Anything Photoshop or Photography

Latest

COMPARING RAW PHOTO PROGRAMS

Image of a Scottish House This week I am doing a quick comparison blog using the same image with several applications to check out their Camera Raw post-processing abilities. It was quite an interesting experiment to try and I found out a lot about my own post-processing techniques. So above is the image created fairly quickly where Lightroom was mainly used for the RAW post processing and then some tweaks in Photoshop. Below all images with no post-processing in Lightroom, but using the new RAW image capabilities in Luminar 2018, On1 Photos Raw 2018 and Topaz Studio (see links for all three software programs at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) and also Photoshop tweaks. This is a fun exercise to do when you are learning new programs. On the image above, this is the actual sky that was present – pretty overcast actually. For Lightroom settings and other info, check out Image 1 at end of blog.
******
Below is the Luminar 2018 iterations of this beautiful hidden house near St. Andrews in Scotland. It is very similar to the Lightroom image – but the sky did not come out at all in the program so a new one was placed into the image in Photoshop. The program recently added workspaces for the Windows version so the Professional one was chosen to do the RAW processing. They have several choices for fixing image distortions by going into the Transform tab which is really nice. I will say this image took me a long time to get it looking the way I wanted it. At this point I am not comfortable with the Masking Brushes and Gradients in this program. But they have a good start on getting their RAW editing going. Right now I am looking to Luminar more for the interesting effects it can produce. Image of a Scottish Home
******
This next image was totally post-processed as a RAW image in Topaz Studio using their Basic Adjustments filter. The more drawn effect was created by using their Radient filter which is very similar to the Topaz Glow plug-in and I kind of liked the effect on this image. The Impression filter also gives it more of an artistic look. For more info on settings, check out Image 3 at end of blog. I find their Basic Adjustment plugin is adequate and if the Basic Workflow preset is clicked, the Tone Curves filter opens up with it. It is a little more basic than the others, but works fine. Since I love so many of their plugins, it is hard for me to use this for overall editing – but they may be quite competitive once they get all their plugins working in the new interface.
Image of a Scottish home.
******
Totally different feel and effect in the On1 image below and I really like it. This program has a lot to offer in the RAW editing area. I know they have been working on it for a long time and it is now very sophisticated. I am still learning the program but do not have many complaints in this area. This image does have that Glow effect On1 is known for which gives it a bit of an Orton look. This is not what the image looked like but it is what Scotland looks like to me. I really love the country!
Image of a Scottish home.

So what I learned is that I am still tending to use the programs for what I like and not necessarily for what they are trying to get you to use them for. I believe that On1 Photo Raw 2018 has a pretty good interface for doing the RAW processing – it has a Midtones slider that I really like. I am still trying to figure out how to use the Localized Adjustment brushes effectively to improve on this. Luminar RAW processing sliders are pretty good – just set up a little differently. Since I love the special effects they provide, it is not as important to me personally. Same with Topaz Studio – I know this is where they are trying to improve. They have a bit of a problem since they have so many special effects filters to incorporate and work with a develop section. I have always been a major Lightroom fan, even participating in their Beta testing before it was released. I am so comfortable with it, it is hard to imagine using a different RAW program. On the other hand, I do not see Adobe trying to improve upon this program at all. These three other plugins are giving them notice to start looking into improving their product. I would give all three plugins an A for effort. Each have sliders that are unique to their programs and I am really starting to learn how to apply them. I believe we have an exciting year ahead to see where things are going with these updated programs/plugins. If you do not own them, try downloading a trial – it may really click with your workflow and anything that will get you through the basic post-processing of an image faster is a good deal. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE SETTING INFORMATION

IMAGE 1: The top image was post-processed mainly in Lightroom and Serge Ramelli’s workflow was used – check out any of his videos for a pretty nice Lightroom workflow. No presets used and these settings were used but this is the order the sliders were adjusted: Shadows +79, Highlights -100, Blacks -100 and Whites +32 (hold ATL key and drag to find the clipping points), Temp 5661, Tint +40, Exposure -0.54 – usually do Vibrance too but not in this image. Went to the Graduated Filter and created two: placed one pin in the sky and set it to Temp -10, -0.73, Contrast -50, Highlights -6, Clarity -3, and Saturation 62; and in bottom dragging up, Exposure -0.87, Contrast 41, Clarity -48, and Saturation -51. The Radial Filter was opened up and 6 pins were added – used little ones to lighten areas in the tree and even out some of the color. The Orange flowers were brightened. Last the Adjustment brush ws used and the foreground color was desaturated a little bit (Saturation -34). Image was now taken into PS where the electrical lines were spot-healed out. Also the sky was cleaned as there was some glass reflection in the right top cloud area. For this image Nik Viveza 2 was used to bring out the orange flowers a little more and to add a soft vignette in the image. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Foggy Night preset and the layer was set to 79% layer opacity. That is all that was done in this image and it took me 20 minutes to get it right – I know that is partly because I understand the program really well and not so much Luminar.

