Rounding Action

I’ve run into a number of photographers entering the Joseph Miller 5th Annual Abstract Photography Exhibit who are taking advantage of what I keep referring to as a Rounding filter.

Although I am not especially fond of the effect, with the right source image it can produce a very appealing final image.

Because it simply takes advantage of the Polar Coordinates filter in Photoshop, I wrote a quick action to execute the filters in the right order.  I could not find an effective way to produce the square image.  So I did not include that in the action.

This technique allows you to take an image like this:

Harris Theater at Millennium Park

And Rounding it to produce an image like this:

Rounding Image of Millennium Park
Rounding Image of Millennium Park


The action takes only seconds to run, even on full-size images.  It is included in my Tools Action set.

The technique is simple, using the Polar Coordinates filter by doing the following:

polar-to-rectangular for RoundingConvert the image using Polar to Rectangular coordinates:

  1. Filter -> Distort -> Polar Coordinates…
  2. Select Polar to Rectuangular
  3. Press OK

Rotate the image 180°:

  1. Image -> Image Rotation -> 180°

rectangular-to-polar for RoundingConvert the image using Rectangular to Polar coordinates:

  1. Filter -> Distort -> Polar Coordinates…
  2. Select Rectangular to Polar
  3. Press OK

For my images, I prefer a square format because it makes the image more symmetrical.  This is an effect that I continue to strive for, despite the fact that it can be considered a static composition.

resizeCreate a square format:

  1. Image -> Image Size…
  2. Uncheck Constrain Proportions
  3. Set a Width that is equal to the Height
  4. Press OK

Of course with the action it is a simple press of the Run button to produced the Rounding image.

If you are looking for something artistic to do on those cold winter days this could be the solution to your problem.  Because the action runs so quickly it is easy to try it on image, after image, after image.

If you decide to print one of these images, you may find that the circle created by the polar coordinates comes too close to the edge of the print and you can’t matte it without covering part of the circle.

To resolve this problem, use the eyedropper tool to select the color of one of the smooth corners of the image.  Then you can extend the canvas by 10% using the foreground color (just selected by the eyedropper tool).  The extended canvas will be transparent, since it matches the edges of the image.


New Actions as Editing Tools

I was reading some blogs about photography this past week and ran across this article with a unique and effective tool for identifying editing flaws, particularly in smooth texture areas.

The technique was not complicated, so I wrote an action to create the layers.  I included this technique in a Tools Action along with some tools that I’ve written about before and will write about in the future.

To use this action you need to import the action into Photoshop.  Once it is imported you can expand the “mgs Tools” folder in the Actions panel, select the Solar Cleanup Detector.  Just press the run button “›” and it will create the two layers.

Solar Cleanup

The top layer will be a Solar Cleanup Detector which consists of the absurd Curves layer.  The selected layer below that named Cleanup is where you can use the Clone Brush or Healing Tool to make edits.  Like the original article, you need to choose sampling from Current and Below.


Your image will likely look terrible with this effect turned on, however even minor variations, like the left edge of the image below, can be identified.  You do not have to disable the Solar Cleanup Detector while you are editing on the Cleanup layer, so you can see how effective your edits are while you are working.


Once your edits are complete you can disable or delete the Solar Cleanup Detector layer and save your edited image.

In the future I’ll provide more details on the other tools included in this package, like the Lab Color and Rounding actions.

Rounding Action Effect Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved
Note:  Some of my actions will automatically flatten your layers to reduce the variables while running the action.  If this is not something you want, make sure to save your edit as a new image.

Fstoppers is a photography/videography community started in 2010 by founders Patrick Hall and Lee Morris.  Their blog has become a regular read for me because it covers so many topics so well.