I’ve had the amazing good fortune to see wild dogs on all of my trips to Southern Africa. I don’t think I could ever tire of spending time with these amazing animals; seeing the interaction between different members of the pack is always an interesting experience. On this past trip, I had two different sightings; one where the dogs were active and out in the open, and the other, where they were lazing away the morning deep in a thicket.
Here are some images from the past week of my travels, staying at two properties; Lions Sands River and Tinga Lodges. I have had a wonderful time being back in the bush again! It’s tea time shortly and then off to see what the afternoon has in store, so I will keep this brief.
I have been incredibly fortunate to see wild dogs on all the trips I have taken to southern Africa. My very first trip, when asked what animal I hoped I would see, it was the wild dog. I knew they were rare, endangered, and can be difficult to find, and when our guide Mike found them during our day trip to Chobe Park, I was beyond thrilled. And I have remained thrilled each time I have had the good fortune of spending time with these amazing animals.
All the images below were from my last trip, when we had wild dogs sightings over 3 days in the Okavango Delta.
My month of Topaz Studio is coming to a close. As with my month of Luminar, taking this time to dive into the program has left me feeling a lot more confident using it, and now it is another tool in my photo editing toolbox that I can use to bring out my vision in the images I have created.
Rather than focus on one specific thing for this post, I wanted to share some of my favourite things about the program.
Bringing out amazing contrast and detail
Back when I used Lightroom and Photoshop, Topaz Detail and Clarity were plugins that I would use when I wanted to highlight texture, especially in feathers and fur. The precision contrast and precision detail adjustments are the same tools found in detail and clarity, though they are still available as the plug in versions or as clarity and detail in studio, which give access to all the fabulous presets that those programs had. On this cheetah image below, I decided to use the precision contrast and detail rather than the in studio version of detail and clarity. Since these are sized for the web, some of the fantastic texture of the fur may be a bit lost, but it is definitely there.
Creating my artistic impression images
I’ve always enjoyed the Topaz Impression and Simplify plug-ins, allowing me to create painterly and whimsical effects to my images. Sometimes over to the top, sometimes subdued, those programs allow me to create something different with my images, and I love the flexibility they give me.
Quickly reviving lost detail
I think my favourite discovery in the Topaz Studio program has been the AI Clear adjustment, and it is one I am absolutely going to purchase to make sure I have it available to me. Many times I find myself out and about with a great scene in front of me, or a moment I want to remember, but the light is fading or there are deep shadows or perhaps fog (sometimes all of the above). I have found that the AI Clear adjustment can really get images like these back from looking grainy and soft, to full of detail and life. It’s just one step in the editing process, but it certainly is a powerful tool.
I have really been loving the ease of adding my watermark to my images; it is certainly less cumbersome than that current way I have to do so in On1. One of the drawbacks I have found with Topaz Studio is not being able to resize and export directly from the program. It means that for images being posted to the blog or my Instagram page, they always need a round trip back to On1 in order to be resized and exported. Not a deal breaker at all, but just adding an extra step to the process.
If you don’t have it already, I would absolutely recommend downloading Studio and trying it out. Given that the program is free to use with several adjustments, and there are 30 day trials for all the others, there really is nothing to lose (except maybe a little space on your hard drive) to give it a go.
I’m still doing my month of Topaz Studio editing, and decided on a different approach for the images today. I did the initial colour and tone correction in On1 Photo Raw, and then sent it over to Topaz Studio for further editing. I did that because the first image shown, of the leopard cub, was rendering so flat in Topaz Studio as a raw file that it would have taken a lot of work just to get it back to a place to start editing. I figured I would do the same for the other images, just to keep things consistent.
From a workflow perspective, it has definite advantages as the edited image appears back in On1 complete with all my keywords and other tagging that I use, so it is one less step to have to do to organize things.
So far I have been concentrating on learning to effectively use Topaz Studio for standard editing, like I would do through On1 Photo Raw or Luminar. I still have a ways to go to figure out exactly how this would work into my regular workflow, but I decided to do a departure this week and play around with photo art instead. I watched a few tutorials during the week and one of them featured a new (to me) adjustment called AI Remix. The effects that the presenter was creating looked really interesting, so that’s where my focus has been this week, along with the more familiar to me adjustments through impression and simplify.
This first image was shot with my Panasonic camera whilst in Botswana, and it was after the sun went down so the image was incredibly dark and noisy; completely unusable as a regular photograph (just being 100% honest). But, I loved the posture of these two bull elephants jostling in the shallows of the Boteti River, and knew I could make something fun with the image, even if it wasn’t an something that I would traditionally mark as a keeper.
This next image is of a goliath heron. I wanted to simplify the details without losing all the texture and pattern of the feathers, and bring out colours and tones that reminded me of old film images. The result looks like a cross between a painting and a snapshot from an old point and shoot camera, but for me the image works. Perhaps because it brings back memories of the type of pictures I would see around cottage properties when I was younger.
This last image is bit hectic, but it fits with the subject, the amazing African Wild Dog. The combination of adjustments I used diffused the background significantly, but in doing so brought out repeating patterns of triangles in the vegetation which corresponds with the triangular shape of the dog’s ears. It almost feels like the dog rushed through a huge pile of fallen leaves and quickly laid down, while the leaves slowly drifted back down to the ground.
Creating painterly images or abstracts from photos isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is something I enjoy playing around with once in a while. Topaz Studio definitely provides a lot of different options to use to create these types of images. Because I own the Topaz plug-in collection, I have access to a lot of these tools that aren’t available within the free portion of the software. The AI Remix adjustment is one that I currently have on trial, and it’s something I would need to experiment more with to figure out if it is a tool I’ll want to have available once the trial period is over.
Such an amazing animal to spend time with on safari. The social dynamics of the wild dog packs are fascinating to watch, though if they are on the move, it is nearly impossible to keep up with them. This pack member looks on while some other members were starting to get up and ready themselves to set off.
To start the week, and African Wild Dog at the start of a hunt. We had been spending time with the pack as they lounged in the shade, and quite suddenly they made the decision to set off. They dispersed incredibly quickly, and following them through the tall grass was a losing battle. Thankfully, there were two or three more opportunities to spend with the pack during this particular stay in the delta.