IMAGE 2: This image looks pretty much like the Lightroom one which is not surprising since several of the PS steps used were similar. Here are the settings for Luminar (it’s a lot here): Bottom Layer – Develop: Temp 4, Tint 22, Highlights -60, Shadows 38, Whites -42, Blacks -82; Accent AI Filter: Boost 54; Adjustable Gradient: Top Exp -22, Contrast 47, Vibrance -18, and Warmth -60; Bottom Exp -62, Contrast 31, Vibrance 18, Warmth -7; Orientation Blend 47; Saturation/Vibrance: Vibrance Amount 31; Advanced Contrast: Highlights 68, Midtones 17, Shadows 8; Dehaze: Amount 23; Golden Hour: Amount 29/Saturation -33; Structure: Amount 24, Softness 47; Image Radiance: Amount 40, Smoothness 33, Brightness -56, Shadows 32, and Warmth -40, Sat 11; Vignette: Amount -29, size 37, Roundness -73, Feather 42, and Inner Light 43. Layer 0 – Dodge & Burn – Burn on tree on left – Strength 21%/Lighten on the right lower bright spot – Strength 21%. Layer 1 – Sun Ray Filter: Place Sun Center on right edge – X95/Y25, Amount 34, Look 66, Number 78, Length 65, Warmth 55, Radius 19, Glow Radius 70, Glow Amount 60, Warmth 66, Penetration 63, and Randomize 20. Layer 2 – Matte Look: Amount 47, Fade 49, Contrast 7, Vividness 11, Range 27, and Saturation 50. In PS, first the electrical lines were removed with the spot Healing Brush. The sky was really blown out so a light blue sky was added. Then some of my free Cloud brushes were used to add some clouds into the sky. A couple Spotlight Effect layers were used to direct attention into the trees and front of the house. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.) A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was applied using Foggy Night and 73% layer opacity (like in Image 1). Had to use a small Smudge Brush to smooth out the edges of the trees where the new sky leaves a little edge. Basically that is all there was to it.

IMAGE 3: This image used Topaz Studio. The settings were as follows: TSO – Basic Adjustments filter: Exposure -0.34, Clarity 0.29, Shadow 0.75, Highlight -0.65, Black Level -0.86, White Level 0.24, Temp -0.07, Tint 0.29; Brightness Contrast filter: Brightness -0.34, Contrast 0.96, Sat 1.65; Radiance filter: Dark, Strength 0.62, Width 0.20, Sat -0.42, Fade 0.39, Sat 1.00; Color Overlay filter: Color – #7c0008 – red cast preset – set to Screen bm at 0.30 opacity; Impression filter: Used SJ Underpaint Effect in Preset from drop-down and set Painting Progress slider to 0.34/inverted layer mask and just painted in where the trees and foreground area using brush and Mask Transparency of 0.17/set filter to 0.75 opacity. In PS removed the electrical line and the sky, which did not have any detail in them. A soft blue background layer was created and Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (this whole set is fabulous!) – Kewm was used to paint in soft clouds at size 300 px. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to Foggy Night preset and 63% layer opacity was added next. Five Layers all set to Overlay blend mode were used to add soft lighting effect on the various areas of the image to brighten them up – in the trees, front of house and the orange flowers – used a large soft round brush set to 50-100% Opacity and a Flow of 9%. Created a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the sky area a little and add overall contrast to the image. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blend Image Effect blog.) Last step involved using a Gradient Adjustment Layer to create a slight vignette. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette blog.)

