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Topaz Studio

HOW TO TURN A NIGHTTIME DISASTER PHOTO INTO A KEEPER

Image of San Francisco, California, at nightHope everyone is having a great start to the New Year! It seems like there are some wonderful new Photoshop techniques being presented almost daily. What I am going to show this week is one that totally blew me away since my camera does have a lot of noise when I shoot over ISO 1000 especially. It is an older model Nikon that I can’t seem to part with and I have a ton of nighttime images that just do not look great due to the older sensor. So if you are like me, or have some images you shot before before getting a better camera, this technique may really help to salvage a few of your favorite images from the past.

It all started when I read an article by Serge Ramelli, the Adobe Lightroom guru, in Kelby One’s November Lightroom Magazine called Nighttime Photography Workflow. Yes, Kelby One (the old NAPP site) still puts out their Photoshop and Lightroom magazines just like when they used to be on the newsstand years ago. If you are a member, they are published digitally almost monthly. Below is the RAW image for the above image of San Francisco at night. I really liked the bridge lit up and the tall building on the right with the lights on, but the car and blinding lights and colors were awful! The only thing good about it was fairly sharp. What I learned from Serge’s article is that there are a few tricks to getting those night photos to pop and that you do not have to stick to the original color scheme – I really liked the cool night tones that ended up in my final image. Therefore you will see most of my images are now turned towards the cooler bluish-pink tones which I think looks much better than the ugly yellow-orange original colors. I might add that Serge has lots of very good Lightroom programs and some great tips on photographing.

Just to help everyone out, the preset has been added to my DeviantArt site so you can download it with the settings described below – zipped file is called SJ Nighttime Settings.

Original RAW photo of top image in blog
This is what was done with to the above image to get the final top image look – these are my settings so feel free to change if you like different ones. The preset (linked above for download) uses my settings shown below:

1. First I set the Profile in Lightroom (could use ACR for these same steps) to Vintage 07 with the Amount slider set to 78%. Always check through these profiles provided by Adobe (or any you may have acquired recently). This profile seems work with most of my night images.

2. Crop and straighten image. In the above the parked car roof had to be removed.

3. In the Basics Panel try making some of these adjustments – use any order you think works best on the image:

– Open the shadows up but not so much since it is a night image – in my case +63 was used. If image a lot darker than the above, use a smaller amount.

– Boost up the whites – this makes the lights in the image really pop if they do not already stand out as mine did above so it was set to 0.

– Blacks – set to reveal more of the sky but try not to add more noise. Mine was set to -7 which really did help.

– Highlights – I set mine back to -100, but in a dark image, this may too much.

– Temperature – I set mine towards blue or -80

– Clarity – really makes it pop – a +35 was used on this image.

– Vibrance – used a +24 here.

– Saturation – used more of this +33.

– Tint – +22 to give it a little of a magenta feel.

– Exposure and Contrast – these were adjusted as a last step. Only the Exposure was decreased to -98 for this image and preset.

4. Here is the tip that gives the image the depth it needs – add a Radial Filter over the midground subject – in this case the bridge area. Invert should be checked so only the inside of the filter is changed. Now slightly boost the Exposure to something like +1.47, which was used here along with Temp of 35, Tint of 35, Clarity of 41 and Whites 22 (since it really popped the lights of the bridge). Again, re-adjust these for the image being used. For this image, the Range Mask set to Luminance was used and the Range set to 95/100 so only the really light areas inside the circle were affected – that is why the lights look so vivid. If you cannot see what is happening, check Show Luminance Mask and watch as you move the sliders. Note: if you make a preset for these settings, be sure to turn off the Luminance Range Mask settings which is not needed for all image, and it will not looks right when you try to adjust the other sliders in the Radial Filter. For the preset the Radial Filter circle was left on the image with the above settings.

5. Last step involves using the Details panel and adjusting the Noise Reduction – in this case Luminance was 28 which is quite a bit and Contrast to 23. Then the Sharpening was set to 85. This is definitely a setting that you need to set yourself depending on your camera model and how much of a noise problem there is.

6. I made a preset (download shown above) with my settings so that I could reuse them on another image (with Luminance Range Mask off). Also, now that I was at a point where the image could be opened in Photoshop, it was opened sent over as a Smart Object (right click and select Edit In -> Open as Smart Object in Photoshop). This will open up ACR only if using RAW files. If needed, you can go back and adjust your settings in PS without going back to LR.

