Lots of art movements transcended one art form, take surrealism for example. There were surrealist painters, photographers, writers and filmmakers… so when “grunge” music came out of Seattle about two decades ago, it spawned a cultural movement, as well. Now were there any “grunge” photographers or a “grunge” style of photography? Not that I’m aware of, so when I saw the Grunge Effects filter I had to explore this.

Now finding the images to run through the process was the first and perhaps most daunting part of this exercise in style. And then I remembered this photo that I took in Tijuana, Mexico about five years ago, prior to Mexican Wrestlers and their masks becoming “cool.” In this hole-in-the-wall store off Revolution Avenue, I found this store that had three whole walls of Mexican Wrestler masks, and I had to get a snapshot. The pulsating colors, exotic designs and raking camera angle made this a memorable image.

However, for some reason, I felt that the strong colors were a little garish and sort of made this photo hard to decipher. Well, maybe that’s not entire accurate, more like the atomic red of that center mask dominates the image so much, do you really look at all the masks? Or does the composition get drowned out by the stark colors?

Whatever the case, after feeding the image into the Grunge Effects Filter, the new images (I did twice, for markedly different results that I’m pleased with, which one do you like better?) take on a totally different feel.

The first new image was achieved by using Grunge Effects 5, with some amp’d up shadows. The image is closer to a tinted monochromatic print and the texture from the line work/stitching on the masks creates a more haunting, lost emotional expression than the original image.

The second version of the image, in which I used Grunge Effects 1, has a hazy shade of winter value to it, and the black level has been amplified to a marvelous effect.

The almost glowing effect conjures up the quality of a fog bank moving in near the seashore just at daybreak. That kind of wind swept imagery is subtle, yet very powerful.

So after I created and posted that image of my old girlfriend with the Inkify Effects filter, a friend of mine sent the link to this woman from my past, and she was pleased with the image.

We’ve been talking (via Facebook) since then, and she sent me a new photo of her (she’s an aspiring actress in New York), and was wondering what this image would look like after a trip through the Grunge Filter Effects set. I found one two that were interesting, one feels like a Sheppard Fairey knock-off from his now-famous Obama Campaign poster, and the other is just a super distress image. Both of the new images have a strong “graphic art” quality to them, and they seem to leave a much stronger impression of Kara than her original headshot (maybe because the photographic grammar of a headshot precludes it from truly standing out).

Kara's Portrait with Grunge Effects

The narrow blue & red color palette in the first image enhances Kara’s eyes, gives them a serious kick; is it because you’re not distracted by her luscious hair? Plus it feels like there’s a lot more going on behind her eyes, as if she has several new dimensions that she’s considering. In the final image, the more pronounced contrast and smattering of color in what is basically a black & white image, reminds me of ‘80s NYC street poster art (aren’t they called snipes or something like that?), and the image squarely sits in the realm of bold visual expression. Nothing individually jumps out at you in this image, but that’s okay, because it’s the entirety of that now has more meaning and impact.

I had a chance to printout both of these images 20×24, and they turned out great (with some tweaking to get the Color Management right; that stuff is always a headache, but well worth it in the end to get exactly what you want).

I’m considering printing the second image of Kara on canvas and the first Mexican Wrestler mask on Watercolor Paper (that texture is really cool, and I know it’ll give the masks a secondary kick!)

Until next time…