Generative AI (Adobe Firefly) Comes to Photoshop!
Confession: I have been trying to write a new article about Firefly (Adobe's Generative AI set of tools) for a few weeks now. However, every time I sat down to start this piece, the wizards at Adobe released something new! Case in point... have you heard the news? It's all over town...people talkin... Adobe announced May 23, 2023 that Generative AI is now part of the current public Photoshop beta. That's right... Adobe Firefly is now integrated right inside of Photoshop! Just as the recently-released AI masking was the biggest thing to happen to Adobe Lightroom in more than a decade, Generative Fill is the biggest thing to happen to Photoshop since the introduction of layers.
Spring at the Cottage
Upscaling Generative AI Images using Creative Cloud
One of the current downsides to AI-generated imagery is the image resolution that these tools produce. The desire to increase the resolution of these assets is not new; it's been around likely since the first Gen AI image was created. And there are plenty of videos on Youtube offering a variety of methods to upscale your AI images. So... why am I writing this? Simply put, my focus will be on using Adobe tools to perform these functions, from start to finish. Read on to learn more.
Fern Gulley. I went for a stroll in the light rain this afternoon . Perfect time of year to catch the new ferns pushing out of the ground.
Lightroom Denoise AI: A Workflow Game-Changer
This month (April, 2023) Adobe dropped a new update for the Lightroom ecosystem. This capability will be a boon to photographers shooting with smaller sensor cameras like Micro 4/3 and APSC-sized sensors, including yours. There are many reviews on Youtube about the new AI DeNoise feature available in Lightroom Desktop (cloud) and Lightroom Classic, so, rather than just repeating what's already been said, I thought I'd share my own unscientific testing with my own images. Read on to see some real-world examples and read my thoughts on this latest advancement in Lightroom.
Sensei: Putting the New (and Cool) into Adobe Tools
I published this article for a recent presentation, using Adobe Express. With all the recent updates and news about AI magic at Adobe, I've updated it and thought I would share it here as well. We're seeing the rise of the Creative Co-pilot, in my opinion. And that's not a bad thing.
Buckhorn and Burleigh Falls
A curated collection of images from around the Buckhorn and Burleigh Falls area.
The Best of 2022
2022. The year when the world began to truly reopen - for better or worse. As pandemic restrictions lifted and people cautiously - or excitedly - returned to the office, or started gathering together socially - heck, even just going to the movies - I we…
In the Red
The fire bushes in our backyard always put on a glorious show in the fall, but this year they almost seem to glow with their own inner light.
Final Days of Autumn
An unseasonably warm November weekend found me wandering around the backyard with my camera and later the two of us taking a walk in the park at the Guild Inn Park and Gardens.
Legend of the Fall - A Sabbatical Photo Journal
Sunrise on Rice Lake
Despite an overly-enthusiastic dog and his inconsiderate owner, I was still able to make some decent images early this morning, including some long exposure shots.
Respectful Rural Photography
A recent Twitter post by the Ontario Provincial Police (and subsequent news story from Global News and other local outlets) brought to light a serious issue in Ontario’s rural areas; agricultural trespassing. I had never considered this term before - but since have also never considered walking into a field crop to get a great photo, either. There are many things you can do to capture a magical image, that don’t involve trespassing and/or damaging a food crop in the process. Read on for my suggestions. Reading the news story, I was shocked by the lack of consideration of these people in search of the “perfect selfie.” I say this because I photograph many rural landscapes around my cottage and other Ontario locations and not once have I ever stepped into a farm field to make a photo, unless I had permission to do so. I have always stayed on the road, or shot from the road side edge of the fence or field to capture these beautiful vistas.
In the Rough
Morning at the Marsh
Hello all! I'm back to writing and shooting! Below is my latest project, from a weekend visit to a local wetland. It was a great photo walk overall; my 100-400mm zoom lens never came off the camera. You can read the embedded story below (made in Creative Cloud Express Page) or visit the link for the full-screen experience.
