Category Archives: Projects

Projects hosted or participated in by Epic Edits.

Filter Forge Contest Results

[tweetmeme]Last week, I posted a review of Filter Forge, an advanced Photoshop plugin. I also posted a way for three lucky winners to get a free license for the software — a photo contest using the trial version of Filter Forge.

We had some great work entered in the contest and I had a difficult time picking only 3 winners. A big thanks goes out to all the participants!


Devin Hayes, Lomo Filter

This one took me a minute to figure out because I’ve never seen a photo of the building. This is a tilt-shift photo of the Milwaukee Art Museum and it sits at an angle as shown in the image (no tilt on the composition). The Lomo filter used maintains a relatively “clean” look while shifting the colors just a bit.

Roy Moore, Grunge Filter

The Grunge filter was a popular choice among participants, but this photo exhibited the best use of the filter. The simple subject and color set gains strength from the busy texture of the grunge filter and produces somewhat of a visual cross between painting and photo.

Robbie Ewing, Dreamy Filter and Film Frame

The dreamy filter applies well to portraits because of the softening effect. Highlights and colors are also pushed up a bit, producing a slightly high-key and high contrast/saturation image. The film frame adds a nice organic border to the image, keeping the viewer interest near the center of the photo.


These entries are shown in the order they were received. Great work from everyone — I had a hard time bringing my top 6 or 7 down to my top 3.

Gilberto Agostinho, Vibrance Filter and Film Frame

Paulus B. Weldy, Dreamy Filter and Photo Frame

Victoria Pickering, Colorize Filter

James Kammin, Old Photo Filter and Photo Film Frame

Mark Ledingham, Plastawrap and Bridge Lighting Filters

Susan Pollard, Grunge Filter

Malcolm Smith, Old Photo Filter

Justin Kuhlers, Real Contrast Filter and Film Frame

Rob Anderson, Grunge Filter

Heather Katsoulis, Watercolor Painting Filter and Watercolor Frame

Steven M., Sunburst Filter

Leszek Leszczyński, Watercolour Frame

Again, a big thanks to the folks who participated.

Filter Forge Photoshop Plugin Review (And Giveaway)

Filter Forge - an advanced Photoshop plugin

[tweetmeme]The folks at Filter Forge contacted me about reviewing their advanced Photoshop plugin software. I’m always interested in checking out new things, so they provided me with a review license of the software and I started exploring it. I must admit that it’s an impressive piece of software.

Read on for my review and be sure to check the details at the bottom about the contest and prize giveaway. This review contains affiliate links.


Filter Forge is a Photoshop plugin with a huge variety of filter and texture options for photographers and designers. The plugin contains over 7500 textures and filters, most of which are user generated. And that’s another key feature of the software — you can generate your own filters and make them available to other users.

The real strong point of the Filter Forge software is the extensive library of user generated filters and textures. There is a seemingly endless supply of options out there, and the library is constantly growing. The folks at filter forge also offer an incentive to create and promote new filters, handing out reward points for the more popular filters created. Those reward points can earn you discounts and free software.

There are two sides of Filter Forge — textures and effects. If you’re into applied textures, this software will keep you occupied for quite a while. At the time of writing this review, there are nearly 4000 textures available. Filters, or creative effects, are also in abundance with over 3600 options. You can search and browse through the filters at the Filter Forge website.


Applying filters is relatively simple. You start up Photoshop, pull in your image, and start Filter Forge from the Filters menu. Once inside Filter Forge, you can select the textures or effects you want to apply, check out a few presets, or modify the settings for that particular filter. After you apply the filter or texture, you’re back in Photoshop. That’s pretty much it.

Creating filters is a little more complicated, but the interface is still fairly simple. You can start from scratch or modify an existing filter by using the components available in the filter editor. These components include things you would find in Photoshop: brightness, gamma, hue, saturation, threshold, invert, levels, curves, gradients, blurs, blends, and a whole bunch of other tools you won’t find in Photoshop. The process is very similar to creating a Photoshop action, but more visual and self explanatory.

Enough talk, here are a few of my own photos with various applied filters. Click on the image to see the originals at Flickr.


