Stealing Light

As you probably can tell, this image is not recent.

Stealing Light

It was taken in 2005 with my then new Nikon D70. It was also a JPEG. I was too new to the world of photography and didn’t know anything about shooting RAW and the power of post-processing.

It was one of those cold morning when I could not sleep and decided to drive my car, myself and my camera down to the shore to wait for the sunrise.

In hindsight, it was a pretty stupid thing to do. You see, my city has always been famous for not been a very safe place to walk around by yourself with a very expensive camera in the wee hours of the morning.

Thankfully nothing happened.

I love the way the tree branches seem to pull the light from the clouds and hence the name.

I have been playing lately with a bunch of applications: Topaz Studio 2, Luminar 3 with Libraries and my new favorite Capture One.

As such, I have been exploring old images like this one to see if the new applications can rescue photos from the depths of my archives.

Also, the idea is to learn new things and shorten the learning curve. Massage the old grey cells like Hercule Poirot used to say.

These apps have not disappointed. Even old images (the Nikon D70 had 6.1 Megapixels) seem to come to life with a little TLC.

This is one of the reasons why I almost never delete any photo. The world of photography has changed immensely and the applications we use to edit photos are becoming more and more intelligent.

When Kodak introduced their first camera, the world of photography changed for the hundreds of photographers that were using techniques like wet collodion and glass plates.

There is a big push for what is called computational photography, where technologies like machine learning can help us and the general public to make better pictures.

We now see a similar shift in the world of digital photography and it can only get better…

Gotta get back, back to the past...

"Gotta get Back, back to the past..."—Samurai Jack

Technology this days advances at what seems to be the speed of light. Ten years ago we didn't have 3/4 of the things we have today. 20 years ago, none of them existed (if their present form, that is.)

We are presented with new and fascinating things that make our everyday lives easier and more pleasant.

My wife is often complaining to me when I buy new gadgets: "Why do you need that? You didn't have that when you were young...".

My answer is always: "Because it didn't exist back then!!".

One of the things that seem to be advancing at a faster pace than anything else is Image Editing Software.

Ten years ago, the market was pretty much dominated by the top dog: Adobe Photoshop.

Nowadays, there are applications on our mobile phones that rival (and in certain ways surpass) what we can do with other desktop image editors.

This is especially relevant because of the immense library of photos that lay dormant on our hard drives.

The best way to learn a new application is to take it through its paces. What better way to do that, than to take our old photos that we thought were lost? We all have images in our libraries that probably have one star or are flagged as rejected. Maybe is an image that we thought was good, but not good enough?

We can take those photos and put them through the new algorithms that are present today in programs like MacPhun's Luminar or Topaz Studio.

Back to the Past

The technology on those and other applications has been designed to take advantage of new and better processors. That, together with faster computers and algorithms make editions that we never thought were possible 10 years ago.

Take the image that is shown here. It was taken in August 2013, just four years ago, using a Nikon D300s (my main camera at that time).

The photo was one of a large series of flower photos. It was taken while I was testing a new lens (The Nikon Nifty 50mm) and it was one of the discarded photos.

I was watching some videos on YouTube about processing photos using Topaz Studio and was inspired to try some of the filters included with the professional package.

A quick run through Topaz Studio, with a couple of quick presets and this image developed.

A much, much better rendition of a discarded photo and one that was worth sharing. Probably a better photo than the one that was chosen.

We might be underestimating some hidden jewels in our archives!

See what Develops

We never know what we might develop using a new software.

This is just a simple example, with not a lot of editing, but it serves to illustrate that we have in our hands a much better technology that can rescue lost of forgotten images.

Our tastes on what is good also change with time as we hone our skills, so maybe what we like now is totally different that what we liked back then.

What do you think? Have you gone back to edit old images with new applications? Have you been able to rescue some photos?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Back to the past


The Eyes of Truth are Always Watching You

The Eyes of truth are always watching you I meant to post this one a few days ago.

It's a piece of generative art done on the iPad/iPhone based on an image taken by the Hubble Space telescope.

How incredibly fun have these devices become!!