IMAGE 4: This image used On1 Photo Raw 2018. Here we go with some rather extensive settings – this program has a lot of choices for creating your image. In Develop module: 1. Cropped Image. 2. Use Crop Tool set to 67% feather and Size 15 to remove electrical line running throughout image. 3. Set Levels (Histogram) tab up top and adjusted the Tone & Color panel. 4. In Tone section adjusted the Highlights -26, Midtones -34, and Shadows -17. Love the Midtones slider – best improvement over LR for Raw files. 5. Clicked the clipping tabs in Histogram to see if clipping while adjust Whites -36 and Blacks -85. 6. Set Haze to -33. 7. Color Section set to Temp 5475 and Tint 40 and Vibrance 12. 8. Details – no changes – no noise. 9. Lens Correction: it was automatically set to my lens. Effects Module: 1. Opened Tone Enhancer filter and selected Darker from the drop-down under More. Set Compression (knocks down bright areas and opens up shadow areas) to max 200 – this brought the sky detail. 2. Selected Dynamic Contrast filter and set Medium to -47 and Large to-23, Shadows -26, Whites 9, and Blacks -12. 3. Color Enhancer filter – Vibrance 18, Orange set to Hue 17, Sat 8 and Brightness -12, Yellow set to Sat 6 and Brightness 3, and Purple Sat 19 and Brightness 20; in a mask painted in areas to make brighter on an inverted mask (mainly the orange flowers, red trees on left where some spotting was, and tips of green bushes and front of house) – set the Density to 74 and Feather 10; then changed Temp to 65. Did a bunch of readjustments to get this to look natural – used the Levels slider (set midtones tab to 2/3 left) – correct settings are above. 4. Glow filter – set to Dark Glow preset, Amount 69 and Halo 20, mode Multiply. Filter set to 80% opacity.  In Photoshop: 1. Opened in Photoshop. Added a New Layer and selected the spot-healing brush – got rid of a grid from window glare by just scribbling back and forth in an upward stroke and incredibly got rid of all the ugliness! Just scribble left and right while moving upward – this works on large areas – and ran it up for quite a bit. If there are little white halos around trees and sky, can just run a small sized (8 px) spot-healing brush over the edges and they disappear. 2. Used a Levels AL to get the gray out of the sky. First used the TAT to brighten the sky in the gray area. Then inverted the mask and painted back the sky using PNaik brush. Readjusted the RGB channel, then changed to the blue to add a little blue tone into the sky to match the other areas. Then went into the Red channel and added a little red in to match the pink color in the sky. 3. Added a New Layer and named it Spotlight Effect – set to Overlay bm. Used soft round Reg Brush set to 100% opacity and Flow of 9% and added in white on the building and in the trees to really make the image pop. Set to 73% opacity. 4. Added a New Layer set to overlay and used a Green sampled color to reduce the effect of light in a corner using same brush again. 5. Used a Black and White AL – adjusted colors then set to Luminosity bm. Adjusted more and painted out the sky so it was not a blown out white. Set layer opacity to 47%. 6. Added a Selective Color AL – wanted to adjust the electric green grass in front of wall – set Yellows to Cyan -79, Magenta -7, Yellow -25, and Black -4; Neutrals Cyan -8, Magenta -2, Yellow -4 and Black +18. Loved the fall colors that showed up so set it to 86% layer opacity. Still had grass problem. 7. Added another Selective Color AL – This time to fix grass. Yellows Cyan -73, Magenta -3, Yellow -24, and Black -25; Greens: Cyan -72, Yellow +2, and Black +50; Inverted layer mask and painted back just the grass in front of wall.  8. Created a Red Channel Luminosity Channel to adjust the color a little. Used RGB channel only. Moved the left bottom black tab up and to the right (Input 7/Output 49), then dragged point to right a little to add a little detail effect (Input 26/Output 49). Pulled down on the overall curve just a little. 9. Used Karen Alsop’s trick to blend in elements. Set New Layer to 12% layer opacity and using a 500 Px brush set to 24 flow, sampled sky and painted over edges of leaves so they do not look so harsh. 10. Did final stroke and signature layers.

Advertisements

CHECKING OUT AURORA HDR 2018 FOR WINDOWS

Image of pier at Spanish Cay in the BahamasI seem to be on an HDR quest so this week I took the time to try out Aurora HDR 2018 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog). This is another release by Skylum (previously Macphun) for Windows, the same group who brought us Luminar 2018 (also at above link). Well it is definitely an excellent HDR editor! Skylum sure has a special way of creating software! And I am really loving this plug-in! It is lacking many details in the interface for us Windows users right now but I am once again under the impression this program will eventually get caught up to match the Mac version. It does not seem to affect the overall results of your images.

The image above is a 5-bracketed image, hand-held, from Spanish Cay in the Outer Banks of the Bahamas – one of the most beautiful, yet desolate places I have ever seen. I could not get over how the water looks exactly as I remember it – major clear with this yellowy sand base and it was major sunny. In this case the image was mainly processed in the stand-alone program, and with a little finishing up in Photoshop (like my signature and stroke border). To use this program, just started at the top of the right-hand column of filters and went down the list. Many of the lower listed filters are the same as those in Luminar. The top filters have more to do with the actual HDR effects. First is the HDR Basic section which is very similar to Lightroom’s (ACR) Basic Panel, except for a couple sliders. The HDR Enhancer slider made almost every image opened pop a little. Aurora says this slider increases detail and texture without adding it to water or sky. There is also a slider called Smart Tones – it does not work on all images, but on some it does a great job of lightening the shadow areas and leaving the highlights alone. It can be seen above how the shadows under the pier are opened up just a bit. The HDR Structure section contains the other important sliders which could give you that overdone HDR look. It works in concert with the HDR Enhance slider. There are lots of other filters, like the Image Radiance, Polarizing filter to help with over-blue skies, Glow, and Top & Bottom Tuning which is really a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. It also has Dodge and Burn capability and Vignettes can be created where a slider lets you lighten the middle.

One of the reasons I really like this software is its ability to process just one RAW image and give fantastic results. Below is a video done show how I created a simple RAW image in Aurora HDR 2018 – the final image below shows what was done once it was taken into Photoshop and a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode at 47% layer opacity – both improved contrast in the image – and a layer that ran Luminar 2018 using the Orton Effect and another Image Radiance filter. Loved the final result.

