This topic came up on a list I belong to. So I thought I'd share some of the ways I manipulated the photo I used in the Forest piece. There are literally hundreds of ways to change a photo if you have access to Corel PhotoPaint (the program I use) or Photoshop or similar programs.
I showed you the original photo on 20 April and the finished piece on 30 April. Here are some ways I manipulated the photograph before deciding on one to print for stitch.
This one has used "dabble" to change the colour in the photo to dabs of colour, like paint strokes. (You might need to look at the larger image to see what I mean.) There are other paint-type changes in most programs, but I usually start with this one, because it basically tells you what's there. If you're not a painter, sometimes it's hard to see the colour changes in a photo. So this is a useful tool, regardless of what you're going to do later. You can use it as a basis for stitch, if you want a traditional look.
This one has changed the photo to a water marker image. It's also useful for seeing the colours that make up the image, but it generally makes the colours brighter, and that can be interesting too. Often, all I do with these images is look at them and see how the colours go together, where the shadows fall and so on.
Isn't this interesting? It's what happens when you use the invert function. Invert is useful in lots of ways. It tells you about the balance of a piece - you can see that the right hand tree trunk has gone white, so this indicates that, in the original, this is going to be a very dark area that might dominate the finished piece. But inverted images are also very interesting in their own right. I actually printed this one for stitching, because I loved the eerie feel it gave to the forest.
This version has had light effects added (under Render in Corel PhotoPaint). You can decide where you want the light to come from and how much light you want. I liked this one, which really feels like a full moon shining into the bush.
All the images so far have basically been representational - you can still see that it's a forest scene, since that's what I needed for the challenge. But while playing about with the image, I also saved this one. It's from Alchemy, smoke effects and isn't it interesting? Couldn't you do a lot with that by adding stitch, and maybe other media like paint, beading...?
And finally, this one. It's using an effect called Icecubes, also from Alchemy. I loved this one too, because it really reminds me of flowers and I just love the way the image has been transformed into something totally new.
I've hardly touched the surface of the possibilities and the best thing is to play with whatever software you have and see what is possible. It's amazing how a quite ordinary photo can be transformed by changing the light focus, or by turning it into something quite different! I've focused on single effects but of course, you can change a single image in multiple ways. And you can isolate small elements of an image and change them, use them as repeat images... whatever grabs your attention!