Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Topaz Labs "Glow"

Now we have been fans of Topaz plug-ins for some time. Most images that we process will use either Adjust, Detail, Clarity and ReStyle or a combination. Many of their other plug-ins are used but less frequently.

The newest addition to their stable of plug-ins is "Glow". In a nutshell Topaz Glow creates vibrant and beautiful images with energetic sparks of neon light. This plug-in will probably not gain a lot of fans with the more traditional photographers who are interested in the more purist forms of photography such as Landscape, Travel etc however this particular plug-in will probably most suit those photographers seeking a more artistic, painterly or almost electric look to their images.

The first big thing you will like about this plug-in is that it also runs as a stand alone program meaning that you will not require Photoshop to use it.

First look at the all the presets and you will notice that all are fairly extreme and even though presets are always good to get a starting point we have found that using this plug-in is best used from scratch with the usual subtle changes in the sliders. Once you have found a look that you like then save it as your own Preset.
With Topaz Glow
As Travel Photographers we wanted to see how we could utilise this plug-in for our images. On our recent visit to Tasmania we visited many waterfalls and thought one of these would be a perfect sample image to experiment with the effect. We really wanted the water to pop a little more and stand out and "glow" but didn't want it on the entire image.

Orginal - unedited
We applied settings to adjust the whole image to the point where the water was exactly the glow we wanted then simply added a layer mask and painted back the area surrounding the water that we didn't want affected. We have found that if you use quite subtle adjustments to the sliders in combination with a Soft Light Blend Mode and Strength slider (see bottom left of the interface page) you can obtain some really nice effects.

The effect will certainly give a "pop" and a sharpened look to your images although we wouldn't suggest this as alternative way to sharpen your images.

Below is one of our images taken in Venice, Italy. The first is unedited and the second has Topaz Glow applied but using the subtle effects and using Soft Light Blend Mode.

Topaz Glow

Below are some of the presets you can use with the plug-in -

               Preset: Wonderland
                     Preset: Blazing Neon II
              Preset: Airbrush 1 
                       Preset: Heavy Metal II

This post has really only touched on this new plug-in but you really need to play with it to see how it can creatively enhance your images the way you want them. Topaz offers free trial downloads however if you are interested in purchasing then click on the ad in the right hand column of this blog to take you to their product page.

Check out this great video "Topaz Glow - An Introduction". It runs for just over 38min.

Any questions please feel free to drop us a comment.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Italy, Venice - Then & Now - Part 3

Well finally we have found some more time to continue with our Then & Now project which has been in the works for a couple of years. 

This is Part 3 in our Venice "Then & Now"series of photos. To see Part 1, which explains more about this project visit -

This image was taken in Piazzetta dei Leoncini which is a small square of Venice annexed to Piazza San Marco. A Piazzetta is small extension to a piazza. It is located between the northern facade of the Basilica of San Marco, the Patriarchal Palace and the church of San Basso.  The Piazzetta dei Leoncini received its name because of the presence of two beautiful lions in red Verona marble sculpted by Giovanni Bonazza in 1722. Behind the well-head is St Marks Square and the Basilica is to the left in the image.

We have tried to get the images as close to the original as possible however this has not always been possible but it gives you pretty good idea of the "Then & Now" concept. We have used Photoshop to blend some of the original image into the new photo to enhance the concept.

This is the original image from the Ricordo di Venezia. As the publication is not dated we're not 100% sure when this was taken but would guess it to be 1920's or 1930's
This is the same image as the first however we have blended the well-head from a shot taken in 2012. Some of the pigeons on the steps are also from the old image.
The same view in 2012

We are planning to post one of these every 1-2 weeks. To automatically receive new posts for this project simply fill in your email details on the top right hand side of the page. Hope you enjoy.

If you like this post please leave a comment.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

So you want to be a Travel Photographer! - Part 2

We hope our last post whetted your appetite with some points on how to become a Travel Photographer. We continue below with  the remaining points that we consider important on your photographic journey. We hope this inspires you.

