Category Archives: Tuscan Villa

Tuscan Photographic Workshop Tour June 18 – June 23 2016

Florence is a terrific place to start an Italian adventure. It was built by the Romans and transformed by the Renaissance into one on the great art capitals of the world. There are still a couple of places left on the Tuscan workshop.

Duomo Florence

Duomo Florence

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Our first stop in Tuscany will be San Gimignano, a small walled village an hour north and Siena, it is famous for its medieval architecture and towers that rise above of all the surrounding buildings offering an impressive view of the city from the surrounding valley.

After our morning shoot in San Gimignano, we will be heading to Siena to explore this wonderful medieval village where Leonardo da Vinci enjoyed spending time.

After Siena we will be staying in the Val d’Orcia which is the wheat belt of Tuscany. The Val d’Orcia is an hour south of Siena with the Bagno Vignoni on its west side and the ancient Roman village of Pienza on its east. In the Heart of the Tuscan region we’ll be capturing images, with time set aside to soak in the hot mineral waters of the Bagno, a little wine tasting, and a cooking class for anyone who is interested. We will spend some time processing images using Photoshop’s Lightroom and Topaz and Nik Software plug-ins to help improve your processing skills.

Click here to get to my Links page for the 15% off discount code for any of the Topaz products


Congratulations to Vincent Cordi for winning a Trafalgar trip to Northern California valued at $6,000 dollars!!

Vernazza and Monterosso at Night captured by Vince Cordi

Vernazza and Monterosso at Night captured by Vince Cordi

Congratulations to Vincent Cordi for winning a Trafalgar trip to Northern California valued at $6,000 dollars!! For me the best part of teaching location workshops is the shared learning and travel experience where I have made lasting friendships. Having clients come home with award winning images is a bonus.


San Gimignano, processed using Topaz Clarity

San Gimignano, Topaz Lens Effects, Vignette

San Gimignano, Topaz Clarity finished with Topaz Lens Effects, Vignette

Topaz software

I captured this image of San Gimignano, Italy at sunset in late October in 2012 while teaching a workshop.  The sky that evening had some clouds but not where I needed them and so we waited. The clients had taken some nice images of San Gimignano with  the vineyards in the foreground and a clear blue sky. We had starting the days shooting before sunrise and everyone was getting a little antsy and were ready for dinner. A few had already  pack up and were waiting by the van  to head home for the night.

I knew that the best chance for everyone to get a great image we needed to wait for the light. I had been on location once when the sky was uninteresting and decided to pack up and leave only to see a spectacular sunset in my rear view mirror. There is never any guaranties on what type of light we will have when we are out shooting but I can guarantee that we will be at great locations capturing the changing light and waiting for the  the magic to happen.

San Gimignano, unprocessed image

San Gimignano, unprocessed image

This unprocessed image was captured as the clouds rolled in after sunset with an aperture of  F/11 at .5sec.  After the sun set I was able to eliminate clipping in both the highlight and shadow areas.

Topaz Clarity Color and Contrast Boost II

Topaz Clarity Color and Contrast Boost II

I decided to process this image using Topazes new clarity software. Often I will stack an image in layers and this worked well for this image.  The 1st layer I applied Color and Contrast Boost II and liked the effect but like Oliver Twist I always want a little more.  The next layer I applied CityScape II  and which I liked even more but kept looking at other affects and liked Macro II. All these effects were processed in progressive layers with Topaz’s  Clarity software. But always wanting a little more I decided to vignette this image using the Lenses Effects software by Topaz and was excited with the finished image.

Topaz Clarity CityScape II

Topaz Clarity CityScape II

Topaz Clarity, Macro II

Topaz Clarity, Macro II


Exposure Adjustments in Camera Raw using the Exposure slider

If your exposure is over or under exposed you can make adjustments with the exposure slider in Camera Raw. I had already worked with this image and saved it as a tif. In Photoshop if you go to FileOpen As  the image can be opened in Camera Raw like the original raw image.

File-Open As

File-Open As

To select a tif or jpg file by left clicking on it.

Select the tif or jpg file to open in Camera Raw

Select the tif or jpg file to open in Camera Raw

In the Open As dialog box to the right of Open As at the bottom of the dialog box click on the arrow and select Camera Raw for the file to open in Camera Raw.

Select-Open As-Camera Raw

Select-Open As-Camera Raw

I had already processed this image. In order to demonstrate how to make an exposure composition I have moved the exposure slider the left to -0.50 which  under exposes the image and makes the image darker. If I had moved the exposure slider to the right to +0.50 it would make the image lighter and over exposed the image.  

-0.50 exposure Slider

-0.50 exposure Slider

I moved the exposure to the left +0.50 stop to 0 to lighten the image to the exposure I liked best. This is also the exposure that I captured in the Camera. I try to expose and crop the image in the Camera to create the best possible file. My goal as a photographer is to use Photoshop to make a good image better not make a poor image usable. In Photoshop Elements 11 and CS6 you can make adjustments up to 5 stops  plus or minus but I find that if you have over of under exposed the image by more than 2 stops your recovery efforts will brings poor results.  

xposure slider adjustment to 0.00

xposure slider adjustment to 0.00


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