Maidstone

Looking down the lock at Allington Locks near Maidstone

Looking down the lock at Allington Locks near Maidstone

Allington Locks

A photograph of the River Medway taken at Allington Locks near Maidstone in Kent

It was so lovely to get out last Monday, even though I didn’t walk far.  However, I did send him off on an expedition down the locks at Allington, near Maidstone in Kent.  The landscape was barren and the trees were still bare but you could see the start of spring slowly appearing in the landscaped area. Continue reading →

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Posted by Bren in Landscape, Photography, 2 comments
Relaxing by the river at Allington Locks

Relaxing by the river at Allington Locks

Allington Locks

On the River at Allington Locks, Maidstone, Kent.

Whey hey, I am home from hospital.  My right hip has been replaced and I can now walk without that excruciating pain. Taking it careful for the next 6 weeks to stop any chance of dislocation I am finding hard.  However, I am so glad that awful pain has finally gone.  I was only in hospital for 3 nights.  And by Monday I felt good enough to have a little stroll along the banks of the River Medway at Allington Locks, near Maidstone in Kent. Continue reading →

Posted by Bren in Landscape, Photography, 4 comments
Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

A photograph of Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent… with a replacement sky added in Photoshop.

I’ve been playing around with this image for the last couple of days… There was light coming from the rear of the castle which shone through the arches but the sky was bland… just one measly little cloud on the right-hand side of the photograph.  So I knew I wanted to do something with the sky and decided to replace that sky from Serge Ramelli with another I have in my collection of skies

Posted by Bren in Architecture, Monochrome, Photography, 0 comments
Lightroom Quick Tip – Scaling

Lightroom Quick Tip – Scaling

A photograph of the bridge that leads you to the entrance of Leeds Castle

Have you ever taken a photograph and wished you could have got closer to the subject?  Or you wish that you could crop the image without losing the original size of the image?  Well here is a quick tip for Lightroom Users..

Under the Transform Panel in the Develop Module, there are a set of sliders that allow you to scale you image to 150 and you can also move your scaling around by using the x and y sliders.

With regards to the above image.. I scaled my image to 125 played around with the x and y sliders until I achieved the look I was looking for… and by doing this I kept the original dimensions of my photograph.  Whereas if I had cropped the image to get the composition I wanted it would have decreased my image size, from 5472 x 3648 pixels to 4621 x 3080 pixels.

As you can see from the original photograph… there were elements I didn’t want to keep, as I didn’t want the viewer to be distracted by all the greenery and I wanted this image to focus primarily on the Bridge and Gate House.

A photograph of the bridge that leads you to the entrance of Leeds Castle

 

I hope this little tip helps you out… try scaling your image before using the crop tool.. and that will hopefully keep your image as close as it can be to the original image size… very helpful if you have to upload to certain sites… like 500px.

Posted by Bren in Architecture, Photography, Tips, 2 comments
From Maidstone to Dover…

From Maidstone to Dover…

Taking time out from blogging… has proven to be beneficial for me… firstly I am not tied to a computer all day long and secondly some of my processing can be achieved on my tablet.. whilst sitting there watching TV.  Again another weekend went by and I didn’t manage to get out and take photographs… and hopefully if the sun shines this weekend I will be back at Leeds Castle for the Christmas Market.

Anyway talking of Leeds Castle… here are a coloured and monochrome version of the same image as you look over the lake towards Leeds Castle.

A monochrome photograph of Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent.

A monochrome photograph of Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent.

 

A photograph of Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent.

A photograph of Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent.

 

An earlier photograph that I posted to social media this week was one that I took of the lake at Russell Gardens, near Kearsney Abbey in Dover.

A photography of the lake at Russell Gardens, Kearsney in Kent.

A photography of the lake at Russell Gardens, Kearsney in Kent.

 

You may have noticed that I have played around with our watermark… and added a graphic to our watermark… this I achieved in Photoshop…  by creating a transparent background document and using a png image and then text in various fonts.

I hope you all had a good weekend and again apologies for no new photographs… boy will I be glad to get this hip sorted… once and for all.

Until my next post.. take care and happy snapping.

Posted by Bren in Architecture, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, 0 comments
The front entrance to Leeds Castle

The front entrance to Leeds Castle

leeds-castle-framed

I have written before how accommodating the Staff at Leeds Castle are for disabled people… they are kind, courteous and will help you all they can.   Being in a wheelchair inhibits you at some places… and to get into the castle at Leeds Castle you have to go down steps and then back up steeps.. which you can’t do in a wheelchair… However there is nothing to stop you enjoying some parts of the castle… as the staff allow disabled people to enter through the doors at the front of the castle.  Yes you miss out some of the rooms and you can’t get to all the rooms… but at least you get to see some of the glorious rooms within the castle.

Posted by Bren in Architecture, Photography, 2 comments
Mixing Filters and Styles on your image

Mixing Filters and Styles on your image

For me Lightroom is my first port of call when processing an image.  I like its simplicity, its versatility and for me the easiest post processing software to use. My main aim of using Photoshop is to remove elements that you can’t remove in Lightroom.

img_5788-hdr

The above photograph was created by using Lightroom’s HDR feature.  Once the HDR image was created I immediately sent the image to Photoshop to remove some of the distractions, mainly the people standing just above the water cascade.

