Street View Artists-Travel to the South of France and Paint a Fauve Landscape, Virtually.
To turn your Google Street View photos into paintings you'll need Photoshop or some other image editing software .
I can't remember just how I managed to put this fun project together but I'm sure it all began with my discovery of Google Street View. This great device that is a part of Google Maps seems to me to be both unheralded and under-appreciated. At least I haven't seen many comments about it anywhere in my travels online.
I use it often for both entertainment as well as practical purposes. A good example is a recent day trip that my friend Rochelle and I had planned to the Boston Flower Show on Seaport Boulevard. If you know Boston, you know that being lost there while driving can be a nightmare. After a thirty minute session with Street View I not only knew how to get to this newly created part of town but also had chosen the best possible restaurant for lunch, knew where to park and was completely familiar with the look and feel of this entire waterfront attraction, how to get there and how to get back out.
On to Collioure
We'll be travelling to Collioure in Catalonia near the border with Spain. This small fishing village is where Henri Matisse and his fellow artists came in the summer of 1905 to experiment with the use of pure color to capture the hues and light of the Mediterranean. The style that resulted became known as Fauve, french for "wild beast" in reference to the powerful effect of the pure color and bold brushwork used by these artists. Although originally meant to be a derogatory criticism, the young painters proudly adopted the term.
When I first visited this town, Street View dropped me off somewhere away from the waterfront and it took me some time to find my way around. Not such a terrible thing but I have since learned to be more specific about where I'd like to arrive.
Just type into any Google Search field the following - "map collioure france blvd. du boramar" (found this by checking the Google Map earlier). The link will be right at the top of the results list. When you get to the map page just click on the marker and the Street View balloon will appear. Then click on the photo.
Once you are in Street View you can toggle in and out of full screen with the button in the upper right corner of the Street View frame. Full screen will give you a nice big area to work with when you start taking photos. Take a look around. The mobility features take a little getting used to. Mainly it's point and click to move forward but you want to find the little white circle up the road aways to click on and travel to that point. Click and hold to drag your viewpoint in any direction 360 degrees. Something like computer gaming.
Google has a very helpful tutorial on Street View as well as a description of how it's done, the cameras they use and how the scenes are photographed. Pretty amazing really and quite an undertaking.
Setting Up Your Virtual Camera
Now that we are right here in town we will need to get our camera in working order. Using the camera just involves taking screen-shots either with an imaging program or using the "Print Screen" function that comes on your Windows keyboard.
If you have a Mac and are unfamiliar with how to take screen shots then check out this tutorial on EHow.http://www.ehow.com/how_4835129_use-print-screen-function-mac.html.
In Windows you will need to open the program called "Paint" which is in your accessories folder (See screen-shot below). Once it's opened then minimize it to your desktop tray.
When you get to the location on Street View that you want to photograph, just press the "Ctrl" key on your keyboard and hold it down while you press"Print Screen". If you are using this method it will be necessary to SAVE each photo as you take it. Once you get the hang of it it won't take very long. When you have taken the photo as described above, the next steps are as follows:
1. - If you are in full screen, toggle out and minimize the Street View Window.
2. - Bring up "Paint" (should be in your desktop tray).
3. - Go to EDIT in the menu bar and click on PASTE. Your photo will appear.
4. - Save the photo as a jpg and send it to a folder in My Documents.
5. - Minimize "Paint" and return to Street View to find another motif.
Photos into Paintings
Now that you have a folder full of photos you may be perfectly happy but if you want to turn them into digital paintings then this is where you will need Photoshop. If you are using different photo editing software you will have to find your own way to maximize the SATURATION and alter somewhat the HUE. You will also need some kind of filter that will create the impression of brushstrokes.
In Photoshop I usually begin by cropping the format and resizing the image to around 5 in. wide. Then in ENHANCE or IMAGE/ADJUST, depending on your version of Photoshop or Elements, adjust the Hue/Saturation. I start by maxing out the Saturation and then backing off until the "noise" goes away. The Hue should only need a small adjustment and I prefer to go warmer toward the red yellow range. Then in FILTER go to ARTISTIC/DRY BRUSH and adjust Brush Size - 2, Brush Detail - 8 and Texture -1. Of course you should play around with this to your own satisfaction.
Save the photos as .jpg in case you want to send any in an email telling about your virtual trip to the south of France.
A Few Last Thoughts
Not all of your photos will make good paintings. You will have to experiment.
There are many other screen shot programs out there and maybe some that are more convenient than the one in Windows. I use Paint Shop Pro and it allows me to crop before I shoot and then automatically brings itself up so that I can set up for the next shot.