This is certainly a handy piece of software for the folks that apply textures and filters on a regular basis. The sheer quantity of options is staggering. If you’re a “naturalist” with your photography, maybe this isn’t for you. But other photographers, and even graphic designers, should check it out if it sounds remotely interesting.

Filter Forge can be downloaded as a 30 day free trial with no other limitations (and check out the free plugin packs on the same page that don’t require the Filter Forge software). If you want to buy the software and continue to have access to the full library, you have three price options: basic, standard, and professional editions. The basic edition only allows you to use the filters, the standard edition allow you to create your own, and the professional edition has a bunch of other bells and whistles. Check the website for prices because they may change in the future.


Now for the fun part — I have three licenses for the basic edition of Filter Forge to give out! We’ll run this as a photo contest using the Filter Forge plugin (and if you don’t have Photoshop, you can use it as a standalone software). Here’s what you need to do to enter:

STEP 1. Download a free copy of Filter Forge and install it.

STEP 2. Choose any photo of your own and apply your favorite filter.

STEP 3. Email your photo to Size it to 1000px on the long edge, make sure to include your name, and tell me which filter(s) you used.

DEADLINE: October 10 13, 2010

One entry per person and the photo used must be your own. By entering the contest you only give Epic Edits the right to display your image as a contest entry no larger than 500px. You retain all rights to your photo.

After the deadline, I’ll size the images to 500px and post them here on the blog along with your name and the name of the filter used. I’ll choose the three winners myself (or I’ll have a couple of guest judges help me out).

My Favorite Photos From 2009

Ah yes… another year is coming to an end and it’s time to reflect on what we accomplished in the last 12 months. With photography, it’s pretty easy to look back on our work and pull together a collection of favorites. I did a similar thing at the end of 2007 and 2008. And each year, I’ve been reminded and encouraged to do so by two friends: Hitesh Sawlani and Jim Goldstein.

Hitesh always manages to remind me about the year end photo thing, and I adopted his monthly format that you see below. You can also see his 2009 post on his blog.

Jim also encourages this yearly reflection by hosting a group project on his blog. The idea is to look back on your year and create a blog post or Flickr set containing your best and/or favorite photos from the year. A lot of people participate in this thing, so it’s cool to get in on the action.

And with that, here are my photos that I feel are worthy of looking back on.


I kicked off the year with a photowalk up in Newport Beach with a few buddies and my Son. It was a decent photowalk… nothing huge, just a chance to get out and grab some shots.


Sunny Sailing Beach Photographers Cheese Popular Location Sunset at the Pier

In mid January, I took the Wife and Kids up to North Idaho to visit family (because ticket prices for Christmas time are outrageous). It was good to get back up there during snow season. Did a little landscape photography, skiing (with a camera of course), and relaxing (without cameras).

Dam... That's a Lot of Water

Rough Characters Winter Docks Winter at the Lake The Ride Up
Frozen Fields Take a Knee Casting Shadows Casting Shadows Reach


Went out on a spectacular photo excursion with fellow photographer Richard Wong. We made our way around the Salton Sea and I can honestly say that it is the most surreal place I’ve ever been. Just a strange mixture of beauty and decay all out in the middle of nowhere.

Salton Sea Sunset

Desperate for Attention Trailer Puke Poolaroid Environment Fail Salvation Mountain
Name Forgotten Old Green Trailer Once Upon a Time Underneath It All

Also did more photowalking with the pals up in West Hollywood. My good friend Bryan Villarin was also playing with his band at the Whisky A Go Go that night, so I got a little taste of concert photography.

Cab Plus Two Palm Trees

Broken Phone Bryan Mel's Drive In Smile The Scarlet Paradigm


Had a couple of small photowalks in San Clemente and La Jolla while testing out the new medium format Kodak Ektar 100 film.

La Jolla Pier

San Clemente Pier I Stand Alone The Umbrella La Jolla Coastline


Did a quick photowalk with a friend in Oceanside before heading up to the Grand Prix in Long Beach. Tried out some awesome orthochromatic film I got from my buddy the_wolf_brigade, but ultimately shot 100% digital for the race.

