2019-11-17: Artistic Elephants

Before I get to the images I created for this post, my public service announcement for the day: Always make sure you have a backup of your computer!  I made the decision to upgrade my Mac to a new operating system (not the newest one just released, the one before that, as I thought all the bugs would be worked out). Partway through the install, there was a failure and I ended up with a totally dead computer.  Thankfully, I have a pretty good backup strategy, so all I lost was the edit on a single image… And I wasn’t really that happy with the edit, so it isn’t really much of a loss.  I didn’t get to spend my afternoon editing as my computer was busy doing its own thing with the restore function.  But if I hadn’t had that, I would have spent the day seriously freaking out.

Anyways, on to the topic at hand.  I was playing around with elephant images this week, creating some of what I call my photo art or artistic impressions images.  I love elephants as the subject for these types of creations, as their large size allows the subject to still be recognizable, no matter how crazy I go with different filters, textures and techniques.

I had a lot of fun working on these, I hope you enjoy them too.

Have a great week ahead!

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2019-10-20: Photo Art – Owls

I recently saw a beautiful abstract painting of an owl, and it inspired me to work on some of my owl images in a different way.  All of these were created in Topaz Studio, using a variety of different filters and techniques.  It’s been a lot of fun playing around with these this week.

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You can find these images, and lots of others, over on my gallery page.

Month in Review – September 2019

September’s topic of the month

I chose to work on my artistic impression images this month.  Mostly, I wanted to dive into the new Topaz Studio 2, and also just have a chance to play around and have some fun with my images.  Working in Studio 2 proved to be a non-starter, but I certainly had a great time exploring and creating interesting images.

What’s new this month

I’m sad to say I didn’t fulfill my goal of actually getting out shooting this month.  As the weather is quickly turning colder and darker, I know this has been a real missed opportunity, but I can’t go back in time, only move forward.  I am hoping for a combination of free time and decent weather soon so I can actually put my camera to use.

5 favourites of the month

 

Head on over to my gallery page for more of my favourite images.

What’s coming up next?

I’ve not actually chosen a topic for October; I think it will be a freestyle month.  I still have a lot of bird images I would like to work on, and I have been really enjoying playing in Topaz Studio creating my artistic impression images, so we’ll just see what happens.  Check back each Sunday for a new post.

 

 

2019-09-29: Photo Art – The Magnificent Seven

This post was originally going to be the big five, but I had images of cheetah and wild dog that I wanted to play around with, so the magnificent seven it is.

One of the reasons I wanted to focus on my photo art this month was to try and learn a bit more about Topaz Studio version 2.  I’ve played around with it a bit, and watched some tutorials, but for the workflow I am using, at this stage I will be sticking with version 1.  The issue that I was finding is I can’t get files to make a round trip using On1 Photo Raw.  I can get the file into Studio 2, and work on it, but the only option for saving is an “Accept” button, which with the workflow I am using, appears to do nothing.  I select it, but the file doesn’t get saved, exported or anything else.  New software versions are typically a bit buggy, so I’ll give it a few update cycles and then play around with it again and see what happens.

One of the great things about photo editing tutorials is getting the little reminders for things that are outside of the normal workflow.  In this case, the reminder was to play around with blending modes when using AI Remix, Impression and textures.  For example, the cheetah image below was edited using (amongst other tools) a filter in AI Remix called Neon Rise.  But changing the blend mode from normal to luminosity kept the amazing texture that the filter offered, but eliminated the wild and crazy colours for something far more subdued, and suited to the image.

I hope you enjoy the selections below.  Wishing you a fantastic week ahead.

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You can find some of these images in the Photo Art section of my gallery.

2019-09-22: Photo Art – Rhinos

Today is World Rhino Day, so I decided to combine that with my photo art project for the month, and edit some of the rhino images I took on my last trip.

I won’t go on and on about the plight of the rhino, and of the greed, arrogance and ignorance of humans that has fuelled their decline and cluttered news feeds with horrifying photos of poaching.  Other people can do that far better than I.

I simply want to live in a world where rhinos can live in peace.  And I will hold that thought in my mind and in my heart, and hope that it becomes a reality.

As with all the other posts in this series, these images were created from photos I took, modified primarily using Topaz Studio to create these effects.

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2019-09-15: Photo Arts – Birds

As much as I had hoped that my photo art topic would allow me to get comfortable with Topaz Studio version 2, I haven’t actually even tried it yet.  Fingers crossed that this week coming up I can make some time to a watch a tutorial or two and get familiar with the program operation, but for now, I have stuck with the original version, and I am really happy with the results of this weeks experiments.

I decided to focus on birds this week, and played around with two basic combinations of software.  The sunbird and hornbill were edited primarily using the Topaz AI Remix module, while the rest were done with Impression (along with the usual basic edits to start for tone, cropping, etc.).

Do you have a favourite this week?

I hope you enjoy, and wishing you a great week ahead.

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Lilac breasted roller
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White bellied sunbird
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White backed vulture
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Ground hornbill
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African wood hoopoe

2018-12-09: Artistic Impressions

This week, I felt inspired to play around in Topaz Impressions and create some of my artistic impression images.  Or as I like to say, what I would paint, if I could paint :).

Next week, I am going to try and work with the new AI Sky Enhancer that Luminar just released.

Wishing everyone a fantastic week ahead!

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A young elephant seen on an early morning game drive.
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A leopard scanning the horizon at sunset in the Okavango Delta.
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A regal lion laying in the tall grass just after sunrise.
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A large warthog moving through camp.
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A fiery sunset – Africa has the most expressive skies!

2018-09-30: Topaz Studio Week 4

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.

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Prior to editing, this cheetah doesn’t look bad, but not great.  Keep in mind that this is a raw image and no matter what, it needs some editing to look its best.
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Using Topaz Studio, I was able to use precision detail and contrast to really highlight the beautiful texture of fur on this cheetah.  Cropped for composition and the usual colour correction adjustments completed as well.

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.

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A bull elephant crossing the Boteti River to join other members of the bachelor herd that had congregated on the other side earlier in the day.   This version was created in Topaz Studio using some of the adjustments, and then working in Impression in Studio until I had the dreamy feel I was looking for.

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.

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The unedited version of Wild Dogs in the Okavango Delta.  This group was far enough from the vehicle that I was shooting at 300mm.  Knowing how quickly the dogs move about, I shot at f11 and 1/800 sec to try and keep as much of the group in focus as possible, and freeze the motion.  These choices meant I was at ISO 6400, leaving a lot of noise in the image.
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Cropped for composition purposes, and then edited in Topaz Studio.  I used quite a few adjustments, but I still had the image finished to my liking in only a couple of minutes.  AI Clear did a good portion of the work at the start of the editing process, tidying up the noise and bring back detail to the eyes and the fur, especially to the alpha pair that are on the far left.

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 hope you’ve enjoyed my take on the program.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!