I am always amazed at how we can create something from nothing, or close to nothing; just by manipulating pixels in the small screens of the phones and tablets.

I was reading a quote from a photographer in the No. 7 Edition of Adore Noir, an online magazine about art and black and white photography (you should check it out and buy it, it's great).

The photographer, Hanna Kozak (beware, some of the pictures are NSFW), said:

"A painter can create magic from nothing. A photographer creates something magical from what already exists. Perhaps that's why we've fought so hard for photography to be considered an art."

And I agree completely. With devices like phones and digital cameras, the world is our canvas. No subject is out of reach to capture and use it as our source to create art and visuals.

The incredible amount of applications that exist both on the iOS platform and the Android platform puts creativity within everybody's reach.

We see a texture on the side of a tree? Captured!, We see interesting colors on a bed of flowers? Captured!!

The virtual oyster has been opened for all of us.

And you can say: "This is not photography" and you might be right, is not, but it's art through photography!

The democratization of photography by way of our smartphones has given us the power to freely create, collage, blend, destroy and otherwise sublimate art into being.

Imagination knows no bounds...

The title of the piece comes from a song by Enigma of the same name.

Good Enough?

I usually don't throw away bad photos...

It has to be really, really bad for me to throw it away or delete it from my hard drives.

Even when they are pretty bad, I used as seeds for programs like Fractal Architect or Filter Forge. I use them to create abstract art in other words.

Sometimes, I see something that triggers that photographic corner of my eye and I have to take a picture.

That is the case for this image. I was walking into this house and there was something about the metal works and the plants that attracted me to take this photo.

I brought it into Lightroom and started massaging the pixels trying to coax and image that said: "You were right, there was something there!".

I edited and sent it into MacPhun Tonality CK for the black and white treatment. Then, back to Lightroom for some sharpening and Vignetting.

In the end, I was like: "Good Enough?, Meh! I kind of like it but not my best work..."

I posted it to Ello and it got a good response, so I guess it was Good Enough?

In this day and age, where everything retro is back in vogue, we are becoming more adept to the "Good Enough". We are been conditioned to accept mediocrity. Instagram filter and apps destroy images to make them look old and hip.

And then, we display and consume in small screens with very low resolution.

We call it Art!

So I bought a Drone...

No, not the DJI or the GoPro... :-) It is what is called a "Selfie Drone", a mini-drone; or how I like to call it a Training Drone.


I have been wanting to do some "Droning" for a while now.

I usually watch videos on youTube from photographers around the world and some of those guys are using drones to film B-Roll and add to the video experience.

Is fascinating seeing the world from high above.

Anyways, I have been watching some videos online on the whole process of flying a drone and which one to purchase and so on.

A lot of those videos, suggest, that you should always start with a smaller drone to get the handle on how to fly them. After you master that smaller drone, you can graduate to a better and more complex drone.

I can tell you, is not easy!

The guys online make it look like it's really easy and that anyone can do it. I don't doubt that with practice, I'll get better, but it is kind of harrowing when you see that drone flying away and you see the possibility of loosing it.

Because this is a mini-drone, my first trial were inside the house and they were pretty unsuccessful. Crashing and hitting walls was more likely!

I took it outside thinking that I might get a better handle on it but it was a lot scarier!

I flew for about 2 minutes around our condos and for a minute it look like it was going to get stuck on one of the roofs or a tree. If finally hit a branch and came crashing down.

Did I mention that this drone is more of a toy, than an actual Drone?


The one I purchased was the JJRC H37 ELFIE (US$50), a mini-quadcopter that uses WiFI to connect to your smartphone in order to control it.

I was so nervous but I was able to manage to hit the shutter a couple of times to get some photos.

It only has a 0.3MP camera that also do 480 video. In other words not photography worthy!

In reality, I did not buy this to get award-winning photos/videos. I bought it so I can learn how to fly drones.

The experience has NOT been stellar.

Did the drone survive the crash? I can tell you, it's pretty resilient!

I am planning to go to a close-by park to do some more training as soon as the weather starts to get better, so I will keep you posted.