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Evening at the Matthias Church

I had a really “nice” surprise this morning. When I went to turn on my PC, I found out my 34 inch monitor was dead. Would not turn on at all, not even the led light. Not really happy about that. Luckily, I have been using 2 monitors for a while now, so I can work still on my secondary one. But using a 24 inch monitor on it’s own is really a huge change. This is actually the first time I had problems with a monitor. There even is a monitor I bought in 2006 that is still being used on daily basis and works fine. But looks like 4 years was max for this one.

Now I’m not sure if I will go a get a new one, or maybe just get a second 24 inch to go with the one I have now. Or maybe I just stay with this one for now. It’s strange to go to a smaller one, but one gets used to things very quickly. But I do like how clean and empty my desk looks now. So much more minimalist :) Will be hard to decide.

For today I have for you another photo from my archives, taken few years back in Budapest, next to the Matthias Church. It was taken from the walkway that is available on the Fisherman’s bastion there. This is a two shot vertorama, with the top being from a single exposure, and the bottom from three. These three exposure were all taken at the same settings, I did not use them to recover highlights or shadows, but to get rid of the moving people in the photo. If you want to know more about this technique, check out this guide.

Evening at the Matthias Church

Deleting photos

Is it just me, or do you also find it hard to delete photos? If I look at my Lightroom Catalog, it currently shows 281 809 photos. That’s probably most if not all the photos I took from 2008 until now. And I think I could delete half of them, without even loosing anything. But I find it always hard to delete them. It’s these feeling of loos, getting rid of something I made. But there is a thing I noticed looking at my library. The longer I take photos, the less of them I take. And today I will share with you my thoughts on this, and how you can prevent taking too many photos.

Keeping fewer photos

  • Don’t take photos you know you will not like. Sometimes the camera can just stay in the bag. Once you taken enough photos, you just know. Happens to me sometime. I look at the scene, look at the conditions, and just don’t bother. I know I will not like the results anyway. And trying to force it usually does not result in great photos also.
  • Don’t take many versions of the same composition. I have a bit of problem with this one sometime, and should try more to fix this. One does not need the same photo over and over. Take one or few, if you want to be sure to have a good one, and move on to a new composition. Like this you maximize you chance to get a great photo. I would make an exception here, for sunrise and sunset photos. The conditions change so quickly then, that even staying with the same composition can produce different results.
  • Limit the number of brackets. I tend to say, better safe then sorry, but one can also overdo it. You don’t need 9, you don’t need 7, mostly you don’t even need 5 brackets. If you are not shooting into the sun, 3 brackets is mostly enough. Try a sequence and check the histogram directly on the camera. If you see that you are getting the whole dynamic range in fewer brackets, adjust your settings accordingly.
  • Delete technically bad photos immediately. You can’t always tell directly on the camera if a photo is bad. But often there are problems that you can spot immediately, and you won’t be able to fixt them anyway. Maybe you bumped into your tripod. Maybe there was a strong wind. Maybe you used the wrong settings and over/underexposed you shot complletely. Maybe you forgot to turn off autofocus, so your focus is completely off. This and other problems can be seen immediately on the camera, and it’s pointless to keep those photos. Easier to delete them right when you checking the preview.
  • Mark the photos you like. I do this usually if I’m doing photos at an event. I tent to go through all right away, as I have to deliver them to a client, and mark the ones I will edit and send. When I’m done I wait for 1-4 weeks and then just delete the unmarked photos. I keep the ones I deliverd, as in my experience, there does not exist a company or a person that does reasonable backups. I had clients coming back to me after years, taht they lost the photos.
  • Be decisive. When you look at a photo and you dont like it and don’t need it, delete it. If you are undecisive and not sure, you will probably just delete it sometimes later, or just keep it for nothing. The thing is, the first feeling about it is usually the correct one. You can’t force yourself to like something even if you try.
Deleting photos

Bratislava Majales fireworks

Majales is an open air festival held every year in the middle of Bratislava, next to the Danube river. And it always ends in fireworks. Today’s photo is from the festival in 2012, so already 7 years ago. I stumbled upon this photo when looking for examples for my article on Topaz Denoise AI yesterday, and I decided to edit it.

If you want a photo of fireworks in Bratislava, the next Majales is in two weeks. From the 3rd to 5th May. The fireworks will be in this same spot on the 5th at 21:45 in the evening. There will be a lot of people there, but since this is not the New years fireworks, it’s not as bad. For those curious about the event, here is the official site.

