Aspen turning — some post processing experimentation

Recently, Topaz Software released the latest in their line of plugin and post processing software — Impression. The idea is that this software (which you can run stand-alone, or as a Photoshop plugin) can turn a photograph into something resembling a painting. And you can choose from approximations to any of a number of painting styles, with lots of things to tweak.  It’s available at a discount through the end of the month, so I thought I should download it and a trial code and give it a spin.

Aspen turning (original)

My raw material was this shot of aspen trees turning — I took it last weekend down in the San Juan mountains thinking it’d make nice wallpaper for my various gadgets.  Starting off with one of Impression’s “Van Gogh” presets and tweaking a bit, I rendered the original into this:

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Monet Pool Fiori

Another piece of art glass by Dale Chihuly (two pieces, actually), currently located in the Denver Botanic Gardens‘ Monet Pool:

Monet Pool Fiori

This arrangement is one that absolutely looks better at night.  In the daytime, you’re distracted by people and plants and benches behind the piece (from this vantage point).  At night, the lighting on the glasswork helps isolate it from what would otherwise be clutter.

EXIF info:
Oly 12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 21mm and f/4.5 on E-M1 camera
1/25 sec at ISO 1600

Room enough for two

This weekend, the local honeybees were giving some echinacea blooms in our yard a good workover, so I thought I was overdue in documenting their work.

Room enough for two

Normally, the bees seem to prefer working solo.  But even though we’ve got a swath of echinacea for them to work on, sometimes they need to “double up” in order to keep working.  I used an Olympus E-M1 and 60mm macro for this shot, BTW.

The Queen’s Bath, revisited

Along with all the amazing ruins, the ancient Maya site of Palenque also offers some really nice waterfalls not too far from the site center.  Dubbed the “Queen’s Bath,” it’s actually a series of waterfalls with terraces.  It can be a really amazing thing to see and photograph.

But can it ever change its appearance with the seasons.

Our most recent trip to Palenque was timed to fall just after the end of the wet season, in early December.  Enough water was flowing in the Otolum creek to give the Queen’s Bath some life:

The Queen's Bath

Note that this is a 1/13 second exposure, so you can see that you can get some nice blurring of the water without a tripod (note that you can’t use a tripod in the ruins without a permit requiring paperwork in advance, etc.).  At least, an exposure like this will work if your camera or lens offers image stabilization.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a shot taken from nearly the same spot two years earlier (but at the end of the dry season, in mid-May):

Queen's Bath (dry season)

Dark little forest

When we stopped at the Chicago Botanic Garden on our recent trip to the windy city, we found they had a whole courtyard devoted to bonsai trees.  Better still, the trees were displayed with frosted glass backings — making for some really nice photo compositions.

In this particular case, the glass could have been a bit taller.  But I’d never been to Chicago before, and have no plans to return anytime soon, so I wasn’t about to be fussy.  A bit of work in PS Elements, and the size of the frosted glass became immaterial.

Personally, though, I prefer the silhouette / monochrome version.  Gives it a nice, crisp look, don’t you think?

If you’re curious, this tiny forest is a Sawara False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’).

Plein air

On our recent trip to Chicago, we did our usual tour of the local botanic gardens (one of the benefits of being married to a garden-loving woman).  While wandering through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I spotted an in-progress plein air watercolor:

Plein air

Sadly, the artist was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t chat with them.  Just the same, I liked this composition…