Living Room Still Life
Our fireplace and mantle are key features in our living room. In the past, I have used it as a display for my Christmas or Halloween villages. Once, I even created magazine cover shot, here. A couple weeks ago, after missing the chance to catch the actual sun as it streamed across the stone facade, I grabbed one of my Lumecube 2.0 lights on a tiny tripod and did my best to emulate the effect, quickly capturing the shot handheld at ISO 2500. The processed result is the first image. This became one of my Project 365 images. I was so pleased with the photo, I decided to take more time and "do things right." Read on to learn what that means from both photographic and post-production viewpoints.
First Photo Walk of 2022
We may have had a wet Christmas for 2021, but the evening of the first day of 2022 brought the winter weather. After an entire night of light snow, I knew I had to get outside with my camera before things warmed up at all. It was great exercise for me on many levels. I decided to take a walk in the Rouge Park along the Vista Trail. The Rouge National Urban Park is the newest - and first - national urban park in Canada, encompassing nearly 80 square kilometres. It may even still be the largest urban park in North America.
This past weekend, Toronto received its first snowfall of the season. Despite the heavy cloud cover, I decided it was still worth going to capture it at one of my favorite city locations, the Rouge National Urban Park. I was glad I did.
A Weekend in Ottawa
Recently, we travelled to Ottawa for my son's wedding. Other than the cottage, It was our first trip in nearly 2 years. We stayed at the majestic Chateau Laurier and had a beautiful - if not panoramic - view of the Rideau Canal and the Parliament Buildings. I didn't take many photos that weekend, and most of those I did capture were on my iPhone. It still captures a decent image though. Many images were captured through our view from the hotel.
A Sampling of Seasons
Our cottage is open from May 1 to October 31. I make a lot of photos while we are there - in my opinion, a lot of good photos. By no means is every capture a "keeper", but I thought it would be a fun challenge - and a good exercise in curation - to pick 4 of my favorites from each month and share them here.
Scenes from a Fall Day
We stuck around the cottage this past weekend. Cooler weather has set in. The furnace even kicked in a couple of times at night. But sticking around the cottage doesn't mean there aren't photo opportunities all around me. I walked around the park for an hour or so and captured some great images. With the bright, sunny day that Friday was, it was a perfect opportunity to get some backlit shots.
Autumn's Final Act
I understand Nathaniel Hawthorne's sentiment completely. Even when the weather isn't "perfect," I feel the urge to get out there with my camera to document the final days of autumn's splendour. This third weekend of October was no exception. Although the Kawarthas around Rice Lake was approaching their peak of fall colour, heavy, persistent overnight rain and wind threatened to disrobe the trees quickly. So it was that I found myself wandering the resort as well as the backroads near the cottage, this weekend. Read on to see more...
Thanksgiving Weekend Fall Colour
The ever-changing kaleidoscope of color is a sight to behold, morphing from green to yellow, gold, orange and red. It can be a whirlwind of visual stimulation. This year, the autumn of 2021, however, has sadly not been as spectacular so far. There is definitely color change, but it's often muted or in small patches, when compared to years past. The overall color scheme is yellow-gold, it seems. Check out this project to see what I did capture.
First Fall Weekend
The first official weekend of autumn 2021 is coming to a close, and while l I did get out a couple of times with my camera, autumn is still playing coy with its colour. I did manage to find some, however, and not always in the foliage or on the ground.
Patience in the Shadows
I made it down to the lake around 6:30 this morning to see what the sunrise had to offer. While making a composition of my favorite boulders on the shore, I looked up briefly and saw our resident heron by the reeds, immobile as it waited for breakfast to swim by. I managed to get a few shots before he flew off, but this one (the first one) is actually my favorite image. I like the balance of sky vs water.
Home on the Range
Catching the right image is often all about timing - and some luck. If had not forgotten my cell phone at Elmhirst's Resort while setting up my Spark Photo Festival show this morning, I would never have been confronted with this scene and the perfect lighting that made me stop the car and grab my camera.
