Major Change of Focus

Seems like forever since I have written a blog, other than making note of new videos I have created. Not that I haven’t been shooting… of course I’ve been blazing away as usual! It’s just that I have been concentrating on my Youtube Channel more than ever. I recently made a Facebook post and one of my longtime friends commented, “Where have you been all this time!”, and of course I’ve been happily posting away like there’s no tomorrow. The sad reality is that my main source of exposure has been a miserable failure. I have noticed that when I post I get a few likes from the same dozen or so people which could mean a couple of things… It could mean I have a dedicated core group of fans, or it could mean that Facebook has decided that this small group are the only individuals who are going to see my posts. The comment from my long time friend leads me to believe the latter.

Coyote Cold Stare

Hence the reason for my change of focus to my Youtube Channel. From my analytics data I can see a direct correlation between hard work and results. The more videos I create and the harder I work on creating quality content, the more views I get. Eventually views become income. I can see a return on investment. With my Facebook posting I am just beating my head against the wall, you know the old saying… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

I have also begun work on a new social media platform, S.W. Krull Imaging is now up and running on Patreon, another platform that doesn’t actively squelch it’s own creators. I don’t really enjoy writing in great detail about the techniques and equipment that I employ in my photography and video but I do get a lot of questions about those details. I have decided to devote my Patreon posts to more detailed information for my customers that are truly interested in that and willing to commit to financially supporting my work. And the beauty of Patreon is their support of their own creators ability to reward followers. My followers there are rewarded with beautiful merchandise and monthly rewards for their support including digital and physical prints. Please visit my channel there and discover the details of this new exciting arrangement!

Of course my WordPress blog will continue to be my main hub of operations as well as home for the S.W. Krull Imaging domain! Visitors here will continue to have links to my newest and best creations including access to my main print and stock image portals. This beautiful coyote image is my latest creation and there is a whole story behind the creation of this image. I hope you will visit S.W. Krull Imaging on Patreon for this exclusive story!

Also learn how this juvenile bald eagle image was resurrected from the digital noise of a high ISO early morning shot!

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Trying Topaz DeNoise and Sharpen

I do a lot of low light wildlife photography and some images even though captured perfectly under the conditions suffer from noisy high ISO values. I have recently seen a lot of good reviews about the Topaz AI products so I thought I’d download the trial versions to see if they might be beneficial to my work. I must add, this blog post is not sponsored by Topaz or any other product.

So the first image I was interested in is this shot of a Great Blue Heron. This fellow would fly past me once each morning, well before the sun had cleared the ridge on the east side of Eleven Mile Canyon. There was no way to wait for better light, the heron made his one flight at first light and that was it. On this particular image I was using a 400mm zoom with a 1.4x extension. Shutter speed was 1/1250th at F9 and ISO 16000. So on this image I ran both Sharpen and then DeNoise in that order. The image on the top is the unprocessed image while the one on the bottom has been processed using Topaz AI. I find that running the sharpen first, followed by the noise reduction seems to product the best results.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Using only Photoshop v22

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Using Topaz AI DeNoise and sharpen plugins with Photoshop v22

Both images are in the acceptable range, I had originally submitted the Photoshop only image to my stock agencies and it was accepted by the reviewers. However I do find the Topaz AI processed image to be more appealing. The colors are much smoother and when viewed at 100% and details on the bird are more discernible and the eye is especially sharper and clearer, a very important detail in wildlife photography.

This red-tail hawk in flight capture I made was on the verge of being unusable in my stock image portfolio. Just a slight amount of motion blur when combined with digital noise from a low light situation put this capture slightly out of tolerance for viewing at 100%. I found that Topaz AI sharpening and noise reduction combined were able to put the image back into tolerance, thus rescuing a very valuable image. Again, the unprocessed version is on the top and the Topaz version is on the bottom:

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

Photoshop V22 only

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

Photoshop using Topaz AI Sharpen and DeNoise

This next image is a bald eagle also photographed in low light. I wanted to set the camera at a 1600th or 2000th of a second but the lighting conditions resulted in ISO values of 9000-16000, and I was hoping for a clearer image so I went with 1/1250th again. This time I was not using the 1.4x so I was able to use F5.6 and ISO 4000. Again, the Topaz processed image is on the bottom:

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Photoshop only

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Photoshop using Topaz AI Sharpen and DeNoise 

This was a near perfect image to start with so unless looking at it at 100% the differences are almost indiscernible. However even with these small web sized versions, when viewed at 100% the Topaz processed picture is obviously the cleaner image.