This was done easily in Photoshop using the Spot Healing Tool.. I could have sent the photograph back into Lightroom but I wanted to use some filters I have the first Filter I used was Nik Collection Color Efex Pro.

after-color-efex-pro-4

I wanted to warm the photograph up so in the Nik Software I used two filters one a Warmth Filter and the second a Soft Focus Filter.  I then saved my image in Nik and it was Imported back into Photoshop.  Using a mask I faintly removed this filter from the steps of the water cascade.  I didn’t like the sky so it was off to Topaz Texture Effects 2 to add a Preset I downloaded.

after-topaz-texture-effects-2

Again this gave my photograph a warm look and once again I removed the Filter effect slightly from the steps of the water cascade.  I did no more in Photoshop so I saved my image in Photoshop and it was automatically sent back into Lightroom.  And this was the image I was going to use for all of my compositions.

I have a few presets in Lightroom which I use on a regular basis… some I have altered to suit my style of editing… others I just use as a starting point.

My first composition was to create a warm looking photograph

Water Cascade

I liked the golden tones and the green and how soft those weeping willows were.  In Lightroom I then created a virtual copy of this photograph, reset the image back to the original import and then added a warmer looking Preset which added a reddish tint to the image which created my second composition.

For my third composition, I then did the same as before… made a virtual copy.. reset the image in the Develop Module and then added a Preset I modified from an original Preset from Serge Ramelli where it involved using lots of radial filters to add lights to the photograph.

This gave the image a dreamy like effect to the image.  For my fourth and last composition I then decided to use a Preset which I use primarily as a starting point for Black and White Photos.

Throughout my processing of this photograph I wanted to keep a soft looking feel to the trees whilst keeping clarity to the water cascade and the elements that were in the water.

You don’t have to stick to one filter… you can mix and match.. and I love the versatility of all these Filters/Plugins.  If it wasn’t for having to use Photoshop to remove certain elements, I could have processed this photo by only using Lightroom and Topaz Labs Software and Nik Collection Software work both in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Mix and match is the order of the day for me today… I have loved using these software programmes with each other.  And if you don’t like what one programme has done.. and you are using Photoshop just duplicate your final image layer and try another combination of the various presets within each plugin/filter.

Just one little tip.. normally in Photoshop once I have finished my spot removal which I do on a duplicate of the original image.. I then press Control + Alt + Shit +E which merges all my previous layers together.  It is this new layer, that I have just created, that I duplicate before applying a Preset/Filter and once I have created my new duplicate layer for that particular plugin I name the layer to tell me which Plugin/Filter I used.  I didn’t do it for this image simply because I knew that I was definitely using the soft focus from the Nik Collection to create the soft dreamy look to the image.

Posted by Bren in Before and After, Landscape, Photography, 3 comments
The Pavilion

The Pavilion

A photograph of the wooden pavilion at Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent

A photograph of the wooden pavilion at Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent

 

Within the spectacular grounds of Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent… is this Pavilion.. which sits on an incline… at the bottom of the green at this pavilion is a stream… Luckily when I photographed this pavilion on this particular day most of the people were sitting on the grass so they were easily removed using Photoshop.

Posted by Bren in Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, 0 comments
The Lake at Leeds Castle

The Lake at Leeds Castle

A photography of the main lake at Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent, processed in Lightroom and Topaz Texture Effects 2.

A photography of the main lake at Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent, processed in Lightroom and Topaz Texture Effects 2.

I am on day 3 of my trial of Topaz Texture Effects 2 and I have to say I am getting more impressed as the day’s go on…  Below is the before and after, the before photo is SOOC with just cropping applied.

before-and-after-leeds-lake

And I have to say, one of the features that I do love about Topaz Texture Effects 2 is the masking and the power of the Luminosity Masking Panel.

luminosity-maskingThe sliders on the Panel Masking Panel give you so much range. You can use spot, colour, luminosity or the brush tool.

So far I have stuck to the Luminosity option and played around with the sliders and no matter what adjustment you apply to your image, each adjustment gives you masking options.

Now I don’t know about you, but when you use textures, sometimes you do need add clipping masks and Topaz Textured Effects 2 takes that into consideration by giving you an Enhance option.  Each adjustment option gives you the option to add clipping masks.  And the adjustments available within each panel are great, the sliders are easy to understand and each one gives you so much power and the ability to apply an adjustment exactly as you want to.

img_7161As you can see from the photograph on the left, I did some adjustments in Lightroom before sending my photo to Topaz Texture Effects 2.

And after I had added my textures and adjustments in Topaz when the file was imported back into Lightroom, I added a couple of radial filters and did some dodging and burning, just to enhance the photograph a little. I also played around with the sliders in the Basic Panel just to warm the picture up a little and to add some contrast and clarity.  However, the ability to do the vast majority of these edits was available to me in Topaz Texture Effects 2, without having to do them in Lightroom.  For me, no matter what software I use, I always do  my final edits in Lightroom, I think that is by choice rather than a reflection that Topaz Texture Effects couldn’t do these edits.

