, photographer and one of two behind the blog, showed a new Photoshop technique she hard learned through The North Norfolk Photographic Society, the local camera club she is a member of. In Swirls and Twirls she shows how to make photographs exactly as the title indicates.

I won’t get into details about the technical aspects here, but, if you are interested, refer you to Hanne’s post where she describe her approach and link to a YouTube videoe that shows in practical steps how do create the swirls and twirls. I just want to say, it looked like a lot of fun—and sure enough I had more than plenty of fun when I sat down and played with the technique.

The important part was exactly to play and enjoy myself, let myself loose of any restrictions. I think too many of us—included myself—take our photography to serious. Let’s play more. Let’s have more fun. And that’s what this technique offer.

Sure enough, the result can easily turn kitschy and contrived. So what? We don’t always have to create Art with a capital A. And, yes, there is a limited amount of pure swirls and twirls images you can keep producing, but as soon as you start to mix a swirls and twirls layer with the original layer, as Hanne shows, you start to create something much more profound. The result can end up in some stunning images.

However, the technique needs to be used with care. Not every photo is suitable and certainly too many with the technique applied will quickly become dreary and mind-numbing. But used with care and consideration, every so often you can create something out of the ordinary. A little bit of magic.

Mind you, don’t hold back when you play. Play and have fun to all your heart’s delight. It’s not particularly difficult to play with the technique, but you might want to know some about layers and blending modes in Photoshop.

82 thoughts on “A Little Magic

  1. Looks great fun … and I know what you mean – I’m usually travelling about Britain in springtime for my photography, my pics are all within 30minutes walk from home at the mo, although I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to see the familiar with fresh eyes 🌿

  2. i totally agree with you, Otto, and the results you show here are very successful. should i be able to make it so beautiful ? probably not. but i play in another way with my pictures, i write some texts supposed to have a relation with the photo.

  3. I’m thrilled to see how you have swirled you photos, Otto. Thank you so much for the link and for mentioning us. For me, it’s a joy to read your approach to and thoughts about the technique. It’s fun, it’s a possibility to do something with photos that was maybe not perfect and the colourful ones certainly look better. I have seen stunning creations with strong orange or lots of red. A friend of mine has used the effect on lots of his images since the topic came up in the photographic society: https://500px.com/paulkeates
    Wishing you a creative month ahead,
    with best wishes from North Norfolk. 🙂

    1. Thank you, both of you. As I write, it has been so fun. Right when I saw your post, I thought I need to try it out. Not the least because you showed some amazingly beautiful photos. Thanks for the link to Paul Keates and his beautiful swirls. May you have a creative month ahead of you, too.

  4. Oh yes! I’ve read this blog of the Fab Four of Clay and want to try this out. It must be fun to practice it. Your results are encouraging.

  5. Dear Otto,
    you made the most important point: this swirling makes fun, it’s playing. I am fascinated by the lightness of these swirled pictures and their dynamics. Your pictures show strong colours. It seems to me that this technique looks best in such colours.
    Keep well and happy
    Klausbernd 🚶‍♂️

  6. I’m glad I just purchased your pdf booklet “10 great tips to take better photos”, very much looking forward to reading it. The photography is amazing! 🙂

  7. Having fun is an important aspect of photography – especially if you are not totally dependent on you camera for your livelihood!

          1. You can use any program that works with layers, like Photoshop Elements, Affinity, Photo-Paint, Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, Paint.NET, StylePix! 🙂

  8. I like that. When I started my Off the Wall series, it was the very same reasons. Something different, something fun.

  9. These look amazing Otto and the technique definitely has an element of magic to it. Good fun at a time when we’re all feeling a bit restricted. Take care 💜🙏

  10. I remember learning about this technique at a photography course I did 2 years ago, but I have not used it since. Thanks for reminding me, I will have a look at Dina’s post to refresh my memory. Your swirling photos are gorgeous.

  11. I love this kind of crazy Photoshop fun – sometimes it is just “what the doctor ordered!” I have done some more abstract art with the Twirl filter, but this one seems a bit different. I will definitely give this technique a go!

  12. Fun … thanks for sharing the link. I saw a friend do this recently but wasn’t sure how it was done. I like that you have exposed parts of the original photograph … taking the effect to another level.

  13. “Fun” was my first reaction to the photo before reading your post 🙂 Maybe your forced down time is a chance for you to play more. You never know how that play may expand your regular work.

  14. Interesting. I don’t have Photoshop, and On1 doesn’t do twirls, but I think I might be able to experiment using an old copy of Paint Shop Pro. Worth a try. Thanks, Otto.

      1. I was successful. I think a lot of people put down Paint Shop Pro or never even consider it, but it’s surprisingly capable. Kind of like Photoshop without smart objects.

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