This is a single exposure, double edited in Camera RAW and then blended in Photoshop. I even used Topaz Denoise AI on this one, as I had to overexpose the shot. That created a bit of noise. And the results were again great :). I think it will be my main denoise plugin from now on, if it gives me such nice results on all of the photos.

Bratislava Majales fireworks

Topaz Labs

We just got a new AI software from Topaz Labs two days ago. We already had the Jpeg to RAW AI, AI Gigapixel and Sharpener AI from Topaz Labs. This one the Topaz Denoise AI, as the name suggest removes noise from your photos. It uses AI to remove noise without loosing detail and sharpness. So today I will share with you my impressions of it, and some comparisons to my currently most used noise reduction Photoshop plugins, the Imagenomic Noiseware. I don’t have many photos taken at high ISO settings, but there are some interiors and night shots where I had to use high ISO, so I will use those for the examples.

Topaz Denoise AI

Same as with other Topaz AI applications, the interface is very simple. You load your image and process it. You only have three sliders: remove noise, enhance sharpness and restore detail. They do exactly what the name suggests. There is also a brighten preview option, where you can have it brighten your photos, so you can see the noise better. This has no effect on the image processing, it’s just to make you work simpler.
Topaz Denoise AI
One nice feature here is the support for RAW images, so you can directly work on the source file. Better to do this before you did other edits on the image. You can save the export as a DNG file RAW afterwards.

Topaz Denoise AI

But let’s go to the examples. There are three images in every example. The original photo as TIFF (lens correction and chromatic aberrations removed before noise reduction, some brightened a bit to make the noise more visible). Second one is a Noiseware noise reduction with strong noise preset and detail protection set to 6. Last one is the Topaz Denoise AI result, with all the sliders at 0.25.

Please take the comparison between Noiseware and Denoise with reservations. You can set the sliders differently in both, and the results may greatly vary based on photo. There is no way I can show all the possible results here, so this should be taken just as small preview, and one should try both for oneself (there are trials available). I will focus here only on the Denoise results.

Please click on the images to see bigger versions, to see the noise.

Original
Original
Imagenomic Noiseware
Imagenomic Noiseware
Topaz Denoise AI
Topaz Denoise AI

In this interior photo, Topaz Denoise very nicely removed the noise and added quite nice structure to the pillars. Strangely, which I noticed in multiple photos, some lines caught a bit of a green color tint. You can see it in the middle here and also in the top right corner. Hard to say why this happens.

Original
Original
Imagenomic Noiseware
Imagenomic Noiseware
Topaz Denoise AI
Topaz Denoise AI

Here is a very noisy photo, taken in the middle of the night. Again, you can see how Denoise tries to add more structure to places that it removed noise from.

Original
Original
Imagenomic Noiseware
Imagenomic Noiseware
Topaz Denoise AI
Topaz Denoise AI

This is my favorite result here. The car looks so clean afterwards. All the detail is preserved and overall this is a great result.

Original
Original
Imagenomic Noiseware
Imagenomic Noiseware
Topaz Denoise AI
Topaz Denoise AI

This is a different example from the same photo as the previous example. Again, very nice result, very clean, very crisp.

Original
Original
Imagenomic Noiseware
Imagenomic Noiseware
Topaz Denoise AI
Topaz Denoise AI

One last example here (again from a car, really have very few photos taken at a higher ISO :)). Again a very nice clean result here.

My Impression

I quite like the Topaz Denoise AI results. It’s obvious it does more than just noise reduction. It looks for the structure, similar to other Topaz AI plugins, and tries to recover it after the noise reduction process. The results are really clean and good quality. And to think this is all with very weak noise reductions set at 0.25. You can go as high as 1.00 which just smooths out everything.

You can give Topaz Denoise a try by going to the Topaz Labs website and getting the trial version.

Long exposure reflection at the lake Bled

I’m not really happy with the photos I took at lake Bled last month, but I also would be sad if I did not edit at least some of them. But looks like I will have to go back to get some sort of a nice sunset there. Maybe later this year. Who knows :)

Here is another panorama with the church in the middle of the lake, nicely flanked by the mountains. This is a two shot panorama, each shot from a single exposure. Edited and merged in Photoshop. I used a 10 stop Formatt Hitech filter here, to blur the water.

Long exposure reflection at the lake Bled

And here are few details:

Long exposure reflection at the lake Bled
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