Review: TopazLabs DeNoise – My Favorite Digital Noise Fighting Superhero

I am not trying to put together a technical review here. In fact, I don’t think I even qualify to do one. Instead, I want to demonstrate how I use TopazLabs DeNoise as a photographer and designer, and how it fits in my workflow.

Canon Digital Rebel and Digital Noise

I started in photography with a Canon Digital Rebel. At that time I was working as a graphic designer, and the post processing learning curve was not that steep for me. I was comfortable with Photoshop, but what I did not have to deal with as a designer was the noise in digital images. This aspect of digital photography workflow I had to learn from scratch, and at that time the noise was a real issue. My Digital Rebel produced quite a lot of noise even in properly exposed photos.

Photo from 2007 I took with my Rebel. Click on image to see the original size photo and how much noise it has.

I spent years experimenting with different programs, sticking for a while with one, and then jumping to another. But I was never satisfied with any of them. Using them was a struggle; too many options, and too many sliders. Sometimes I found myself spending more time in noise reduction programs than in Photoshop, and even after I was happy with my noise reduction settings I still had to do some masking in Photoshop.
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Deconstructing Photo: Entering Yosemite Valley (California)

This photo is from my one-day trip to Yosemite from San Francisco.

I debated for some time if it was worth it to make the trip in one day or not, since it is a four hour drive in each direction, even if there is no traffic. At the end, the choice was simple; if I go I get to see one of the most iconic places in the world for any travel photographer, and if I do not, I might have to wait another couple of years for my next opportunity.

Travel Photography Blog - California. Yocemity

California. Yosemite Valley
Loc: 37°45’1″ N 119°47’31″ W

I would definitely have preferred to make it a two or three-day trip, to do some hiking and exploring, but that was not the case.

This was my first glimpse of Yosemite Valley, the view of Half Dome in the distance from the vista point before the tunnel on Big Oak Flat Road, which serves as the entry point to the valley.

The view serves as a warning; get your photo gear ready and be prepared to be amazed.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots ( -1; 0; +1) [Read more...]

Deconstructing Photo: Early Spring in Montreal (Canada)

In the last couple of years the weather has been definitely unpredictable.

Last year, I remember we had a warm spring in Canada and Europe; even the southern parts were covered with snow but in Montreal we hardly saw any snow during the entire winter. This year, everything is the opposite; we had the coldest winter in fifty years, and spring is very slow to come.

HDR Photography - Processed in Photomatix

Canada. Montreal. Lachine
Loc: 45.42931, -73.67087

I went for a walk at a local park, and even on April 12th the Lachine Canal Mariana was still frozen solid. The air was relatively warm, and it was pleasant as I walked along the path.

When I moved towards the water to set up the tripod I was back in winter, with the temperature dropping probably by 10C. It was a very unusual sensation as I was walking through the layers of freezing and warm air.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 5 Bracketed Shots (-2; -1; 0; +1, +2)
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Photo Extract Weekly – 30 Useful Photography Links from Around the Web

This is my weekly post; collection of the best photo related resources I came across in the last 7 day. I hope you can find something useful and interesting in different fields of photography.

I included resources relates to: travel photography, landscape photography, HDR photography, history of photography, inspirational resources, humour and photo equipment. Please let me know if find my collection useful.

My Favorite Resources of the Week

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Review: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 – The Best Tripod for Travel Photography

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Tripod

This is not a traditional product review; it is more a story of my journey from hating my tripod with a passion to falling in love with it, and the role of Feisol Tournament tripod in this journey.

Travel Photography Blog: Tripod: FEISOL CT-3442 Review

Tripod: FEISOL CT-3442, Ball: CB-40D, Camera: Canon 60D

For a long time I had a love / hate relationship with tripods. When I came to understand that I am mostly interested in landscape photography and travel photography I knew that I would need a tripod.

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Photo Location Guide: Hidden Gem in the San Francisco Bay Area – Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

Most of the time when I travel to the San Francisco Bay area I stay near Palo Alto, since this is where I have most of my engagements. One spring I went to the Bay area and I knew that I would have to visit Berkeley on multiple occasions. I decided to stay in the Oakland area for an easy reach to San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley.

Travel Photography Blog: California. View of San Francisco

California. Oakland. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park
Loc: 37.80018, -122.32910

One afternoon I had a couple hours to kill so I was looking for some new and interesting travel photography locations around Oakland on Google Maps. At that time I was pretty familiar with the San Francisco side of the Bay, but it was my first encounter with the East Bay. Right away I spotted a tiny green dot labeled “Sunset View”, since it was surrounded by a flat grey color of blankness with a wide access to the waterfront. I could see it had potential for interesting travel photography shots.
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Deconstructing Photo: Delivery Boat in Venice (Italy)

While visiting Italy I had very little time to explore Venice, spending only two half-days there. I was staying in Trieste and had to ride the trains to travel to Venice, and as a result I did not have a chance to photograph the city during sunsets or sunrises. Plus, the weather was not great for travel photography. It was hot and hazy, and there was not even one cloud in the sky for two full days.

HDR Photography - Processed in Photomatix

Italy. Venice. Grand Canal
Loc: 45.44128, 12.32262

From the very beginning I knew I would have to experiment with HDR processing to achieve something decent. I took all my photos in Venice as bracketed shots, making sure I had an option to process them as HDR if I wanted. Also, all my photos were taken without tripod – hand-held; it was almost impossible to use tripod in such busy and crowded city.

I am definitely planning to go back to Venice, this time staying in the city making sure I can capture its beauty during the golden hours and at night.

One featured photo is Venice’s version of a delivery track.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots (-1; 0; +1)
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Deconstructing Photo: San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley from Above

This is the view near the San Francisco Bay from State Route 35, better known as Skyline Boulevard. A narrow two-lane road that runs almost 90 km along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Skyline Boulevard has some incredible views of the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Bay Area to the east.

HDR Photography - Processed in Photomatix

California
Loc: 37.49207, -122.36452

This drive was recommended to me by one of the locals, who mentioned that they always take this road when driving to San Francisco on the weekend for the sole reason of the amazing views.

The Skyline Boulevard drive has become one of my travel photography rituals when I am in the San Francisco Bay area. I always try to make the trip in the afternoon hours as the light from the sunset illuminates the famous landmarks such as Silicon Valley, Stanford University, and the Bay Area, with its bridges and the mountains across the bay.

You can practically see from the top how the new startups of Silicon Valley appear from nowhere and then burst into nothingness :-)

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley from Above
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Photo Extract Weekly – 32 Useful Photography Links from Around the Web

This is my weekly post; collection of the best photo related resources I came across in the last 7 day. I hope you can find something useful and interesting in different fields of photography.

I included resources relates to: travel photography, landscape photography, HDR photography, history of photography, inspirational resources, humour and photo equipment. Please let me know if find my collection useful.

My Favorite Resources of the Week

[Read more...]