Topaz Simplify BuzSim 100-400II/1.4X III/5DS R Pelican & Curves Adjustment Primer « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Topaz Simplify BuzSim 100-400II/1.4X III/5DS R Pelican & Curves Adjustment Primer

What’s Up?

I had a private client on Thursday morning and we were blessed with wonderful light and pelicans, a displaying Brandt’s Cormorant, and my first Elegant Tern on digital. Boy, was I stoked. I had my pre-op chest x-ray done after lunch. Tomorrow is my ultra-sound.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 133 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) that we would appreciate your business πŸ™‚


Topaz Simply BuzSim breeding plumage Brown Pelican head portrait

Topaz Simply BuzSim

I have been intrigued by Topaz Simplify BuzSim images for years. When I created the original pelican image below, I knew that it was perfect for BuzSim so I bit the bullet and got ahold of the licenses for a slew of Topaz products. Once I installed the program I opened the original image in Photoshop, hit Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Simplify 4. Under COLLECTIONS I clicked on BuzSim and then clicked on the first item in the list of PRESETS, appropriately named BuzSim. I was thrilled with the artistic, painterly rendition so I simply hit OK. As I wanted to open up the middle and dark tones only, I applied a Curves adjustment after the image opened in Photoshop. See immediately below for a Curves lesson.


Curves adjustment to bring up the dark tones

Curves Adjustment to Bring Up the Dark Tones

With the WHITEs beautifully bright but the dark tones a bit too dark to fit with the painterly look, I pulled up the curve at the dark end after pinning the WHITEs with four dots right on the line from the middle to the upper right. This prevented the adjustment from affecting the WHITEs and the middle tones. Pinning the curve is a commonly used technique when making a Curves adjustment


This image was created at La Jolla, CA on Monday, March 14, 2016 with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm) with the truly amazing mega mega-pixelCanon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/640 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was just below the bird’s eye. This was a small crop from below and behind the bird. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Breeding plumage Brown Pelican head portrait

100-400 II/1.4X III TC/5DS R Combo

The hand held 100-400 II/1.4X III TC/5DS R combo is deadly on the pelicans at La Jolla. It is easy to get around the cliffs, AF is fast and sure, and the resulting images are sharp with amazing fine feather detail.

Topaz Simplify

I was thrilled with the results of my first try with Topaz Simplify. I will be sharing some more BuzSim examples with you here in the not too distant future. You can help support my efforts here on the BAA Blog by clicking on the logo link above if you would like to join in the fun. After you click, be sure to watch the great instructional video.

Topaz Simplify: Turn your photos into works of art. Create paintings, sketches, watercolors, cartoons, and more. Make your art uniquely personal instead of using cookie-cutter filters. Get better results faster with specialized digital art technology


Subject and focal lengths clockwise from upper left around to center.

Palouse Falls: 11mm; homemade kiddie race car: 105mm; barn siding pan blur: 798mm; Rolling fields diorama: 110mm; Crayola drums: 343 mm; Hay barn interior: 19mm; vintage gas station: 40mm; Dilapidated farm building: 13mm; Denise’s tree Infrared: 20mm.

Images and card design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

The Palouse ~ A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 3-7, 2016/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12/Openings: 6

The Palouse ~ A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 10-14, 2016/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12/Openings: 2

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Maximize both your travel dollars and your learning experience by signing up for both IPTs.


Images and card design by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure.

The Palouse IPTs

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will likely enjoy spectacular sunrises and possibly a nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. We will take you to some really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join us for this trip. Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

After 6 days of back-breaking scouting work in early June 2014 we found all of the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and views. On three additional scouting days in 2015 we discovered several more truly amazing locations. We will teach you what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time.

What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, our newfound but very extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions when possible. There will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before each workshop begins.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills. You will learn to get the right exposure every time. You will learn to develop your creative eye. You will learn the basics of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. You will learn a variety of in-camera creative techniques. Most importantly you will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images. Do see both of our blogs for lots more on that in the coming weeks. You will learn how the quality and direction of light combine to determine the success of your images. And–please don’t gasp–we will be working quite a bit with sidelight when creating landscapes. Lastly, we will be doing some infrared photography.