Image of Pink and White Roses from Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida

The image below was also a single RAW image taken at the Argyll Lodging in Sterling, Scotland. The detail this program pulled out of just one image was incredible. This is an image I felt could not be used but this program brought it back to life. Image taken at Argyll House in Sterling, ScotlandThe program has the capability of being used as a plugin in Photoshop which is how this image was created. The program also has the layer capability so different parts of the image can worked on with different sections. A good way to use this is to do all changes to the whole image on the bottom layer, then use the masking ability to do other changes on layers above. The kitchen image used these sections for the whole image: HDR Basic, Color, Image Radiance, Glow, Top & Bottom Tuning, HSL, and Vignette. The layer above used the Dodge & Burn section where the outdoor window panes were darkened some. As you can tell, the program does have different items to add to your image than the traditional HDR program. I found it very easy to use. I go back and forth on using the Denoise section since several other plugins do this as well if not better. If there is just a little, Aurora’s is fine and it can be used on a separate layer and be painted in where needed. In this image, once Aurora HDR was applied, back in PS just Imagenomics Noiseware was used as it was pretty noisy and a Red Channel Luminosity Curve to finish up.Image taken at Great Guana Cay in the BahamasThis sunset image from New Guana Cay in the Bahamas literally took me 10 minutes to process. It was just two HDR images put together (I have no idea why I took just two images), but it did not seem to matter much. It was opened in Aurora HDR and the High Contrast preset was selected. Then just a couple changes were done – the HDR Enhancement, Smart Tone, Shadows, and Highlights in the HDR Section and the Blue Luminance slider in the HSL Section. In Photoshop just a Red Channel Luminosity Curve was created to add a good contrast to the image and it was done.

As you can see, this is a pretty good HDR program and not bad as just an image editor. This program was designed with the help of Trey Ratcliff, who may be the best HDR photographer around. I think you can see his influence in the way the program is set up – very easy to understand. I would totally recommend you try out this software if you like to do HDR photography and even if you do not, it is worth a look with your camera RAW files. This program was a real surprise to me and I am totally impressed with it. Until next week……Digital Lady Syd

TRYING OUT ON1 PHOTO RAW 2018’S NEW HDR FILTER

Image of sunset at Spanish Cay in the BahamasThis sunset was taken at Spanish Cay in the Bahamas. Just doing a really quick blog and discussing the new HDR filter in On1 (for website, see sidebar link at my Tidbits Blog) Photo Raw 2018 software. I really gave the software a tough image to process – lots of wind so the flags and the lines on the foreground boat were slightly moving. I took 5 hand-held shots. All the midground and background objects looked perfect. But the foreground was a problem.

In On1’s HDR dialog, the HDR was set to Very High for deghosting, but the ghosting effect was still obvious. I decided to compare the results with Lightroom’s fairly new HDR Photo Merge (select images and right click Photo Merge -> HDR) where the Deghost Amount was set to High – had no ghost issues at all! The problem for me is that I liked the Tone and Color effects in On1 better than what could be achieved in Photoshop or Lightroom. So what I did was highlight both HDR images in Lightroom (a tiff for On1 and dng for LR) and right clicked, and selected Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop. In PS an Auto-align command (Edit -> Auto-align layers) and Crop Tool was done first. With a mask applied to the top On1 layer, the problems with the foreground lines and flags were corrected by using the Clone Stamp Tool set to 80% brush opacity. This took a lot of time but I liked the result. Basically what I wanted to pass on is, if possible do use a tripod to take your HDR images – it will help in abnormal conditions. If having a big problem with post-processing it with On1 HDR, then do a second HDR image using Lightroom’s Merge to HDR and stack the images.

This being said, I have used the On1 HDR filter with no problems. This was a very difficult image with the high winds. Also, just to double check, I took the 5 images into Nik HDR Efex Pro2 and a little ghosting occurred in this HDR image with the flags. Therefore, it confirmed it was a pretty hard image to create. Overall with the stacking, the image turned out pretty good – and the sunset really did have those rays. I believe that On1 has some really nice settings to adjust to get very good HDR images. Have good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Work Around to Get Luminar for windows to Work with Photoshop (image in blog is a On1 5 shot HDR image)
How to Use Google (Nik) HDR Efex Pro 2

WORK AROUND TO GET LUMINAR FOR WINDOWS TO WORK WITH PHOTOSHOP

Image of Spanish Cay Hidden Inlet in the Bahamas Out BanksIt seems that there is a major glitch when using Skylum’s (Macphun) Luminar 2018 for Windows 10 as a plug-in for Photoshop. (For website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) The problem occurs when you try to apply the changes made in Luminar – it goes back to the duplicated layer in PS and the layer is exchanged for a totally blank layer. The company is aware of the issue but have not offered any time frame for the fix as yet. An update was released on 11/24/17 that was supposed to fix this issue, but I am still getting it. I am sure the final fix will be out shortly. I found out this work-around from KelbyOne‘s Community and found it very useful. Below are steps and a short video demonstrating the issue and fix:

1. Bring image into PS and do any changes needed to get ready to go into Luminar. Need to create a stamped layer (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) so all changes are now combined on one layer.