Beach Apartments

Long Beach Grand Prix 2009 Long Beach Grand Prix 2009 Pipeline 489 Shooting the Argus C3
Tires Surfboard Parking Oceanside Lifeguards Bailey at the Beach


My Brother came down to visit and we did the SoCal tourist thing for a few days — San Diego one day, Venice Beach and Hollywood the next. I also took the Wife and Kids on a short trip to the mountains for Mother’s Day for horseback riding and hot springs. Oh, and Memorial Day up at Lake Arrowhead with my Aunt and Uncle.

Do Not Climb on the Sculpture

The "Fly N Lion" Muscle Beach The Friendly Horse Photo of a Street Photographer Harry Perry Watch Your Head Los Calavera
My Bro Uncle Pat Wind-Blown Bailey


Didn’t do a whole lot in June other than the San Diego County Fair. I had a couple of photos in the art display, so it was fun to check them out with the other entries. We probably spent half our day just looking at artwork.

Rides at the Fair

Polish Sausage Win Big Prizes Totally Fried Chevelle Chair in the Grass


Did the 4th of July celebration thing with my Cousin up at Lake Arrowhead… I’m still amazed at how many boats get on the water at one time. I also did a few solo photowalks in Pacific Beach and Point Loma with the TLR.


Homeless, Names Unknown Car in a Cart Pacific Beach Perspective
Bobby The Modern DJ Shine Down


August was mostly family time. The kids were up in Idaho for most of the summer with the Grandparents, so we spent a lot of time with them when they got back before school started. I also met up with Jim Goldstein for a short time while he was down for a wedding — it was good to finally shake his hand and chat with him outside of Skype.


Bailey Biker Mom Venice Beach "Doctor's Office" I'm Broke


Labor Day was the only real photo-op we had in September — with school starting back up and everybody getting into their schedules, we didn’t do a whole lot else.


Two Beers. All Set. Beers at the Beach Mikasa Friendly Gesture


October was filled by a few family visits and whatnot… but nothing really major happened.

Don't Look Down

The Bartender Spin the Rex Backyard Bailey Chevelle


Either I didn’t take many photos in the last few months, or I just haven’t developed/scanned/processed anything. At any rate, I spent a lot of time hanging out with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Honestly, I’m not totally impressed with myself this year. I didn’t do as much photo-taking as I would have liked, and I definitely didn’t do as much photo-printing either. I also felt a fairly large shift in my photographic focus this year. I spent more time just capturing the events and gatherings that I happened to be a part of rather than going out and looking for opportunities… sort of a passive approach I guess. I did a few photowalks and outings, but not like I had in the past.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… just a different thing. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so I can afford to drift with my focus and intent. But in general, I’ve keep the same passion for photography that I’ve always had — I’ve just been more relaxed about it. And maybe that’s what I needed this year to motivate me for something new next year.


I’m not sure what the new year has in store for me. I would guess that I’ll be shooting more film and less digital though. I’m also hoping to get the color darkroom set up soon so I can fully utilize my collection of negatives (sucks not being able to print nearly half of my work just because it’s not b/w). I would like to focus more on printing before I fall too far behind on my archives and the whole situation turns into a lost cause.

The Darkroom

For equipment, I don’t plan on acquiring anything new… OK, maybe a large format camera of some sort, but no definite plans yet. And like I said, my darkroom is almost complete and ready for color and b/w developing and printing so I should be fine there (unless I do actually get a large format camera). At any rate, definitely no plans for new digital equipment.

Subject-wise, I’d like to focus more on street photography and street portraits. I did a good deal this year, but I want to get out and do more. Street photography with my newly refurbished rangefinder, and street portraits with my trusty TLR.

And as far as websites go, I do have a joint venture in the works that should launch sometime in January. But I’m sworn to secrecy, so that’s all I can say.

How about you guys??? How was 2009 for you? Is anybody else planning on participating in Jim’s project?

27 Ways to Edit John’s Photo

Here they are! 27 different artistic interpretations of the same photo. I’ll save my thoughts for the bottom of the page — for now, check out some of these project entries and enjoy! Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger version of the photo.


And here’s the original…

Photo by John Huson

For those not aware of the recent project, here’s a little background. A long while ago, we ran a similar project here on the blog titled “Edit My Photo“. I handed out an unprocessed photo to participants and they edited in any way they saw fit. Then I gathered up all the entries and posted them in one place.

