Archive for the ‘Software Solutions’ Category

Sunrise over Lake Traverse, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario


Shortly after Google announced that they will be ending support the Nik Collection, Macphun announced that they will be releasing a Windows version of Luminar. I took the time to try out the beta version of Luminar and do initially like what it has to offer. The software interface is very user friendly and some of the presets seems to be a little over the top for my tastes, others are quite functional, yielding natural looking results. It is important to keep in mind that this is a beta version and the official release of the program later this fall will have many more features available. In my opinion it will be a very viable option for folks that relied on the Nik Collection as a standard part of their workflow.

Here are a few older images that I have tweaked using the beta version of Luminar.

Please click on each image to view the larger, sharper version.



Oxtongue River, Ontario


Lower Rosseau Falls, Ontario


Pre-dawn on Lake Traverse, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario


Rusty Old Wreck, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario


Lake Traverse, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario


Sunset on Georgian Bay, Ontario


Oxtongue River, Ontario


Gargantua Harbour, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario




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Hattie Cove on Lake Superior in Pukaskwa National Park Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Hattie Cove on Lake Superior in Ontario’s Pukaskwa National Park
Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect


Recently I was given the opportunity to try some overlays by Sleeklens on my landscape imagery. I was drawn to the Light Leaks and Light Rays overlays for their effectiveness in regards to enhancing the sun for a “natural” creative look. When the right image is chosen to apply one of these overlays the result can be pleasing and not over-the-top in terms of it’s creative effect.

In the fisheye scene above of Hattie Cove on Lake Superior in Ontario’s Pukaskwa National Park I composed the early morning scene to catch a sunburst effect with the fisheye lens. By applying a Light Rays overlay I was able to give the sunburst a more pronounced and dramatic appearance within the scene. Converting the image to black & white was not my initial intention but I felt it brought the image together for a natural look.

In the below photograph of a misty morning on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario I chose to apply the same Light Rays overlay that was used in the Hattie Cove image above. Once the overlay is brought into Photoshop I can easily maneuver the rays around using the Move Tool or the Transform Tool. Since the overlay is on its own layer the Opacity of that layer can be adjusted to taste easily as well. Here I chose to reduce the opacity significantly so that the rays of light were just becoming visible through the misty conditions of the morning.

Misty Morning Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake. Parry SOund, Ontario Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Misty Morning Sunrise on Horseshoe Lake. Parry Sound, Ontario
Sleeklens Light Rays Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Below is a photo created along the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail in the town of Parry Sound, Ontario with a Light Leaks overlay applied. This image would express the most creative use I applied, but I do like the added interest it gives to this mid-day scene. To created the desaturated look to this image I originally was creating a B&W conversion in Nik’s Silver Effects 2 but later decided to reduce the opacity of the Silver Effects to bring back a touch of colour to the image.

Georgian Bay Rugger Hiking Trail. Parry Sound, Ontario Sleeklens Light Leaks Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail. Parry Sound, Ontario
Sleeklens Light Leaks Overlay Applied for Creative Effect

While these Light Rays and Light Leaks overlays may not be everybody’s cup of tea, they do work for me when applied to the right situation. I often create artistic renderings of many of my landscape and wildlife imagery and the Sleeklens overlays now give me another option in my toolkit to utilize along the creative pathway. If you also like to explore the artistic / creative rendering side of your imagery, then you may also find the Sleeklens Photoshop Overlays to be a useful tool and rewarding option too.


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Ferns in B&W_9675-1

Topaz Labs Restyle – Grass Swing Preset

I have been working on few black and white conversions of some recently captured images and was about to prepare a blog post for them, but then I was notified of a cool new photoshop plug-in available from Topaz Labs called Restyle. By entering the coupon code “restyleit” you will only pay $29.99 and this code will be good until the end of August. I downloaded the software this morning and began playing around with it. I select three images that I had converted to black and white and then began to explore various options by scrolling through the vast number of presets. Above you will see a black and white image of a cluster of ferns that was tweaked by selecting the preset ‘Grass Swing.’ As I explore this new plug-in in my creative tool-kit a little more I will do a more in-depth blog post to discuss its pros and cons.

In the images below, which are both from along the Rosseau River in Ontario Canada’s popular Muskoka Region – a killer destination for autumn color. I have indicated in the image captions which preset was used on these black and white conversions to achieve the desired effect. To find out more about this cool new plug-in and to download your own copy please click here.

Do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions and let me know your thoughts and favorite image with the Restyle effect applied 🙂

Topaz Labs Restyle - Dark Dreams

Topaz Labs Restyle – Dark Dreams


Topaz Labs Restyle - Blue Black Ice

Topaz Labs Restyle – Blue Black Ice


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Rosseau River_7406Lower Rosseau Falls, Muskoka, Ontario

I have been having a rather hectic week. Last weekend was our annual opening of the cottage on Horseshoe Lake in Ontario’s Parry Sound region, and there is always tons of work to be done to get it ready for the coming season. After much of the work was completed it was time to take a break and make the short drive over to Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River in Ontario’s Muskoka District. It almost felt like an autumn photo trip as many of the newly emerging maple leaves were brilliant reds and yellows.