2. Duplicate the stamped layer and turn off all the other layers below including the original stamped layer.

3. Move duplicate stamped layer to the very bottom of the stack and highlight it.

4. Now here is the trick – make this layer a Background layer by going to Layer -> New -> Background. It will not work if you just click the Lock in the Layers Panel. Only through the File menu does this work.

5. Make changes in Luminar and click Apply. It now comes back into PS and applies the changes to the bottom layer.

6. Last step is to unlock this layer by clicking on the lock and dragging the layer to the top. Turn on all the layers underneath and it is a set to continue with your workflow.

You can do the changes in Lightroom and the image comes back to Lightroom as a Tiff which can then be opened in Photoshop. It can also be stacked with the NEF file in PS so there are other ways to do this. I like to make the special effects changes later in my workflow after making other changes in PS so this technique works for me.

The image is a 5-shot HDR image taken at Spanish Cay in the Bahamas several years ago of a totally barren inlet – looking out ocean side here. It was first processed using the new On1 Photo Raw 2018 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) HDR filter which did a very good job, and finished up using Photoshop and Luminar 2018. Hope this helped some of you out. Have a Happy Turkey Day for those of you in the US!…..Digital Lady Syd

PLUGINS, CAMERA RAW CONVERTERS, NEW FILTERS – IT IS GETTING CRAZY OUT THERE!

Image of view from Edinburgh Castle, ScotlandI don’t know where everyone else is, but I am getting so totally confused about all the new software-plugin releases that have come out in recent days/weeks. I was hooked on plugins since I bought Nik Viveza at Christmas of 2009. I remember being nervous about paying so much for it, but loved it right from the beginning (and now it is free!!!). Over the years I have become totally immersed in what can be done with all the plugins available – and wish I could afford to get them all (sigh). So in this wordy blog I will try to sort this out.

As a quick example, let’s talk about Viveza 2 again. I downloaded the first beta version of Lightroom and never looked back. Lots of people said Nik Viveza was just a copy of what Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw)  could do for an image. Yes, it did similar things, but still was a lot different in my mind. Flash forward and I still use Viveza on nearly every post-processed photo even though we now have the somewhat similar Camera Raw Filter available in Photoshop. The point here is that yes, there is a lot of overlap between most of these programs, and yes, they do things just different enough that they all present some benefits to your post-processing workflow. It is really just personal taste in how you want to adjust your images.

So here we are now with not one, not two, but three really good updated software programs (not to mention several other newer ones on the scene) that can process Camera Raw images and do pretty much everything Lightroom/ACR does. They are now all stand-alone programs or plugins for Photoshop layers. For website links to all three programs, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar. Using the same image of Edinburgh Castle, the top one used Luminar 2018 for Windows, and below used On1 Raw 2018 and Topaz Studio. I tried to use a fairly similar workflow doing the basic Raw editing first and then adding in filter effects. So here is my take on where we are now.

All three of the above programs are really good – I am not going to bash any of them as they all do things I totally love. Do they overlap in what they do? Somewhat, but each has a few things I wish they all could do. Of course that is what sets them apart and why it is so hard to decide which one(s) to get.

To figure out which one would fit your workflow, you need to answer a pretty simple question: What do you want to do with your image or several of your future images? Where is your interest going – do you want to go more into an artistic feel or are you just trying to get the most realistic images for your profession or travel experiences? Since I do not have a professional studio or take wedding or senior photos often, I am more inclined to really stretch what the plugins will do to give an artistic feel to an image. Now I do understand that having a few quick tricks up your sleeve for clients to give them a choice of a few really artistic images is nice to have so using special effect plugins is just fine for that.

  • Topaz Studio

First, the Topaz Studio is a free download and contains several adjustments to get your started. Your older Topaz Labs filters can be accessed in this interface so you will always have access to them. You can’t go wrong with Topaz Studio’s Impression or one of their other creative Labs programs like Topaz ReStyle or Topaz Texture Effects for the really artistic effects. Impression has given Topaz the one-up on the other programs for the artistic effects and I am sure you have read lots about it – it is one of my favorite plugins. And I have to mention this little slider that lets you stop the painting action wherever you want – great addition to the updated filter. Topaz has done a terrific job with their masking effects tools and the different masking tools work really smoothly. The biggest down side is that even though Topaz Studio platform is free, to get it to work well you need to buy their Pro Pack. Therefore it brings it in line with the other two programs as far as cost goes. The Impression filter (or Clarity, Detail, or Simplify) needs to be bought individually to add into the Studio interface. If you already own Topaz Impression (or the other filters) as a Topaz Labs filter, you are entitled to a free upgrade for Studio (forever is their policy – once a filter is bought it is upgraded for free). And please do update to the newer Topaz Studio Impression filter – it is much better than the older Impression 2. If you own many Topaz filters, they will all eventually be added into the Studio interface. I am not going to say the program does not have its problems, but I do know enough by working with them that their final product will be very good. They have a Basic Adjustment that is not as complete as the others, but with the addition of the Clarity and Detail plug-ins, and several color adjustments choices, it is fine. In the image below, just a little more work on the clouds and some color reduction would really help and can be easily fixed in the program.