The following steps will vary depending on what will work with your image. For the one above, this is the workflow but the image below used totally different steps to remove noise and finish up the image.

7. In Photoshop the next thing done was try to sharpen and remove noise a little more by going into creating a duplicate layer and going into Topaz (for website see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog) Studio.  Their AI Clear adjustment was selected and these settings were applied:  Auto Noise Reduction and High Sharpening. The Precision Contrast Adjustment was added in Studio also and these settings were used: Micro, Low and Medium Contrast set to 0.30 and High set to -0.30. The last Adjustment selected was Dehaze set to a Strength of 0.52. Apparently their Dehaze filter is much superior to the one in Lightroom or ACR. I also find it is pretty good so I apply it using this filter.

8. Finished up with a Tone Curve to darken down the image to add contrast.

A couple things that can be also done to enhance these images. If another Radial Circle needs to be added to fix an image, go ahead and try it. To duplicate the one already in the preset, just right click it and select duplicate – then drag to the new location. If new settings need to be used, just click the New button. Also, add a Gradiant Filter or two if the foreground or background needs to be darkened some. And for the really hard to adjust area, just brush the settings in. Lightroom and Camera Raw are so flexible.

Below is another example of an image that was really bright yellow and did not look good at all.

Image of the Firehouse on Main Street at Disney WorldThis image followed pretty much the same steps as above – used the preset I created for the first image and just adjusted for this one. The Radial Filter had to be adjusted and the Luminance Range Mask set for this image. But this time in Photoshop, did a couple different things. Used Imagenomics Noiseware‘s default to remove more noise – it worked wonders! I always try different ways as sometimes one will not work but another will. This is not a new filter, but it is one of the best out there. The Fireworks was from Design Textures but it is pretty easy to create your own (see one of my older blogs called Faking Fireworks!). at A little clean up was done and the last step was to open up Topaz ReStyle and applied the City Lights II preset. A few sliders were adjusted in the plugin to tweek the colors. That is all that was done and the image now has a very Disney look. Below is the original image and another example of how Topaz ReStyle can change an image’s look, even a night one. This time the Royal Blue and Apricots preset was applied to give a much more Disney feel to it, but not what I would do to most of my nighttime images.

Original of the Disney Main Street image Alternate image of the Firehouse on Main Street USA-Magic Kingdom
Technique may or may not work on every image, and the image needs to be really sharp to get good results. I have a few images where the noise just could not be removed, but most work pretty well with this preset and a few tricks in Photoshop.

Hope everyone will give this a try – it really surprised me how good some of my image could be. Hope everyone has a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


A SHORT CHAT ABOUT PHOTOSHOP CC2019

Image of a Santa Claus Christmas Ornament
A little late on this post – but then writing about Photoshop is never late to me. As usual whenever Photoshop updates to a newer version, I have mixed feelings. It seems to take me a while to get organized and this was the case with Photoshop CC2019. I have watched several recent posts by some of my favorite Photoshop gurus, Julieanne Kost, Colin Smith, and Scott Kelby, and here are a few things I discovered about this new update:

  • First I got totally confused with the old Edit -> Fill command (for me it used to mean Content Aware Fill) and the new Edit -> Content-Aware Fill command. After playing around with it, it does seem to have much better results than the old “Fill” command and it is much easier to see what is changing right in the new panel. One thing I learned is that if you do not use the Lasso Tool but instead the Magic Wand or Quick Selection Tool, there can be discernible lines where the selection edge was. To fix this, just go into the Select -> Modify -> Expand Selection and set it to 2 pixels before going into the new command. Lines disappear or edges are much smoother.
  • On the Toolbar the tools can be pulled apart and added in by clicking on the three dots near bottom of the Toolbar (under the Zoom Tool) and then dragging the tools apart. I set both the Rectangle Marque Tool and Elliptical Marquee Tool up on my toolbar. Also put the Patch Tool under the Spot Healing Brush (which still contains all the other tools). I added the new Frame Tool onto the Toolbar but not sure it is that useful.
  • There is now a Windows -> New Guide Layout panel (versus the old New Guide panel) where the number of columns (or rows) and a Gutter amount between them can be set up. This is handy to blend two different images together using the Gradient Tool in a mask and placing the gradient between the two line in the gutter area to create a nice smooth transition.
  • Here is something you may have not noticed – when adding an object/texture/image whatever into the main document and a Group is highlighted showing layers, the object layer will go into the group and not above the group. Just close the group before adding the new material to add above.
  • Did you know that if a part of a filter name like Gaus for Gaussian Blur is added in the search field (on the Options Bar on the right side), it will bring up the dialog box without going through all the steps to get there?
  • To me this is a biggie! Regarding those darn layer styles that sometimes just do not look right when applied. Here is one thing that is going on. If applying a style to a group, PS treats all the layers in the group as if they are flattened before applying the layer style to the group as a whole. Same thing with blend modes. So if you start to get some really strange results when applying a lot of different layers styles in image, check out the group and layers underneath to see if this issue is happening. Hope to blog on this later as I want to experiment with this.
  • I personally, and apparently many other people, have been having problems taking an image from Lightroom Classic into Photoshop when PS is not already open – most of the program is grayed out. The work-around is to first open PS before bringing the LR image into the program. Very annoying but it does work.
  • If you are like me and use the File -> Info panel, the Photoshop History field is stuck and you cannot scroll within it. This information is set in the Preferences -> History Log – I always keep mine set to Save Log Items to: Metadata and Edit Log Items: Detailed. It come in handy when you forget what you did not an image. The good news is that the information is contained in Adobe Bridge under the Metadata tab, Edit History section and it works.

