Tag Archives: topaz denoise

Colorado Mesa Roadwork and a Mini HDR Tutorial

Here’s an HDR for all of you hungry for HDR images. To review: HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. HDR images are technically HDRI (if you want to sound like you REALLY know what you are talking about). HDR allows more light options to be shown in the image because you take several different exposures of the same shot, essentially allowing for a dark, light and normal version of the image (3-9 is the usual amount of shots taken)- that are then combined in a computer program (I use Photomatix Pro 4) to create your image. You can tone map the photo from there, which allows you to control the amount of detail in shadows and in highlights. Tonemapping also can give you the look of a realistic image, or a SUPER CRAZY OVERCOOKED HDR, depending on your settings. So play cautiously. Sometimes an image needs the overcooked look (I tend to get my slider as close to the left as I can get away with on the “micro smoothing” tab, which definitely adds noise and the grungy HDR look I like. But I try to temper it with sanity. Really I do!). I’ve found (and the vast majority of photographers out there with HDR tutorials seem to say as well) that you need to take that noisy image into Photoshop and play with it there before you have a clear final image. I will sometimes take parts of the original images and mask them into the HDR image in spots where the HDR didn’t work so well. I also play with the colors of my images A LOT- in this, I desaturated and darkened the blues to get the sky look I like, and changed around the yellow and rust colored equipment until I liked it better. I think noiseware of some kind is a must with HDR, and I always use either Noiseware Professional or Topaz DeNoise (both have their positives and their negatives, look up my reviews of each in this blog if you are interested in pros and cons… but know that as I’ve learned how each works, both have become very usable and friendly). Noiseware desharpens the image, so sharpening of some kind is needed to finish the picture- either in Photoshop or Lightroom. But be careful, as sharpening brings back some digital noise if you aren’t watching!

This particular image was finished with a hard light layer added over the main layer and mixed in. But that’s just my work… and a recent obsession (adding lighting layers to change the look). Totally not HDR-specific.

I’m not the best out there with HDR, but there are several places and people you can check out to see and learn from the real experts. For me, Trey Ratcliff at stuckincustoms.com is the master for HDR landscapes. I’d also look at Rick Sammon’s work at his blog site. Trey has a great HDR tutorial for free on his site, and Rick might also have something. Finally, to be inspired I go to HDRspotting.com. The featured images on the home page are always well done HDR, and the editors picks are amazing. If you can get invited to join, then share your work there. They rarely deny submissions, but to get on the featured page or editors picks requires a great image (and sends TONS of people to your website or flickr page, which is a plus). Contact me if you want an invite code, I have one free, or go to the HDRspotting facebook page and show your work there- maybe you will get a code from that. I suggest contacting artists directly from the HDRspotting website, complement their work, and ask for a code then. I am sure there are many more great HDR artists out there- I’d add Laurie Shupp, Brian Matiash, RC Conception and Scott Frederick on the short list of photographers that I really admire.

For other programs to create HDR, I’ve heard great things about the Photoshop CS5 program, and also Nik Software’s HDR Pro. It’s becoming more common, so look around and see what you can find. Photomatix has been around a while (Pro 4 just came out in 2010 though) but does quality images- and is fairly cheap. You still need Photoshop to really finish the images, though, and I heard that the Nik Software works well even without Photoshop… haven’t tried it though and so I can’t vouch one way or the other.

If I get comments on this, I’ll be glad to go back in and add more detail to any sections you want- well, more detailed. So feel free to comment good or bad on it! I’d also love more “go-to” people to suggest out there, so if you know a great HDR artist, let me know who he/she is! I have a “Check This Out” category on this blog where I suggest great artists I admire, so this could work into an article there in the future!

I wouldn’t say this is the best of my HDR. Here are some others which have gotten good comments or view counts:

To see more of my work, head to www.kelleybard.com and enjoy. I have a whole gallery just for HDR at www.kelleybard.com/hdr. There you can see my good images (and some of my bad HDR, I’m sure). Lastly I love to get connected with you on flickr, facebook, buzztown and twitter. Links are above to the right… and you can always search “Kelley Bard” or “Kelley Bard Photography” if you want to find me on one of those sites!