I also wanted to see what the software could do with a failed image. In this shot of the eagle I either didn’t achieve focus or there was too much motion blur. Not sure which it was but the image is unusable in my portfolio:

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

 Photoshop only

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

 Photoshop using Topaz AI Sharpen and DeNoise 

Now in this situation the original image is obviously blurry and unusable. In the sharpening window I used the “focus” tab and had to slide the sharpen slider all the way to the right. This image has made an amazing transformation. From blurry and unusable it has become sharp and focused, quite an impressive feat!

All in all I’d have to say I am very impressed with these products and I will be purchasing both Sharpen and DeNoise for sure. I haven’t tried GigaPixel yet, not sure I am going to need that. So far I have found with my 32mp camera my images are plenty large enough even after relatively severe cropping. Also the stock agencies don’t like uprezing and my print lab recommends against it as well. They probably have their own version of uprezing software and don’t want to mess with double enlarging of images.

I hope you found this review useful, and don’t forget to click the follow button if you want to be the first to see my next blog post!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Reprocessed with maximum sharpness

The Deep Freeze

Sub zero temperatures and about six inches of fresh snow greeted the sunrise this morning and I was just flat too tired to trudge out into the snow with my shovel at 7:00 a.m. to photograph the beautiful amazing sunrise. By the time I finally did dig the old Dodge out the sun was so bright I couldn’t even see, much less capture good pictures!

_MG_6898

So I spent the day cleaning the house and working on some things I’ve been thinking about lately. Saw my flashlight the other day when I was doing something else, thinking “hey, there it is”… Of course now I have forgotten where “there” is and spent part of my day looking for the flashlight. Didn’t find the flashlight, but at least I got some things done that I’ve been meaning to do.

One of the things I was wanting to do was research the new “Compressed Raw” feature that Canon has come out with, so after watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject I went out and snapped a couple of shots of the hill out back to do some comparisons. The final verdict on that subject is that although Compressed Raw would probably work just as well while saving a lot of disk space, it turns out for those of us who use Adobe DNG there is no space savings at all. Raw and Compressed Raw result in a DNG file of equal size. I did turn off high ISO noise reduction as it has no effect on raw files at all. Long exposure noise reduction I decided to leave on, even though it results in doubling your exposure time length in the production of the black frame it uses to cancel

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

out the hot spots with. Even though it renders your camera unusable for a few seconds it seems that the feature is the most efficient method of ridding your image of the annoying hot spots.

Also, while I had the computer turned on I decided to process one more image of the elk from my awesome adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately the aches and pains of three days of shoveling snow are going to mean an evening of hot water bottles and ibuprofen. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Socked In

Wasn’t expecting anything much on our hike this morning, especially after the extra special day I had yesterday with the Daniels Park Bison… but you never know when the elk are going to show so the camera is always at the ready! As we approached the first ridge I could see to the south that the mountains were going to be putting on a good show, not going to be an ordinary day after all ๐Ÿ™‚

Fog in the Sangre de Cristo

As for the rest of the climb… the snow is mostly melted now, just a couple of small patches to contend with on the way to the summit. A beautiful spring morning in the mountains soaked with warm golden sunshine. Perhaps this long winter is finally coming to an end! As we cleared the first ridge I could barely see the majestic Sangre de Cristo poking through above the roiling storm clouds below. Some kind of weather is on the way… hoping we don’t get a dumping!

Fog in the Sangre de Cristo

Upping the Game

Always looking for ways to up my game to gain an edge on my competition. I’ve been noticing a lot of my competitors publishing pictures with extra amazing and not necessarily realistic color and detail.


I like my art to represent as closely as loss the scene as my eyes witnessed it, but I do have to stay competitive so I did some research on creating High Definition in Photoshop. Much to my surprise, there is a nice tool already in the software to do just that!

So here I have done the same picture both ways… One with my old methods and one with the HDR tool. I could have used a lot more effect, but thought I could see some distortion setting in. Wondering which rendition my customers like better?

Please click the links in the menu to view product options and pricing for these images and more!

