Category: Utah

Topaz Clarity vs Topaz Adjust Comparison

Topaz Adjust Version
Topaz Adjust Version

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I wanted to see how Topaz Clarity would compare to Topaz Adjust in terms of rendering a more realistic faux HDR image so I went back in my library to some work I did at the Bonneville Salt Flats during the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials.

The image above was processed in Topaz Adjust 4 and shows a lot of halos as well as a very surreal rendering of the racers themselves. I reprocessed the original file using Topaz Clarity which really improved on the result as you can see in the second version below. There is a lot less noise in the sky and the skin tones are more realistic though the shadow areas are not as open as in the earlier version. All in all Topaz Clarity made a smoother version while still compensating for the extreme lighting conditions of shooting at midday on the salt flats.

Topaz Clarity Version
Topaz Clarity Version

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Below is another image of a sunrise over the entrance to the Bonneville Salt Flats that I used Topaz Clarity to process. It has fewer problems with halos and noise while still extracting a great deal of information from the single frame exposure I used to create it.

Bonneville Sunrise
Bonneville Sunrise

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I like the way that Topaz Clarity handles these types of images and suggest that you give the Topaz software a trial of your own to see if it is something you want to add to your processing tools and techniques. Topaz is running a summer sale offer of the entire Topaz Bundle for $199 until July 7, 2013 which makes it a really good deal. If you want to trial or purchase any of the Topaz products please use the link below which credits me with your purchase and pays me a small commission.


WW II Wendover Internment Camp

Wendover Internment Camp
World War II Wendover Internment Camp

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I was playing around with depth of field in this image. I was exploring the idea that the people inside weren’t really worth looking at closely;  just that they were quarantined from the larger society. I wanted to show how the internment barracks were separated from the outside world.

Single frame faux HDR processed in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and Aperture 3.

Texture Is Where You Find It.

Following up with yesterday’s post I wanted to share a few more images where texture is the dominant element. This first shot was taken in Arches National Park while hiking to a point to shoot some red rock vistas. The texture of the lizard’s skin against the sandstone combined with the visual texture of the shadows across the scene reinforce the feeling of the arid desert. I’m drawn to the sparkle of the individual grains of sand that make up his perch and the way that the light reflects under the ledge. Topaz Adjust was used to intensify the monochromatic tones in the scene while highlighting the overall contrast.

This image is a macro shot of the desert floor of the same trail that the previous image was taken on. The repetition of the same forms that make up the landscape are visible here in an area that is likely less than two inches across. The way that the shadows fall across the scene enhance the contrast and definition of the surface. Using Topaz to process this shot was a simple choice because of the ability of the Spicify preset to bring out the details while preserving the color and texture of the rock.

This final image is once again a macro shot of the desert floor. This was taken in Monument Valley and shows us how even at the smallest point the forces that formed monument valley’s huge buttes and mesas are at work carving away the layers of sandstone and creating new forms. On a grand scale geologic areas like this are referred to as “slick rock” and the tiny mesa in the middle of the scene could just as easily be seen in a landscape shot encompassing miles and miles of the valley. The Spicify preset in Topaz Adjust brings out the texture and color while allowing the scene to stand on the merits of it’s color and composition.

Bonneville Wrap Up

Today I’m going to try and wrap up my posts from the BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials. I want to move on to doing more HDR posts but the response to these photos shows that there are many people who have enjoyed the Land Speed Racing images.

This opening image is another photo that was edited in Topaz Adjust. The skies at Bonneville can be pretty amazing and this image showcases another one. Using Topaz allowed me to accent the sky while bringing up the colors in the racers and motorcycle. The noise issue isn’t as intense either which really helps this image hold together.

The composition works because the diagonal lines and triangles formed by the people concentrate on the fellow telling his story. I like the way the truck and the woman on the right side of the frame direct your eye into the negative space that leads to the horizon.

This image is another of those photos I like that show the people and machines of BUB. The camaraderie of the racers and their support crews is one of the great things about Land Speed Racing; these people genuinely care about one another and will assist anyone that needs help even if they are a direct competitor.

The image has been through Topaz Adjust which accented the colors and brought out the patterns in the sky. This is another image where the inherent noise of the Spicify preset hasn’t overwhelmed the scene.

Compositionally  I placed the front wheel of the bike on the right at the edge of the frame because I like the way it appears ready to leap out of the picture. The triangle formed by the negative space between the bikes leads the eye into the scene where the racer’s conversations are taking place. When you look at this image you find triangles formed by the bikes, by the people and by the combination of people and machines. I really like the single spectator ambling along on the left side who, while obviously not a part of the group, is still connected to them by his stance and the way he is studying the scene before his eyes.

I shot this closeup of the engine because it is so rich in detail and texture. From the sock protecting the velocity stack to the sheen of the valve cover there is so much  contrast of materials. The mechanic’s arm and hand are interesting as the viewer wonders what adjustment is being made. Topaz once again enhanced the contrast and vibrancy of the image while still retaining the detail. While there is some noise in the sky I don’t think it detracts from the overall impact of the scene.

Compositionally the engine at the right hand foreground of the frame is balanced by the fellow standing on the left in the background giving depth to the image as well as another point for the eye to land on.

This image was taken just as the rider left the starting gate to go to the start line. I love the energy that is conveyed by the wheel’s slight blur in contrast to to the crisp detail of the engine and the rider’s shin. The composition is strong because of the triangle formed by the front fork and the rider’s torso and the way it fits into the rule of thirds meme.

Here is one of those images where Topaz has added a great deal of noise in the sky while still managing to enhance the color and detail of the subject.

This image evokes an atmosphere of curiosity as if these two men are meeting for the first time in an alien landscape. The man on the left seems to be trying to understand what this contraption is while the one on the right is sitting there waiting for a question perhaps?

Another Topaz image where noise is very pronounced yet in the context of the image I don’t find it out of place. The noise in the sky reflects the texture of the salt and adds an otherworldly aura of mystery to the image.

As is often the case in motorsports; there are times where, for whatever reason, the action stops. This woman was waiting to make her land speed record attempt at the start gate when the course had to be closed due to an engine failure on the course. When that type of event occurs it is often necessary to have the course inspected to be sure there is no debris let on it that could endanger the next racer to run down the course. At those times the racers are simply waiting and as this woman shows it was a good time to stretch out and relax.

Topaz added lots of noise which for me is symbolic of the texture of the salt and therefor I saw no reason to soften it. On this image I added a vignette to direct the eye into the scene and reinforce the composition’s reliance on the rule of thirds and diagonal lines.

Vintage Indian Racer

I really like the way this image turned out. The bike is a work of art and has been lovingly restored. The young man riding it is probably half the bike’s age. I really like the juxtaposition of the vintage bike with the modern leathers and helmet. The reflection of the other participants in the face shield and the golden glow on it are part of why I chose this image.

As in yesterday’s post this image went through processing in Aperture 3 and Topaz Adjust. The noise in the image works for me; much as the film grain in Kodak Tri-X did when I shot B&W film years ago.

The motorcycle and rider fill the foreground in the composition yet they still allow the viewer’s eye to move on into the scene through the negative space of the salt flat into the distant mountains. The shadows on the left hint at unseen spectators that are waiting in anticipation of seeing him speed off down the race course in pursuit of a world record.