I am sure there are lots of other new ways to do things with this update. I just have not had time to find them all. I hope this helped you out a little with some of the things going on.

So how did I get Santa to twist like this? Well once again it is a filter in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website) Studio called the Motion Blurs Adjustment – set to Type Swirl, placed marker on nose, and Angle to 0.06 (just a little is enough). Then added the Smudge Adjustment set to Strength of 0.13, Extent 0.49 and Sharpness 0.61 and painted it in a mask just on the Santa and letters to get an illustrative feel to the ornament. Then went back into PS.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday – Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd


TRYING OUT THE UPDATE TO PHOTOSHOP PLUGINS

Image of Blooming Plumbago PlantThis week just sharing a few images using some of the new programs that are out there. It seems you just have to try them all out and push the sliders to the limits to see what you get. I have been really pleased with all the ones used in these images. Note that all the shown plugin/software websites are linked in the sidebar of my Tidbits Blog.

On1 Photo Raw 2019

The above macro shot is of some Plumbago blooms growing in my backyard. Very little was done to this image in On1 Photo Raw 2019, but what it did was significant. I really like how sharp and clear this image is. The Effects tab was opened and the image was warmed up a little using the Color Adjustment Filter’s Yellow button, then the Default Sunshine filter, and the Dynamic Contrast (my favorite On1 filter) that just sharpened up the image beautifully. Last thing done was to open up the Local Adjustments tab and add some Detail Structure set to 40 and paint on the petals in a mask. This was all done while using this program as a plug-in to Lightroom. The image was finalized in PS so that I could put a signature block on it and a layer style stroke around the outside for posting. I am really starting to love the update they have made to this program.
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Luminar 2018

Image of backwater in St. Augustine, FloridaThis image was first worked on in Lightroom – used one of Serge Ramelli’s presets from his Welcome Kit called Bad Weather 4 – it gave a good place to start adjusting the image. His preset uses a lot of Gradient Filters and Radial Filters that need to be adjusted and moved for each image so that was done here to get the beautiful lighting effect. In PS, the new Content Aware-Fill command was used to clean up the background which had several buildings sprinkled around. The secret sauce in this image was using Skylum’s Luminar 2018. To get the really sharp effect, Skylum’s free download category called Joel Grimes Preset Pack was selected – I love this set of presets. (Here’s the link to download them directly – they are called Pro Photographer and Artist Presets – then go to File -> Add Custom Presets Pack and select them to add in). The Detailed Warmth preset was selected and set to 39% opacity. A New Layer was added above and the AI Filter Boost was set to 40, and the new AI Sky Enhancer Boost set to 33. The Image Radiance filter was set to an Amount of 38 and an overall filter Amount of 89. Back in PS, a Curves Adjustment Layer and Flypaper Bird Brushes Crows 3 were added at 43% layer opacity. So the birds look natural, I always clip (ALT+click between the layers) a Pattern Adjustment Layer to them – in this case a dark brown pattern set to 100% scale. On a New Layer set to Overlay blend mode was added on top – with a soft low opacity black brush, the foreground was painted in lightly to darken it slightly. That was it. Luminar does such a beautiful job on landscapes. Definitely their strong point!
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Aurora HDR 2019

