This afternoon I joined a Google+ photo walk in San Francisco. While the main group headed west towards Fort Point, Doug Kaye and I (along with his wife Cessna) peeled off and headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts – another one of our favorite locations.
Here’s an unusual shot from that venue – an ice cream vendor shopping his goodies. Shot with my Nikon D600, this was post-processed in Photoshop using several techniques – including using Topaz Simplify 4 to soften up part of the image and Lab color to brighten up some of the colors. This is a modification of a technique I first saw used by Chris Hilgert on Google+.
Once in a while, I’ll snap a quick shot on my iPhone and, sometime later, come back and look at it more closely. This is one of those images – shot yesterday at Sharon Park in Menlo Park while out for a walk with Lily. I had just come back from the Menlo Park Library where I’d spent an hour or two looking through some of their great books – including a huge book on the French Impressionists and a large 1974 collection of Ansel Adams’ images.
Perhaps some sort of combination of those two is what I saw when I snapped this shot while on the go with my iPhone 5. I opted to post process it using Topaz Simplify 4 – with the Black and White I preset brought back into Photoshop in Luminosity blend mode. I then added an Oil Paint layer – that impressionist effect working a bit of its magic on me!
This was a lucky shot – two pink cars with a pink building in the background – in Central Havana a few weeks ago! Shot with my Nikon D600 and adjusted in Photoshop CS6 using Topaz Simplify, Lab color, and some contrast/sharpening tricks.
This is one of my favorite shots from Havana. As Doug Kaye and I toured the Museum of the Revolution with the rest of our group, some ceremonial music started playing and I peeked out the window to see this honor guard marching across the street. I loved the sun angle and their shadows.
In this version, I did a quick pass through Topaz Simplify 4 – using one of the black and white presets – and then brought it back as into Photoshop using a Luminance blend mode. A beautiful example of how Simplify works its magic!
My current technique starts out in Photoshop by creating a new layer from the original background layer – and then using Topaz Simplify 4 to create a black and white simplified version of the image. Simplify 4 includes two black and white presets – one of them usually does the trick for me.
Next, I’ll duplicate the background layer and move the new layer to the top. I’ll change the blend mode to overlay and adjust the opacity until I like it. Once in a while, I may also add a layer mask to tweak the overlay blend just a bit.
Next, I’ll make another duplicate of the background layer and move the new layer again to the top. I’ll change the blend mode on this layer to color – and typically leave the opacity at 100%.
Then I’ll make a final duplicate of the background layer and move it to the top, the same process as before. I’ll leave the blend mode on this layer as normal – but will immediately add a layer mask and invert it so that it’s solid black. I will then paint with white at varying levels of opacity to reveal just those areas of the image where I want the original details to come through. I’ll leave the rest as simplified details.
Finally, I typically add a sharpening layer using a high pass filter with the blend mode set to vivid light and a mask where I paint with white just where I want the most intense details to be visible.
This is still very much a learning exercise for me – but I’m having fun experimenting with it. I’ve started a new set called Simplify on Flickr with the images I’ve played with so far.
Below is perhaps my favorite – another treatment of the F/V Point Reyes – aground at Inverness. You’ll find a high level of detail in the wood and paint of the boat itself – while the rest of the surroundings have been simplified – and their details don’t tend to pull your eyes away. That’s my one of goals with this technique. Click on the image for a larger view.
I was looking through my collection of older images tonight – a valuable exercise – and came across and image that I shot in May 2007 using my first digital SLR camera – a Canon 30D. I really liked the composition (after all, I took the shot!) but there was a big post right in the middle of the image that basically destroyed the shot. In the latest versions of Photoshop, Adobe has added several “content-aware” tools that help edit out these kinds of problems. Using this image, I set to work to remove the post – and just generally clean up the image.
Once I had removed the post and a few phone poles on the distant shore, I wanted to simplify the grasses in the foreground and the water in Tomales Bay – while preserving the lovely detail on the fishing boat. Using a combination of the Topaz Simplify 3 plugin and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, I was able to get to an image that I enjoyed a lot more. I hope you do too (click on the image to see the larger size)!
Back in August, I wrote about this earlier shot I took along the banks of the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Oregon. That image was a very tight crop of a much larger shot I took with my Canon PowerShot S95.
The original photo can be seen below – with the lone rower far away! But I loved how he looked in this shot – looking over his right shoulder with his oars at the ready. It thought he was a great shot – but he was so far away!
For this version, I first cropped the image and then used OnOne Software’s Perfect Resize 7 to resize the image back up to about 3000 pixels wide. I then used Nik’s Viveza 2 to adjust the saturation and structure of the rower and his boat along with Color Efex Pro 4 to tweak detail definition and contrast. Topaz Simplify helped me deal with the water in the foreground – smoothing it out just enough to still be realistic but not too noisy.
Click on that image above to see the larger version – hope you enjoy it!