Hiding in My Cave

The weekend before the big Fourth of July holiday week, also the time for the mass migration of city people to the mountains… Lol, the tourists are like, “where are all the fireworks booths”? Mountain people… there aren’t any, we kind of frown upon burning down the mountains for entertainment. Myย  town is on a major artery to the Continental Divide and there is now a steady stream of trucks pulling trailers with ATV vehicles aboard, camper trailers, RVs and cars by the thousands. As for me, I will not be participating in the festivities… not a fan of crowds and noise. I’m taking a break from summer and shooting, doing some cleaning, some chores and catching up on my computer work.

Stock photography is purchased ahead of time in preparation for the next season’s advertising campaigns so I am going through my fall and winter images to see what I may have missed uploading at the time I did the shoots. Earlier this year I finally upgraded to a modern version of Adobe Photoshop and I am exploring all the new capabilities. One particular tool I have fallen in love with is the Fx tool in Camera Raw. The dehaze tool has assisted me with cutting through the whiteness of snowfall and bringing out detail in the hazy mountains and trees of on a couple of shoots I did in snowstorms.

Frosty Aspen TreesI remember this particular image well… I was hoping that by snowshoeing to the top of Bald Mountain I would be able to climb above the snow and clouds in order to get some unique shots of Pikes Peak across the valley. However I was not able to get above the snow this day and the images with snow and fog in them were quite white with little detail. As you can see by the small patch of blue sky however, I was nearly successful in climbing above it… Maybe a couple hours later would have done it. Too long to hang out chillin’ on a frozen mountain top though, I had to shoot what I could and get back down! The screen on the camera appeared to show that I had had captured sufficient detail, but Photoshop was just too confused by the snowflakes and fog for me to be able to bring it out. However with the new Fx dehaze tool which operates on the linear digital data file, new detail is a piece of cake :)

So, there it is, the plan is to just hang out in my cave relaxing with the puppies and kitties while the city people ravage the high country with their four wheel drives and terrorize the wildlife with their explosives.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Another Sunday

Survived another Sunday… Not my best day in the eyes of the Almighty though I am sure! The day was going pretty well, managed to get showered shaved and off to church ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s where things began to falter though. Managed to say “shit” in church, right in front ofย  the pastor while spilling coffee all over the snack table. Fortunately I was not struck by lightning and God refrained from the “Smite” clause yet again. Surely I am getting close to my 70 times 7 limit though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Lone DoePicked up my friend for some house hunting out on Teller 1 and then proceeded on into Cripple to see if another house I was wanting is still up for sale. For sale sign is still out front, so that was gratifying. As long as we were there with some spare change it seemed like a good idea to try a few spins at the casino, which turned out to be a good idea as we had some fun, drank a free beer and managed to escape with enough to pay for the gas and our meals for the day ๐Ÿ™‚ Once again I am happy to report that I was not “Smote… Smitten?” on the spot for a few additional infractions on the Lord’s Day!

Was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see one example of wildlife on the entire trip. One time I saw a whole herd of elk along Teller 1, but of course I didn’t have my camera. Word got out I was coming back with my camera so all the elk have hidden themselves deeper in the wilderness and I am sure I will not see them until such time as I forget to bring my camera.

I was fortunate the other day to get some nice deer pictures at dusk which I am slowly working on, and I am definitely appreciating my new version of Photoshop CC. I hadn’t upgraded in a long time, in fact not since Photoshop CS2 so I am just now discovering wonderful new tools that perform in one step things that used to require “actions” to accomplish. CC is an online download so it didn’t come with a bound book to read, just the online documentation. Online docs are OK but I really like to have a book in my hand that I can read cover to cover. So this time I am just kind of poking around randomly, catching up at a snails pace. My latest discovery is the “haze” tool in the special effects slider on “Bridge” It is an amazing tool for bringing density back into a capture obscured by fog or smoke haze. It also works well for lessening the effects of low light at dusk. At any rate, the tool is making my dusk picture of these deer a snap!

So… starting off the new week on a good foot. We found a house that might be a good possibility, a bit small but surrounded by solitude and beauty. I think we could make it work! Looking forward to spring and the extra light provided by Daylight Savings that will give me another hour to grab a few dusk pictures before each day’s end ๐Ÿ™‚

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items