Run Fast, Run Deep
Early on a muggy, heavily overcast Friday morning, I woke up to catch the sunrise. While I was a little too late to catch the pre-dawn color, I was awake, so I decided I would make the drive to Cordova Falls, near Havelock. My wife and I had made the trip once in late June, on a weekend and it was very busy with nowhere to legally park. We only stayed a little while so I could get some photos. I knew back then that I would want to return to this spot. Read on to see what I saw.
Misty Morning in Farm Country
After just missing sunrise the past couple of weekends, I finally pulled myself out of bed at 5:30 am to not only catch the early morning sky but to also capture some wonderful pastoral images featuring mist in the lowland farm fields. Come with me on that trip.
Sunrise on the Farmbelt
The long weekend at the beginning of August was promising be be much cooler than the recent temperatures - and also pretty wet. So, knowing that Friday was looking to be the best day, I planned to head out in the morning before work to catch the sun as it rose over farm fields on County Road 2, near the cottage. Join me in a short photo tour of Kawartha farmland at sunrise.
When the sun is going down, you have to act quickly. I made these captures all within 25 minutes. I bracketed many compositions so I could create HDR composites afterwards and I'm glad I did. Four of the images in this project ended up being HDR, processed in Lightroom.
A Roadside Attraction
My wife loves Scottish thistles, and they are literally everywhere on the road leading into the cottage. So, Sunday morning I decided to photograph some before it got too hot. I had intended to drive most of the length of Villiers Line, but on this morning, I barely got 500 metres past the resort entrance.
My 2021 Summer STAYcation
I've just recently come off two weeks holidays, most of which were spent at the lakehouse (cottage, cabin, camp, take your pick of terms). We had a great time and I've documented that staycation in the Spark Page you see at the end of this project. But for those of you who prefer to see the pictures without my ramblings getting in the way, I'm sharing the photos here in this Behance project. Enjoy!
The Call of the Loon
Considering it was my first kayak outing of the season, and the maiden voyage of my Zuiko 100-400mm lens, I was very pleased with several of my captures of the loons on Rice Lake. While I'm sure my shots were 70% luck, 10% timing and 20% curious birds, I also think all my dryland practice was worth the effort.
A year (and then some) with Olympus
I've spent 20 months with my Olympus EM5 Mark III. Long enough that it's not quite right to call it a "new" camera anymore. I thought I would share some of my favorite photos captured with this camera, to date. To make it more challenging for me - and hopefully more interesting for you - I set one restriction on this collection; I had to limit myself to three photos per month, maximum. I spent a lot of time whittling down to my top three from each month, while also trying to show some variety in content. I hope you like my choices.
The Remains of the Day
It was a chilly, but lovely time at the cottage this past weekend. And while I never woke up early enough for a sunrise, I was able to capture some lovely sunset scenes.
May 1st, 2021 signalled the opening of the cottage, and for the brief time we were allowed due to the pandemic, we spent it making sure the cottage was ship-shape and enjoyed a change of scenery. Of course, even with a reduced time-frame, I still found time to take pictures, even in the rain...
With the purchase of a new lens, I've recently taken up some amateur birding. And one of the best places I've found to hone this new skill is literally right in my own backyard.
Birds of a Feather
New pandemic lockdown measures came into place in Ontario this weekend, but the weather was too nice to stay home all weekend long. So in the spirit of mental and physical health, I visited two locations for my photo walk. I was blessed - as I hope you will see - with both bright sunshine as well as heavy overcast, diffused lighting, and even some gentle rain.
Easter Weekend Photo Outings
The weather was pretty cooperative this weekend, and gave me the opportunity to both explore my own backyard as well take a couple short photo walks with my wife. I took the opportunity to work more with my new super zoom, the Zuiko 100-400mm and came away with a few keepers, but in the backyard, I stuck with my 12-50mm kit lens.
Springtime in the Backyard
It was a beautiful weekend for the first one of spring; blue skies, sunshine, mild temperatures. We had some backyard clean up to do and I also decided to fill the bird feeders, in the hopes that I might be able to practice with my new lens. I was fortunate enough to not only get the opportunity to photograph some birds, but also one of the feral cats we care for. Read on for the story, including a personal opinion on digital noise!
