Fujifilm X100S Menlo Park Photography Photography - Fujifilm X100S Photoshop CC Topaz

A Sharon Park Sunrise with the Fujifilm X-100S

Sharon Park Sunrise

As I headed out the door this morning to do a bit of grocery shopping for our dinner tonight I stopped by Sharon Park briefly. I love the low sun angle this time of year – and it was filtering through the trees from this particular angle which captured my eyes.

I post-processed this in Photoshop CC using a combination of Topaz Simplify 4, the Oil Paint filter, and some old fashioned dodging and burning to add a stronger sense of depth. Shot with my Fujifilm X100S.

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+.

Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S100 Photoshop San Francisco/California

In the Morning Light in San Francisco


Tonight I was looking back at some of my images from last year – and I came across this one from March 2012.

Doug Kaye and I had agreed to meet up at the Powell Street BART station – thinking that, because of the weather, we’d spend most of our time underground in the BART system. As it turned out, there was a patch of blue outside the station and some sunlight was streaming in. So, we went up rather than down – and headed from Powell Street Station toward Yerba Buena Center.

Along the way, we had some beautiful light and I was opportunistic. On most of our photo walks, I carry a big DSLR (Canon 5D Mark II or, more recently, Nikon D600) and a Canon PowerShot S100 point and shoot in a case on my belt. I’ve also got an iPhone in my pocket – so, actually, I’m walking around with three cameras!

As we headed into Yerba Buena Center, I noticed this fellow enjoying the morning sun on this concrete bench and captured the moment with the Canon PowerShot S100. I processed this image in Photoshop using a modified technique I’ve been learning from Chris Hilgert – using a low contrast black and white layer onto which we add an overlay layer, a color layer, and refine them together.

I enjoy the beautiful light and color in this image – along with the beautiful relaxation he’s enjoying in the morning light!

Cuba Photography Photography - Nikon D600 Street Photography Travel

There’s a Blue Cadillac in Havana…

Blue Cadillac - Havana - 2013

Here’s another image from that very special Sunday morning in Havana a few weeks ago.

We were out in the Central Havana neighborhood when a bit of light drizzle started falling. Not enough to get any of us particular wet – but enough to wet down the streets and make for some nice reflections and saturation – and some beautiful diffuse, soft light.

This image was post-processed using a touch to Topaz Simplify 4 and few of our Lab color tricks to brighten up the colors just a bit.

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!