To Sign Up

A non-refundable $699 deposit is due now. The balance will be due on February 15, 2016. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Whether or not your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

With the spectacular success that we enjoyed in 2015 it seems quite likely that this one will fill up very quickly. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining us. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours or send us a check to leave a deposit; the latter is preferred. If by check, please make out to “Arthur Morris” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via e-mail: artie or denise.

Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options. You can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

IPT Updates

Learn to improve you bird and nature photography with the best instructor on the planet; join an Instructional Photo-Tour. Learn more and see the schedule here.

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14 comments to Topaz Simplify BuzSim 100-400II/1.4X III/5DS R Pelican & Curves Adjustment Primer

  • Hello Artie,

    I want to thank you for all the good hints and advices on photography. I am relatively new to photography and stumbled upon your blog by the B&H video channel. Although I mostly take pictures of horses at a friend’s riding school, you were the one who finally made me look into manual mode. There are so many things to learn and explore. Will try birds with my 70-200 2.8, too. Wish the day had 50 hours and there were more kind people like you.

    Best wishes,

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Christian, You are most welcome. I agree that the day should have at least 50 hours… As for photography, it does not matter if you are doing dogs, birds, or your grandkids–the principles are all the same. Where do you live? a

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    Yes, I know you like blurs Artie! There have been just one or two over the years where I have thought, “mmmn, not too bad”, but generally I prefer the original optimised image, or a total effect like BuzzSim.

    I would think that the Impressions effect is somewhat different, I don’t have it but BuzzSim, just deletes detail in varying percentages of your choice. I will be interested in your findings!

  • Arthur, the Simplify effect on this pelican potrait is outstanding. I am looking forward to seeing more of your artistic renderings πŸ™‚

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    I wasn’t suggesting that BuzzSim was a blur technique! Just saying that if you are going to manipulate an image, I would rather go ‘all the way’ and use an art effect like BuzzSim. I just don’t like blurs, full stop! πŸ™‚

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Gotcha. I like blurs, especially when they are mine and they are honored in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition or the Nature’s Best contest.

  • I can’t remember if you used Topaz Impressions? That’s what I’m using now thanks to Denise. If you have used Impressions…what’s the difference between that and Simplify? They both seem to do the same thing. Thanks, Doug

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Artie, I believe I’ve seen this used on photos of flowers and it created a beautiful image. Think Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Also seen it with chrysanthemums -nice! However, I think I agree with Roger and for birds, I prefer the original!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Beauty is in the eyes… And yes, the 5DS R is amazing; nothing else compares. If you do bite the bullet, please use my B&H link. And yes, without our health we have nothing. a

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    Artie, Whilst I am not keen on blurs, I love the art effects you can achieve with BuzzSim, it is especially good for ‘streetscapes’ and I use it a lot on my photos of Etruscan villages and hill top towns in Italy. Fields of sunflowers and poppies are good subjects too. I have been using it from the start, years ago when it was created by a guy in Cambridge (UK), way before Topaz Labs got hold of it! I still have the original version on CD…..

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the comment and the back story. I have a few bird-scapes I want to try it on. I do not see BuzSim as a blur technique, more of an art technique. a

  • avatar Roger Burnard

    Artie… the results are interesting, but I guess I’m too “old school,” and prefer the amazing
    quality of the raw capture of the original. I wish you would stop posting images taken with
    your EOS 5DS R body. I am a stickler for “sharp” in an image, and that body along with top performing lenses = superb images. When I read your blog, & look at the images you post, it
    usually ends up costing me more money. HA, … Oh well, I realize this photography game can
    be expensive, but it ” keeps me off the streets, and out of the bars.” Thanks for introducing
    new, and different things we can do to make this game more fun, but most of all, take care of
    your health.. as my aunt used to tell me… “Roger, if you have your health, you have everything.”
    I’m sure you can appreciate that sentiment… ;-)))