The Student Becomes the Teacher

Today I was teaching a session on the new features in Photoshop CS6 at the California Photo Festival in San Luis Obispo, California. Among the variety of new features I demonstrated was the Oil Paint filter, which is one I have become a fan of. Not everyone agrees with me, and some photographers have given me a beating via email over my admiration of this filter, but that’s OK. I still like it.

I was talking about how in general I prefer to use the Oil Paint filter with relatively simple images that have a single dominant subject and a simple background, such as a flower isolated by focus. I demonstrated the filter on just such an image, but then suggested that it could also be used with images where there was mostly just a pattern or texture. I mentioned as an example a photo of a field of tulips, and had in mind a specific cluster of purple tulips I had photographed in Vienna, Austria.

After just a few moments I realized it would be much easier to show what I was talking about than to try to explain further, and I knew the image in mind was on my computer. So I opened it up, and applied the Oil Paint filter. The class seemed to like the result. Then someone suggested that I should also apply the Tilt-Shift filter I had shown previously, and asked if it was possible to have the effect transition across the full lower half of the image, rather than having the in-focus portion only in the center. I demonstrated that it was indeed possible, and was quite happy with the result.

And so it was. The students became the teacher. It was a bit of a combined effort on the part of the students, but the result certainly wasn’t anything I had thought of previously. And I told the students as much, letting them know that they might see the image on my blog before too long. Little did I know it would be mere hours, as I was really happy with the result they had helped me achieve.

Besides the obvious lesson that sometimes the student can teach something to the teacher, there was the less obvious lesson that very often you can mix and match a variety of techniques to create a result you like better than the sum of its parts. This was certainly the case here, yielding an image that I think is quite cool. I hope you agree.

Have you ever found yourself mixing and matching various techniques to produce an interesting creative result? Feel free to share your story in the comments below.

About Tim Grey

Tim Grey is in the business of making photographers smarter and happier. He is the author of more than a dozen books on digital imaging for photographers, has written hundreds of magazine articles, and publishes the Ask Tim Grey e-mail newsletter as well as the Pixology digital magazine. He also speaks at a variety of events and leads photography workshops around the world.
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6 Responses to The Student Becomes the Teacher

  1. Charles O. Slavens says:

    I’m using CS5.1, how can I download the OIL PAINT filter from Adobe and add it to my filter list?


  2. Bill Brennan says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience as I have a set of flower images on which I was planning to apply the oil paint filter.

    Bill Brennan

  3. Bernadette says:

    Prior to CS6, Adobe had a plug-in called Pixel Bender that contained OilPaint option. It is a free download from Adobe.

    This may have become the OilPaint Filter in CS6.

  4. Mark Larson says:

    Nice follow up, Tim, to another fun and insightful teaching session on new features in CS6 at the LIGHT workshop! Hope we get a pro-rated share of all future sales of this image, given our suggestions on a new way of playing with this beautiful image.

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