Image of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland - using Topaz Studio

  • On1 Photo Raw 2018

Photo Raw is now a really good challenger to Lightroom and is definitely worth checking out if you do lots of photo shoots. I have always liked On1 but it was very computer processor intensive. Their Browse Module is now lightening fast – it makes LR look really slow. I was stunned at how fast it all happens and it appears to be picking up my keywords from LR – that was even more amazing! And my computer hardly even cared. Once an image is chosen, go into their Develop Module which sets you up with the needed filters and is very similar to LR. Besides Shadow and Highlight sliders, there is a Midtone slider which I really like. There are other similar sliders to LR and includes a Detail section and Lens Correction section. Then it is time to go into the Effects Module where they provide lots of presets and individual filter choices. A very popular filter is called Dynamic Contrast – very similar to Detail in Topaz. Also the Glow filter is to be very popular. When masking, they do have a lot of choices (including a new Chisel Brush and Blur Brush) but I found it a little harder to use than in Topaz or LR. The filter settings can be somewhat hidden which includes the  blending options, and Highlight, Midtone, and Shadow sliders so the filter is only applied to certain areas if wanted. My biggest problem with On1 is the high learning curve. I believe it is a fantastic program and technically is going to keep Adobe on their toes. But it does take time to watch the videos to understand where everything is in the interface and what all the different filters will do. I can honestly say that On1 is totally improved from previous versions and I plan on using it a lot more. In the image below, the cloud color is just not quite right to me but the foreground sharpness is incredible! The clouds can be fixed easily in the program.

Image of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland using ON1 Photo Raw 2018

  • Luminar 2018

And now to Luminar 2018 – new entry for me into the field since I am a Windows person and this was for Mac previously. The image at the top of the blog is the Luminar example – loved the cloud effect especially and the Golden Hour filter on the front of the buildings. There are other parts I love and parts I hate it! Okay – if they would have updated it to match their Mac counterpart for us Windows users, I would love it. After watching several  videos just to find out all the sliders are not there, it is a bit frustrating. I also find that the Masking Tools are harder to use than with the other programs. The Mac version has several grouped filters for different types of effects – for Raw images an Essentials group was created which contains Tone, Accent AI, Color Temp, and Polarizing Filters. In Windows there are Filters Catalog but the Essentials is not the same group. This is definitely confusing. (Thank you Serge Ramelli for the video showing this filter set up – see Luminar 2018 vs Lightroom Classic?) But I love their filters and they seem to give a slightly different feel to an image – the Sun Ray filter, the Golden House filter, an Accent AI filter – and many others. Of the 3 image results shown, I liked the results from Luminar the best. I am under the assumption Luminar will be catching up the Windows version soon so it will work just like the Mac users interface. When that occurs, I will blog on this so everyone knows.

  • Bottom Line

I do love all these programs – have used Topaz and On1 for years – in fact my second favorite plugin from years ago was On1’s Photo Frame 4.6 – the best framing plug-in ever and I was totally upset when they discontinued it. BTW they do still have some framing options, but it is not quite the same – will blog on this soon. All three of my images are not that different – just some personal preferences there. And this was basically just using the Raw processors – each program has decidedly different strengths which are not showcased in these examples. A recent post by Photoshop Guru Matt Kloskowski called Is There a Lightroom Replacement explains in more detail about the browser and Raw converter issues – a good read. And check out my Related Blogs below for some other examples of what these programs can do.

As you can see things are changing as we come into a faster and more efficient software era. We have to say good-bye to some of the ways we used to post-process and attempt to figure out what to do with all the “Raw Converters!” – and what do we need from a filter program. I think so much of what you choose has to be based on just trying out the software now and seeing what works. Like I said, I am pleased, I am frustrated, and I am amazed at some of the filters I am now seeing. All three of these plug-ins are seasoned software companies and know what they are doing. Apparently Nik has been bought from Google recently by DxO and will be coming out this Spring with some updates. So there will be a new-old kid in town to really spice things up. Will I use their Raw converters for my work? Probably not so much – still a LR person at this point. Will I use their Special Effects filters? Totally!!! Hope this helped a little if you are as confused as me. I will continue updating you on all the new things coming out with these plug-ins but in the meantime, just try them out. It is amazing what some of the new filters are doing and it may fit just what you need for creating a new type of post-processing effect. In the meantime, Happy Black Friday if you are in the US and good luck finding some great PS finds!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Macphun Luminar 2018 Sun Rays at a Glance
Now Available – Free Beta Version of Macphun’s Luminar for Windows
Introducing the Free Topaz Studio
Updated Impression Now in Topaz Studio
Updated Clarity Now in Topaz Studio
How to Add a Simple Glow Effect to Your Image
A Beautiful View
My Favorite Photo Frame Plug-In – OnOne PhotoFrames (hum!) – just a little nostalgia here

HOW TO CREATE A GLITTER TEXTURE

Image of a Magic Holiday TreeThis week I discovered a very easy way to create those glitter textures that are everywhere and would be perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Thought I would share this easy process and a couple of images on how I used them. The image above uses the dark blue glitter texture from in my video to create a soft sparkling background effect. This technique was described in a 2012 video tutorial called Music Lights by Dom Quichotte at FX-ray – it has lots of other interesting tips also. See my short video that demonstrates just how to create the texture effect. If you do not see the link in the RSS feed, please open the blog and it will be available.