These two images have been processed differently than usual as I having been using the new photoshop plug-in Clarity from Topaz Labs. I have only first begun to use the software but so far I am loving the way it naturally boosts the contrast in the images. To find out more about this new product from Topaz Labs please click here. And if you decide to purchase the software use the coupon code “claritynew” and pay a mere $29.99 US. That’s exactly what I did tonight!

Do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions and let me know what you think of the Topaz Clarity treatment.

Rosseau River_7524Lower Rosseau Falls, Muskoka, Ontario

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Old Wreck_7202

As I departed Tiny Marsh the other day, due to the heavy rains, I came upon this old truck that was rusting away beside a storage shed with colorful turquoise aluminum siding and an old collection of tires perfectly lined up in front of the truck. Since the rain had slowed to a steady drizzle at this point in my travels home I stopped to create a couple of images of the scene from the side of the road. I knew when I arrived home I would use Topaz Adjust 5 to grunge the old wreck. For this type of rendering I will select one of the ‘Detail’ presets and using heavy-handed slider settings create the grunge-look achieved in the photo above. I find the grunge-look for old wrecks to be most addictive but finding old wrecks like this can be like looking for a needle-in-a-haystack.

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After photographing so many frogs and toads this year I have decided that I would like to live a simpler, amphibious sort of life-style….and I just found the perfect piece of real estate. What do ya think? 🙂

Seriously though…I processed this abandoned trailer with Nik Software’s photoshop plugin Color Efex Pro 4 and ran the image through the ‘tonal contrast’ filter twice for a quick, down and dirty grunge look.

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Innisfil Creek, winter details

Above is a recently optimized photo from a couple of weeks ago. The Innisfil Creek is a small stream that flows through farmland and woodlots near my home in south central Ontario. I love to shoot winter details such as these. Often interesting patterns can be found in the ice formations along small streams and rivers at this time of year. I find over-cast conditions usually produce the best results, although some sunlit scenes can work well also, as you can see in the image below. What is different about these images is the way I have chosen to process the image files. After making the basic adjustments that I normally do in Adobe Camera Raw, I bring the image file into Adobe Photoshop CS5 and go straight for my favorite, recently upgraded, plugin from Nik Software – Color Efex Pro 4. My two favorite filters that are found within Color Efex Pro 4 are ‘Tonal Contrast’ and ‘Detail Extractor’. Both images in this post were tweaked with just a light handed use of each filter. If you haven’t tried this amazing plugin I urge you to download the trial version and give it a go. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results and will want to make it a regular part of your workflow for optimizing your image files. Download the trial version here and use the code ‘BAA’ to save yourself 15% if you decide to purchase a copy.

Holland River in winter

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Sunset at Katherine Cove, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

I have always been hesitant to give HDR imagery a try. Recently, I became aware of  Oloneo Photo Engine and was very impressed with how natural images processed with this software looked. On my recent trip to Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park I decided to try a few scenes as HDR to see how they would turn out when processed with Oloneo Photo Engine. I was quite impressed with how easy the software was to use and how natural the end results were. The image above of the sunset at Katherine Cove is a 5 frame (-2,-1, 0, +1 & +2) HDR composition. In the image below, as I was photographing the Aux Sables River in Chutes Provincial Park, which was on my route of travel while driving to Lake Superior, the sun broke through the clouds creating rather unpleasant contrast within the scene. I decided to shoot 3 frames at -1, 0 & +1 as an experiment to see how the scene would be rendered after processing the image files with Oloneo Photo Engine. So far I am very pleased with this HDR software for keeping my landscape imagery looking as natural as possible. However, when I am seeking the grunge look it is hard to beat Photomatix. A 30-day trial is available from Oloneo Photo Engine so that you may try out the software before deciding to buy.

Aux Sables River in Ontario’s Chutes Provincial Park

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Little Abitibi River in Ontario’s remote Abitibi Canyon

Since downloading Topaz Labs B&W Effects, I have been experimenting with the various presets and sliders, to fine tune the treatment of each individual photograph. I absolutely love the detail and detail boost sliders for creating a HDR-ish, grunge-like effect. I am also becoming rather fond of the transparency slider for revealing a touch of colour from the original capture, for a desaturated appearance. While I am still experimenting with the program, here are a few recent images that I have applied Topaz B&W Effects too.

George Lake, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

Abandoned Truck near Parry Sound, Ontario

Muskoka River, Bracebridge, Ontario

Lady Ferns, Parry Sound, Ontario

Kakabeka Falls, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Old Car, Granite Ridge Trail, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

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Beamer Falls, Grimsby, Ontario

After reading Denise Ippolito’s blog today announcing the release of the new photoshop plugin from Topaz Labs called Black & White Effects I downloaded the software and immediately began using it on several images to familiarize myself with the interface and found that I particulary liked how it performed on some of my images from last spring, as I made my way around several of the waterfalls found along the Niagara Escarpment near Hamilton and Grimsby. For most of my B&W conversions I use Nik Software’s Silver Efex and absolutely love the results, but with the release of Black & White Effects I now have another tool in my image optimization toolbox.

Devil’s Punch Bowl, Hamilton, Ontario

Grindstone Creek, Waterdown, Ontario

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