Toy World – Topaz Lens Effects

A tilt-shift lens can be used to create some startling effects or fix defects caused by shooting wide-angled, close in.  A good example of this is when shooting buildings; have you noticed how the sides aren’t straight?  Sometimes that itself can be an interesting effect but in the case of architectural photographs not very helpful!  The downside with these lenses is that they are pretty expensive. That’s where a plugin like Topaz Lens Effects can really help.   I used it on this picture to simulate that “toy” look.   For this to work well you need to shoot above, looking down...

There’s a Chill in the Air

There’s a chill in the air.  I love it when a photo has some kind of “feel”, when you can sense what it must have been like when it was taken. I think this one creates that kind of feel.  The light was so blue, which made the temperature seem colder than it really was.  So, there’s not much to do when processing the image, probably the key thing is to get the white balance right.  In New Zealand we often set the white balance at cloudy even during sunny days.  For sure the further south you go the more...

Good to the last moment

It’s true that taking photographs at sunset and sunrise time, is probably the best time of day to take landscapes.  The shadows are longer, the contrast greater and colours look magical.  It’s easy to take that great photo and then pack-up, head for home but did you know that the few moments after the sun has set is also really interesting?  Sometimes you can get a “bloom” of light after the sun has gone.  It’s a good idea then to hang-around a bit for any last minute magic… In this case, the sun had set (to the left of this...

Once in a lifetime – snow!

Once in a lifetime – we never get snow where we live.  I think the last time was maybe 50 years ago, so when the snow came it meant get out there fast and take some pictures.   The Canon 7D is weathered but the lens I had attached was the 70-200 F4, which is not.  The new IS model is weathered and would certainly be a good upgrade to get the extra benefits of IS and the ability to use in bad weather.    The telephoto can help me a boring photo more interesting with its compression effect.  I...

Going back to old familiar places

Most of us don’t spend our days travelling the world, seeing new places every day of the week.  I’m not sure I would want to do this if I could anyway.  I prefer the comforts of home with the odd trip now and then.  This means that most of my locations and scenes are from those old familiar locations.  It’s easy to despise or disregard these places as too common, too boring.  Maybe the key is then to seek new ways of discovering hidden beauty in these regular settings.  This is where the weather, season and time of day all...

My Kind of Water

This is my kind of water!  The sun was setting behind me here and there were some great scenes to be had.  It’s hard to look away from the glow of the sun but I often find that behind is where the best shot can be found.  I suppose that sometimes that’s for the simple reason that the light is falling across everything in its path.  Here there was a bit of magic in that green water; I have a feeling that the colour would be quite different at sunrise.  So, if you want a tip, I’d say, “look behind”....

One More Look

Just one more shot, just one more moment.  It’s easy to take the shot or shots, figure you’ve got what you came for and just walk away.  I was doing just that when I thought I’d turn and look one more time.   You know what’s its like; when you cant help yourself, the beauty is all around and somehow it draws you in.   I was glad I stopped and took one last longing look at the sunset.   I could see that even though the sun had dipped below the horizon there remained that afterglow.  It was covering everything...

In Need of Repair

Want to know a great combination?  Of course you do!  Well, it is Topaz Adjust, a wide-angle lens and a junkyard car.  There are so many colours and shapes to be found within the decaying body of an old vehicle.  Topaz Adjust works on images what seems close to magic, by opening-up these tonal differences.  In my experience, Topaz Adjust is ideally suited to landscapes and these kinds of still-life’s.  I have used it in portraits but only in a very controlled manner (typically, these means only using it on the eyes or perhaps hair, then masking-in). This shot is taken with...

Little Country Church

A scene like this is easy to miss.  Normally when I’m driving somewhere I’m focussed more on “getting there” and can zip past some great photo opportunities.  This time I was actually looking for them; I saw this little church off the road and made a mental note to stop there on the return trip.  I almost forgot!  So after some “James Bond” braking I stopped and took a few minutes out to snap this one.  The sky was just right; it was in the middle of day but the cloud cover helped to make the shot work.  It does...

Peacock Show-off!

The little show-off!  Imagine how it must feel to open-out those lovely feathers.   I was on hand with the 70-200mm f/4 to catch this moment.  I thought of framing the bird closer then normal so focus in on the brilliant blue.  On the post-processing side, I used a little Topaz Clean; it can make feathers and fur very dynamic.  Personally I like to reduce the effect by applying a Gaussian blur to a duplicated layer. They say that if you fall in love with avian photography you never go back; they have so much variety and life.  A lifetime...