Photo Art with Topaz Simplify

I have fallen greatly behind posting new images. I have quite a few to get to so in the mean time I will share a post I’ve been sitting on for a few months.

A while ago I read an interesting essay on Luminous Landscape.  In short, Michael Reichmann was saying that us photographers should not take ourselves so seriously.  The opening line reads, “Photographers take themselves far too seriously. They are also on the whole uptight about whether or not the world takes what they do as an art form – even after some 150 years. Lighten up folks!”  Two pictures he shares in the essay are pictures converted to appear as paintings.

My first attempt at playing around with a few images did not go so well.  I searched Google for photoshop-related methods.  I played around with the art history brush, the Fitler Gallery, and the Oil Painting filter.  These were somewhat adequate but not quite what I was looking for.  I then found Topaz Simplify and used a trial download as a test run.

I definitely enjoyed transforming the photos of old houses, barns, and buildings into a more ethereal scene with this plug-in.  Most of the time I used the Watercolor Painting and then tweaked the sliders for the desired effect.

Former Grandeur

Wheel, Combine, and House

Shed and Trees

 

Palouse Spring Storms

I love the springtime in the Palouse for many reasons:  goodbye to snow, hello to greens, clouds aplenty, and rain storms visiting frequently.  The bane of landscape photographers is clear skies.  Though a clear sunny day is definitely beautiful, it isn’t entirely picturesque when you desire to photograph landscapes.  The ever-changing springtime weather is very enjoyable.  The clouds could look menacing, just to clear up 30 minutes later with beautiful sunlight streaming through accentuating the escaping clouds.  Here is a sampling of a Palouse spring:

Sunset over Tekoa Mountain

Spring Growth and Fall Remnants

Winter Wheat Morning Dew

Union Flat Spring Afternoon

A Plan and Coincidence

The Plan:  Last week I planned to shoot sunrise primarily to capture the moon set.  The weather cooperated though it was a little windy.  The location decided upon worked well for this time of year due to the position of the moon.  If photographed later in the summer, the moon would be too far to the right of the frame and even completely outside of the frame come late June when Summer officially arrives.  This position can be attained again in Autumn, but I have not used The Photographers Emphemeris to determined the exact date.

The Coincidence:  With a location decided upon and photographing the moon set the goal, I set out early in the morning.  The convenient coincidence is the path of the Palouse River.  Though the river snakes it way through the scene, one might assume it continues to snake in a similar manner below the bottom of the frame, especially with how the river bends.  However, the path of the river that comes in from the lower left hand side is only there during the early spring run-off.  I revisited previous photos I had taken in Summer and found that portion of the river is indeed dry, all but for a tiny pool.  The river actually runs in from the left side of the frame and makes a 90 degree turn, resulting in the meandering seen here.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the outcome, especially learning of the coincidence of the river flow aiding my pre-planned photographic idea.

Palouse River Moonset, Spring

Technical Details:  This photograph is the result of nine different exposures but 12 total files.  Three of the darkest exposures taken were further decreased by -2 exposure compensation in ACR.  The resulting 12 files were stitched, of which each image was a combination of four images (three HDR images of four files each were used) to capture highlight and shadow detail (4×3).  In short, it is a multi-stitch panorama HDR image.  The resulting stitch worked best as a 4×5 aspect ratio instead of 2×3; I had too much overlap on my panorama images.

Winter Ends…I Hope

The 10-day forecast shows highs in the low 50s; it appears Spring is near.  Though the Inland Northwest saw a brief break in January from winter weather — especially here in the Palouse with a lengthy inversion — snow and cold came back with a vengeance in February.  I’ve shared a few photos already but here are the last three to share from the snowy month of February 2014.

Fencline and Snowy Hills

Field Road Drifts

Palouse Afternoon Light – Winter

Palouse Winter Panoramas

One final surge of Winter (hopefully the last) was experienced in early February here on the Palouse.  Good snowfall, frigid temperatures, and good light all came together for a good week of photography.  Though I took numerous images, here is a sampling of panoramas from this Winter.  Some are cropped to a 2:1 aspect ratio (first and last images) while the remainder are multiple images taken with a 400mm and then stitched.

Ladow Barn, Winter

Kamiak Butte in Afternoon Light, Winter

Steptoe Butte in Afternoon Light, Winter

Palouse Winter Morning, near Kamiak Butte

Waiting out Winter