Even if a river runs through a city, it does not necessarily mean that the city takes advantage of it. Prague does.
Maribor in Slovenija is a beautiful town not far away from the Austrian border. It lies at the same river Drau/Drava as Villach, only about 150 km downstream. It’s one of those towns that not only nominally lie at a river, it’s one of those that really make use of that position.
You don’t see the promenade in this image, you don’t see the the restaurants and cafés along that promenade, but they are what make the difference.
Historically it’s of course understandable. Today’s rivers are regulated and relatively safe. You see the perils of building too near the river in some of those cities that are situated at the confluence of two or sometimes three rivers. The city of Steyr in Austria is regularly flooded and so is Passau in Germany.
In Maribor the main city is safe at something like 30 meters above river level. A cascade of restaurants and cafés, warehouses and workshops falls down to the river, and that’s where the most beautiful spots are.
Novo Mesto is a small town in a river bend. Have a look at a Google image search and you know why I was there 🙂
There is nothing particularly interesting in this image. It was taken on our way back from Eisenkappel.
I’ve used the Olympus 40-150/2.8 at its longest, and like in so many long-distance shots the colors were distorted by haze. Not only that, they had also suffered much more in the far-away background of the image. Hey, I thought, what better image to try out Lightroom’s new “Local Dehaze” feature.
Of course this is much more useful than a global dehaze, because normally haze comes exactly like in this image: vastly different for different distances.
There is no overlapping foreground, and so I was not forced to do any complicated mask painting. A simple gradient from top to bottom did the trick. As far as I remember, I have used “Dehaze”, a slight shift to a warmer color temperature and maybe not much more. It was really easy.
The water near the shore of river Danube in Vienna may be a strange place for a monument, but when it is for Hans Hass, diver, biologist and filmmaker, Viennese, it makes perfect sense, don’t you think so? And besides, the glittering sun shining through the canvas is nothing but beautiful.
Even at f1.8 and 1/10s I had to raise ISO to 800 in this image. That’s not very high, but I had plans for brightening the sky. That’s always a dangerous endeavor in digital images.
Approximately at that time Google had released their Nik suite with Dfine 2, a noise reduction plugin that I had tried years ago. I took the chance to pitch it against Topaz DeNoise 6 (also acquired years ago and upgraded with the old license for free – thanks Topaz!) and against Lightroom’s built-in noise reduction. And while I was at it, I decided to also test it against DxO Optics Pro’s PRIME noise reduction.
My suspicions were justified. In order to get anything out of Dfine and DeNoise that is as good or better than the results from Lightroom, you need a lot of fiddling. You may get better results in Photoshop, because there you could use different strengths and settings on different layers and then work with masks, but in Lightroom I see no advantage of such a plugin over what you already have paid for.
DxO was a different beast though. Basically it blew everything else out of the water. The difference was so obvious, that I don’t bother you with 100% crops.
You most likely see it in the blue of the sky. I had wanted to raise it from what the camera recorded, and due to the peculiarities of Bayer array sensors, blue is a very vulnerable color. Red is so as well, but most of the time you don’t have big dark red areas with smooth gradients in an image. If the sky is red, it’s brightly so, and your consideration is normally not to raise its level, but to keep it from burning out.
DxO PRIME was introduced years ago and I have already tried it in the past. On my old laptop it was marvelous but slow. Processing one single image took between five and eight minutes.
I have no idea how they managed it and it can’t only be my not-so-new-anymore Macbook Pro. Somehow DxO has sped up PRIME by a factor of 10. Now processing an image takes around 40 seconds. I still don’t do it for every image, but it pays off for very high ISO or if you want to strongly brighten up dark areas.
It’s not only detail noise though. Color noise reduction may be much less obvoius than detail noise reduction, but it is responsible for the washed out look of high-ISO images. In fact DxO’s color noise reduction is vastly superior to everything that I’ve seen before.
I’ll show you some more examples in the course of the next few days.