Landscape Photos and Topaz Sharpen AI

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading. BTW, you can click on photos for a larger version.

Forrest Gump got tired of running somewhere below this spot. He turned around and went home.

My guess, somewhere between where that truck is parked on the side and the RV is parked on the side of the road.

And, yes, I have a B&G&W version of all the photos I show here.

Now, the interesting thing about landscape shots is they don’t look particularly impressive on a small screen or small photograph. You get a slight bump in impressiveness if you click on the photo because a version twice as large will open in a new tab or window.

But, to truly see how good a job Topaz Sharpen AI does on these photos, you need to go to SmugMug or . . .

Side Note: Flickr was bought by SmugMug a few months ago. It’s a photo platform with thousands of users and many, many, amazing photos, all available for anyone to explore. Flickr was losing a lot of money and SmugMug buying it helped preserve the content. However, it’s still losing money. If you are a photographer looking for a place to share your photos, looking for a place to join other enthusiastic photographers in specialty groups, THIS link will take you to their membership drive and if you sign up and enter this code: 25in2019, you get 25% off the yearly membership price ($37.44 instead of $50). A price that is amazingly low given that you get unlimited storage for your account and even more amazing when considering the perks they offer for new members.

If you want to see how it looks, THIS is the link to the pictures I’m featuring in this post. I said in the previous post that I thought they looked as good there as they do on SmugMug for much less the price. I should qualify that . . . for some of the photos with lots of detail (like photos below) SmugMug has a cleaner and better presentation. I think Flickr does a bit of sampling when showing full-size and it makes some of the distant details look a bit funky. Overall — and for most of the shots — still very well presented.

OK, so these next two shots are similar and they have a moderate amount of detail, especially in the foreground.

You can click on them and see that fair amount of detail but if you want the max, you need to see the full-size version.

Now, here’s the thing . . . for very small details like the shrubs and some of the grass, the sharpening gives them a harsh look. Too sharp, if you ask me. The sharpening I did was on automatic settings, and because I was doing a lot of photos, I didn’t examine each and every photo for how they resolved the small details.

In addition, these are saved as JPGs whereas when I output them from the program they are TIF files . . . files that are anywhere from 40MB to 120MB. The full-size JPGs are anywhere from 3MB to 8MB saved at 80% quality. Obviously, some compression occurs.

Finally, the original TIF files are at 300dpi and the compressed JPGs are at 72dpi.

What I’m trying to say is that the files out of the program were better; not significantly better, but better.

One last comment. At the center of the photo and foreground of the photo, the lens resolution is typically sharper. As you get to the sides and corners, most lenses will show (if you look very closely) a bit of degradation (softness, blur, distortion; call it what you will).

That’s the other reason some of these photos with a high amount of detail look a lot better in the middle of the photo than on the sides or at the corners.

I mention this because those who bother to look at the photos at full resolution might see some amazingly sharp details and some funky renderings all on the same photo.

Anyway, here are the B&G&W versions of the last two photos.

One other thing . . . all of the color photos were processed as a batch run in Aurora HDR and it might have chosen more aggressive processing then I would have.

The batch processing of these photos saved me a lot of time and they are pretty close to what I would have done by hand.

OK, OK . . . more information than most people want to read. But, remember, I’m evaluating the combination of using two or three programs and determining if I should modify my workflow.

I’ll stop with the technical stuff.

You can click on that photo to get a larger version (twice as large), but if you want to see what the full-size version of the above photo looks like (and if you don’t want to visit SmugMug) then you can click HERE to download the 8MB, 4350 x 3280-pixel version (still at 80% compression). Only do so if you have decent Internet speed.

Same shot in monochrome:

Part of showing B&G&W is because I’m practicing, but the other reason is to remember that at one point, most people were shooting B&G&W film and this is what they would have seen. I imagine if Ansel Adams would have shot and processed that view, it would look much better than my conversion.

By the way, here’s a bit of history few people are aware of.

Anyway, more photos that impressed me with their enhanced presentation of details.

Gosh, I wish I was as good as taking photos as some of these make me look.

This next gallery is of the same photos in different trials of B&G&W conversions.

This next photo is one of those I warned about. Meaning, because of various reasons, some of the details at the sides and corners don’t look as good (or realistically sharpened) as the larger features toward the center.

And the B&G&W — despite having been manually processed — doesn’t look much better.

It looks fine here because you can only zoom so far, but even on SmugMug, it’s not a stellar showing.

The next three sets of photos (color and B&G&W) are of the same area but — for whatever reason (probably better photos) — don’t look as bad.

Notice how I wander all over the place with the monochrome conversions, trying to find a “look” of my own.

OK, let’s get through these so we can call this a done deal . . .

This concludes my trials of Topaz Sharpen AI, Skylum Aurora HDR, and other software I have.

It doesn’t mean I won’t use them again. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll be suing using Sharpen AI a lot more. I just won’t call out the processing as much and just concentrate on the photo and the subjects therein.

Sadly, I’ve yet to master a “Disperser B&G&W Look”. I’m left to flounder whenever the mood for monochrome strikes me.

For kicks, a few more cartoons . . .

I’ve probably used a few of those before but they struck me as funny so here they are again.

And now, the Color gallery (random sorting) . . .

And now, the B&G&W gallery (random sorting) . . .


That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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