Anything Photoshop or Photography

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.
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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
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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.
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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.

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6 responses

  1. Love this photograph. Processing with Topaz is my favorite.

    12/10/2017 at 4:53 pm

    • I do a lot with Topaz – I am very comfortable with their filters and totally know what to do with them. Still using LR right now for the beginning tweaks.

      12/10/2017 at 10:31 pm

      • You are doing magic with every software imaginable 🙂

        12/13/2017 at 1:32 pm

  2. Dean

    Hello Digital Lady Syd. You may be interested in an article that was posted today by Darlene Hildebrandt called Raw Photo Editing Software Review & Comparison For 2018. This is part one covering 5 different editors. There’s supposed to be a part two coming up which will cover 5 other editors including Topaz.

    https://www.digitalphotomentor.com/photo-editing-software/?ck_subscriber_id=132361485#summary

    Dean

    12/13/2017 at 2:27 pm

    • Dean

      I see the URL needs to have the “#summary” removed at the end or it takes you to the summary at the end of the review article.

      Thanks, Dean

      12/13/2017 at 3:04 pm

    • Thanks Dean – That was an interesting article and I believe she has the results pretty close to what I think as far as how hard to learn the programs. But almost all those listed are pretty good RAW processors. Looking forward to her next post.

      12/18/2017 at 1:20 pm

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