From Pedestrian to Painterly – WPC

“Photography means painting with light.”

Katja Michael



This week I participated in a class on the creative possibilities of Topaz Labs’ suite of products. Happily, it’s given me an excellent opportunity to respond to this week’s photo challenge “pedestrian”.



“A painter works with color as the medium, a photographer works with light.”

Carlotta M. Corpron

We’ve all been there – tried to photograph a wonderful scene where the lighting wasn’t perfect, or the wind was making sharpness impossible, or any of a thousand issues got in the way of our capturing the scene as we imagined it. Topaz helps the photographer to take those disappointing, pedestrian captures and turn them into something closer to what we’d seen in our mind’s eye.



“It all depends on what you visualize.”

Ansel Adams

I must admit I went into the class feeling that I had no further need for editing products, having worked extensively with Photoshop, Lightroom and the Nik tools as well as some terrific textures. I am happy to report that I was wrong, and although I’ve not spent as much time as I’d like with the products there is a definite future for them in my bag of tricks.



“Art is a visual language; I’m just perfecting my alphabet.”

Zachary A. Diaz

The best way to appreciate the power of the Topaz products is to use them – and the company offers a 30-day free option for anyone interested in trying them (just use the link above). For today’s images I used combinations of Topaz’s Simplify, Impressions and Texture Effects products. Β Once downloaded, I found the products easy to understand, fun to use and extremely flexible.

For reference, I’ve included the original photographs below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the before-and-afters!



132 thoughts on “From Pedestrian to Painterly – WPC

  1. Pingback: Pedestrian: Walk on Sunday – What's (in) the picture?

  2. Wow! just Wow! I think I’ll just put my brushes away and never paint again – lol, just kidding. Great quotes and I particularly love the Beach Sunset, which is quite Turneresque. I’ll have to give it a try but after I’m back from Italy. Leaving this week but will check in whenever I can. Back in November with lots more subject to paint I hope. Best wishes Tina and have a great October…Andrew

  3. Love these, both the originals and the edits, although I must admit I much prefer the original over the edit of the sunset photo. I love the way the footprints in the sand lead you into the scene, but they are not as distinctive in the edit. What a fun product to try! Great post!

  4. It’s interesting reading some of the comments on the way down, Tina, and thanks for giving us a before and after. My personal favourite is that oh so subtle sunset. It brought a huge smile! I love that, wonderful though your photos are, you’re still happy to experiment. It’s a case of perpetually trying to delight yourself, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  5. Pingback: Pedestrian: Evening Walk 4 – What's (in) the picture?

  6. I love the choices you made for all these photos!
    I downloaded the stand-alone version of Topaz Studio a few months ago. It is a free program that I have used a lot. You can apply your own effects, or use any of the hundreds of pre-sets that other people have developed and uploaded.

  7. Very cool and definitely not pedestrian! In many cases, I liked the more painterly versions but in others, I liked the original photo better. I hope to someday have the time to play with all these editing programs! You do a beautiful job with all of these products.

  8. I’m really impressed with the edited image of the red shed wharf photograph. That’s worked really, really well! The boats and the beach sunset are quite nice – I can imagine those versions being useful in certain contexts even though I prefer the originals. Not keen on the edited Duneside (not a style that resonates with me). Thanks for sharing your experience of this product – very interesting to see what you did.

    • Thanks EC – interesting how different the reactions are to each of the “creations”. Typically I’m more of a purist but I did love the way I was able to make something totally different out of each of these shots.

  9. Loved your take on the challenge, Tina! πŸ™‚ I enjoy using filters on old photographs and turning them into paintings or stylised art. It’s been a while since I’ve explored it. Thanks for sharing this. Makes me want to experiment again. πŸ™‚

  10. The edited images are gorgeous. As others have noted, they look like impressionistic paintings. Your originals are all great starting points. I am not sure which I like better–it is a mood more than a like better distinction. The edited ones seem to be more elusive, more like memory. I may have to explore using editing tools. I have never done more than the simple editing that comes with the camera program.

    • Thanks Patti – an interesting perspective about mood rather than preference. I found when I revisited the edited photos to post them my preference for one versus another had changed completely – mood seems a logical explanation!

  11. Tina, these are really beautiful.
    I especially love the first one, and the colors in the second one are magnificent.
    I really like to use Topaz products.
    The only downside? I can spend hours just playing with one photo and all of the possibilities! πŸ™‚

    • Oh I know exactly what you mean on that Lisa! I could spend hours just playing – and sometimes isn’t that kind of a GOOD thing?! As long as we don’t do it too often, or neglect other more important things, nobody gets hurt πŸ™‚

  12. Topaz is something I have never looked into, and I might have felt like you did at first, but I’m blown away by the changes you made, particularly with Duneside Design, which takes the color to such a whole other sophisticated level. I think you did great work on each one – the Dinghy has loads of charm and atmosphere, and the Wharf was already strong because of the flat red front of the building, but you made that more the focal point. I liked the sand texture in Sunset, but you made it all dreamy, which is also very effective. Now you’ve tempted me – and I’m too busy as it is!

  13. Duneside design and beach sunset, I like quite a bit as photos … perhaps it is that we don’t have beaches in Colorado. (I don’t count sand on the side of a lake or a reservoir as a beach, lol.) The painterly versions of the dinghy and wharf, they probably could be shown in a gallery. πŸ™‚

    • What a nice compliment David, thanks very much. My brother and his wife live in Colorado and she says she misses the beach more than anything else. Something to be said for a crystal clear lake with snow-capped mountains in the background tho, don’t you think?! πŸ™‚

      • My mom said the same thing when she left Hawaii. Every time we visited, there was an obligatory trip to the beach. πŸ™‚

        A crystal clear lake with snowcapped mountains in the background? Nothing beats that as well. πŸ™‚

  14. I also thought you had originally taken photos of paintings . I love the softened effect you brought to the photos but I loved the originals as well. Have a nice week Tina.

  15. This is very interesting and it’s a delight to see what you have done, Tina. Before and after is so great in helping the eyes to understand what’s going on. πŸ˜‰
    It’s a nice playful way to do something with thenotsogoodones. Except for the first one, the Dinghy, I prefere the originals, they are all beautiful. The abstract Duneside Design is fine because it’s altogether something different. I think my installed Topaz version is a lite one. I’ll definetely take a closer look to what they offer now. Do you have any posts “before and after” using the Nik tools? I’d love to look over shoulder. πŸ˜‰
    Have a great weekend!

    • Many thanks Dina – they’ve expanded their offerings quite a bit now that they’ve introduced their Suite, which I forgot to mention in my post. As for Nik, I’ve done a few blogs where I used textures and also some with Nik, but have never done a before and after post. The Nik takeover by Google and their announcement that they’ll no longer do development of those tools leads me to look for alternatives although I do love the products.

  16. Love what you’ve done. I really enjoy Topaz for a change and it’s nice that they’ve put out the suite. You have tapped into all they have to offer — Dinghy is serene and lovely.

    • Thanks Jane – Dinghy is probably my favorite – the impressions product was nice for that one. I’m looking forward to their moving all of the products into the suite

  17. These are all amazing pictures. Beach sunset is my favourite. It has a remarkable blend of photographic clarity and romantic feeling. I am no connoisseur but if I saw such a picture in the Louvre it would not look out of place. You have an undoubted talent.

  18. How exciting! ‘Duneside Design’ is magnificent and reminds me of some abstract paintings I was looking at in a gallery just the other day, at a cost of Β£950 I declined buying one. I also like ‘On the Wharf’ though the original of this is good too. I prefer the original sunset though.

Please Tell Me What You Think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: