Plugs 'N Pixels, image creation, manipulation and education

  This is the place where most photography bloggers post photos of themselves in some exotic location with the largest lens known to man… Since I haven’t been anywhere exciting lately and can only boast a standard Canon Rebel DSLR kit zoom at best, I’ll begin where it began for me: back in the mid-‘70s.

  That’s me at right as a teen, photographing night scenes in my neighborhood in 1975 with my 35mm Argus SLR. I thought my shadow on the street, cast by a nearby street light, looked interesting so I captured it and here it is.

  My mother created the needlepoint below around the same time, since photography had become my main obsession. In late 1974 I taught myself to develop 126 Instamatic film and make contact prints before moving on to enlargements, and the rest is history.

Darkroom-themed needlepoint featuring a camera, film strips and developing trays
Mike Bedford 35mm camera and shadow image, 1975


Over the years I did high school yearbook photos, local photojournalism, portraits, weddings (etc.), then later in college I continued the trend with more yearbook and newspaper photography. One day around 1985 the college newspaper experimented with transmitting one of my 5x7s across the telephone lines to the local printer! This was the first time anything resembling digital photography crossed my path and I was not happy… The darkroom was the center of my photographic world, and it was being threatened.


Up until that time I had no interest in computers (I considered them “math machines”), and besides, it was early days for them anyway. For the rest of the ‘80s I continued on with traditional 35mm, medium- and large-format photography for yearbook, newspaper, newletter and corporate magazine use.

My first glimpse of anything resembling desktop photo editing came around 1988 when a designer in our company’s graphics department had what might have been a Scitex in his office (I only recall seeing it once and not for long. It involved a tablet, if that helps). It wasn’t until about 1992 that I came to embrace computers (as part of my grad school experience) and digital photography, both while working full-time at a university. But once I got my hands on these things, I was finally hooked.


The computer made writing grad school papers easy (I could borrow the yearbook’s Macintosh 512k and work at home!) and I taught myself Photoshop 2.5 on a Macintosh IIci (see at right). An early Sony ProMavica digital camera took the terrible tedium out of shooting student mugshots (no more printing them in the darkroom one at a time, trying to match them to each other).

Mike Bedford used Photosohp 2.5 in 1992 to create this Beatles-themed collage without layers

One of my very first Photoshop creations, done in version 2.5 without using layers (they were introduced in version 3). Originally saved on a floppy disc.

Mike Bedford used Alien Skin Photoshop plug-ins to create this strange image of a computer on fire

My first experience with Photoshop plug-ins was around this same time (1992 or so), with Alien Skin’s Black Box, which mainly enabled you to add drop shadows to subjects in Photoshop. Even so, I continued using the darkroom until 1997, when I bought my first Mac (a PowerMac 7300). Haven’t touched a darkroom since…


Speaking of Alien Skin, I ran into them at the 2001 Photoshop World in LA and took photos of their booth. The next day I returned with the images treated with their Eye Candy plug-in, which they really liked (left). They gave me T-shirts and other swag, and my relationship with plug-in developers was born.


Since that time I have developed friendships with many developers large and small, and strive to provide my visitors with useful information about their products and any available discounts. Your purchase of any of these plug-ins or apps helps support my efforts through small referral commissions and keeps access to this site free, with no registration required.

I mentioned I have been a photographer since the mid-1970s, so it’s only natural that the photos you see on this site are my own. When I work with the various plug-ins and apps to prepare screenshots and examples, I draw from my large collection of personal stock photos and create the results myself. Even if I never took another photo, I’d have plenty to draw from for years to come! Besides my digital work going back to at least 1999, I also have several binders of 35mm and medium format negatives and slides, some of which have been digitized and used in various Plugs ’n Pixels publications.


I hope you find this site and its offerings creatively inspiring! Enjoy your visit!


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