Image of a land in the Highlands in ScotlandI have loved this program from the moment I tried it out. I like the fact that it does not create that sort of exaggerated HDR effect that was so popular a while back. And I love that just one photo works fine in the software. This image was taken somewhere in the highlands of Scotland – I was wishing I was on the sailboat when I took this image. Not a lot was done in Aurora – just applied a preset that really caught my attention in the Dramatic Collection called Sleepy Drama. In PS a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and my favorite preset called Foggy Night was added and the opacity was set to 60%. On a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was used on the Sailboat. The biggest problem with this image was the sky. On another New Layer one of my very favorite brush sets, Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes, was opened and the Cloud Lumens Hi was selected using a touch of gray color to it to add into the clouds – the layer was then set to 76% opacity. These brushes are just excellent for these kind of quick touch ups! Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer the add a little more contrast into the image. The original image was in tones of blues and green and looked very dreary. It is amazing what this plugin did for this image.

I am slowly figuring out which software works for which type of image I am going to using. If the image does not look good with my first choice, it is great to have several other choices to try out. I totally love the AI Clear in Topaz Studio, which I did not show in this blog, but use on almost all my images now. It does a remarkable job of just doing a very subtle sharpening. But then I find that On1’s Dynamic Contrast is awfully close and I use it quite a bit too. Both seem to do a slightly better job of sharpening than Lightroom.  And sometimes I do both, even though I am not supposed to – I find it works okay. I hope this gave you a little more to think about when using these plugins and making a decision as to which you want. I really enjoy all of them so this is hard for me to choose the best one. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


SOME TOPAZ STUDIO TIPS

Image of statues at Westminster Abbey, London, EnglandThis week I decided to share a few tips and tricks I have learned about the Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) software since they have had a bunch of absolutely fabulous Webinars in the past few weeks. I have learned so much about so many of the filters and thought I would pass along some of the new things I learned. Believe me, this just scratches the surface of what is shown in the the webinars, so do check them out. The statues above (I do not know who they represent) are from the front of Westminster Abbey and Topaz Studio’s AI ReMix was used to get the interesting color effects. (See end of blog for more Image 1 details if you are interested.)

  • Many of the Topaz experts are going into Studio, running IA Clear, then go into Topaz Adjust plugin from inside the interface – Joel Wolfson calls it the magic exposure balancer. This is a really fantastic effect. Reset the filter by clicking the button on the bottom right. The Adaptive Exposure slider adjusts exposure without losing the shadows and highlights. Set the Adaptive Exposure slider to the right with the Regions, which breaks down the image into sections to apply the correct amount of Adaptive Exposure to it, set to 0. Once the Adaptive Exposure looks pretty good, move the Regions slider to the right to get the perfect look. Keep the two settings fairly close to each other. If the Regions is set to 1, it just applies the effect the same to the whole image. To get the best results, keep the numbers pretty close together. Some people like to use the Color Section which works very similarly. The Adaptive Saturation and Color Regions work together the same way. Also, the same Adaptive Exposure and Regions sliders are also in Black & White Effects also.

TOPAZ STUDIO

It always amazes me what I don’t know about certain programs even though I think I understand them very well. I watched several Webinars from Topaz this week and found out a few little gems I will share. These are things that are really simple but major important! Note that Topaz Studio will not open PSD files from Lightroom or ACR, but will take native camera Raw files, TIFF, PNG and JPG. Below are a few things that had always confused me until recently.

  • When you Apply adjustments to an image, it is the same as creating a flattened composite layer in Photoshop which contains all the previous effects and masks. A new iteration shows up in the row at the bottom of the interface with the blue line around the one just created.
  • What to do when you want to keep both iterations of an image, like one in color and one in black and white. Need to save one that will be stacked with the Lightroom images, but the second one must be Saved As (or it will overwrite the one you just did) – Studio will ask where you want to have it saved. Therefore, both iterations will be retained. If used as a plugin from PS, I am not sure how to do this.
  • If you want to retain all the masks and layers in an image, save the image as a .tsp extension – this is a Topaz unique file extension and can be reopened in the Topaz products. It is helpful if you forgot how you did something for a special effect. I use it a lot – just keep it in the file along with the other image files.
  • Did you know that if you click the little plus (+) sign at the bottom of an adjustment to add additional adjustments, it is actually acting like a clipping mask in Photoshop and filters added only affect the one it is attached to. I always wondered about this.

Image of seven turtles talking on a pondJust AI Clear was used on this image above but not much else. For more post-processing info, check Image 2 below.

