Using Pixelmator instead of PhotoShop For Artistic Photography

Canon EOS 600D  Digital camera  SLR

It is to be expected that on account of the fact that I’ve just bought a new Canon 600D , you are going to get a few photography based posts on the Mac20Q Web site. I just also made a video for YouTube which is about how to create the Dave Hill photo style look using Pixelmator. I do like Pixelmator because it is an affordable alternative to PhotoShop, but when I first tried to create the photo style that I was looking for in Pixelmator, I couldn’t because a filter required was missing. The filter is the High Pass filter and basically what it does, is to do some sharpening to your image and if you wish it can be extreme sharpening. Well, I was delighted, when I managed to find a third party Quartz Composer filter to use with Pixelmator to do the High Pass. The settings are completely different to the settings that you would see in a recipe for the Dave Hill style photos in the Flickr group, but it is possible to twiddle and fiddle, until you get something that does what you want it to do.

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Making pictures rather than taking pictures

The Dave Hill photography style is quite amazing and stunning in terms of the final images that are created and mad. They go way beyond a snapshot or just taking a picture. A lot of it is to do with the way that the subjects are posed and lighted during the photo session, but then there is too large extent, a good deal of work which happens in the post processing to turn the images into something quite extraordinary. I suggest that you go and have a look at the website for Dave Hill photography and see what I’m talking about.

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Get the Quartz Composer high pass filter

If you would like to have a go at working with some of your own images to make them into this style of photograph, then you can get the high pass filter to use with Pixelmator from the Pixelmator Forum. Look in the section where there are user made, third-party quartz composer filters and do a search for a High Pass Filter. There are other filters there on the site that you can download and usually they come with instructions on how to install them so that they are available within your applications. If you don’t want to go as far as visiting the Pixelmator Forum then download the filter from here. Using Pixelmator Within the video that I posted on YouTube about How to Use Pixelmator to Create Images in the Style of Dave Hill Photography I also have a quick look at using the HDR photography application called Photomatix Pro. The reason for this is because to a certain extent the images that we are trying to create to have a certain relationship with HDR photography. I follow a recipe for making the images the way that I want them that I took from the Flickr website in the discussion forum for the group, but there are other recipes that are in there which could work just as well or give your photos that something special that you are looking for. In fact while I was using this set of steps to create my photo, towards the end, I did actually make a slight change in that I used a different blending mode with a layer, just because I tried a different layer and I liked the effect that gave better than the one in the recipe.

Here is the recipe that I used for the creation of the Dave Hill photo style

      1. High pass filter(value 2-6)


  • Blend mode: vivid light



  • Merge visible & duplicate layer




      1. High pass (Value 5-8)


  • Blend mode: Color



  • Opacity 40-60 %



  • Merge visible & duplicate layer




    1. Surface blur (Values: 3 and 23)


  • Layer mask – reveal local texture*



  • Merge visible & duplicate layer



  • Unsharp mask: – Amount: 100 – Radius: 40 – Threshold: 0-2



Watch the video to see how I adapted this to work with Pixelmator. I would also do it different to how I did it in the video now regard the High Pass Filter.I would change the blend mode before setting the High Pass Filter, that way you can see what the filter is doing real time


Using Pixelmator and the artistic way of seeing

There are photographers that don’t like wild and weird looking photos, that have been manipulated back in the studio using applications such as PhotoShop, Photomatix Pro, or Pixelmator. These photographers tend to be old school type of photographers that are looking for some sort of camera vérité. I have an artists perception of the debate about what is a good photograph and what is a terrible photograph. There is no truth in a photograph, because when you look at it, it is still either images on paper or pixels on the screen, in the same way as the famous artist Magritte created a painting of a pipe, on which it was written underneath insert ‘This is not a pipe’. It was paint on canvas, it was not possible to pick it up, put tobacco in it and set fire to it to use to give yourself cancer of the lungs. For me I, think that it is perfectly reasonable to do whatever is necessary, just so long as the final result is exactly what you were looking for. If that final image says what you wanted to say to the viewers of that photograph, picture, collection of pixels or ink on paper, then the means justifies the end.

[Tweet “I’m an artist and I don’t care who knows it.”]

I am an artist and I don’t care who knows it

As I mentioned in the text above, I got to a certain point with the workings of the recipe to make the style of it look like a Dave Hill photography type of image and I tried using a different blend mode for one of the layers of the image. I decided that I preferred the effect that it gave me and altered the final image. I could do that because it is not about slavish copying of an artist’s work. In this case I was doing what many artists have done in the past which is to take something that is already there and use it as a starting point for something new and original. There is another photographer / artist whose work I really love seeing, his name is Michael Orton and again, there is a Flickr group dedicated to try and create images in the same style. I would think that it could be particularly wonderful, if I was to use my own artistic sensibilities and combine with these two styles of art. I will certainly be giving that a try and I will be posting more on here about my photography and art and hopefully I will be able to let you know if I have some success with that project.

Gimme the FREE PDF eBook – iPad Art Apps

I hope you have enjoyed this article about using pixelmator for Mac with a look at pixelmator filters and you see that it is, in many instances a credible alternative to photoshop for mac. I will look at trying to make some videos showing how to filter on bitmaps pixelmator.