    • A good business sense - this is crucial to be successful. Although we would like to be off
      Kiritimati Island, Kiribati
      Kiritimati Island, Kiribati
      shooting images all year round unfortunately there is the "paperwork" side to the business that still needs to be done. Try to develop the skill to see great business opportunities for different uses of your images. There are still endless opportunities out there it's just a matter of training your mind to see them.
    • Computer skills - another very important point. Most people are computer literate these days however being a Travel Photographer means having knowledge with not only complicated software but also computer hardware. The photographic industry and software development is constantly changing and if you can't keep up then you'll get left behind.
    • Output - a Travel Photographer has to be aware of all the possible outputs for their images and concentrate on the ones that works best for them. With us, we do Tourism & Resort Photography and Publishing. However other Travel Photographers concentrate on providing travel images for magazines, stock libraries, calendars etc. It's just a matter of finding your own niche and developing the market within that niche.
    • Social Media - this is a very powerful tool with today's photographers and important in "getting your name out there",  however do not get carried away with putting images on every social media network. Once again, find the ones that work for you and stick with them. We currently only use Facebook , Google+ and Twitter (to a small extent). We find that Twitter is a great way to advertise what your placing on your main social media networks.
    • Driving - be comfortable in driving on both sides of the road and watch those roundabouts!!!
    • Fitness - Lastly but certainly not least is that you must be moderately fit. Most days when out shooting we can walk anything up to 20kms per day while carrying all your gear which is why your selection of equipment and camera bag is vital. Too much gear and the wrong type of camera bag can result in a lot of money spent on aching shoulders, headaches, strained neck muscles etc (and that's just the first day lol)

    La Fenice Theatre, Venice - Italy
    La Fenice Theatre, Venice - Italy
    That just about covers everything.

    If you find that you can tick most of the points above then you have the "right stuff" and are on the right road to being a Professional Travel Photographer.  If not then at least this gives you a "blueprint" of what you need to do in order to break into the world of Travel Photography.

    Please Note: We do not suggest that you immediately quit your job and hit the road based on your ability to tick all these points. Continue to develop your skills during holidays & weekends and develop a business plan and eventually when you have enough income derived from your travel images to cover most of your living expenses then make the move.

    You only live once: Ah, bugger above, quit your job and go have a great time and if it doesn't work - do something else :-)

    If you need any further information or would like some advice please leave us a comment or email us at contact@widescenes.com

    Visit us on Google+ at

    Wednesday, 9 April 2014

    Topaz Detail Promotion

    Topaz Labs has an amazing suite of plug-ins which we use on almost every image we process. Their Detail plug-in is one of our favourites and will really make your images pop. If you've seen our images on our Google+ profiles (see below) then you'll understand the benefits of using this plug-in. 

    From April 10-30 there is a 50% promotion on Topaz Detail, with coupon code . Simply follow the link below and add aprdetail in the coupon code field and click on Apply. This will allow you to purchase the plug-in for only $19.99.

    Topaz Detail helps photographers get tack-sharp images that "pop". Here are the main benefits of using it:

    * Better control over image detail. Detail uses size-based processing that lets you independently adjust small, medium, and large details.
    * More natural images. The technology in Detail substantially reduces the halos and artifacts you get from over-sharpening.
    * More volume and three-dimensionality. Detail can enhance larger image features to increase the perceived "depth" of your photo.

    You can also see some examples on the product page: http://www.topazlabs.com/detail

    Please Note: As we are a Topaz Affiliate we may receive a commission for sales using the above link.

    If you would like to ask us any questions about this plug-in then leave us a comment.

    Wednesday, 2 April 2014

    So you want to be a Travel Photographer! - Part 1

    " Wow! You guys have the best job in the world!!!" We've heard this line so many times over the years and are constantly asked "what does it take to become a Travel Photographer. Anybody that maintains a living from Travel Photography will tell you that it probably is one of the best jobs in the world but like any other business where you are self employed there's the business side of the fun and Travel Photography is certainly no exception. We'll go a little more into depth about that later.

    So what is professional travel photography?

    "Travel photography is a subcategory of photography involving the documentation of an area's landscape, people, cultures, customs and history. The Photographic Society of America defines a travel photo as an image that expresses the feeling of a time and place, portrays a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state, and has no geographical limitations."

