Archive for the ‘Topaz’ Category

Fire – Water – Air – Earth   1 comment


— My submission to the Thomas Cook “Explore the Elements” photoblogging challenge. —

As my friend Jim Nix says, “This post is a little different than my normal kind of post.”

About a week ago, Jim tagged me in one of his blog posts, and by doing so, nominated my images for entry into the Thomas Cook “Explore the Elements” Travel Photoblogging Challenge. In this competition, we are tasked with choosing from our portfolios four images that represent each of the natural elements — Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.

Though honored by Jim’s nomination, I also knew that this would be more challenging than it first seemed. For one thing, the judges are Nicole S. Young, Elia Locardi, Dave Bouskil, and Ken Kaminesky. (Sure, no pressure at all.) They are all amazing photographers whose work I’ve long admired, so it’s quite intimidating to think that they’ll be scrutinizing my images for a change. As I flipped through possible candidate images, I was caught up with seeing them anew, also realizing that perhaps they weren’t quite up to snuff. For those images that didn’t pass muster, I wound up reprocessing them with new techniques I’ve learned over the years since they were originally taken.

Below are my entries for this most interesting challenge. At the end of the post, I, in turn, will nominate five photographers to also take part in the challenge.

Along the way, you can click on each image to see a full-screen view in a new browser tab. Enjoy!


“Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world. Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit.”


“Okay,” I thought, “energetic, forceful, moving things… got it!”  Ken Shockley’s “Shockwave” jet truck is quite something to experience. (Some people have really cool hobbies.) Before performing high-speed dashes down the runway at air shows, Ken plays in front of the audience, sending out massive amounts of flame and smoke. When he hits the afterburners, he can top out at 376mph.


“Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism.”

Originally published as “Tenacity”, I’ve always enjoyed this image of a small stone and leaf holding on against the onslaught of the many waterfalls at Diana’s Baths in New Hampshire. “There’s a bit of ‘defensiveness’ and ‘suppleness’ in there,” I thought, “along with the fluid, flowing… yeah, that one.”


“Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement. Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom.”

A magnificent sunrise at Cobscook Bay, Maine, not far from the Canadian border

Sometimes, I’m amazed that the sky can be so big. This image was taken early one morning at Cobscook Bay, near Lubec, Maine. (Lubec happens to be the furthest point east in the continental U.S., so it could be said that the sun shines here first for us.) The sky that morning was so dramatic and dynamic that it seemed to be breathing. And as for ‘evasiveness’, the brilliance seen here was gone within 15 minutes as the sun came over the clouds.


“Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth. Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity.”

Capturing the elements of earth, water, mist-laden air, and the fire of fall foliage. At Silver Cascade, NH

This was my most challenging choice. I have a number of images of solid, earthy-like things that might’ve been good, and I went through a few changes before deciding on this one. Can one really separate Earth’s elements one from another, or does the interplay of Fire, Water, Air and Earth account for the natural beauty we see around us? Although this choice is intended primarily to convey the sense of solid “earth”, I think the image brings in all of the elements — solid earth, flowing water, ethereal and foggy air, and the fire of brilliant fall foliage.


Part of the Explore the Elements challenge is to nominate five other photographers to participate, so I’ll call upon my old Collaboration friends to join in. They are all wonderful landscape photographers, so I can’t wait to see their entries. Good luck, guys!

Called out are:

Jim Denham
Jerry Denham
Mark Gvazdinskas
Bob Lussier
Dave Wilson

In My Little Town   3 comments

In My Little Town


So, I thought to myself: If I use a fake tilt-shift effect during processing, will this scene look like a tiny toy town?

Nailed it.

Just having a bit of fun… This was a display at a farm museum nearby. In a long, metal building packed to the rafters, we found an incredibly eclectic collection of toy figures, lunch boxes, old farm gear, restored tractors, and icons from past times. No doubt there will be a few more images from this location, and as with any good spot… gotta go back!

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The Drift   8 comments

The Drift

The Drift

Some people trick out their cars or motorcycles. Others sink thousands into landscaping. Me? I like to dress out the kayak, mostly with safety bling and sandals. (The boat is a 2000 Perception Eclipse, Kevlar, composite bulkheads, a little over 17 feet. Susan has a similar version, but a bit smaller. And firecracker red.)