Zooming into a New Lens
My Olympus Zuiko 100-400mm arrived on Friday! I took it out for a test drive on the weekend and I was very impressed from both landscape and wildlife perspectives. I need to do more testing hand-held at slower shutter speeds to really see how well the IS holds up for me, but I definitely came away with some shots I'm pleased with. This is by no means an in-depth technical review. There are many of those already out there on YouTube, if you want to get all the specs. What you will get here is my first-hand experience using this new lens, along with some other musings, no doubt.
Marching Towards Spring
I spent a couple hours at Highland Creek today on the the U of T area north of Old Kingston Road. It was good to feel the sun on my face, and clear some of those February blahs. Read on to see what I saw.
On my birthday weekend, I decided to visit a location I had only seen by train or car: McLaughlin Bay. In fact, I didn't even know the correct name of the location; I thought it was part of Darlington Provincial Park! I remembered seeing the bay from the train as I made my way to Ottawa or Montreal for business trips.
Secret Garden - Rosetta McClain Park in Winter
Valentine's Day was a lovely, sunny day, following a light snowfall the night before, so my wife and I decided to get some vitamin D and a little exercise by walking through Rosetta McClain Gardens. I've made photos at this small park fairly often and I was at first reluctant to bring my camera to photograph the same place, yet again. I fought that urge and hopefully, you will see why.
The Pond and Beyond
A week ago, temperatures were mild and there was virtually no snow to be seen, except perhaps in deeply shaded areas. Midway through the week, temperatures in Toronto started dropping and we got our first significant snowfall since Christmas. So, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I decided to revisit East Point Park. Take a walk with me...
Living on the Edge
Excuse the overly dramatic subheading, but in reality, the walk I took on the East Point Park trail did come very close to the cliff edge on more than one occasion. And while I chose the safety of staying on the right side of the railing, there were more than a couple people who did not, and many blazed foot trails leading into the bushes indicated this was a common practice. Please read on to see more...
Descent to the Lake
I recently learned of a trail in Scarborough that safely leads down to the Lake Ontario Waterfront and provides stunning views of the Scarborough Bluffs. And it's only an 8-minute drive from my house!
The In-Between Time
There is a time between the last blush of autumn and the first real snowfall when the world is mostly yellows, browns and the occasional green.
After The Fall
I brought a friend along for a photo walk in Highland Creek this past Saturday. It has been roughly been two weeks since the cottage closed up and I needed to get out among the trees. So did my friend. We had a great time for the two hours we were there. Lots of options for monochromatic compositions, as you will soon see.
Autumn at the Fortress of Moderate Solitude
While I haven't published many projects from the summer, I have definitely been making photographs and sharing them via social media. I thought as things wind down, and we head into what looks to be a Covid-controlled winter, it might be nice to share my autumn with you.
Over the summer months, I have been treated to images from one of my photographer friends Russ Higgins. One area, in particular, is a conservation area known as The Gut, named after a 230-metre long, 30-metre deep gorge on the Crowe River. It's about an hour from the cottage to the turnoff that leads to the Gut, which is somewhat near Apsley, Ontario.
Outward Bound - A Sunrise Photo Shoot for Stock
This article talks about a recent sunrise photoshoot I did to build up my AdobeStock portfolio.
Replacing Color to Remove Brand Identity
Recently in my drives around the Kawartha area near the cottage, I’ve been fortunate to be able to capture not just gorgeous fields of wheat and rye, but also to view the harvesting process. I captured some great images, but quickly realized that to be acceptable for Adobe Stock, I would need to remove branding elements from the machinery. What I didn’t realize at the time, was how far that process would extend.