    Well thats the defintion in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_photography and it explains it quite well.  As an amateur whenever you take photos on holidays, even if it's with a mobile phone, it can be classed as travel photography (excluding the self portraits) . Once you do this kind of photography as a full-time job then you are a Professional Travel Photographer however there are still different types of travel photographers.  Some will travel and concentrate on supplying images for Travel Magazines & Photo Libraries, others will shoot for the Fine Art print market while others will produce products such as publishing books, postcards etc. We fall into this last category, however occasionally we also do commission jobs for resorts & tourism authorities as well. We do not work with magazines or image libraries however over the years many of our images have been licensed to companies for calendars and various print outputs.

    So what does it take to be a Travel Photographer? There are several key ingredients to being a successful Travel Photographer - here's a suggested checklist :

    • A passion for photography - This one is pretty obvious but unless the passion to learn the art of photography and spend countless hours learning the technical skills required to be taken seriously in this field. You must develop an "eye" for recognising great images and the skills for capturing them. You also must learn to shoot in any light (throw the theory of only shooting in the early hours of the morning and late afternoon out the window) 
    • A passion for travel - another obvious one considering this blog is about Travel Photography. Being good at planning a trip is essential (especially noting places that you cannot shoot eg near military installations) . Very few Travel Photographers will just arrive at a destination and start shooting so planning is very important.  Having a great "Travel Sense" is a must for any Travel Photographer so if you are vague or flipant when travelling then you will be constantly using your Travel & Equipment Insurance. Oh and by the way there are no days off when you are on the road (except if you are really sick of course!) besides Sundays are a great source of images of church-goers, especially in places such as the Pacific Islands.
    • Equipment - buy the best equipment that you can afford which is most practical for your output. Weight has always been the priority for us as we can walk for up to 20km a day with our equipment. For example you may want to consider investing in a carbon fibre tripod which are lighter and very steady for long exposures.
    • Telling a story - being able to adapt a unique style with your images is very important and being able to separate you from every other person out there with a camera. With the age of digital photography there is more competition than ever so you need to develop a "look" that captures the emotion of the viewer. Whether this is done "in-camera" or in "post-processing" is up to you. 
    • Curiosity  - you need a sense of curiosity about people and the destination they live in. Having a real curiosity will lead you to places that will give you opportunities to shoot the images that nobody else takes. Don't just follow the crowd. 
    • A rapport with people - This ones really important! If you can't approach and communicate with people regardless of the language spoken then this is not the profession for you. There is always a way to develop a rapport with the locals but usually trying to speak a few words of their language will always break the ice. Standing in a corner with a 300mm lens on you camera and shooting may get some great candid shots but you need to be good at both. Never get frustrated if someone cannot understand you - just remember that you're a visitor in their country!!! 
      Beware falling coconuts - very important point if you want a long career in Travel Photography. Paul has never been the same!!

    Keep an eye out  for Part 2 of this post.  We will also be expanding some of these points in future posts.

    If you need any further information or would like some advice please leave us a comment or email us at contact@widescenes.com

    Visit us on Google+ at

    Tuesday, 7 January 2014

    Fiji Islands - The Heart of the South Pacific

    Wow, 2013 really got away from us. With the launch of the new Fiji islands souvenir book we just ran out of time, however now that it has been released we hopefully will have heaps more posts for you. We plan to put together a comprehensive collection of posts on every facet of Travel Photography. Everything from equipment, pre-planning your trip, gadgets to include in your bag, techniques and much much more. Stay tuned!

    Now back to our latest book...... We have been shooting in the Fiji Islands since about 2005 and have released many products on the market there including a range of postcards. Many resorts have been kind enough over the years to commission us  with the aim of producing promotional images and products for them. With the success of our previous 4 books that sell aboard cruise ships in the Mediterranean we thought it was about time we put together Fiji Islands souvenir book with the thousands of images we have in our library. Not only did we include great images in this one but also some really yummy recipes and tropical cocktails. Naturally we were forced to try many cocktails to determine which ones would be included!! It's a hard life but someone has to do it lol. The Mango Lassi (non-alcoholic) is especially refreshing. Below is the cover of the book which will link to some sample pages (it will open as an e-book) for you to have a look at.

    80 pages Glossy Hardback 215mm (W) x 155mm (H)
    We have been fortunate enough to have had a blog post written about the book already by Theresa Randall at Exclusive Fiji Guide. You can read it at the link below.
    Anybody that would like to get a copy of the book just contact us at sales@widescenes.com 
    We promise that the next blog post will be out shortly (new years resolution!)