digital art

The Storm’s Passing

It was yet another rainy day again today and high winds were predicted to follow the rain bands as they passed. It’s been a while that I’ve wanted to work on some slow exposures over 30 seconds with a 10-stop Neutral Density filter but the skies just weren’t cooperating.

Going on a scouting adventure in search of an isolated dock, I managed to find one that isn’t too far from my usual route. With the winds kicking up it took a little bit of self-convincing to get my gear out and set up. I keep forgetting my large NiSi Filter kit at home along with the remote trigger switch, but as a save I had my smaller round filter kit in the camera bag that I could use.

My usual default is to set the camera on Aperture Priority, and dial in the highest f-stop the lens I’m using allows me and ISO 100 and let the camera figure out the shutter speed. If the exposure isn’t where I’d like it, than I adjust the f-stop accordingly. Beginning with the first image above I used the B&W 10-stop Neutral Density filter to help slow down the exposure and blur the water and skies. The big bonus was the start of a rainbow in the distance.

I brought the image into Topaz Studio and used the AI Clear module to reduce noise and bring in detail. I then added a Precision Detail graduated filter mask to bring out more detail in the clouds.

The next image I wanted to create something dramatic and wanted a black & white image. Topaz Studio has some great monochromatic presets that I then tweaked with noise reduction and detail extraction.

Oh but here is where the magic happened. When working with layers and such in Topaz Studio, you can save your own ‘formula’ as a preset. I had saved a few from earlier edits and one caught my eye. Clicking on it, the image completely transformed into something completely different. A classic American Landscape look that I could imagine seeing on the wall of an Art Museum. It needed a few tweaks with the preset I had made and it came out just lovely.

As with any long exposure images, spot removal was needed in all of these which is best done in Photoshop. Creativity can be done very easily and not much travel is needed. You can achieve many different looks with the same subject. What you do with the image in the digital darkroom is where you can create a masterpiece.

I had always found Photoshop a bit daunting, but now with Topaz Studio being on the playing field what one can do with an image can be much simpler and lots of fun. Never stop playing!

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