Around the House - Photographic Creativity
Over the past 15 weeks, I have kept a weekly journal of images and thoughts. The focus of the journal was inspired by another project of mine, Being Creative in the New Normal. I created the journal using Spark Page as it was easy for me to add content to the journal, regardless of my current device. Well, things are starting to feel a little more normal now, as we enter week 16. I'm once again able to head to the cottage every weekend, and while I wear a mask in stores, at least I can go into many that only a few weeks ago were closed. So, as "shelter in place" seems to be loosening its restrictions, I felt it was tie to close down the journal. I'm sharing it here for those who want to read and see my experiences over the last few months. And while it was mainly about being creative while staying in one place. I think there are elements that will be inspiring regardless of your situation.
As of this writing (May 12, 2020), we've been in work-from-home/shelter-in-place for 11 weeks. I've been keeping myself sane and hoping to inspire others with an ongoing pandemic photo journal, but I thought this little diversion from the end of Week 10 was worth its own project. I was tired of finding my own inspiration in my backyard. Not that I'm complaining; I know how fortunate I am to have some lovely green space to walk through and look at, especially in the city. But I was yearning to look around and not see a fence or wall or window anywhere nearby.
Being Creative in the New Normal
More than ever, it's important to consider your personal mental health. It's important to take breaks away from your computer screen. Why not use one of those breaks to visually explore the familiar? Stretch your mind and your creative eye using your smartphone? Read on for some tips on being creative at home.
Go Tell it on the Mountain
I recently travelled to Lehi, Utah for a team meeting and brought along my new Olympus EM5 Mark III to field-test it. I bought this camera specifically for travel purposes, where I didn't feel there was a need to carry my larger and heavier Nikon D750. I shot indoors and out, in bright light and low light and often high contrast scenes. This is a somewhat technical review, so for those who are more used to just viewing my work and (hopefully) enjoying the story I add to the project, please forgive me. Soon, I'll be back to a more storytelling mode.
Making your (water)mark in Lightroom Mobile
Here's a brief tutorial on how to configure your watermark when using the recently updated (December 2019) version of Lightroom Mobile.
Autumn in Kawartha - 2019
It had been a wonderful season at the Fortress of Moderate Solitude. Spring, summer and autumn have raced by it seems, but even though the time felt fleeting, I was able to venture out on several occasions to capture the colour of the Kawarthas, in and around the cottage area. The collection here is some of my favourite images from the past few weeks.
The Excellent Adventure 13
This is the 13th year of the Excellent Adventure. We've been to many places over those years, camping, cottaging and the like, everywhere from Lake Superior Provincial Park, to Newfoundland, to California wine country and the Kawarthas in Ontario. Regardless of the location (which have all been fantastic experiences), it's the fellowship and camaraderie of the group that makes each trip so successful and leaves us yearning for the next adventure. We have such fun, laugh all week and share thoughts and ideas about pretty much anything that comes to mind.
Adobe Stock and Creative Cloud Libraries
Recently, I've been writing a series of articles on the connections between Creative Cloud Libraries and Adobe Stock. I'm very pleased to say that I've completed the series, as Spark Page projects! Initially, I had written one very long article on the subject. But, Spark Page does not support any kind of internal page navigation (liked named anchors) I decided that it would be easier for people to focus in on their specific challenges by breaking up the article into segments. This idea also inspired another article, focused on collaboration. I'm adding links to all four projects here.
Views from the Fortress of Moderate Solitude
I’m doing my first photography show in more than 2 decades! And this too is quite exciting. It’s been a long time since I shared my photography in analog form; I’ve spent many years publishing and promoting and sharing my work online through various channels. But from January 17 to March 28, 20 of my photographs will be on display (and - ahem - for sale) at the gallery space at Elmhirst's Resort, in Keene, Ontario.
Spring at the Cottage
The first few weeks of cottage season are magical. The landscape gradually shifts from earth tones to verdant greens. The forest floor awakens, delicate plants like ferns and Trilliums pushing upward at a slow, deliberate pace, with seemingly herculean efforts to push through soil and nature's winter coverlet of decaying leaves.
We took a leisurely 2-hour drive along a 9-kilometre section of Settler's Line, this past long weekend, with the intention of capturing a bit more of Kawartha spring glory - not the least of which were the Trilliums which grew abundantly at the roadside and in the forests. Settlers Line did not disappoint!