Topaz Sharpen AI Review

日本語
I got an email notifying me of the release of Topaz Sharpen AI, a program that enhance details and fix out-of-focus/blurred shots. I initially expected that it was something similar to Adobe Enhance Details, which slightly enhanced the details of some specific shots and didn’t work for many other images. Topaz provided a demo fully-functional for 30 days, so I decided to give it a try.

Honestly speaking, I didn’t expect much. AI is the buzz word these days. Every company claims that their products feature wonderful AI but usually such AIs underperform my expectations.

I tell you the conclusion first so that you don’t have to waste your time. I was very very impressed with Topaz Labs’ technology. It doesn’t work perfectly well with all images and it has some drawbacks, but the overall technology is really AMAZING.

Let me show you some images I processed using this software.

original image
Nikon D810E + AF-S Nikkor 28-300m f/3.5-5.6 VR

The first example is a landscape photograph I took during my travels in Australia. It was a typical situation for travel photographers: I had to take this photo with my 28-300mm utility zoom lens.  There’s no problem with the focus or camera shake, but it was simply that the lens was soft particularly at the edges.


Before/after at center


Before/after at edge

I was blown away. The following settings were applied. If you feel it’s a little too sharp at the center, turn Remove Blur down to, say, 0.40 and blend them together in PhotoShop using the circular gradation tool on a layer mask.

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NiSi ND-VARIO Pro Nano Variable ND Filter

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NiSi Pro Nano1.5-5 Stops Enhance ND-VARIO paired with the Panasonic Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4 and GH5

NiSi Pro Nano1.5-5 Stops Enhance ND-VARIO paired with the Panasonic Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4 and GH5

I knew variable ND filters were immensely useful since you could continuously shoot at the optimum aperture without the need of changing the filters according to the situations. I, however, had never used any variable ND filters that satisfied me in terms of image quality. Variable ND filters I knew could not reduce the light entering into the lens evenly, resulting in poor image quality.

This unevenness is called the X effect as the darker part creates an X-like shape. NiSi claimed that they completely eliminated the X effect with their new ND filter, ND-VARIO Pro Nano. So I decided to give it a try. As usual, I chose the bigger one, 82mm, so that I could use it with most of my glasses. The available filter thread sizes are 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm and 95mm.

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Surrealistic Photography

日本語

Kusoku ze shiki

Ku soku ze shiki

I re-invented a new photographing technique. The technique is new in the digital domain but, in fact, the phenomenon itself was known since the early era of digital photography.

I don’t remember the name of the camera but I heard that digital cameras could not capture colours before the Bayer filter was invented so you had to take three shots—one for red, one for green and one for blue—and then they were merged into one photograph. However, if there was moving elements such as clouds, waves, cars, pedestrians, cats in the picture, you get unnatural colours.

Although people tried to avoid this effect to capture natural photographs, I thought it would be interesting to create such colours on purpose as a new way of artistic expression, and so I devised this technique. Let me tell you how to do it in details.

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In Search of Lost Space (Photo Exhibition)

日本語

Yuga Kurita Photo Exhibition "In Search of Lost Space"

Yuga Kurita Photo Exhibition “In Search of Lost Space”

I’m having my third solo exhibition at Island Gallery in Tokyo. It is located near the Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit. Visit the gallery to see my works printed on the finest paper.  I’m at the gallery all the time during the period. See you at the gallery =)

Photo Exhibition “In Search of Lost Space”
Period: Feb 17, 2017 (FRI) – Feb 26 (SUN) 11:00AM–7:00PM
– No Admission Charge
– Open everyday during the period
Venue:  Island Gallery (MAP)
Address: Kyobashi 1-5-5 B1, Chuo-ward, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3517-2125


Supported by:
Maruman Co. LTD (Canson Infinity)
EIZO Corporation

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Christmas Presents 2016

日本語
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I hope you’re having a good one. Here’s my Christmas presents for you. Wallpapers for your smart phones. All photos are vertical and in 1080 x 1920 (16:9) format. You can download them and use them as a wallpaper but you may not upload or print the photos.

See you again next year. I promise I’ll update the website more often in 2017.

Wallpaper #1

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Fireflies

日本語

Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR

Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR

On the 11th June, I visited the Pola Museum of Art. This museum was opened in 2002 but I hadn’t known its existence until a couple of months ago. Tsuneshi Suzuki had been the former president of the Pola Corporation, one of the Japanese cosmetics giants. He passed away in year 2000, and the museum inherited his collection of art and antiques.

The museum’s collection was impressive. I mean, it couldn’t be compared to the collections of the Metropolitan or the Louvre. But it was a very impressive collection for a private art museum in Japan. The museum had a good number of Western modern paintings such as Renoir and Monet and French Art Nouveau glassworks and oriental ceramics. I really liked the works by Emile Gallé and Daum Brothers.

I visited the museum on Saturday. Surprisingly enough, the place wasn’t too crowded. The most famous piece of art work housed in this museum is probably Girl in a Lace Hat by Renoir. Thankfully, I could ‘monopolise’ it for several minutes without being bothered or interfered by anyone. I personally prefer to keep some distance from a painting to see it as a whole but that simply wasn’t possible in crowded museums because someone would surely get in the way.

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The Bhagavad Gita for Landscape Photography

日本語

Nikon D810A + AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

Listening to audiobooks has been one of my favourite activities for nearly a decade. It is a great pleasure to gain knowledge while driving, walking, jogging, cocking, and ironing shirts like a character in a novel by Haruki Murakami. Lately I started listening to audiobooks while shooting landscape photographs. Because you often need to wait for the right moment when shooting landscapes, there’s nothing left to do until you press the shutter button after you set up your tripod and camera. So I was listening to the Bhagavad Gita translated into English by Eknath Easwaran while shooting the sunset yesterday.

A brief description for those who are not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita: The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Indian text which is part of the epic Mahabharata. The Gita is a dialogue between the supreme guru Krishna and his disciple Arjuna, who is facing the duty as a warrior to fight his relatives. In Hinduism, Vishnu descends to Earth in a from of an avatar to restore the world. Krishna is said to be  the eighth avatar of Vishunu, Buddha is referred to as the ninth avatar, and the tenth (and last) avatar Kalki is predicted to appear in the future .

Lord Krishna says:

“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engaged in action, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself — without selfish attachments ,and a like in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.” (2:47-48)

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Gitzo New Traveler Tripod GT2545T Review

日本語

Shooting Fujisan with the Gitzo GT2545T captured with the Nikon D800E + SIGMA 35mm f/1.4DG HSM | Art

Shooting Fujisan with the Gitzo GT2545T captured with the Nikon D800E + SIGMA 35mm f/1.4DG HSM | Art

I’ve used a Gitzo G1228MK2 Mountaineer tripod for mountaineering and travel. Although it is a good portable tripod, I’d always wanted to reduce the weight of my backpack. Gitzo just renewed their Traveler Series tripods. The latest models seem to have some great advantages over their predecessors:

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A Day Trip to Nagano

日本語

Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

I went on a day trip to the Nagano prefecture and visited many places yesterday. I usually visit one place  to take a special landscape photograph. At times, I stay at the same place for a couple of days. But sometimes I want to take photographs in a more casual way and so I took a lot of hand-held snapshots this time.

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