From Picture to Art

My workshop with Allen Rokach was so inspiring with his kind ways and gentle coaching. The two-day workshop brought ample opportunity to photography nature at its best in the U.S. Botanical Gardens next to the Washington Capital building. Wanting to know how Allen sees the world, the first evening of the workshop I went and browsed his website. I was astounded with the beauty of his photography. In particular, his worked aptly named “The Rokach’s Effect.”

These stunningly beautiful and unique photos are truly artwork. He takes well executed photos with superb focus and finds the most interesting part of the flower. With a few minor adjustments in Adobe RAW, he then transfers the image to PhotoShop for creating these beautiful works of art.

Looking at the photo below you would have thought he had spent hours creating this impressionist image. But actually, Allen’s philosophy is that if you can’t get the image where you want it within a few minutes, keep going. There are always plenty of other images to work with, and frankly who wants to spend that much time in front of a computer? He made it seem so simple, although during the workshop he didn’t bring an image to quite this level of artistry.

So now that I’m home with almost 300 images to work through, I decided to give it my first try in making my photographs into artwork. Below is the original image, with no adjustments.

Using Lightroom 3.6, I first cropped the photo, reduced clarity, and added vibrance. I went into the HSL section and began boosting the green and pinks. I then saved the image so that I can transition into Photoshop Elements 10.

Once here I must confess, I was a bit lost as Elements is different than Photoshop. Allen made Photoshop seem so easy, but now home unchaperoned it seemed to be a daunting task. Two of Allen’s favorite filters is “Sponge” and “Poster Edges.” While Sponge helps soften the image, Poster Edges helps reinforce the sharpness of the image.

He then reduces blacks from the images and works with the color sliders to get the desired effect. How he reached the painterly effect in the first photo shown here baffles me, but it didn’t deter me from trying to head down the same path.

I haven’t been able to find the color sliders that he showed us in Elements, but in Photoshop the steps are:

  • Image, Adjustments, Selective Color. Adjust for desired colors. Remove black from the background.
  • Dodge & Burn to adjust dark and light areas to balance the image.
  • Patch tool for removing odd spots.
  • Filter to Sharpen, Unsharp Mask, then Smart Sharpen.

So here is my first attempt in creating an artistic photo. I clearly didn’t reach that painterly effect level, but I’m dogged determined to figure this out. Next time I get to sit at my desktop with PS5, I’m going to see if I can get any closer to the “Rokach Effect.” Let me know what you think ! Bella


26 replies »

  1. Gorgeous colours!
    I reblogged a few of your links to my new reblog page. Hopefully others that haven’t seen your gorgeous photography will click the links and find your stunning blog!


    • That’s the beauty of Allen. If you can’t get where you want in just a few minutes. Ditch it and move on. I’m sure it took him a while to find the formula, but once he did, it’s wam bam thank you maam.

      • I LOVE that philosophy… And I find I follow it inherently. Perhaps it’s impatience, but I think you know what works for you, and you know what doesn’t…intuitively. Of course, there’s still SO MUCH learning I have, but outside of that. 🙂

    • Aren’t they though? His photos are incredible. He used to run the photography in Southern Living Magazine, and also worked at Time-Warner. Tells you how awesome he is, and he is such a kind and humble person.

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