Written by guest blogger: Denise Ippolito

As I was walking through Washington’s Crossing State Park in Pennsylvania late last fall I noticed a leaf stuck to the trunk of a large tree. I guess the wind and rain from early that morning had left it there. The leaf instantly caught my eye and many different ideas started to flood my mind.

Art Morris had loaned me his Canon 15mm fisheye lens. I like the unique perspective that the fisheye offers. A cloudy day is best when shooting with this lens; if you photograph with it on sunny days your shadow will likely be in the image. I was in the zone as I walked slowly around the tree while checking out every option. Trees have always been of interest to me. I was anxious to capture a dramatic look so I got very low to the ground and very close to the base of the tree so as to include some of the top branches.

To process my image I took it into Photoshop and duplicated the layer. Then I converted the top layer to black and white. Next I applied the Topaz Simplify BuzSim filter to the top layer to give the leaves a bit of character. Then I added a layer mask to the top layer and masked back in the original color of the lone leaf and increased the saturation of that lone leaf. By choosing to leave color in one of the key elements of an otherwise black and white image you accent it and draw attention to it. The leaf would not have been the key element if I hadn’t chosen to bring the color back in.

Want to recreate this look? Here’s a couple of tips to help:
• Use a level.
• Avoid photographing when it is sunny so your shadow is not in the image. Try to avoid mixed lighting also. I created this image on an overcast day between rain showers.
• Get extremely close to your subject so that you have a unique perspective. For this image I was at the base of the tree looking up.
• Consider the subject shape and the orientation in which you will capture your subject. I chose a vertical composition for my tree.
• Look for a key element that you can use as a focal point. For my image it was the lone leaf.
• Follow the flow of your subject when composing your image. For my tree image I saw the slight curve in the trunk and worked with it to create a dramatic composition.
• The minimum focusing distance with the fisheye lens is 8”.

Tip: When adding the Simplify BuzSim Filter I keep my controls set to the default settings. Since I start with a duplicate copy before running the software I can easily make adjustments to the opacity of the layer and I can also add a layer mask to make further adjustments selectively throughout the image.

Make final adjustments to the shadows and highlights after the filter is applied and tweaked. I also add a round of Unsharp Mask in Photoshop to the image as a finishing touch for web presentation.

Final Thoughts
Whenever I photograph trees, I consider how they will look with the Simplify BuzSim Filter applied to them. I like the stained glass effect that the filter adds to many of the branches and leaves. Consider using B&W images with hints of color for added drama. Experiment with color and/or lack of color when creating your next image.

About Denise Ippolito
Denise Ippolito is a freelance photographer, artist and writer living in NJ. She is also a moderator in the Out of the Box Forum for Bird Photographers Network which is an online photography site. She has co-led photography instructional tours for Arthur Morris who is a Canon Explorer of Light. He is a world renowned bird photographer and teacher. Denise offers on-line courses as well as half day workshops featuring avian, macro and HDR photography. To see more of her work please visit her at: http://deniseippolito.com/

Her recent eBook “A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects” is an expression of art and nature. This 19,000 word, 146 page PDF file is fully illustrated and outlines many Photoshop Filters and Creative Plug-ins. Each detailed tutorial section is written in a clear, concise, simple, easy to follow style that can be followed even by someone opening up Photoshop for the first time.

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Want to learn more about Topaz Simplify and how to creatively enhance your images? We invite you to sign up for one of the upcoming free Topaz Simplify webinars.

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