Revealing the artist within

Topaz Impression is changing my photography

sunrise in Austin, TX

golden hour along a canal in copenhagen, denmark

I’ve been a fan of Impressionist paintings for a long time.  I have no idea when I first came across them and decided that I liked them, but it’s been a while.  There’s just something about them that really speaks to the artist in me.

I love the play of light, the bold use of color, and their use of simple compositions to draw the viewer in.  I have no formal education in their works (and therefore don’t pretend to know much, honestly) but I do find them beautiful and interesting, and I am always drawn to them at museums.   They seem to be full of feeling. 

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

But I can't paint worth a damn, so I take photos instead.  I'm ok at that stuff.  :-)

Les deux magots, a famous cafe in paris

leadenhall market in london - and yes, this place was used for parts of diagon alley in the harry potter movies

an interesting shop along the royal mile in edinburgh, scotland

Even though I am a fan (and frequent practitioner) of HDR photography - which is typically known for showing a lot of detail in a photo - I love the way that Impressionism actually obscures the details and makes you appreciate the larger scene itself.  

It’s brilliant, really.  That’s the purpose of art anyways, right?  It honestly makes me want to continue to evolve my style of photography.  It makes me want to be a better photographer.  Studying these masterpieces just really gets me motivated.

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher

a street just off grand place in brussels, belgium

blue hour at notre dame in paris

an alley along a back street in bratislava, slovakia - just loved that red door!

I’ve done the “heavy-handed HDR” thing before (and now and then I still do, because I feel like some scenes just beg for it), and I still like it at times, but more and more I am moving in the other direction.  Where am I headed?  I haven’t fully figured that out just yet. 

I assume everyone that is involved in some artistic pursuit continually goes through the same cycle of creating, continuing to learn, and applying those learnings in new ways.  It’s something I have been doing for some time now, and frankly - I love it.  I love experimenting with new styles and new processing options, and seeing where it takes me.  I love experimenting with new ways of shooting too – trying new composition ideas, new lenses, and generally just mixing things up and keeping it fluid. 

shakespeare & co bookstore in paris

sunrise in the temple bar district in dublin, ireland

I guess I feel like I rode a particular horse about as far as it wanted to go (or at least as far as we wanted to go together), and now I am trying out lots of other horses to see which one is most compatible with me.  (Yes, I am from Texas.  No I do not own a horse - it just seemed to be a fitting description.)  I seem to be writing a lot about creativity, change and experimentation over the last 6 months or so.  I’m obviously thinking about it a lot, and going through a bit as well.

Am I turning my back on HDR photography?  No, I don’t think so.  I still love it, and still do HDR a fair amount.  It’s just that I am a bit more diversified now.  I guess I want to do more than one thing with my art. 

blue hour at the bay bridge in san francisco

a boulangerie in montpellier, france

It’s very much like the blog itself.  I’ve changed a lot here over the last year or so.  The first few years I posted a single photo each day, about 5-6 times per week.  Now I do more long-form posts like this one, plus I include a LOT more images, and write about more than just the image at hand.  And, I now post about 2 times per week, and sometimes 3 times.  So fewer posts, but longer posts, and more images.  It’s been great to change things up - I think I needed it. 

It certainly keeps it more interesting for me - and hopefully for you.

sunset in portland, or along the willamette river

shopping in galleries vivienne - paris

the natural history museum in london - such a heaven for photography!

But anyways, like the Impressionists (ok, I’m not actually trying to compare myself to them, to be clear), I am finding that it’s better at times to obscure instead of reveal, and that it makes for a more interesting image.  If you can’t see EVERY SINGLE THING in an image, it makes you look at it a little deeper, and a little longer, and I think you then start to fill in the blanks in your head a little bit.  It’s more interesting.  More engaging.  

So in an effort to get in touch with the elusive artist inside of me (and I believe we all have that little spark in there somewhere), I have been converting some of my photos to digital paintings, using Topaz Impression.  If you follow me on Flickr, you have probably seen me post quite a few of these in recent weeks.  I love just sitting around with an old photo, and jacking around with it to see what new thing I can create from it.  It’s a good exercise for the creative right side of my brain.  Way better than surfing Facebook.  :-)

And that brings me to today’s post.  These are just some of my recent faves that have gone through Topaz Impression and come out on the other side looking all artsy.  It’s quite fun, and I highly recommend it.  It’s a great creative exercise, even if all it really is is just moving some sliders around.  It’s not really the physical act for me as much as it is the mental one.  It makes you think differently, that’s for sure.

st. pancras international station in london - where you can catch the train to paris!

a store in brussels, belgium - i could not resist taking this shot!

before sunrise in grand place, the beautiful town square in brussels, belgium

Admittedly, it’s not for everyone (and I’ve had people tell me that) but it is for me, part of the time and at this stage of my journey, and I love using it as a creative outlet.  It forces me to look at things differently than I normally do, and that’s a way to grow and change.  That’s a way to improve.  And really, that’s what I am trying to do - improve.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  - Scott Adams

And just to clarify - because the name Impression puts a certain idea in your head - you can create ALL SORTS of art using Topaz Impression.  I tend to stick with the Impressionists most of the time because that is my artistic leaning, but you can do Modern Art, Pencil Sketches, Charcoal and more.  It’s incredibly versatile.  You can read about it on the Topaz Labs website, or read my review here on the site.

So if you are looking for a way to change things up and explore your creativity, then Topaz Impression might just be what you need.  It’s certainly made a difference for me!

sunrise in las vegas

a cafe along rue du bouchers in brussels, belgium

sunset under the millennium bridge in london - what a great sunset that was!

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Note: I am an Affiliate with Topaz Labs, the makers of Topaz Impression and many other great software titles (such as the well-known Topaz Adjust).  You can use the discount code NOMADICPURSUITS and get 15% off ANYTHING you order on their site.  If you use that code, I get a small commission which I reinvest in the ongoing maintenance of this site.  If interested you can follow this link. 

But please note that this is NOT a sponsored post.  Topaz Labs did not ask me to write this, and did not compensate me for doing so.  I wrote and shared this simply because I love the product, and it's making me a better photographer, and I thought some of you would be interested in my thoughts on it.  Thank you for stopping by!