This time around, I asked the readers of Epic Edits to submit a photo for the project. Then we all voted on our favorite, and we used that one as the starting point. John Huson was the photographer who submitted the winning image for the project. And after a month of handing out the photo and various other photographers working with it, here’s what we have.

I’m always shocked and amazed at how different each of the entries can be… and yet, I’m also amazed at how similar some things are. As you glance through the entries, you can see that the colors, crops, and compositions are widely varied. But you can also pick out some peculiar similarities such as the splitting of the subject at each end of the frame and the use of grungy colors to enhance the mood. And these similarities happened without the participants seeing the results from others. Really interesting stuff here.

All in all, another successful project here at Epic Edits. A big thanks to all the participants who put in the time and effort just for the sake of playing along with us. Be sure to check out the entries more closely — the thumbnails don’t do them justice.

Edit John’s Photo Project Entries

This is NOT the final results post for the project. These 5 photos are entries to the “Edit John’s Photo” project. These are only the folks who didn’t publish the photo to their own site or photostream, and I’m posting them here so I have something to link to in the final results article (to be posted soon).

Clara Harold

Clara Harold

Denis Seguin

Denis Seguin

Giles Atkinson

Giles Atkinson

Tasha Schalk

Tasha Schalk

John Huson

John Huson

Brainstorming On Our Next Project

I’d like to do projects here on the blog more often. I think they provide a good way to expand our creativity and knowledge. We’ve done a few over the years, and they’ve mostly been my own ideas. Here are all of the past projects (and mini-projects) we’ve done over the last 2.5 years.

This time, I want you guys to suggest projects. Anything goes at this point — let’s just do a little brainstorming to see what we come up with. If we get a few good ideas, we’ll refine them later.

Editing John’s Photo

Editing John's Photo
Copyright John Huson — Processed by Brian Auer — Used With Permission

The deadline for the “Edit John’s Photo” project is only a few days away, so if you’re planning on participating be sure to get your entry to me by the end of October 16th (that’s this Friday). I’ll be posting the final project results on the 19th as a thumbnail gallery linked out to the individual entries so everyone can explore the different takes on this photo. So far, we have 18 entries.

For my own entry, I didn’t do anything terribly difficult. I started off finding a crop that I liked. Then I processed the color image with ACR in a fairly mild manner with medium to low contrast, and pulled it into Photoshop. I opened the color image back up in ACR and converted to b/w, again with medium to low contrast, and again pulling it into Photoshop. I put the b/w layer on top of the color layer and set the blend mode to overlay at 100%. This got me close to what I wanted, but not quite. So I duplicated the b/w layer and set the blend mode to soft light.

What I was generally going for with the blends was a digital version of the bleach bypass process sometimes used in film photography/videography. A simple way to achieve bleach bypass with color negative film is to reduce the time in the bleach (hence the term bleach bypass) while carrying out the rest of the C41 process as normal. This leaves some of the silver in the emulsion along with the color dyes (the bleach strips the silver compounds that actually captured the latent image). So you end up with a color negative AND a black & white negative on the same emulsion. The result is a low saturation and high contrast image.

I have an exposed roll of medium format Ektar 100 I intend to do this with, but I haven’t had any luck getting it developed. Most C41 developers out there are push-button no-touchy, so they can’t just modify the bleaching step. If I ever find somebody with the right equipment (or just get my own C41 stuff), I’ll have to share the results from the roll and we can see how close the digital method comes to it.

(Flickr) Galleries of Iran

Last week, I reviewed David Burnett’s 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World. At the end of the review, I mentioned that I had two copies to give away (courtesy National Geographic) and the books would be handed out as prizes in a mini-contest. The requirement was to curate a gallery of “Iran” using Flickr’s new feature. So here are the entries received, and the winners of the two books.

And for those who may have overlooked the contest, there’s always next time! Just remember that I usually try to give out a few free copies when I do book reviews.


These two galleries really caught my attention and the curators will be receiving a copy of 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World. All of the galleries were outstanding, and I had a very tough time choosing only two winners. Ultimately, the two winners were chosen not only for the images, but because they conveyed a sense of enlightenment with respect to the subject.


John put together a brilliant display of images that showcase the amazing colors to be found in the various landscapes of Iran, and it was apparent that he was surprised to see the results of his own gallery.

