The Polar Coordinate Filter – Planets

How to turn a photo into a ‘Planet’ in Photoshop Elements with the Polar Coordinate Filter:

Start with a true panoramic image that is much longer than it is high. The subject matter (buildings, trees) should be at least a third of the photo. (This photo was taken at Fort Zion, Utah. The buildings are at the Virgin Trading Post.)

Examples of good images: City scapes with skyscrapers; night or sunset pictures.


1. Turn your image into a square. Go to the menu ImageResizeImage Size. Uncheck the ‘Constrain Proportions’ option. (You might have to check Resample Image first.) Change the height and the width of the image to match each other. Eg. 1000px by 1000px.


2. Flip your image 180 degrees. Use the menu items Image Rotate –  180.

3. Add the Polar Coordinate effect. Use the menu items Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar’ – OK

This creates the Planet. You will notice a seam line from where the image has been joined. To remove this select the Spot Healing Brush and airbrush the seam out.

The ‘planet’ can be cropped into a circle and placed onto a solid background if you want it to have a more planet shape!

Cotoneaster Leaves – The Polar Coordinate Filter Makes Amazing Circles

Photo manipulating programs have a polar coordinate filter that can turn a photo into a circular shape that is reminiscent of a fortune teller’s orb or marble. They are also commonly called Amazing Circles. I recently found a post by Russel Ray with full directions and illustrations for how to create An orb in Photoshop. Be sure to go to his post to see his intriguing results!

I’m very excited with my marble photos, though I will soon have so many of them that I expect the novelty will wear off – for you. I don’t think I will tire of it soon because each one is so unpredictable. I never know what will be inside the marble photo until it is complete! Here are the directions for making these using one purchased program and one freeware program.

1. Photoshop Elements 10:

a. Open your picture in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop and enhance it as desired. I usually adjust the lighting levels and sharpen.

b. Crop it to a square, or a ratio of 1:1 (photo above)

c. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Polar to Rectangular – OK (photo above)

d. Click on Image – Rotate – Flip Vertical (photo above)

e. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar – OK. Then I opened FastStone Image Viewer to add borders and text, and also t0 resize it to fit my blog. This finished marble is 778X778 pixels.   (photo above)

2. GIMP: is a freely distributed program. The technique for making Amazing Circles is similar to above.

a. Enhance the photo as desired.
b. Choose the Crop Tool (looks like a knife, sort of). Select a Fixed Aspect ratio of 1:1 and select the area you want to use.
c. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates. Uncheck the “To Polar” button.
d. From the menu bar, choose Image- Transform- Flip Vertically.
e. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates again. Check the “To Polar” button.
f. The resulting circle may not have the background color you desire. Use the Color Picker Tool to select a color from the image. Then use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the background.

GIMP also has a plug-in that you can download and use – it automates most of the task for you. It is called Darla-Amazing Circles. You crop the photo as before, then select the Script-Fu Darla-Amazing Circles script. I use these settings:

a. set to the maximum size of 2000 or whatever setting is closest to the original
b. set border size to 10
c. set border % to 10
d. set edges: border growth 1; border feather 1
e. run script
f. add color to background – use paint fill on the white section
g. save as jpg

This isn’t a new technique. It has been around for a few years. Click on this link to see a large number of Amazing Circles that have been submitted to flickr.

Distortion and the Jelly Fish

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please.
– Mark Twain –

Last month I was at the Vancouver Aquarium. One of the most beautiful exhibits was the tank full of Jelly Fish.


Now for the distortion. Rest assured, no Jelly Fish were hurt in the process. I opened the photo in Photoshop Elements and used the Filter category called Distort.


Here is the Jelly with a Twirl Distortion. Misshapen, but still very pretty!


This Jelly got a Wave Distortion – quite a radical change, but really, the Jelly is still very handsome, don’t you think? Just imagine how you would look if you got a Wave Distortion!


Here’s the original jelly fish with a filter from another program that creates circles.

Iceland Poppies – Orange Art

Summer in our part of the world is compressed into a few short months of floral photograph opportunities. If I am absent from my yard for more than a few days, some of my flowers will have bloomed and moved on to the all important job of setting seed. But I can always count on the Iceland PoppiesPapaver nudicaule – to be show stoppers all summer long.

I’ve asked a few orange ones to pose for me, so that I can demonstrate to you what versatile little flowers they are with a little help from the photographer!

This bunch posed against some iris leaves, and were backlit by an obliging shaft of sun. Some themes add a nice outside border to the photo when it is uploaded, but not all themes do that.

I imported the picture into  a program like Photoshop Elements, GIMP, or FastStone Image Viewer where I cropped it to get rid of the bits I didn’t need, and adjusted the lighting. Then I saved it.

Next I opened the saved picture in FastStone Image Viewer where I reduced the size, added borders and my Copyright. That gave me a photo I could put into my blog.

Of course, there are lots of other things that can be done to a photo with a programs like Photoshop Elements. This is the same photo rendered as Pastel Art.

This is the photo again made to look like a Watercolor.

And here it is in Black and White. But wait, there is more!

Here is the black and white background with the orange poppies. Didn’t I tell you these were versatile flowers?

Now, I have to give full credit to the Poppies, because they truly are the stars in this photograph. Then I have to thank The Car Guy for letting me use his Canon EOS 20D Camera. I set it on full automatic mode and just click away! As for manipulating the photos, well I am a rank amateur compared to real photographers using professional programs. I use GIMP and FastStone Image Viewer (both freeware that gladly accept donations)!