2018-08-13: Monochrome Monday

I’m a little later than normal with my Monochrome Monday post as I have been playing around with using the MacPhun (now Skylum) Tonality plugin with Luminar.  I must say, I am really enjoying using Tonality again!

Tonality was my go-to for black and white conversion when I was using Lightroom and Photoshop.  I found I could dial in the vision I was imagining much faster than using other black and white methods.  Now that I no longer have Photoshop, I am glad I have a way to integrate the plug-in back into my workflow when I want to.

I’ve started watching some Luminar videos on YouTube by Jim Nix, and one of them really resonated with me today.  It had nothing to do with the image or the edits he did, but just the concept of revisiting old work to re-edit photos, to experiment with new software, filters and combinations of tools to keep your creativity and interest peeked.  A lot of that is why I am enjoying this theme so much, as the lack of familiarity with the software has caused me to think a lot more critically about what I want to achieve, so I can figure out how to do it, but it has also allowed me to just open random filters to see what they do, sometimes to great result, sometimes awful.  If you are interested, you can find the Luminar video by Jim Nix here.

Now on to the images for today.

For this giraffe image, I did an extra step to start, and from Luminar opened Topaz Studio and then the Topaz Remask plugin.  I find Remask is excellent for complicated situations like these tree branches against the sky.  The sky was very grainy, and I wanted to apply some noise reduction, and I thought that would be the best way to go.  I shot this image with my Panasonic FZ1000, which is a very capable little camera, but I do find skies are generally quite noisy regardless of the ISO.  There was also a lot of airborne dust so it could have been that rather than a limitation of the camera.  After I created my mask in Remask, I ran the noise removal filter in Topaz Studio and sent the image back to Luminar, and then onto Tonality for black and white conversion.  If Luminar had an option to adjust luminosity masks so I could isolate the sky, I would have gone that route and saved some steps, but right now its not an option.

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Giraffe in the desert.  Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia.

Things were much simpler for the next two images.  I edited both using the Tonality plug in, though I am sure I could have arrived at similar results just using Luminar.  As with most photo editing programs, there are a lot of different paths to get to the same place.  It’s all about what works for you.

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A zebra calf photographed in Etosha National Park, Namibia.
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A black-faced impala spotted in Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia.  Our guide explained to us that any reserves that add impala to their property in Namibia must add the black-faced impala.  This was started as a measure to help conserve the species and allow them to thrive.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my selections for the day 🙂

2018-08-12: World Elephant Day

As you all know, I am just a bit partial to elephants, so I wouldn’t mind if every day were elephant day.  But today is officially World Elephant Day, so it’s a great opportunity to share some images of my favourite animal.

I won’t get into a discussion on elephant population numbers, conservation challenges and the like.  There are many people and groups far more informed than I that are providing that type of information.  I’ll simply say that my opinion is that no one needs ivory except an elephant, and the poaching of these magnificent animals is an absolute tragedy that needs to be stopped.

I’m sure I have said this many times before, but if there was only one animal I could spend time with on an African safari, it would be the elephant.

I’ve kept with my theme for the month of August, and have continued to learn and explore the Luminar editing program and all of these images have been processed using the software.  Two things I have noticed over the past week:

1) I find the spot removal tool does not work very well for larger dust spots on blue sky; it leaves behind visible traces of the spot removal that are almost more noticeable than the initial spot.  I have found though that the clone stamp tool does an effective job on the larger sensor spot removal.  The majority of these images were shot on my old Nikon D610, which had enormous issues with sensor spots, so this is a feature I rely on quite heavily for working on older images.

2) The luminosity mask function is quite limited on the current software version, offering no opportunity for adjusting the luminance values to dial in the mask.  I use the luminosity masking function a lot when editing with On1 Photo Raw, especially as an effective way to isolate the sky to perform specific adjustments.  The standard masking options also feel a bit more basic than the ones that I use with Photo Raw.  For images that need that type of adjustment, I don’t think Luminar would be my first choice as a raw editor.

