Experimenting with Topaz Glow

Click to embiggen and see all the lovely textural details

I was alerted to the fact that Topaz have a range of filter programs that allow you to do all sorts of cool effects with your images.  Better yet they offer a free 30 day trial period with them so I downloaded four to try

Glow

Restyle

Impression

Simplify  (currently 30% off)

So far I have liked Impression and Glow the most, Restyle was a quick easy way of creatively recolouring images, but thats not really my thing.  Simplify seems to give you options for making it look more like a drawing.

Glow is my definate favourite, and I edited this image of Taz sniffing wisteria on my fence I took a few years ago.  It has LOTS of sliders you can adjust and two types of glow and two levels of glow.  The preset if have used here is Fur and Feathers and I really like it.

I have gone a little extreme on this because I like the dark tips it added to his fur and how that reflects the dark colour in his face.

Has anyone else played with Topaz Filters?  Did you like them?  Got some other recommendations for me to try?

A slideshow with the Before and After images for comparison

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Double Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Click to embiggen

Apparently this is the Double Exposure Effect.  Its popped up a lot recently on my G+ and Pinterest feeds and it appealed to me, so decided to have a go.

Both images taken by me, the portrait is of a swing dancer from several years ago, and the bluebells are a springtime event at a local park.

Working in Photoshop I processed the portrait using this method  – changing a photo to a line drawing

Then I created a duplicate layer, and changed it to Lighten blend mode.

Bought in the bluebell layer, and added a mask onto the portrait and painted it through using variable amounts of opacity so you could still see the details in her face etc.

Here is a video showing the double exposure process and the example that inspired me originally below

Image by Mark Johnson – click to view his G+ profile

Truthfully mine is a bit of a half assed effort, but I wanted to see if I could grasp the concept.  It would work much better if I really knew what I was doing and better source images!

What do you think, do you like the concept?  Does it work for you?  Got ideas to improve it? 

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Touring Tasmania – Japanese Gardens

Waterwheel and autumn colour – click to embiggen

The last stop on my visit to the RTBG was the Japanese Garden, and it was very peaceful and serene and pretty with some autumn colour showing in the maples.  It would have been more peaceful if the family of two couples who insisted on selfies plus couple shots in front of each bit of the garden had not been there, but I gritted my teeth and waited patiently for them to move.  Out of *every* shot!

I like these lovely stone lamps, the textures and shapes are very appealing.  As you walked into the garden there was this enormous sculptural water feature.  This image only captures half of it but it was too big to get in one shot.

Maples are always a great show in autumn and there were bright orange and reds making a statement beside a red bridge.

I liked the view across the bridge, framing up another stone lamp and a scarlet maple behind it.

One lesson I have to keep remembering is always turn around and see what is behind you, I would have missed this enormous stone tower otherwise!

Looking back the way I had walked, this is the other side of the waterwheel house.  I like the focus on shapes and textures in Japanese gardens, the firm round green tree in the middle, the grassy softness to the right, the hard lines of the roof and the verticals of the trees in the background, balanced by the strong red lines of the bridge and the fiery orange maple.

If you take the time to just …. be…. and absorb it, I find it quite soothing.

Click to embiggen

Also I enjoy the subtle cleverness in using just the tones and textures of green, done to lovely effect here

50 Shades of Green – click to embiggen

Also a few scenes from the way out of the RTBG

I assume its a tool shed and a bench in a sunny spot with a view back across the harbour

Sunflower Avenue – a lovely planting of sunflowers and marigolds on the way out

Someone with a sense of humour had made smiley faces in the sunflowers, but this one looked particularly angry and creepy to me!

And so we leave Hobart and next post hit the road in the rain to drive the Huon Peninsula, and find the BEST chocolates I have ever eaten!

Posted in Photowalk or Fieldtrip, Posts with my photos, Waffle and Burbling | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

10 Things I Can’t Live Without in My Photography Kit

Sunrise Taylors Mistake

The lovely Leanne Cole did an excellent post on this today, so I have decided to list my 10 things I can’t do without also.  There is a lot of crossover with Leanne’s list, as we shoot similar things :)

1.  MY CAMERA!!

Now I shoot with the 7Dmkii and I kept my original 7D so I would have a backup body (turned out to be a good choice sadly!)

2. TRIPOD and HEAD

I have Manfrotto legs and an Acratech head, the head is new but very small and light and I really enjoy using it.  Necessary for long exposure shots!

3. CAMERA BAG

The place we carry it all in, I have a Tamrac Adventure 7 which has travelled with me to Australia twice now and all over NZ.  However I have the Fstop Kashmir bag especially designed for women coming soon from a Kickstarter I backed last year, looking forward to that arriving.

4. 17-55mm F2.8 IS Canon Lens

This is my every day walkabout lens and the one probably 90% of my images are shot with.  It is excellent quality glass but in a lesser quality body, and I have found it a great versatile workhorse.  Its chunky and heavy but its my best pal :)

5.  10-22 Ultra Wide Canon Lens

I LOVE THIS LENS SO HARD!  I have to resist using it all the time, but I love the ultra wide effect it gives and its fantastic with long exposures

Shot with 10-22 Ultra Wide

6.  Lee Filters esp the BIG STOPPER

My Xmas present to myself, I got the full kit of hard and soft grads and the Lee Big Stopper which has been an endless source of fun and experimentation.  Gives images the WOW factor!

7.  70-200F4 IS Canon Lens

This is my only “white” lens and it is so fast and sharp.  Not as heavy as the 2.8 or as expensive, I can walk around with it for several hours without being bothered by the weight.

8.  Kathmandu Walking Shoes

My feet are terrible to fit shoes, very very wide and I have lots of problems finding comfortable shoes, esp sport or walking shoes.  My current ones I got on sale at Kathmandu and they are light and extremely comfortable and I can wear them and walk in them all day.  If your feet aren’t happy the rest of you is miserable too!

