Bringing Photos to Life with Topaz Impression

I’d like to share the results of a Lightroom / Photoshop plug-in called “Topaz Impression”, 1 of 14 Topaz modules which lays down 10k brush strokes/second in duplicating a specific artist’s style.  As with most plug-ins there is a defined starting point called a preset, recipe… which one selects then fine tunes the image with specific adjustments either global and/or local in nature.

Here’s a brief gallery of photos transformed with painting or drawing effects.  The possibilities are endless.  What do you think?

Golden Triangle – Day in Agra, Uttar Pradesh – Part II: A Guided Tour of the Taj Mahal

In Part II, I’d like to take you along for our morning tour of the Taj Mahal.

Starting out, we stopped ~1.5 km away from the entrance to purchase tickets, Rs1000/person (the foreigner price is always 10x higher) and took an electric cart to the East Gate entrance.  Arriving at 6:40am the security line was short even though it opened earlier around 6:00am for sunrise.  Entry time varies with the sunrise.

Security was thorough and no issues given I had read ahead of time the long list of what you can’t bring in.  I entered with my two cameras and three lenses without issue.  Note for Photographers: No tripod (or any size), monopod, batteries, paper, pens, cords (of any kind)…

This is the view looking back at the East Gate and 2+ hours later to be our exit point.  You can see the sun trying to pop through the clouds and it did to reveal striking cloud formations.


Walking straight ahead to the right is the main entrance and your first impression of the exquisite craftsmanship with no expense barred and years of meticulous labor required.


Here we are ready to enter the main entrance, what a sight to behold.


Getting closer.


Now the main attraction.  The crowds were light given the 46C (114F) yesterday, i.e. the off season.  Normally, they get 30k tourists/day.  Walking past the small crowd at the entrance and over to the reflection pools where JDR struck her pose.


The infamous, obligatory bench shot.


Now to get down and low for the reflection pool shot. Need to work the water color and stain later.



Took the left hand path towards the Taj putting on our shoe covers to enter the mausoleum.


Every Friday the Taj Mahal is closed to the public with worshipers visiting this active Mosque to the left (west side pointing towards Mecca).


Now we enter the mausoleum where no photos are allowed.  Walking around the two replicate crypts (actuals located directly below and not visible to the public), we get a close-up look at the intricate details carved into the marble.

Notice the symmetry geometric designs carved in the white marble with inlaid gems / precious stones imported from all over the world back in the 17th century.  Still to this day the craft continues for restoration.


As you exit the inner mausoleum area, the light rays entering from the marble carved lattice windows are a sight to behold.

DaShanSheYIng-1322 DaShanSheYIng-1323 DaShanSheYIng-1324 DaShanSheYIng-1326 DaShanSheYIng-1330 DaShanSheYIng-1327

Now we exit the backside on the river side.  Three of four minarets are undergoing restoration to remove air-borne pollutants and reveal the white marble to it’s original color.  I understand that a local mud is used to cover and pull out the white color.  The one minaret looks beautiful afters its restoration.


Around to the right for a great sunrise shining on the marble structure.



Down the stairs for another view of the Taj Mahal’s various structures.




Here we exit the main area from this simple door, turn left and exit the Taj Mahal.



Oh yes, one day late and a dollar short.


Still to complete Part II of the Jaipur to Agra road trip, coming soon.


Golden Triangle – Day in Agra, Uttar Pradesh Part I Infrared Color / Black and White

The Taj Mahal – A fantastic place – a must see.  In fact, yesterday Prince Wm and Princess Kate had a 50 minute visit cut short by the 46C / 114F heat.

Princess Diana 1992, courtesy Getty Images


Prince Wm and Princess 2016, Courtesy TOI Agra Edition


Thought I’d share first some Infrared Images shot at 720nm with a converted D300S camera.  The cloud structures are fabulous along with terrific reflections off the ponds.

First here are some Faux (False) Colored images:

Second here are some new and repeat in Black and White (Monochrome):

I have a lot of images to process from yesterday and today so hang in there as it takes 5-15 minutes to do each one.

Golden Triangle – Day in Jaipur, Rajasthan to Agra, Uttar Pradesh Part I

Finished our trip to Agra with a sunset viewing of the Taj Mahal from the north side of the Yamuna river (stream).  Time to get to bed for an early rise to catch the sunrise at the Taj Mahal from the inside.

Will return for Part II.


Next Adventure – Indian’s Golden Triangle

Plans are set and we’re pumped to head out on a six-day holiday to navigate Indian’s Golden Triangle: Delhi, Jaipur and Agra.

Yes, this is an one-hundred percent tourist adventure where we can expect hoards of people yet still ahead of summer vacation.  Since we’ve arranged a dedicated driver w/Innova, we should be able to deviate the plan in a spontaneous manner as the need arises.

I’ve bolded/italicized those sites where I look forward to capturing some great images with an embedded link for those unfamiliar with the site.  As usual, I struggle with what camera gear to bring knowing the KISS principle applies, i.e. Keep It Simple Stuart. :))   [D810, Tamron 15-30mm, Nikkor 24-70mm and Nikkor 70-300mm should do]

For those who know the Golden Triangle, what should we focus on, what should we skip, did we miss a site, what should we buy that’s special…

Leave your comment below.  Thanks.

Day 1: Chennai-Delhi

Arrive Delhi from Chennai.  Relax, recovery and get ready.

Day 2: Delhi-Jaipur

We focus our first tourist day on Old Delhi with these sites: Rajghat, Shantivan, Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Chandi Chowk.  We’ve visited Delhi before yet no time allocated for Old Delhi as we checked out the many sites in the National Capital Region area.  Playing catch-up here.

After sight-seeing, we drive 280 kms (5+ hours) to Jaipur the capital city for the state of Rajasthan.  Jaipur is the “Pink City” for it’s 20 ft wall city with eight gates.

In the evening, we’re off to the ethnic village of Chokhidhani for a sit down dinner with entertainment.

Day 3: Jaipur

This will be a tourist day with bazaar shopping opportunities. Sites included Amber Fort, City Palace Museum, Janatar Mantar Observatory, Hawa Mahal – Palace of the Winds, Jauhari Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar and Nehur Bazaar.

Day 4: Jaipur-Agra

We leave first thing in the morning for a drive to Agra stopping at Fatehpur Sikria deserted red-sandstone city.  Another 24o km roadtrip around 5+ hours.

As we arrive in Agra, we hope to catch the Taj Mahal at sunset (~18:27) from its backside, i.e. north across the river at Mughal Garden.

Day 5: Agra

Taj Mahal at sunrise (~06:25) and sunset (~18:28) with all the time in between as this is on the “bucket list” of millions.  Have to take time and do it right.  We’re sure there’ll be sufficient “bazaar” time for those special souvenirs.

Day 6: Agra-Delhi-Chennai

We pack up and head towards Delhi Airport 225 km away for flight back home to Chennai.  Maybe there’ll be time for a great sunrise at Taj Mahal before we hit the road.  Along the way,  we stop at Agra Fort.

Viewer Poll on the Taj Mahal

Go ahead, don’t be shy.  Now it the planning stages for a Bhutan adventure in September.