For thirty years my wife and I have been traveling to New Mexico and the American Southwest. We have driven over 30,000 miles in the Four Corner states experiencing the diverse natural wonders, friendly people and history of what is unquestionably one of the most beautiful parts of our great country. It is nearly impossible to explain in words how one feels experiencing the highways and byways of our new home state. By featuring just a few of the thousands of photos I have taken and enhanced using Topaz Labs Software, I hope to give you some sense of how New Mexico is truly the “Land of Enchantment”.
Our adventures in the Southwest have shaped my work along with the help and support of family, friends, peers and the great photographic organizations I have been a part of. A crucial partner in my photographic journeys both past and present is Topaz Labs. Their products have provided me with the tools to achieve my artistic visions. I feel that one does not have to present reality in a fine art photograph as today’s equipment and software offer artists exceptional ways to experiment and discover a unique path to their goals.
After using Minolta cameras for over 40 years I found the switch to Sony mirrorless cameras a natural one. These cameras along with latest Sigma Art and Sports lenses give me the technology that I need to take great photographs.
My first experience with Topaz software began with ReMask. When I was looking for masking software, friends and peers recommended Topaz products and I decided to try them. My process starts with either of the two Host programs; PaintShop Pro X8 or Photoshop CC 2015. Both offer adjustments and features that I can greatly enhance using my primary Topaz programs: Clarity, Adjust, Detail, Remask, Black and White Effects and DeNoise. I also make it a point to upgrade to the latest versions of these which Topaz makes really easy to do!
When I am out shooting I am always looking for interesting skies and backgrounds that I can later use with ReMask and then combine with other subjects to create some of the unique images included in the blog.
This photograph of three Sandhill Cranes was taken at Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area found in one of the many bosques or gallery forests found situated along the riparian flood plains of stream and river banks in the southwestern United States. It derives its name from the Spanish word for woodlands.
I processed the photograph using layers in PaintShop Pro X8 along with DeNoise, ReMask, and added custom presets in Clarity to arrive at the final image. Tip: It is very important to use DeNoise first if needed as it will produce the best results.
All of the Topaz programs have many creative presets built into them and I often use them to explore the hidden possibilities in my images. One of the most important features of all their software is the ability to create custom presets which can give your images a distinctive and personal style. Custom Landscape and Nature presets which I have created in Clarity lend themselves particularly well to the photographs that I have taken over the years while experiencing the wonder of thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese which overwinter in the many wildlife refuges found throughout New Mexico. Many species of wildlife inhabit these areas during the year but there are also times when few birds are present. One day as I waited patiently I was rewarded with the opportunity to catch New Mexico’s state bird, the Roadrunner, having lunch. ”Beep! Beep!”
After working with Black and White film in the darkroom over 40 years ago, I find that using Topaz Black and White Effects is an effective way to add drama to my photographs and at the same time revive the days of film. I find that I have a lot of fun using the Red, Orange, Yellow filters and Film settings such as TriX-400 doing this. I often use Adaptive Exposure to make adjustments as well. Oh, and sometimes using ReMask along with a little selective color adds to the fun too!
There are many places in New Mexico where you can stand and take a step back in time and reflect on how the State’s rich, cherished and storied history has impacted the present day. These photographs from the Salinas National Monument are a reminder of the history of Puebloan peoples who inhabited the remote frontier area of central New Mexico. Early in the 17th century Spanish Franciscans found the area ripe for their missionary efforts. However, by the late 1670s the entire Salinas District, as the Spanish had named it, was depopulated of both Indians and Spaniards. What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of the early contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials: the ruins of three mission churches at Quarai, Abó, and Gran Quivira.
Here are a few examples from our never-ending quest to understand New Mexico’s past.
Fort Union played an important role in the settling of New Mexico It was established in 1851 to protect the commercial and military enterprises along the Santa Fe Trail. You can see the largest visible network of Santa Fe Trail ruts here. The Fort functioned as a military garrison, territorial arsenal, and military supply depot. It had the largest and most advanced hospital in the surrounding 500 mile radius. Fort Union was not all work and no play, in fact the soldiers and their family kept themselves well entertained. The post had a music band, a drama club, a race track, a baseball team, a billiard hall, and even a bowling alley!
Inspiration without Perspiration
New Mexico has a rich artistic history as well. I have been inspired by the many artists and photographers both past and present who have called New Mexico home. Using multiple layers with Impression or Simplify I can create unique artistic work that will remind you of one our favorite places to visit, the town of Abiquiu. This was the home of Georgia O’Keeffe. Using a custom version of the preset named after her in Impression you can get a feel of her work which reflects the stunning vistas, red rock walls, Rio Chama and the Pedernal where her ashes lay overlooking the lake. Visiting here is an inspiring trip, always offering solace to the soul!
I will end this with a nod to Albuquerque, my home city. Ranging from the last vestiges of Route 66 on Central Ave, to the BioPark which is the most visited attraction in New Mexico and on to the open spaces in the foothills, Albuquerque has much to offer. The folks here are some of friendliest we have ever met. Enjoying a Green Chile Cheese Burger and a local Craft Beer at one of the city’s fine restaurants is a treat as good as you’ll get anywhere. I added Glow to the final image of historic Route 66 by choosing a Neon preset at 85 percent opacity after first creating multiple layers of all the signs using ReMask and adjusting them in Clarity.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog and discovered both the beauty of New Mexico and the potential of Topaz software to give your own photographic journey a unique and memorable style. There are many more photographs and stories from my New Mexico adventure which I hope to share in future blogs. I would love to have you join me on that journey.
There are many fine Tutorials listed by Artist or Software you can view on the Topaz Labs Home page which will allow you to try some of the techniques I have mentioned in this Article blog.topazlabs.com/tutorials
All images ® Gary Lamott, All Rights Reserved.
About Gary Lamott
Gary Lamott has been a photographer for over forty years, starting with black and white film and now working exclusively with digital. He is a member of the New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists (NHSPA), a Board Member Emeritus of the Seacoast Artist Association (SAA) in Exeter, NH, a contributing member of the Artist Advisory Committee of Main Street Art (MSA) in Newfields, NH , an award winning juried exhibiting member of the Plymouth, MA Guild for the Arts and a member of the New Mexico Art League, as well as a member of several photo groups.
He is a regular contributor to Topaz Labs Software. He has developed educational tutorials and content for Topaz products and has been featured in their software promotions, product pages and galleries since Oct of 2013. His photo “Island In the Sky” was featured in the Topaz Labs February 2014 promotion in Photoshop User Magazine.
He participated in Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter’s Art On Loan Program, including having a photo on display in her Washington, DC office. As part of their photographic quest he and his wife have traveled over 30,000 miles in the American Southwest, as well as New England and other places of interest.
“My vision is to create original images that represent the spirit of the places that we travel to. I think of Photography as an art form. I use both my cameras and today’s software to create my images, which provide endless possibilities for unique photographs. When taking photos I feel the Artist’s vision is the most important aspect of all.”