Yes I could have achieved the same effect in Photoshop, but… it would have taken me a lot longer to do and probably would have been a larger file size to save on my hard-drive.  However, there is always a downside and that being, once you have saved your photograph, and Topaz Texture Effects 2 has closed, you can’t go back and re-edit your photograph or make changes to any of the settings/adjustments you had previously applied.

Pros so far

  • Quick
  • Easy to Use
  • Great Luminosity Masking
  • Creative
  • Ability to save your work as Presets
  • Ability to enhance each adjustment (basically a clipping mask)
  • Fast
  • Affordable
  • Works with Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Free updates
  • Total control over your creations

Cons so far

  • Unable to re-edit or change settings once you saved your creation.
  • Software closes when you save your work.
  • Strips metadata from image.
Posted by Bren in Landscape, Photography, 2 comments
Duck Pond

Duck Pond

A photograph of a little pond at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent.

A photograph of a little pond at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent.

I really can’t believe how much I am liking this Topaz Texture Effects. The above photograph heading its way to the trash bin; I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like the sky. I didn’t like the texture of the photograph, so for experimentation purposes, I wanted to see if this photograph which was heading towards that recycle bin could be transformed using Topaz Texture Effects 2.  And all I can say is WOW.

My processing method for this photograph was:

  • Original edits in Lightroom, which included exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, blacks, whites and clarity.
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  • Using the Edit in Feature I selected ‘Edit in Topaz Texture Effects’ (which I had already set up via Topaz Labs easy instructions on how to use this piece of software with Lightroom).
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  • A dust and scratches adjustment was added to top left hand corner, in a diagonal shape to add texture to sky to the sky. Again I could add my own dust and scratch textures should I wish.  But for this photograph I used one of the pre-installed dust and scratch textures.
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  • I wanted a light leak within the main tree where there was a hole in the branches, so I used the Light Leak Adjustment, increased the size and lowered the opacity so that it was so prominent.  I just wanted that glimmer and the sliders with the Light Leaks adjustment gave me the exact adjustments I wanted.
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  • One of the many things I like about Topaz Texture Effects 2, is the ability to add your own textures.. so all those textures you have saved over the months and years on your computer, are easily imported into this software for you to be able to use at the click of a few buttons.  So for this particular image, I used one of my own textures which I uploaded to Topaz Texture Effects 2 and then used the luminosity masking to keep this texture mainly in the areas where I wanted it to be more prominent. In fact you can add your own textures, light leaks, photos for double exposures.. easily and each panel gives you the ability to categorise your textures into groups.
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  • I wanted to make the darks and contrast of the trees, pond and bushes more prominent and I found I could do this easily by adding a Basic Adjustment to the picture. And because I didn’t want the sky  affected as I had already achieved the desired look I wanted, I then add a luminosity mask to this adjustment so that it only affected the trees and pond.
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  • When I was happy I saved my photo by clicking OK and Topaz Texture Effects automatically added my textured image back into Lightroom. From there I just added a graduated filter and did some dodging and burning.

This photograph was basically one of the first few I did in Topaz Texture Effects 2 and I have to say, you don’t need to be an artist to be able to create stunning work. The software is easy to use and very powerful.  The only thing that holds you back is your imagination.  If you can imagine it… Topaz Texture Effects 2 can do it, easier and a lot quicker than using Photoshop alone.

Topaz Texture Effects 2 is also a standalone application, so you don’t have to have Lightroom or Photoshop to use it, which is an added bonus within itself.

I have now been using this software for a few days and as each day passes, I am finding that you can do some of the basic things that you do in Lightroom. Yes there are some limitations with Topaz Texture Effects… one being not able to Watermark your photograph… And my earlier little gripe about not being able to dodge and burn has now been smoothed away.. you see  I have found a way to dodge and burn in Topaz Texture Effects 2… You just do the following:

  • Create a Basic Adjustment
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  • Enable Masking
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  • Invert the Masking Layer to Black
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  • Select the Brush option, and lower the strength and hardness and paint in white at various strengths to do your dodging by altering the sliders within the Basic Adjustment Panel and then repeat the process to do your burning.

For me this software is exactly what I was looking for.. yes it does have its teething problems about stripping the lens profile from the metadata even after experimented to see whether the lens profile would still be there if I made sure that the Lens Profile was selected in Lightroom’s Lens Profile Panel in the Develop Module; but these are features that Topaz Labs could work on..

One other thing I have found, is this, if you want to do a post and show the enhancements you made.. or you want to create your work as a Preset make sure you do your screen captures as you go along and save the Preset before clicking OK.  Because once you click OK, the photograph is automatically imported back into Lightroom and the Topaz Texture Effects 2 software is closed immediately.

Again minor things, but enhancements that would make this particular software just perfect.

 

Posted by Bren in Landscape, Photography, 2 comments