If you are not a video person, or want a quick reference for steps on how to do this, here is the workflow for the glitter effect:

  1. Create a Document – the standard size for most textures is 8″ X 10″ at 300 resolution.
  2. Fill layer with a color to make your glitter texture. I used a dark blue color (R20/G30/B55) in the tree image above.
  3. Set the color swatch to the default colors Black and White by pressing D.
  4. Create a New Layer and fill with black – ALT+Backspace.
  5. Go to Filter -> Render -> Fibers and set Variance to 64 and Strength to 4.
  6. Change to Color Dodge blend mode.
  7. Go to Filter -> Other -> Minimum and set Radius to 2 pixels.
  8. Go to Filter -> Other -> Maximum and set Radius to 2 pixels. Now have a beautiful sparkling background.
  9. To add a little variation to the texture, add another New Layer and go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds and set to Overlay blend mode. If you do not like the cloud pattern created, press CTRL+F or just open the Filter menu item and select first option to generate a new pattern.
  10. Go to Filter -> Distort -> Spherize and set Amount to -100. Adjust opacity to taste.
  11. Save document as a JPG in your texture folder.
  12. To change the color of the glitter effect, just add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top – check Colorize box, and move the three sliders to get the new color. On the tree image, a Gradient Map was added on top of the blue texture to create the subtle multi-color background – in this case it was a brown to white to light blue to dark blue. (For more info on Image 1, go to bottom of blog.)

Image of white flowers on a green glitter textureThis image is the one shown in my video. The PNG file was created from the blue glitter texture also created in the video. Just followed the steps below. (For more info on the Hawaiian Flowers Image 2 above, go to bottom of blog.) To create a PNG of the just the sparkly points, continue with these steps:

  1. Open the Glitter jpg image and duplicate the layer.
  2. Go to Select -> Select Color Range and drag the eyedropper tool around in image until it looks like a nice starry look. Be sure Localized Color Clusters are checked and adjust both the Fuzziness slider (I set to 52) and the Range Slider (set to 100%). At this point it should be mainly black color with light points showing up as white in the filter window. Click OK.
  3. Add a layer mask to the duplicate texture layer and the light points appear as white in the mask but will probably have some color in them in the layer – add a white layer underneath to see what was selected.
  4. Right click inside the mask and select Apply Layer Mask.
  5. Turn off the other layers and go to Save -> Save As and select PNG file format.

Now you have a transparent texture with just the glitter highlights. To make the glitter color all white like snow, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment and set the Lightness to +100. For black glitter set Lightness to -100, or change the color any way with the sliders. Duplicate the transparent texture and to to Edit -> Free Transform to spread the glitter out some – Perspective was used below. Then go to Filter -> Gaussian Blur and set a Radius to something like 3 to create a softening effect on that layer. By stacking the two PNG files, it can create a really nice snow effect. See below for how I used the PNG texture in the image of a Scottish Close in Edinburgh. (For more info on Image 3, check below.)

Image of Anchor Close in Edinburgh, Scotland I really like being able to create my own effects instead of having to worry about buying them or finding out they cannot be used for commercial projects. I hope to continue creating blogs that will help others create their own resource tools. Well that is it for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image information:

Image 1:  For the Magic Tree image, first painted a tree trunk and branches freehand on New Layer above white background, then the glitter background was placed directly underneath it. The tree leaves were brushes created in Corel Painter’s using the Symmetrical Tool and different Painter brushes. The PS new Technology called Paint Symmetry is just not quite as good yet although one brush was created and used. I ended up with 16 new brushes used on the tree along with some little glitter brushes to give the magical look. Next the image was taken into Luminar 2018 where just two filters were applied: Soft Glow and the Golden Hour. They both really lightened up the tree and made the snowflake edges less sharp. Last step was back in PS where Nik Viveza 2 was used on the image to adjust the whole color tone.

Image 2: Not much here other than the blue texture was used and a Turquoise Solid Color Fill Layer was added clipped (ALT + Click between layers to clip) and set to Color blend mode for the greenish color. The white Hawaiian flowers were extracted and placed on top. Next the Sparkling Blue Glitter PNG was added on top of the flowers. To change just the color of the dots on just the flowers, select the flowers from the layer before by CTRL+clicking on the flowers, then select the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer – the layer mask will show just the flowers in it. The Hue was set to 33, Saturation 98, and Lightness -5 with Colorize checked. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the contrast in the image. A darken layer and flower lines layer were used to clean up the flowers.

