Posted on May.27, 2009, under Architecture, Detroit, Michigan

(Olympus E-3, 14-54mm at 14mm (2x crop factor), ISO 100, exposure 5 stop HDR @ f/9.0)

On Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan is a terrific little store with a variety of interesting merchandise. The store is Acme Mercantile. I took this shot of the storefront on a morning walk through town. For some reason I was in the mood to take storefronts that day. Most of the images I shot on my walk were taken with the potential to make an HDR image. I set my camera to shoot 5 bracketed exposures, 1 stop apart. I was doing this hand held and I set my camera to fast shooting and clicked off 5 quick shots at various exposures in an attempt to minimize movement. Of course, one problem was that it was windy that day, so any thing which could be affected by the wind (like leaves on a tree) created motion that I didn’t want.

I started processing by having Photomatix convert the 5 exposures into one HDR. From there I went in to Photoshop. I corrected some perspective distortion and then went on to some additional processing. I’ve been experimenting with selectively using a filter from Topaz Labs called Simplify and I used it on this image to minimize the problem with the moving leaves. I created a new layer and went into the Simplify filter and selected the ‘Buzz Sim’ preset. This creates an image which looks like it was painted. After saving the layer, I created a layer mask on that layer and selectively reduced the filter’s effect. I wanted to keep most of the store front sharp, but keep the stuff in the distance ‘simplified’. I also liked the way the filter made the reflection in the front window look, so I kept the filter effect there as well.

I always feel guilty when I use some sort of ‘creative’ filter on my images. I feel like I’m cheating somehow. However, at the same time I like the end result. I’m curious what others think, not only about this particular image, but about using ‘creative’ filters in the post processing stage.

Comments and feedback welcome.

Image and text Copyright © 2009 James W. Howe – All rights reserved

This image is available for purchase in my Color gallery on ImageKind. Please check it out!

« »


  • Ron in L.A. says:
    Love the colors, perfectly vibrant.

    R(etc… )

  • John Glenn says:
    Hello James,

    I like the effect of the filters on your photo and I don’t find it to be cheating at all. You are very up front with the process you used and more importantly, you have taken the time to learn Topaz and Photomatix in order to add a different way of presenting your photos.

  • Sgt. Wolverine says:
    The acceptable extent of processing depends on what you’re trying to create. The more heavily you process an image, the more it gets into what I would consider digital art (where its impact was created more on the computer than in the camera).
  • Ilan says:
    The result look like a painting!
    Love it, thank you for posting the ‘behind the scene’ process, that’s the best way to learn 🙂

Leave a Comment

You can use these tags:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>