I’m a fan of the Topaz Labs family of Photoshop plug-ins. Perhaps the most outrageous Topaz filter is Spicify, in their Adjust package. It boosts color, saturation, and fine detail. We previously showed the filter applied to a marine landscape. I recently tried the filter on a lifeless beach scene, with good results. The filter most often takes an image to bizarre over-the-top colors, but I think it often works for beach scenes.
Photography is supposed to teach one to be a keen observer. I was embarrassed to have have taken the picture of Onekahakaha Beach, below, and not to have noticed the turtle at the time. Viewing the world through a wide angle lens discourages looking for smaller features of the broad vista. Putting the pictures through Photoshop ® I finally noticed the sea beast in repose. In some respects being on the spot is better than looking at a photo, but not in every respect.
Back in the days of CRTs, screensavers were ever-changing images needed to prevent a pattern from being burned into the display phosphors. Modern flat screen displays don’t have that problem. Instead, we use background images to make the computer desktop more interesting. Here I have posted ten scenic images from California and Hawaii. Each is sized for a 1920 × 1200 pixel screen. These days, most computers will automatically adjust it to fit the screen to which the image is applied.
It’s so easy to be impressed with the brilliant flowers in Hawaii that the tropical foliage is overlooked. Flowers usually stand as individual subjects while foliage forms patterns. Foliage patterns call for close cropping to remove distracting surroundings. Usually there is no need for elaborate processing of the images, but sometimes posterization can be used to strengthen the patterns.
Night queen flowers all bloom within a few days of each other. This tropical variety on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona decided it would be October 20th. The flowers open at night and fade away after sunrise, collapsing by mid day. The plant is a cactus vine that grows as a hedge, and the spectacular flowers are four or five inches across and quite showy. There is a different variety in the Arizona desert that blooms in June. The Arizona variety has a bare stick-like stem, so the challenge is to show the characteristics of the plant and the flower all in one photo. I gave up.
Photoshop™ has a number of built-in filters that attempt to convert photo images into artistic renditions. Previously I discussed posterization, sometimes followed by the palette knife filter, to punch up weak scenes. Recently I obtained some Photoshop filters from Topaz Labs, including the Topaz Simplify 2 filter set that includes a Painting option. My test cases were some photos of flowers that seemed to me to have potential, but needed punching up. I have come away a fan of the Topaz paint options.
The QSA philosophy is to not worry about exposure and let the automatic camera do its thing. But like all great philosophical principles, there are exceptions. An automatic exposure of a sunset produces a wimpy wash-out image that cannot be fixed in Photoshop. The best strategy is to underexpose the image, then lighten it in Photoshop.
One rule of close ups is that they can be taken as well in a shopping center as a botanical garden, because the close up excludes the surroundings. Another rule for close ups is to try an extreme closeup. Here is such an experiment:
… these photos are straight point-and-shoot images taken with a pocket camera. … I didn’t adjust the lighting in Photoshop. The trick, insofar as there is a trick, is to not to be afraid of shooting into the light.
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