Snowy Wheelbarrow

Interesting… I start to switch to a balance between landscapes and portraits as my output, and suddenly I’m choosing a lot of vertical photos for my blog. Hmmmm…. We had some snow last night (a fun pic or two of that coming in the future, I think) but this wasn’t from the evenings festivities. I’ve been sitting on this image for about a month now. I knew I liked it but wasn’t sure if I wanted to do some crazy finishing or not. I’m glad I keep it pretty simple. The original was a bit darker in the tree branches and I did a quick adjustment with Topaz Adjust which lightened that up while adding contrast overall. I masked some of the original image in and used Topaz DeNoise to clean it up- I think I’m really getting the hang of Topaz DeNoise now, I use it on most images but I’m starting to use the “add grain” feature more now, which I surprisingly like.

My favorite part in this image (well, two): how the orange wheelbarrow matches the orange leaves on the tree (natural, not photoshop) and how fluffy the snow looks!

See the best of my work at www.kelleybard.com, or on flickr or facebook. Remember, a new April deal will be coming out soon, so keep checking back on the social networks and here on the blog to see what it will be!


Lines and Organics

Here is a black and white HDR… so I’m hitting all bases (strict photo/art purists vs. photoshop using radicals). 🙂

I saw this while exploring around a nearby elk farm a month ago or so. The lines vs. organic, flowing shapes caught my eye immediately. I liked a lot about this and wanted to show off the details in the wood, the lines going every-which-way, the delicate tree limbs in the mid-ground, the great clouds and how they seemed to mix the line and organic shape phenomenon. HDR was the obvious choice for the wood detail, the clouds, and the snow detail to be properly represented. I processed this with Photomatix for the HDR, then hit Photoshop for some tweaking with Topaz Adjust and Topaz DeNoise. The black and white look seemed perfect from the start and more so by the end. If nothing else, this has that feeling of “college art project”, so I got that going for me. Which is nice.

This went into my seasonal gallery on www.kelleybard.com. I’m not sure if I’m overwhelming people with the number of galleries I have… I was able to finally move all my proofs into a secret folder so they aren’t clogging up the “all my photos” area… anyone have thoughts, tips, suggestions from your experiences with varied photos and how to show them?

See this also on flickr or facebook or buzztown, links are at the right for all. Enjoy!

Curbex (new word?- Country Urban Exploration) ‘Enjoy The View’, Plus Photovision discussion

I came across this gloriously ratty seat when I was chasing down the bald eagle in yesterdays post. I’ve actually been to this site before, it’s an abandoned shack and field off the main road into Durango, CO, I pass it whenever I go into town. The chair is new, though, as are several piles of dumped trash in the field to the right of this image. Sigh. But back to the image… I fell in love with this chair at first sight. Not enough to sit on it and get wet, mildewy or scabies, but as a photographer who has a secret urbex fantasy (I really, really love urbex photos and wish that I was in a place where I could take more of them), this seemed like a good mix of urbex and country landscapes. Hence, curbex. Which has probably been used before, but I will swear forever now that I invented it.

I watched my first episode of Photovision 2010 last night, and for a set of DVD’s that cost me $30, it was well worth it. I think if I lived in a place where there were lots of photo workshops and such, it wouldn’t be quite as helpful. But I learned several things, including several handy Photoshop tips that I am super glad of using. One I used in last nights image- making a layer, turning it black and white with gradient map (photoshop menu Images–> Adjustments –> Gradient Map) and then I lowered the opacity to around 50%. It gave a darkened, moody, desaturated feeling to the image. Another handy photoshop tip was to create a layer and change it from normal to hard light- it gave an amazing strong look to the photo (also lowered in opacity, it would have been too intense). I use the lighting in layers a lot with textures, but hadn’t even thought to use it in an image! It made the photo (an HDR from 3 exposures) look a bit more edgy. Hopefully not too edgy, but it needed that look. Once I see the whole set, I’ll make more of a comment. But, halfway through the first DVD, it’s already worth it to me.

Lots of little details worked on here, but I’m glad that I did them. I really liked this image, as soon as I saw it in real life and could imagine what the final photo could look like… yay!

For more urbex, I’ll gush in the near future about Scott Frederick Photography, but you can check out his blog here right now! He is a steady contributor to HDRspotting.com, as am I, and I really respect his work.

See my work at www.kelleybard.com, flickr, or “like” it at facebook or buzztown (see links on right). Lots of stuff coming up soon, including some exciting opportunities to get cheap photo shoots in my new home studio!