Image 3:  One iteration I created of this image is a very warm sunny day effect. I also liked the cool wintry effect. Lucis Pro (no longer available) was used to get the really sharp look. Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken down the image some. Lots of clean up layers. The snow was created using the steps above – duplicating the layer and blurring it – a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to convert the color all to white.

MACPHUN LUMINAR 2018 SUN RAYS AT A GLANCE

Image of a hidden garden in Windsor CastleThis week I have been trying out an updated beta version of Luminar 2018 working (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog)  – had a few problems so I am sticking with mainly the Sun Rays filter as it worked beautifully and may be the best one in program. I believe this filter is one I would use which is a very good reason why I would buy this program. The final release is scheduled for November 16th and this plug-in has been updated for both Windows and Mac users to be a full-blown RAW editor besides adding interesting filter effects. I think everyone who has looked at the new program is totally intrigued with this new Sun Rays filter. Luminar says on “Sun Rays adds volumetric lighting to create beautiful beams of light in your image. This tool auto masks the light so it passes through trees, around mountains and even wraps around objects.” What I find intriguing is that it actually adds a soft lighting effect to rather plain images. The image above was enhanced using this wonderful filter. I tried to be a little subtle with its use as it seems like it could easily be overdone. To show you the interface, I took a screenshot of the settings used for the effect on the Windsor Castle hidden garden above.

Screenshot of Sun Rays filter in Luminar 2018The screenshot shows how the image looked as it was brought back into Photoshop. You can see how natural and sunny it looked by setting the sun effect right at the corner of the castle near the dangling tree branch. I had to do some more work in PS as the green was a little overwhelming but it could easily have been done in Luminar. I will cover more of this once the program has been released. With this image a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using Edgy Amber preset was applied, set to Soft Light blend mode and 41% layer opacity – note Luminar’s new LUT filter will let you use lookup tables created in PS or any you have bought. A red channel luminance Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add just a little contrast in the highlights, and a orange hue was used for a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer vignette set to 39%. Below is what the RAW file looked like before just Basic Panel changes were done before going into PS.

RAW image of Windsor Castle hidden garden

*****

Image of sun rising in the ForestThis is an image taken in my neighborhood right after Hurricane Irma and actually shows a little flooding on the floor of the little forest. I think you will see a lot of this “God Rays” effect in the coming months. Here are the sliders in this filter which and my setting in Parentheses for this image:

Sun Rays – X(21)/Y(20) – this allows you to set the rays wherever you want in the image

All the sliders go from 0 to 100. These sliders apply to the Rays:

Ray Amount (36) – this appears to me to be more like an layer opacity slider and is in a lot of their other filter
Look (69) – this goes from 1 to 100 and seems like a brightness slider-can bring in the “look”
Number (50) – number of beams – goes from 0 to 100
Length (53) – goes from 0 to 100
Warmth (57) – warms up the image but watch all the yellow tones as they brighten up also

These sliders apply to the Sun:

Sun Radius (30) – Size of the actual Sun dot
Glow Radius (71) – Looks like how bright the glow is as it radiates out from the sun dot
Glow Amount (73) – I do not see much difference between this slider and the Glow Radius – both have an effect
Warmth (70) – Determines how yellow your sun is and once again watch out for any yellow in the leaves for example that can get too bright

These sliders affect the whole image:

Penetration (67) – Major cool slider as it determines overall how strong this effect will look in your image
Randomize (40) – This is kind of nice to have – makes is so all the beams are not exactly the same

This image also used the Golden Hour filter (Amount 23 and Saturation 47), which is a fairly new filter. Below is a short video on how to use this filter. This beautiful forest image is from Simon Matzinger at Unsplash. If this video does not show a connection in the RSS feed, please open the actual blog where the connection is live.

To reiterate what was in the video, it can be seen how vivid the orange gets due to the high yellows in the Warmth sliders (61 for Rays and 37 for Sun). The Radius was set to a small 3 in upper right where focal point would be on a grid. I really think the Penetration slider does the best in keeping the whole color cast of the image together – it was set to a very high 79. By moving the Randomize slider, the rays can be set in different positions easily. There is a bit of brown patchiness that needs to be addressed in this image that can corrected by possibly adding a mask to the filter and painting some of it away.

Normally I would not blog about a preview release, but since everyone could download the beta, I figured I would go ahead and talk about it. The Sun Rays filter may not always look completely natural, but it can make the image much more interesting and evoke some emotion from a viewer.  I think it will take some practice to use it properly, but I believe that Luminar and the Sun Rays filter in particular have some good things going for it. Once it is released, I will do a full review of the software. I know the Mac people already have a good understanding of this software, but for us Windows users, this is new territory! For more on some of the other filters, check out my earlier blog called Now Available – Free Beta Version of MacPhun’s Luminar for Windows blog. Will catch ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd

%d bloggers like this: