Every few months I evaluate my Photoshop workflow when processing images. I’m always thrilled when I find something new that improves my photo processing. It can be something subtle or something drastic. Recently I was contacted to review some landscape Photoshop Actions by Sleeklens. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited to see what they can do. Sleeklens offers two different versions: Photoshop actions and Lightroom actions. I chose to review the Photoshop actions as I process exclusively in Photoshop. At the time of this article, Sleeklens offers 56 custom Photoshop actions/brushes. You simply load the actions from the Photoshop actions palette. Here is a sample image of what it looks like:
As with any action, they are very easy to operate/run. You simply highlight the action you want to run and click the play button. The result is a layer added on top of the background image where you either control the intensity of the action by the opacity or brush on the effects (depends on the action).
I experimented with all of the actions and decided to illustrate the TONE Color Pop action on one of my images. Here is a photo called Nature’s Color Palette that I opened from a raw file. The only adjustment made was a highlight/shadow adjustment:
Next I applied the TONE Color Pop action and left the opacity slider at 100% (maximum effect for the action):
As you can see there’s a significant saturation increase on the image.
In conclusion, if you are a beginner and are a little intimidated by Photoshop these actions might be a good candidate for you. The actions cover a broad selection of effects one would want to make on images (highlight reductions, exposure manipulations, temperature, saturation, web sharpening etc..) without the overhead of having to master Photoshop. As for me, I have a pretty comprehensive workflow process where I’ve incorporated bits and pieces from programs and masks. I will continue to evaluate these actions and would most likely use them subtly by painting effects onto the image. To learn more about Sleeklens landcape actions and other Sleeklens actions, please visit the following URLs:
Following the same theme as the wildflower season, fall in Colorado was much different than years past. This year was a bit of a disappointment. The colors were around 2 weeks behind. A lot of trees that did turn were a muted color and then the snow and cold temperatures turned promising leaves into a rust or brown color quickly. However, just like the old saying, you must turn lemons into lemonade or make the best of the situation you are in. After all, when isn’t it nice to be out in nature? The following were my favorite images from this years outing.
This image portrays early morning with Mount Sopris enshrouded in clouds after an evening of snow with orange aspen trees lining the foreground. I love this peak. It dominates the landscape and find myself photographing it often.
This image titled “Blending Seasons” was an image I visualized prior to a winter storm coming in. I was hoping that I might have a layering effect of snow and colors. When I hiked to this location, I was pleasantly surprised to see what I had hoped for.
As mentioned above, the colors weren’t as widespread and grandiose as recent years. However, in the San Juan mountains, the scrub oak was incredible. One of the best years for scrub oak I had seen in awhile. I spotted this image driving around and did my best to capture the multitude of colors on the hillside.
This last image was one of the few aspen strands I found that were healthy and colorful while I was out. This photograph depicts late afternoon light with clouds that are partially blocking the sun casting shadows on the scene. The mountain in the background is East Beckwith peak located outside of Crested Butte.
For some reason this Colorado wildflower season was very similar to last year – both were challenging to find profuse flowers in the mountains. I found some clumps here and there, but nothing like I had seen in years past. I came away with a few photos of some flowers and then some other scenic photos that I enjoyed photographing in the absence of many flowers.
This photograph depicts a combination of Indian Paintbrush (different colors) and Lupines interspersed with boulders in the White River National Forest.
The following photo was a surreal sight. Standing high up in the La Plata Mountains and have clouds swirl around you was amazing. At first I was a little unnerved by the weather thinking it could lightning at any moment. Then the sun broke through the clouds for a brief minute illuminating Diorite Peak.
Next this was one of my favorite images from the trip. I was backpacking and was hoping to captures a mountain backdrop reflecting in a lake. I bombed out two days. However, I did find a little stream that captured my interest. I followed it up and saw this cascade and really liked the surrounding. This was taken in the Uncompahgre National Forest
This last image is also one of my favorites. I had been interested in photographing Snowmass Peak for several years but never made my way there. This year, I decided that I would do it. Not only was the area around the lake fantastic, but the hike was one of the most enjoyable hikes I had ever been on. Plenty of alpine meadows and majestic mountains.
I took a quick weekend trip up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I didn’t have any dramatic light. However, I was content photographing aspen trees covered with vibrant green foliage. This shot is a sprint rendition of my Fall Twisted Aspens that was photographed in 2012.
Another photograph I came away with I just kind of came to me while sitting on a rock watching the sun paint light on the mountains. I saw these aspen trees and was really drawn to the pathway (tunnel) they created. The trees on the side seemed to all converge on one tree in the middle.
Another year has rolled around and I’ve just finished processing photos from my annual spring Desert Southwest trip. Most years, I find myself visiting Utah and Arizona twice a year. Once in the winter and another time in the spring. This year I decided to start with a backpacking trip into Coyote Gulch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I started off in the morning heading towards crack in the wall anxious to see the stream and the green trees that surround it. I descended into the canyon and waded up stream until I found a waterfall that I wanted to photograph. I pulled out my tripod extended the legs. Next I took out my camera and started to mount it on my tripod when I realized that I forgot my tripod mount for the camera. I had no way to steady the camera on the tripod to eliminate camera shake. I decided that there was no way I could stay. It would irritate me too much not being able to photograph. Instead of an actual photograph, I headed back to my vehicle with this mental image:
That will have to wait for another year – on to plan B. Next stop, bentonite hills in Arizona. I love these hills. It’s so much fun exploring and finding compositions along with interesting colors. It’s hard to believe that people actually eat this clay! The following image was taken on top of some hills and I used a focus stacking method to combine various focal points to make a super sharp image. I really liked the purple and red tones combined with layers of lines and some nice texture
Another image from the area that I really liked really reminded me of some kind of reptile scales especially with the foreground that reminded me of a foot along with interesting splashes of yellow.
The last image in this area was of little flowers in cracked mud called Four Wing Saltbush. I really like the contrast between dry and lifeless to flowers
This next image was taken near the Vermillion Cliffs area of Arizona. The structures of the rocks resemble lattice riding red waves down the sandstone. They look so fragile and you can’t help but wonder how they survived so long.
I’ve attempted this last photo multiple times without success. It’s one of my favorite locations and I’ve been told that the Navajo consider this canyon to be their Grand Canyon. In this particular photo, I was perched on a ledge as a thunderstorm came through. The winds were very strong and I was getting drenched as I held onto a rock and my tripod to prevent the both of us from going over. The storm passed quickly and the sun came out to treat me to two rainbows with warm light of the setting sun.
These are a sampling of photos from the trip. More are located in the New Photos section and the Desert Southwest section of my website. Thanks for looking!
I have a feature article that was written about me in the June 2013 Outdoor Photographer Magazine. The title of the article is “Big Landscapes & Intimate Details – The towering peaks and abstract close-ups of Colorado photographer Tad Bowman”. David Willis wrote the article. David has a fantastic writing style and was a pleasure to work with. The article is also available online at the Outdoor Photographer website: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/locations/north-america/big-landscapes-and-intimate-details.html
I am now showing my work at the Denver Photo Art Gallery. The gallery is owned by John Fielder and he shares space with other artists. If you are in town or visit, please take some time to visit the Denver Photo Art Gallery where you can see some of my work displayed. I am displaying a combination of work including Colorado Mountains, Grand Tetons, and Idaho photos.