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Welcome to Stay Focused

01st January 2021

Great photos are born in the camera

By now you know that Stay Focused is part the arnielee website.

We’re here because we love taking pictures. We’ve been adding new photography articles that should interest you which you’ll see under RECENT POSTS.

To search for articles that may be of interest, click on a keyword under TAGS.

You’ll find articles based on our 50+ years of experience in photography. We happy to share our know-how with you so in hopes that you’ll discover new ways to enjoy your picture taking even more.
Note: You can click on most of the photos to enlarge.

The early days of picturetaking had me carefully setting up to take that spectacular photo, sending the film off to develop and patiently waiting for the prints come back from the photofinisher. Unexpectedly I experienced much disappointment when I looked through the returned pictures only to see my favorite subject as a blurred image. The cause may have been my sloppy focusing or me shaking the camera while using a slow shutter speed. No matter, the result was a missed opportunity.

When I review my large collection of photos – especially the older ones – I’m amazed how many aren’t “tack sharp”. Before the advent of autofocus cameras, we had to rely on manual focus techniques to keep the lens properly set. And before the advent of higher ISO film, we had to rely on stabilizing techniques to minimize the camera shake. In my younger days I must have been a photographer with sloppy habits and this explains why I have a bunch of blurry photos from back then.

A few weeks ago I learned of a software product that supposedly “fixed” blurred photos. After reading a couple of reviews of Topaz AI I decided to give it a try. In addition to sharpening images it can reduce image noise and can boost image resolution.

Topaz AI can be used by itself (standalone) or as a plug-in (helper) for Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. I have used it as a standalone but most often as a plug-in for Lightroom.

Here’s a quick look at how Topaz AI can make those blurry pictures go away.


 
Below is a photograph taken with film in the early 1970’s using a manual focus camera. You can see that the original image on the left is not quite in focus.
 


Here I’ve started Topaz AI to process the original image. This is the Topaz AI screen. On the left half of the split screen is the original image while the right half shows the improved image. On the far right is the control panel. By default the software analyzes the image and applies the changes that it believes will improve its appearance.


 

This is an enlargement of the Topaz AI control panel.

At the top is a thumbnail of the original image. Move the thumbnail rectangle to view different parts of the original image.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In this case Topaz has used its Autopilot settings to find a subject’s face in the original image, apply medium noise reduction and sharpen the subject in the image. You can override these settings if you do not care the resulting changes.
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can see that the buttons to Remove Noise, Sharpen and Recover Faces have already been activated (blue) but the Enhanced Resolution has not been activated (grey).

If you want to increase the resolution of the original image (Upscale), you can do so by selecting 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X or Max. You might use this if you’d like to make a poster size enlargement from your original image.

I did not increase the image resolution.

The dimensions of the resulting image are displayed below the enhance resolution choices.
 
 
 
 
Making changes to the settings are not permanent until the image is saved so you can make various adjustments until you achieve results that are favorable to you.


Here are portions of the original and “fixed” versions of the image.
 



original image – click to enlarge

image processed with Topaz AI (click to enlarge
Clearly you can see that Topaz AI has done a remarkable job in removing the cause of the bad focus in original image.
 



Next is a second image that suffered from focus blur caused by my rush to capture the bighorn sheep before it got away. The original was taken in May 2022 using a digital camera:
 

You can see that Topaz AI automatically applied the Remove Noise and Sharpen features to the original image. I did not need to use Enhance Resolution.


Below are portions of the original and improved images of the bighorn sheep.
 


original image (click to enlarge)

image processed with Topaz AI (click to enlarge)
 
Without any changes to the Topaz AI settings this software has produced an amazing image. It has saved another one of my photos from the “throwaway” pile.
 



 
I’m impressed Photo AI’s ability to fix the few dozen blurred images that I’ve thrown at it over the past few weeks. But what’s just as impressive is how easy this software is to use. So far it’s lived up to the AI that is part of its name.
 



 
For those of you who may be interested in this software, you can get a free trial version for either Mac or Windows personal computers. Visit Topaz Labs and look for the Photo AI package.

 
 
 

Showing Their Age

27th October 2022

Old Photos In My Collection

You may already know that I have quite a large collection of photographs. The overwhelming number of them are photos that I have taken over the many years that I’ve been a fan of photography. My personal photos start about 1960 making them about 60 years old.

Additionally I have a few hundred photos that I’ve been archiving for relatives. A large proportion are older – many dating back to the early 1900’s. A few are one hundred years old.

Below are some of these photographs that I’d like to share. Not all of them are ancient but they represent items or events that should harken you back to an earlier era.
 
 

 
Take a few minutes and go through your collection of photographs. You may unlock some of those nostalgic memories.
 
 

What is Your Angle?

27th September 2022

Photography Points of View

Experts stress composition when they’re referring to how to place your subjects in the viewfinder to get that best looking photograph. Your subject may be a face, a full body portrait, a tiny flower or a majestic canyon.

You have many ways to approach those subjects: move closer, move farther away, bend your knees to lower your viewpoint, point the camera upwards slightly, climb onto a nearby bench to take in more of the subject, and so on.

By simply changing the angle of your camera in relation to the subject you can get totally different – and hopefully better – results.

Here are a few samples of how I’ve come up with different angles.
 


 

It doesn’t take much to make your snapshots slightly more interesting. And remember that these days with digital cameras (or cellphones) – it’s pretty cheap to take a few extra “experimental” photos. Have fun!
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 

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