Fujifilm X-E2 Photography Photography - Fujifilm X-E2 Photoshop CC Topaz

San Francisco’s Magnificent Seven

Magnificent Seven - San Francisco - 2013

While exploring San Francisco’s Financial District with Doug Kaye, we came across this group of seven guys eating lunch on the steps of Bentley Reserve building on Battery Street. This is one of those lovely old classic bank buildings with columns and all.

I saw these guys as we were about to cross Sacramento Street – and captured this shot. The light was wonderful and they were having fun. Sometimes you get lucky – and this time I did with the look on the faces.

I decided to process this image using a simplification technique that removes details and enhances the overall structure of the image. It helps remove distracting details and often delights. This time it did.

Shot with my Fujifilm X-E2 and post-processed using Topaz Simplify 4 and Photoshop CC.

Doug captured a straight-on shot of these seven – here’s his image!

Photography Photoshop CC Topaz

That Painterly Look…

Easterly - San Francisco - 2013

While I enjoy crystal clear sharp images for most of my photographs, I’ve also developed a taste for a more painterly look for some of my images.

This painterly look is something that can be applied in Photoshop – using either the new Oil Paint filter in Photoshop CC or using the Topaz Simplify 4 plugin. They’re different – and the results are different but both can yield very pleasing results.

There’s something that my brain likes about removing sharp details – and simplifying an image – and that’s what these painterly effects do. Instead of crisp details, those details fall away and just the major elements remain. The effect can be quite subtle – such as in the image above – or more dramatic – such as in the image below. For me, photography encompasses a wide range of techniques – and that painterly look is one I sometimes enjoy in my images.

Both of these images were shot earlier today along San Francisco’s Embarcadero using a Fujifilm X-E1. Doug Kaye and I once again enjoyed exploring one of our favorite San Francisco neighborhoods – along with a late lunch at our favorite: Slanted Door!

Waiting - San Francisco - 2013

Fujifilm X100S Photography Photography - Fujifilm X100S Photoshop CC San Francisco/California Topaz

Only the Lonely – Painterly Versions

Yesterday I posted a re-edited image shot taken on the Ferryboat Eureka at the San Francisco National Maritime Historic Park in late August with my Fujifilm X100S.

One of my friends commented that he thought the image was “Hopperesque” – referring to the painting style of American artist Edward Hopper.

His comment made me want to try two alternative treatments of this same image – one adjusted in Photoshop CC using Topaz Simplify 4’s Buzsim filter. The second adjusted in Photoshop CC using the Oil Paint filter. You can see both treatments below – frankly, I like both of them better than the original! Both versions are below – click on the image to go to Flickr and see a larger version.

Here’s the Topaz Simplify 4 version:

Only the Lonely #2 - Topaz Simplify

Here’s the Photoshop CC Oil Paint version:

Only the Lonely #2 - Oil Paint

Which do you prefer?

Cuba Photography Photography - Nikon D600 Photoshop CC Topaz

The Bread Shop in Havana

Morning Bread - Havana - 2013

Another image from our first morning in Havana last January – a bread shop just opening up.

For this image, I did a lot of tweaking in Lightroom 5 before bringing it into Photoshop CC. I used the Topaz Simplify 4 filter to soften some of the areas of the image and and few other tweaks.

Photography Photography - Nikon D600 San Francisco/California Topaz

That Ice Cream Man at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

Ice Cream - Palace of Fine Arts - 2013

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+.

iPhone 5 Menlo Park Photography Photoshop Topaz

Sunday in the Park – Menlo Park

Sunday in the Park - Menlo Park - 2013

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!

Cuba Photography Photography - Nikon D600 Street Photography Topaz Travel

Pink – Havana – 2013

Pink - Havana - 2013

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.

Cuba Photography Photography - Nikon D600 Photoshop Topaz Travel

Fun with Topaz Simplify – Cuban Honor Guard in Havana

Honor Guard #2 - Havana - 2013

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!

You can see the original here.

Inverness Photography Photoshop Topaz

Simplifying Images to Focus Attention on Details

Stricken Lady - Inverness - 2012

I’ve recently been experimenting more with techniques that use simplification of some details in an image to better focus the viewer’s eye on the most important and interesting elements of the image.

I’ve been using a technique loosely based upon what I’ve observed from Chris Hilgert’s great images on Google+.

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.

Hope you enjoy it!

Nik Software Photography Photoshop Topaz

Sweet Memories at Tomales Bay – Inverness

Sweet Memories - Inverness - 2007

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)!