Desert View Watchtower

In July 2019, we took a little trip through the southwestern USA.

Although we spent 6 nights within 15 miles of the iconic desert view watchtower, we only saw it on two of those days - one of them as we were leaving the area. Our time there spent living with our Navajo friends at Big Hogan Enterprises, just a little ways outside the border of the National Park. As it turned out, a sacred ceremony happened to occur at a time overlapping our trip, and we spent much more time with our host’s family than we did touring the area - but it was an awesome experience.

That said, on the Sunday of the week that we were there, we did drive past Desert View and all along the south rim, and back again. In the late afternoon, we got back to the watchtower and this was the scene we saw.

I have processed the original raw in various ways with various tools. The raw processing itself was done with DXO PhotoLab, and using a heal tool and much patience, I did heal the scene of it’s human inhabitants (folks lounging in she nearby to the watch tower). I used Studio’s painting effects to render a version as a “Van Gogh” style painting, and have printed some copies of this, but then I also went back to DXO and used it along with some homegrown filmpack presets to render the two “engraved” (one black and white, the other color) versions of the scene. I find that this looks great when printed on Red River Paper’s Paper Canvas matt photo paper, and created a whole set of these with southwestern scenes.

Until around Black Friday 2020, I had never specifically paid for any photo processing products. I used primarily, which is a viable option for free, because at heart I am a minimalist. I get the need for RAW photos, but I’d like to try to get all the best settings of my camera working together and produce a usable JPG straight out of the camera.

At work, I occasionally have to use Adobe products, and have never been a fan. So photoshop really wasn’t much of an option. So after a long period of trialing various software packages and realizing my antique Dell no longer would do what I needed it to do, I bought a gaming laptop and then when Black Friday struck, I bought all of the Topaz Suite (minus, at the time, Video Enhance AI), and DXO PhotoLab. I have a use case for all of the above. For handling the folders of photos, I find DXO gives me a reliable way to process and view a lot of photos with similar attributes.

For the hummingbird shot, or the astro shot, I may go to DeNoise AI to do some processing (and boy, as time goes by this gets better and better)! I also have almost 2 decades worth of photos from 2 and 4 and even 12MP cameras that were good at the time, but extremely pressed to use today. Some of these photos are a part of me, and I am thankful Topaz continues to invest time and energy in GigaPixel and these other tools, as that old 2MP photo can be given new life in this new world. And, Studio may not be an all out do everything raw photo editor, but it has some innovative and easy to use ways to change the expression of an ordinary photo in order to make it express what I see in my mind’s eye when I look at the scene.

All in all, I am happy with the choices I made in 2020 between the two companies’ products. In 2021, I renewed licenses for both and did some upgrades (now I own VEAI as well, although even my newerish gaming laptop struggles to make use of it properly).

Thanks to all of you for being community here. Thanks for letting me share my attempts at expression. Hope to see more of your work here in the days and weeks to come!


Very cool


Cool image.