I’m finding that most of the editing is start to feel natural using this program, now that I have gotten a feel for what the various filters do.  But coming from Lightroom and On1 Photo Raw, I’m really used to the automatic lens profile corrections, and having to manually enable and adjust that is something I haven’t yet gotten used to doing as part of my workflow.  Generally speaking though, I am finding it an enjoyable program to use.

On to the images 🙂

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Desert adapted elephants in the Hoanib River bed in Namibia.  April 2017.
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A pair of bull elephants play fighting in the shallows of the Boteti River.  Leroo La Tau Camp, Botswana, May 2017.
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A bull elephant giving himself a mud bath in Nxai Pans National Park.  Botswana, May 2017.
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An elephant climbing out of the dry Timbavatio Riverbed in front of the Ngala Tented camp.  South Africa, May 2017.
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A curious elephant calf that kept approaching the vehicle, checking me out.  One of my all time favourite elephant moments.  Londolzi, May 2017.

2018-07-23: Monochrome Monday

A giraffe reaching for a choice morsel, high up in an acacia tree.

Because of an abundant wet season, there was a lot of food (and relatively speaking) a lot of water on offer in the desert while I was there last April.

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2018-05-20: Painterly Effects Project – Namibia

I was inspired this week to explore images from Namibia with my painterly effects project for the month.  In the brief time I have spent there, I have found it to be a magical place. The light is beautiful and the landscapes are at times surreal.  From the air, the vast open spaces seem lifeless, but on the ground, it is a completely different story.

I hope you enjoy my selections for the week.

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A group of oryx walking in front of one of the impressive dunes in Sossusvlei.
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A lone elephant moves through the desert, looking to catch up to her herd that had already reached the river.
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Sunset over the desert in Hoanib.
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A group of flamingos in flight over the Skeleton Coast.
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The land of vast deserts sometimes surprises with lush greenery.  This lion was lounging in the cool grass with the rest of his pride nearby.
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Large groups of seals awaited us when we visited the Skeleton Coast from Hoanib Camp.  Inland it was a clear, blue sky day, but on the coast, fog and mist obscured the view.
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A group of lions, newly evicted from their pride, roaming through Etosha National Park.
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In Damaraland, you can easily feel like you are the only people for miles around.

 

2018-03-27: WPC Favourite Place

The topic this week and last are very similar for me.  Last week, I told you that I’d rather be on safari and this week I’m going to tell you that my favourite place is being amongst the elephants in the African bush.  I must admit, I don’t really like the concept of a favourite place per se, because it feels like it discounts so many amazing experiences over the years.  But, I have often said if I could only limit myself to traveling to one place the rest of my life (and even so far as if I had to choose only one animal to spend the rest of my days with) it would be in Africa amongst the elephants.

There is just something about being in the proximity of elephants, feeling their rumbles, listening to their calls, watching them interact and go about their days that fills me with such peace and joy.

I hope you enjoy my selection of images this week.

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Elephants playing in the Boteti River in Botswana.
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A large bull elephant at Nxai Pan in Botswana.
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A pair of bull elephants at a small waterhole on Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa.
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An elephant family drinking at a broken water pipe on Londolozi in South Africa.
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Pushing on the tree to shake down fruits in the Okavango Delta.
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Part of a larger herd that I spent time with one morning on Phinda Game Reserve.
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A desert adapted elephant seen near the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.

WPC: Favourite Place

2018-03-06: WPC – Out of this world

The photo challenge topic of the week is out of this world.  I’ve chosen to share a stitched panorama image that I shot while exploring the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.  We flew to the coast from camp for a day of exploration, and as we were driving through the dunes we came across this beautiful oasis in the middle of vast tracts of featureless sand dunes. It truly was an out of this world landscape to see.

WPC: Out of this world