Just Playing Around

January 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Clearly  IMG_9446-EditIMG_9446-Edit I've been remiss in my blog posting duties with over a year since my last post. In my defense, it's been a busy year - just not photographically.  I've taken less than 4,000 pictures this year; last year I did more than twice that number! But, a few days after visiting the St. Louis grandkids for Christmas, I found myself culling and editing hundreds of images.  It can be a tedious process requiring hours of work for that many images.  Hence the reason that wedding and portrait photographers charge so much for their work... because it IS work.  That said, editing pictures of grandkids is not so bad. Though culling the poor images can make for some tough decisions and end up leaving in some marginal shots!

But that's not what this post is about. It's about having fun with your pictures by playing around with some new "toys".  Topaz Labs recently introduced their "Topaz Glow" product and I've been anxious to try it out.  Fortunately, there is a 30 day trial available so I signed right up.  Having spent so many hours already editing Christmas images I wasn't thrilled with the idea of more editing but I had to see what this "Glow" product could do.  As I've mentioned before, I'm addicted to the "Wow!" feeling. Sometimes so much so that I have a tendency to "over cook" adjustments and have to dial it back a notch... or two. 

After a quick install on my iMac, I was able to edit directly from Lightroom and I wasn't disappointed. The first image i tried was of my granddaughter's favorite "princess" ornament.   Princess OrnamentUsing "Brilliant Fibers" filter of Topaz Glow. I went with a neon style filter that, although it darkened things considerably, resulted in a fireworks type display at the top of the image.  I played around with the adjustments but, as usual, I found that I liked the effect "full on" the best. 

Under the TreeUnder the TreeChristmas packages and toys under a Christmas tree fractal processed in Topaz Glow. Next, I decided on a reasonably well composed but somewhat uninteresting image of packages and toys under the Christmas tree. I tried out a lot of filter types but, when I selected "Brilliant Fibers", that "Wow!" moment hit me as the image seemed to come alive with color. Again, maybe too much - but i loved it! It has actually turned out to be one of my favorite images.

By now, I was feeling pretty empowered by the type of abstract beauty that the "Topaz Glow" fractal manipulations could pull out of some of these "less than thrilling" images. So, I went after a few more brightly lit and colorful decorations and tired out a few more filters.  Of course, most of them didn't really  Garland Hanging on a LightBrilliant Fibers filter of Topaz Glow deliver and I just left well enough alone but, when I found the right image and filter combination the artistic pull was compelling.  And, photography is art. Different medium, different skills and different tools but art nonetheless and, as such, the results should make a connection with the viewer. It should make them feel something.

So, when I say I'm "playing around', that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm trying to create something - usually from something not that great to start with - that gives me the rush that you can only get when something goes directly from your eyes to your heart so fast that your brain can only stop and say "Whoa! What just happened?".


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