Lee Big Stopper 15 sec exposure

9.  COMPUTER and LIGHTROOM

Of course we shoot digital these days so everything has to be interfaced with a computer.  Mine is 5 years old but was pretty fast when I got it and has just had 2 x 180GB SSD put in to give it some pep.  While I use Photoshop for the fun stuff I live in Lightroom, and could not be without it.

10.  NAS for Backups

I had some dramas with upgrading my computer and it was only because I am paranoid and backup everything that I didn’t lose all the last 7 years of images.  MUST HAVE BACKUP!

Shot with the 70-200mm through the open passenger window in my car

So what are the things YOU can’t live without?

Posted in Waffle and Burbling | 12 Comments

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil – click to embiggen

Apologies lovely readers for an extended absence.  Its now my third week back at work after my holiday and I am *still* catching up on the work that built up while I was away!  Plus all the work that comes in while I’m trying to do the catching up.

So I have been busier and tireder than I expected with less creative energy for image editing than we would like.  There is also the looming deadline for my assignment due at the end of the month, and my text book I ordered from Amazon, paying three times the price of the book in fast shipping STILL hasn’t arrived :(

However the lovely lady at the end of the online help chat credited back my $40 freight but confirmed the book won’t arrive til next week, ie 3 weeks after I ordered it.

And a couple of days ago I found out my chest freezer is now functioning as a fridge and I have had to buy a new freezer, and have to throw out a lot of food :(

So have a picture of the Tasmanian Devil, a small singularly unattractive predator that is now the top of the food chain in Tasmania.  It is a small animal, about the size of a large cat but a lot heavier in the body and head.  They come in the black and white pattern, and also in plain black, depending on the genetic lottery apparently.

Sadly they are under threat due to a face fungus that is devastating the remaining population, and Tasmania is sending animals to various zoos around the world to see if those animals also develop the disease, I assume to identify if its environmental.  We are receiving 5 at our local animal park as part of this program.

This was my first time seeing one up close, and its about as close as I wanted to get as they are quite vicious and have an impressive bite.  You see them on road signs all around Tasmania, warning they are in the area and as they are nocturnal, the speed limit is dropped to 75km at night.  I didn’t do any night driving but I saw a LOT of dead animals – wallabies and kangaroos and possums mostly so it is a necessary warning.  For the animals and for the cars.

Fortunately for the Devil, much is being done towards protecting and conserving it, unlike the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger which was hunted til the last one died in captivity in 1936.  I saw about 5 min of black and white film, a stuffed one and a skin, that are pretty much all that remain of a such a unique creature.  The display was in Hobart Museum which seemed both appropriate and ironic.  Sobering stuff.

Posted in Photowalk or Fieldtrip, Posts with my photos | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Touring Tasmania – RTBG Orchid House

Inside the Orchid House – Click to Embiggen

This lovely stone building with a glass roof housed all the tropical plants and orchids and featured this lovely fountain in the middle of it.  Had to wait for AGES to get a shot without people – you would think if you saw someone obviously waiting with a HUGE camera in their hand that they might want to take a shot, and possibly get out of the way?

No apparently but I waited and waited and eventually got the shot I wanted.  This is built out of the native sandstone from the island and its a lovely warm stone.

Someone had thrown a camellia flower into the fountain which tickled my fancy so I stood on the edge of the pool to get this shot – I shot at high speed so you can see the water droplets frozen in their falls and splashes which I like.

Then I wandered around admiring the plants and flowers, lots of ferns and orchids and also other interesting things I hadn’t seen before.

This is a hoya and was in full bloom – I only ever manage to kill these sadly as they are wonderful to have in the house

A begonia with amazing furry bits I hadn’t seen before – Click to Embiggen

A mystery orchid, many years ago I could have told you its name but now I would need a reference book.

A flowering bromeliad and an impressive specimen in size too

I think this is an Australian native – appropriately named the Matchstick plant

Then I headed out into the sunshine to the Rose Walk but it was too late for roses but there was a lovely brick wall with archways and this pretty purple thing that I think is a poppy, but I didn’t know they came in purple!

Is it a poppy?

Next stop, the very pretty and serene Japanese Garden.

Posted in Photowalk or Fieldtrip, Posts with my photos | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Touring Tasmania – Royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens

Anniversary Archway – Click to embiggen

The Royal Tasmania Botanical Gardens (what a mouthful!) are nicely placed in North Hobart just to one side of the Derwent Bridge.  I was heading home one afternoon and took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong motorway, and on the way towards the right one I came across the turnoff to the gardens.  It was a nice afternoon and I had a couple of hours to took the opportunity to wander.

Its on a gently sloping site that gets sun most of the day, lots of landscaped lawn and lots of areas of interest.  I went to the Lily Pond, found the Anniversary Arch (above), Japanese Garden, Rose Walk and the Orchid House and I felt quite serene as I headed home, this time on the right motorway!

Lily Pond – Click to embiggen

I was too late for the lilies but the whole pond area was beautifully planted with much lush and mature growth.  I met a young duck who was having a nap and she followed me down the stairs to the arch, hoping for a treat.  Sadly I had nothing with me.

Much of the steps and pathways were made of this lovely stone, all mossy and green and inviting you to explore further.

Can you see the face in this tree – his giant nose caught my attention and then I saw the rest of it, that trunk is at least 5-6 feet in diameter.

The Archway was a delightful find and I took several images of some of the stone detail.  It was originally in the city and moved out at a later date.  For its age it is very well preserved, not sure what it was carved out of but it was quite fantastic

Detail from the Archway – click to embiggen

Next up the Japanese Gardens and Orchid House

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