More OnOne Pics: Delicate Blossoms Zoom

Original Image

Final Image

I liked this image but knew that it had some distracting elements and needed some oomph added. I don’t usually play with blur filters but I thought that a slight bit of zoom blur would be nice with this… so I applied that in Photoshop (after, I might add, removing some of the distracting blue tones in lightroom). I masked the blur off the blooms and then moved to OnOne PhotoTools, because I just didn’t think that Topaz Adjust had the look that I wanted. I do like a lot of what Topaz Adjust has to offer, but PhotoTools has so many filters that it’s just a completely different deal. Anyways, a few different filters added in brought out the slight glow and the bit of vignetting (another look I don’t usually do nowadays but it seemed good here). Back to Photoshop for a deep red filter (masked off the flowers again) and a trip through Topaz DeNoise to clean up the nasty noise… et voila!

I could have probably reproduced this look in Photoshop. But it was fun to find and use the filters in PhotoTools, and it comes out great… better than my fumbling fingers sometimes. I still haven’t tried to figure out the masking deal in PhotoTools, once I have that understood it will be a much more valuable tool (in my opinion). But even without that it’s still pretty damn nice to have.

I think it’s an improvement… maybe not the best flower pic in the world but one that makes me happier now. And right now I’m all about Spring, so any spring flowers will make me smile big!

I’ll put this plus other OnOne created images together soon in a comprehensive review.

I have a big chunk of work at www.kelleybard.com, and here and on facebook and flickr. I’ll be posting my monthly deal this week in one or all of those places, it’s usually a good deal for someone, maybe for you this time! Come back and check it out.


2nd of 2 Versions of Image… Uprooted, 2 Toned

So, this is yesterdays image, but double tone mapped in Photomatix Pro 4 and without the warming filter applied to yesterdays shot. I just thought it would be nice to compare what double toning does… although it’s a bit different applied here rather than to a landscape or city shot, I think. Double toning seems to add more contrast, and to get a bit more of the other-worldly look to my images. I rarely do it, usually because it adds a ton more noise to deal with later. It adds nice texture to woods, and such, which is why I wanted to try it here. I can’t really explain my settings in tone mapping, because I change them with every image, but usually I have luminance up, micro contrast all the way up, I change around the smoothing but I often try to have micro smoothing as low as the image will take, and I play with all the other settings wildly. I always have the strength at 100, though. In double toning, I will bring the color saturation down a bit and usually go for more “normal” looking smoothing and micro smoothing (more to the right for both)- especially if I have already had it set low for the first time through Photomatix.

Here’s yesterdays shot:

Love to hear comments on these, and what you like/don’t like about either. I can’t decide which I like better, myself. See more of my work at http://www.kelleybard.com, or on flickr or facebook.


So exciting, this weekend has been the annual Snowdown celebration in my town and I’ve been out with my camera the past few days. In the next few days, I’ll show some fun shots from the light parade last night, and some images from the hot air balloon event today. I froze my butt off for those, so they better be good! I’ll also be posting my February deal on flickr, facebook and buzztown soon, so “like” Kelley Bard Photography there if you haven’t already to hear about it!

Enjoy a great weekend!

2 Versions of 1 HDR… First- Uprooted, 1 Toned

I saw this tree a week or so ago on the side of the road and swore that I would be back at some sunset to take photos of it. My original idea for the shot was to get very close to the roots and get them in focus with everything else out of focus. I need a wider lenses to make that shot happen, though- even at 24 mm I couldn’t make the image I liked. So I stepped back a bit and got this shot… which I really like as well.

HDR is High Dynamic Range imaging, a process where you take several images of the same scene at different exposures and combine them in a computer program. I use Photomatix Pro 4, but others are getting decent/good results out of Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop CS5. I used it for this and for tomorrow’s image, to get depth and texture in the shadows, highlights, tree limbs, etc. I developed each image similarily, with only a few changes. This one was single toned, which means it was put through tone mapping one time (resulting in more natural look and less noise to clean up later). I also wanted to bring up the warmth of the day I shot this… late afternoon as the sun was setting, and I wanted that warm color here, too, so I added a warming photo filter. The image tomorrow is decidedly cooler, and a bit more otherworldly and dark as a result of the double toning. When it comes up, I would love to hear some comments on what you like/don’t like about each image!

Posted to my website (www.kelleybard.com) as well as flickr and facebook. Enjoy all my images and have a great weekend!

*Next week, I’ll be posting some images from my recent testing of OnOne Softwares PhotoTools 2.6… keep coming back to view them and judge for yourself whether it’s worth the use!*