Colors of Iran, by John Milleker


This gallery showed a great amount of thought and consideration from the_wolf_brigade, and it was quite clear that he was moved by the exercise.

Encased in my own ignorance, by the_wolf_brigade

So congrats to John and “the_wolf” for curating these two galleries — the books are in the mail, I hope you enjoy seeing David’s perspective of Iran!


These three galleries are by no means any less impressive than the others, and I’m quite impressed with the thought put into them. I’m sorry that I can’t give out more books to these folks, and I appreciate their participation.


Iran - Place, by Charles Conner


Architecture of Iran, by Jeremy Brooks


Iran in Black and White, by Sigmund

And again, my own gallery for the purpose of this project:


Faces of Iran

(WT)Duck Photo Contest Winners

Recently, I posted my review of the new What the Duck book and I offered up a few free copies of the book. The only thing you had to do was submit photos or links to photos (of yours) of ducks. I wasn’t sure what to expect for a turnout, but we had a good showing of participants with 23 photos submitted!

It was great to see the photos and the enthusiasm for the new book. I’m certain that Aaron was happy to see such support for his work. And how am I certain? Well, I asked him to choose one of the winners for the book giveaway, so he definitely looked through your comments and photos.

The two winners (and an honorable mention) are shown below. Anne-Laure and Jerry will both receive a free copy of the book… and the rest of you will just have to go buy one! Thanks to everybody who participated and everybody planning on buying the book!


Photo by Jerry


Photo by Anne-Laure


Photo by Laanba

PHOTO PROJECT: Edit John’s Photo

Photo by John Huson

OK then, here we go! After a few weeks of photo submissions and voting, we’re finally kicking off another project here on Epic Edits. This project doesn’t require you to pick up the camera — instead, you’ll want to sharpen your post-processing skills.

The photo being used in this project is property of John Huson. Please see the bit at the end of this post for more information on usage rights.


We’ve done this type of project once before, but the basic concept is to begin with the same unprocessed photo and have many people edit (post-process) as they wish. It’s an interesting experiment and the results are usually pretty exciting because everybody has a slightly different vision of what the final photo should look like.

If you haven’t heard of this type of project before, be sure to check out previous projects hosted by Epic Edits, LeggNet’s Digital Capture, CameraPorn, and Phill Price. And if you’re in need of some post-processing inspiration/education, make sure you look into my Photoshop Tips archive and my Delicious Photoshop bookmarks.


We’ll make this as easy as possible for you, but there are still a few steps you’ll need to take in order to participate correctly.

    I don’t want to host a full-res unprocessed photo on the web, so head over to my Contact Page and shoot me an email asking for the file. Tell me if you want the RAW (7.5MB) or JPG (4.4MB) version, and be sure that your email can handle it.
    Post-process the photo however you want. There are no limitations to what you can do (crop, composite, b/w, xpro, etc.). Just get creative and have some fun.
    Downsize your final image to 800px or smaller and publish it on the web somewhere — it would also be nice to see how you processed the image, so tell us a little about what you did. Be sure to give the John Huson credit for the photo (I’m sure he’d appreciate a link too). And don’t forget to tell your audience where they too can participate in such a great project. If you need instruction on self-publication, I’ve got you covered. And if you have absolutely no options for self-publication, you can send me the 800px file and I’ll post those together shortly before the deadline.
    Once the deadline passes and everybody has their entries in to me, I’ll pull things together and post the results. I should also add that it’s beneficial to get the project done sooner than later because entries will be posted in the order they are received (plus it helps to spread the word).

Let’s limit one entry per participant just in case we get a lot of people doing this. So if you do multiple edits, send me the link to your best one.


[UPDATE 10-17-2009] Time’s up for entries! I’m no longer handing out the file and/or accepting project entries. Stay tuned for the final results on 10-19-2009.

The photo being used in this project is property of John Huson, a wedding photographer out of Washington state. He submitted the image for use in the project, you guys chose it via a poll, and he provided the full resolution image file. John retains the full copyright to the image, but he has given permission for use in the context of this project — so long as resulting photos are published at no more than 800px on the long edge. So in other words, you can use it but you don’t own it.