Abstract Fujifilm X-T1 Lightroom Photography Photography - Fujifilm X-T1

One for JPC – Sunrise at the Klamath River Overlook

One for JPC - Klamath River Overlook - 2014

As I was reviewing my images from last week’s workshop up in the far northern coast of California, this image caught my eye. Led by Michael Frye, we were up early and headed from our B&B to the Klamath River Overlook which put us above the valley fog that particular morning. No marine fog – it was all valley fog flowing out to the ocean above the Klamath.

This image brought to mind many of the beautiful – and more abstract – images that John Paul Caponigro creates. Thus the title “One for JPC”.

Shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 and post-processed in Lightroom 5.

Photography Photography - Nikon D600

Sunrise at Crater Lake

High - Crater Lake - 2013

I recently drove up from Menlo Park to Bend, Oregon to participate in a weekend landscape photography workshop led by Sean Bagshaw and Zack Schnepf. The workshop started on Friday evening – so I headed north on Thursday around mid-day planning to stop for an overnight in Redding, California. But I got to Redding a bit after 3 PM and realized that I might as well press on and try to get up to the Klamath Falls area that evening – which would shorten my drive to Bend on Friday morning. (Checkout my iPhone shots of the amazing Sundial Bridge in Redding!)

I quickly changed hotel reservations – an iPhone is amazing for this kind of on the go adjustment! – and booked myself into a Klamath Falls hotel (Shilo Inn). I got to the hotel after 6 PM and initially thought I might be able to catch the sunset at Crater Lake that evening – but it turned out to be just too long a drive. So, instead, I decided to hit the sack early and try to get up early to head to Crater Lake for some sunrise shooting.

This image is one of the shots from that sunrise visit to Crater Lake. By the time I’d taken this shot – a few minutes after 6 AM – the sun had been up for about a half hour. I entered Crater Lake on the south side of the national park and drove up around the west side along the rim. I came across this particular venue and was taken a bit aback by the sunlight coming in from the left and lighting these trees, that marvelous dead tree and the rocks on this hillside.

Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photoshop Travel

Adding Depth to an Image using Photoshop and Luminosity Painting

Sunrise - Lee Vining - 2012

As part of my desire to learn more about some advanced techniques in Photoshop, I’ve been concentrating on learning how best to take a flat image out of the camera and add depth to it using various image adjustment techniques – especially, dodging and burning. At one level, I’ve understood the basics of those techniques for a while – but I’ve not attempted to apply them in any serious way before now. Any student of Ansel Adams understands the use he made of those techniques!

So, I set out to explore and learn some more – and I learned a lot. What did we do before the Internet? Seriously, it’s amazing what a resource it’s become!

The basic idea involves being able to select carefully certain parts of an image for adjustment. Typically, luminosity – brightness – is most important but saturation, sharpness and other features follow. Most of the tools in Photoshop are blunt instruments that apply to the whole image – but you can constrain those adjustments to only portions of an image using selections and/or layer masks. In so doing, you can make much more selective adjustments – and create depth in an image that might have originally looked flat.

One of the first to describe a technique for this was Tony Kuyper – who in 2006 wrote about the idea of luminosity masks. A couple of years later, he described luminosity painting – and most recently, cooperated with Sean Bagshaw who has created a comprehensive video tutorial describing how to apply Tony’s techniques and Photoshop Actions/Panels in detail. If you want to understand the details, Tony and Sean’s work seems very comprehensive.

At the other extreme is a short video by Aaron Nace titled “Dodge and Burn Like a Boss: Using Apply Image” I stumbled across on In this video, he describes how to do selective dodging and burning using the notion of luminosity masks. His technique is different, in many ways simpler – but also less precise. For many images, that might be fine – it all depends on the level of precision adjustment you might want. And, when you watch the video, fasten your seat belt. Aaron moves along quickly – so be ready to stop and review as he explains his technique!

Tonight I created an example of applying Aaron’s technique to an image I shot last fall in the Eastern Sierras on an amazing photo workshop with Michael Frye. Up top you can see the image after walking through the adjustments – and below is the original, out of the camera image. It’s pretty flat, frankly. The edited image has more color – but, more importantly, more depth and, I think, overall richness.


But, I’m still learning! Let me know what you think by sharing a comment below!

Nik Software Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S95 Stockholm Travel

Sunrise in Stockholm

Sunrise - Stockholm - 2011 by Scott Loftesness

Here’s an image from a recent visit to Stockholm, Sweden – shot just at sunrise with my tiny Canon PowerShot S95.

I did a bit of post-processing using a combination of David Nightingale’s curves adjustments along with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4. I love how these colors turned out – they so captured my memory of this morning.

What do you think? Add your comment below.

Golden Gate Nik Software Photography San Francisco/California

The Golden Gate Bridge at Sunrise

Golden Gate Sunrise - 2007

As I’ve been learning new post-processing techniques (mostly the Nik and Topaz filters in Photoshop), I’ve been having some fun going back and working with older images – mostly not shot in RAW and, as a result, I’m not post-processing them as HDRs.

As I was reviewing my older images, this one caught my eye mostly because of the juxtaposition of the rock in the lower left and the lone tree up on the hill on the right. Plus, the light is lovely too and, in this case, the usual boring blue sky actually works nicely against the International Orange paint of the bridge itself.

This particular sunrise image of the Golden Gate Bridge was taken using my original DSLR, a Canon 30D, in March 2007 – almost five years ago. I used Nik’s Viveza and Topaz’s Adjust and Simplify to create this version. Simplify, in particular, is a new tool I’ve been learning – and, in this case, just a bit of Simplify helped smooth out the dirt and grassy areas of the image very nicely. The result, no surprise, is a bit simpler than the original which seems more pleasing to my eye.