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.
You can find some of these images in the Photo Art section of my gallery.
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.
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.
The photo challenge theme for this week is waiting… showing the moments before the action. Many of the wild animals that I love to watch so much are incredibly masterful at waiting. Lions lounge around most of the day conserving energy, and then only truly pursue a hunt when the prey is in the correct range. Leopards and cheetah are much the same. Spending time on safari, you must learn to be comfortable with waiting as well. More often than not, you’ll be spending time with animals while they are in their waiting periods; it’s certainly not all action with cheetahs taking down gazelle at full speed like you see on the wildlife documentaries. But even so, there’s no other place I’d rather be 🙂