The other day – mid-November, mind you – the weather was forecast to be almost 80F, so we felt it was our responsibility to go out for a nice, long paddle trip. This spot is near Hammocks Beach State Park and Bear Island, one of our favorite destinations. Bear Island is separated from the mainland by a few miles, with a network of creeks flowing through rich marshlands, filled with Great Herons, Egrets, Pelicans, and a host of other shorebirds.

We worked our way upwind during the morning, with a nice wind-driven coast back to the landing in the afternoon — just the way it should be. Late in the afternoon, not wanting it to end too quickly, we beached up to take in the last warm rays of the setting sun.


This is a single-exposure image. I used it to test out several new product versions in the world of Photoshop Plug-Ins. (I have to wonder if these product uprgades were released just in time for Christmas?)

Flipping back and forth between Nik Color Efex Pro 4, Topaz Adjust 5, and OnOne Perfect Effects from Perfect Suite 6, I was struck by the architectural similarity between them.

There used to be a time when running a filter would return a single filter result in a layer (the old PhotoTools from OnOne excepted.) Now, in Adjust and Color Efex Pro, we have the ability to stack effects together, adjusting each to taste, without having to continually pop in and out of Photoshop (or Lightroom, or Aperture.) This is clearly a good approach, as all three companies have adopted this model.

Each plug-in set has different features, pre-sets, strengths and weaknesses, of course. Which one is best for your purposes is a matter of taste and convenience. But I must say, all of these companies are pouring on the steam to develop kickazz modules, and we as photographers benefit from that competition.

If there is any drawback to this, it comes from trying to decide which filters you need at a given time. Oh, the horror of too many options. :)

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Masnavi   18 comments



Know that the world of created beings
is like pure and clear water, reflecting
the attributes of God.

Their knowledge, justice and kindness
reflects God’s like a heavenly star is
reflected in running water.

Earthly kings reflect God’s kingship.
Scholars mirror the wisdom of God.

People and nations may change as
one generation replaces another;
but the divine attributes are eternal.

The water flowing in the stream
changes many times, but the
reflection of the moon and stars
in the water remains the same.

— Rumi (Masnavi 6: 3172-8)


A Great Egret admires his reflection at the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge near the coast of Delaware. Perhaps this is a good followup to last week’s Narcissus.

As we were driving north to New England for our autumn vacation, one morning we decided to slow down and take a more coastal route. The small road brought us through farmlands, forgotten towns, and beautiful natural areas hosting thousands of birds. At one bend in the road, there were ponds on either side serving as brooding areas for various birds. (You can see another view of this pond at Assembly.)

My good friend from Wales, Anthony Woodhouse, has started a new Flickr group called Weekly Photo Challenge. This image is my entry for this week’s challenge: Reflections.

Single Exposure handheld from Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/9, 300mm, 1/640s. Processed in Photoshop CS5, Nik Color Efex Pro assisting.


For a short time, I’m running a contest to win a free copy of the recently-released Topaz Lens Effects. To win, all you have to do is drop a comment under this photo, answering the simple question: What was different or unusual about all of my photo-blog entries last week?   It should be obvious to those who have been with me for a while.  A winner will be picked at random from all correct responses, and notified by email, so be sure to include your address (I will send no SPAM.)

A Seagull Thanksgiving   1 comment

An old, dried up fish head sits on a piling at Fort Macon State Park, North Carolina

And what would a seagull want for Thanksgiving dinner?

“Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads,
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up yum

Ask a fish head, anything you want to,
They won’t answer, they can’t talk.”

There. If you’re at all familiar with this Barnes and Barnes song featured on Dr. Demento, then you’ll have this foolish and annoying ditty running through your head all day today… just like me. Grrrrr…

This poor soul was found as-is on a ramp piling at Fort Macon State Park in eastern North Carolina. With no tripod, I went for the hand-held brackets at +/-2EV.  Photomatix Pro 4, Nik filters, and Topaz InFocus made it worthwhile, and not just a little bit gross.

Click on the image to see it in all its disgusting glory.

Better get there before Charles DeGull gets all the good stuff…

A curious seagull with a silly expression, at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

Charles DeGull


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