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Evening walk under the John Frost bridge

I really like to take photos of the John Frost bridge in Arnhem. And not only because I like photos of bridges in general. It’s just so colorful at night, with a perfect reflection. And you can even get under it.

I took this photo few years back. I was on a ship docked nearby and I had some time so I went to take few photos during the sunset. It was a bit of a strange walk. A short while after I took this photo, the two cars you can see in the distance, started drag racing. Not sure if that was the best location to do that, but luckily, as it was early in the year, there were very few ships there, and no one around. Still, not the smartest thing to do.

This is a blend from three exposures. I think it’s quite obvious that this was taken with a fish-eye lens. No, this is not a panorama, but I ended cropping it into a more wider aspect ratio. The sky was just boring and I had too much of the foreground, both taking away from the main part of the image, the bridge. Blended and edited in Photoshop.

Evening walk under the John Frost bridge

Pink color at the horizon

The lighthouse at the Neusidlersee in Poddersdorf, Austria is a great place for sunset shots. The sun set’s right behind the lighthouse most of the year, and that can make for some stunning shots. But not always. Sometimes you get only a bit of color at the horizon, with nothing in the sky. Same happened the day I took this photo. But to get as much of the pink color into it, I decided to go with a panorama. Like that, the pink area was expanded, while having less of the empty blue sky.

This is a two shot panorama, each shot from three exposures, blended, combined and finished in Photoshop.

Pink color at the horizon

The street towards Les Invalides in Paris

When you are taking photos from a high up place, you can either try to capture as much as you can, or focus on one single part of the scenery. To tell the truth, the wide shots are simpler. The reason is mostly wind. When you are shooting wide, a small movement of the camera will have almost no effect on the photo. When you zoom in, a small movement will completely ruin the photo. It’s the same when you are shooting handheld. The wider you go, the better chance your photo will be sharp.

This photo was taken from the top of the Tour Montparnasse in Paris. This is the only skyscraper in the center of Paris. If you ever been there, you would know, that it can get quite windy there. Since the floor is not really stable (it bends when people walk around), you can’t really use a tripod. Instead I used a clamp and attached the camera to the outside glass wall. It’s a very thick glass there. But like this, the camera was mostly outside, so right in the wind.

Here I used the 200mm lens and zoomed in a lot to get only Les Invalides in the photo. I did multiple shots, hoping that one of them will be sharp enough. And one was. This is a blend of two exposures, blended and edited in Photoshop.

The street towards Les Invalides in Paris

Bench with a view

There are places where you can sit down, enjoy the view and just relax. This is one of them. This bench is along the path you have to take to get to the 5 fingers platform high above Hallstatt in Austria. I have been to this spot already two times in the last few years. And I want to go back. Both times it was a bit hazy when I was there. I would love a nice clear day to get the best view but had no luck with it. A sunset would be also nice, but since the cable cars going up there don’t run in the evening, that will be a bit harder to accomplish.

This is a blend of three exposures, done in Photoshop.

Bench with a view

Topaz Labs

Topaz Labs, the makers of many Photoshop plugins and photo editing applications, have been on a roll recently. After releasing two AI powered applications, The JPEG to RAW AI and the AI Gigapixels (which both gave very impressive results), they are releasing a new AI powered application today. The Topaz Sharpener AI. And I think you can deduce what it does from the name. I got to it a bit before today’s release, so I will share my thoughts about it with you today.

As usually, Topaz is also offering an introductory price, same as with other of their products. So from today, the 28th February, until the 15th of March, the price is 20USD off. Head over to the Topaz Labs website to check out more. There is also a trial version available.

Topaz Sharpener AI

While the interface of the Topaz Sharpener AI is very similar to their other AI applications, it provides more options this time. You have three processing modes to chose from here. Sharpen, stabilize and focus. Sharpen tries to distinguish between noise and objects and sharpen only what needs to be sharp. Stabilize will try and remove the motion blur in your photos. Lastly, focus will try to sharpen areas that are out of focus. Let’s have a look at each one here.

Topaz Sharpener AI

In all examples, the original is on the left.

Sharpen

Sharpening is something you have to do on every photo. The results here are quite good, if maybe a bit too strong even on the default settings.

Topaz Sharpener AI

It adds a lot of detail and definition. You can see it very nicely here on this mountain area.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Or on this city photo. I would say the whole shot has more of overall clarity and detail.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Strangely, I noticed one problem. The sharpened version sometimes has less detail in the shadows, that the original photo. It’s like the algorithm just missed the area and just filled it with black.

Stabilize

The Stabilizer processing mode should remove motion blur from the photo. As it often happens that something moves in a shot, this can really be helpful. So I gave it a try on some blurry foliage and boats.

Topaz Sharpener AI

On the foliage, it’s a bit all over the place. Some are almost perfectly defined and sharp. Some look like they weren’t changed at all.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Same on the boats. Probably it depends a lot on how much movement there is. Just look at the two red boats here. one one god it got rid of almost all the movement. Not so much on the other one. Still, the result looks better than the source in both cases.

Focus

The Focus processing mode should sharpen out of focus areas. While this is generally not possible, there is a small range around the sharp area, where this should work. For my example here, I tried it with one handheld shot image. While the main subject, the statue, is generally in focus, few areas like the head are a bit out of focus. So let’s have a look what it can do here.

Topaz Sharpener AI

The results on the statues face are quite nice. Overall it’s more in focus and sharper. It created a bit of artifacts, probably from the texture of the statue, but it still looks fine.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Interestingly, this is what it did with a tower in the background of the statue. Compared to how out of focus it was, it really added some impressive detail.

Topaz Sharpener AI

There is one problem though. I’m not sure if the algorithm splits the image into a grid, but there are many spots where you can see strange effect like this one. It started creating detail in the window and stopped. It sharpened part of the wall, and then stopped. This makes for a very uneven result.

Overall, my impression here is a bit mixed. While some of the results are impressive, some problems are not. Still, using this on parts of a photo, not on one as a whole, can result in a better finished image. I mean, using it for instance to stabilize some moving foliage and blending it into the photo and similar.

It’s possible that some of the issues I found were caused by the pre-release version so you can give the final version a try yourself.  Just go here and get the trial version now.

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