AI Clear Adjustment

  • It is important that after the settings are selected, the Adjustment needs to be applied or else it will continue to try and reapply the settings every time you make more changes to the image. This had been driving me crazy – love the adjustment but could not get it to stop running. Well, to me that is a huge tip! (Thank you John Barclay!)
  • Important to remember that if using AI Clear, be sure not sharpen first in Lightroom or ACR – it can mess up the results.
  • The Recover Detail slider keeps noise reduced but is working to bring back some of the detail that is lost in the image from the noise reduction. The higher you set this slider, the more blending that occurs. Set to 1.00 is like setting your opacity to 30%. I find that sometimes this works and sometimes not. Same with the Exposure and Clarity sliders – not always helpful.

Image of a digitally painted jaquarThis image is an example of a more abstract effect you can get with the AI ReMix Adjustment. For actual post-processing info, check out Image 3 at end of the blog.

AI ReMix Adjustment

  • Remember changing the blend modes and opacity can do wonderful things to your image. And try adding the filter using a different Style to get different results.
  • Note it is much quicker to set the Style Strength to Low to decide which one you want to use, then switch to the higher resolutions Med or High amounts.

I feel like I have been writing a lot about the Topaz products – it seems they do have the best creative effects and I use them a lot. I will attempt to show you results of some other plug-ins next time. Have a good shopping week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Post-Processing Steps:

Image 1: First in Lightroom the image was cropped and the Transform panel was opened where the Guided lines were added to straighten the image up and make it look more like it at your eye level. This is a really cool tool to use for this. In Basic panel just some changed to Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks. Then from LR, took the image into Topaz Studio where the AI Clear Adjustment was immediately selected and set to Auto Noise and High Sharpen – It was immediately Applied as a new “layer” in the bottom tray (now has a blue line around it). Made sure AI Clear was not still open – if it is close it so it does not keep running. Now selected AI ReMix (set to 0.49 opacity and Color Burn blend mode) and the first Style called A Neon Style at Low Style Strength; Brightness 0.53, Contrast 1.22, Sat 0.77, Hue 0, Smooth Edge 0.17, Sharpness 0.83, Suppress Artifacts 0.49 – Layer mask created using the brush and just selecting the figures. Then HSL Color Tuning Adjustment: Color – Red Sat -0.54 and Lightness -0.25; Orange Sat 0.12 and Lightness 0.28; Green Sat -1.00 and Lightness 0.38; and Aqua Hue -0.86 and Lightness 0.36. Then it was sent back to Lightroom as a stacked Tiff. Next took the image into Photoshop with the Lightroom Changes selected. This is where I tweaked it and made the image very dark with spotlight lighting. Duplicated the layer twice – set one to Multiply blend mode at 59% and top one to Hard Mix at 66% opacity and 9% Fill. This gave the really dark but sharp image. On a couple New Layers painted some color on the faces to lighten them up a bit but kept the layer opacity very low, around 20-30%. Then added a Spotlight Layer using a low flow white brush to direct the eye to the faces. That was basically all that was done – a lot of adjusting the layers in PS had to be done to get the correct color effect, but it was AI ReMix that gave the beautiful colors in the image.

Image 2: Most of the work occurred in Lightroom. Cropping and Basic panel changes occurred. The color of the image was not touched. The background layer was duplicated and Topaz Studio was opened. The AI Clear Adjustment was opened set to Auto for Noise Reduction and High for Sharpening. Back in Photoshop a little spotlight effect was put on the turtle shells and set to Overlay blend mode at 71% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and that was it.

Image 3: This funny Jaguar was busy checking out his house I think. I do not believe much was done with this image. Mainly followed the steps in Greg Rostami’s A.I. Magic with ReMix and Clear Webinar – just used similar settings from his dog image and created a preset to use the settings over – check out my SJ AI ReMix painterly Effect in the public list. After Studio was applied, went back to Photoshop. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the blue color and the color around her body was darkened (used a dark Curves Adjustment layer with a black layer mask – just painted in where it should be darkened). A little spotlight effect on the white area of the neck and Matt K’s vignette was created to finish up. That was it. I left the colors really strong and I think they are gorgeous


UPDATES, UPDATES, UPDATES! WHAT TO DO????

Image of a Tri-colored Heron using the Scribble Artist PS ActionIt has been a busy week since all the major software and plugin companies have recently updated and there is a bunch of new information to learn. I have been spending several hours sorting through all this. Unfortunately Black Friday and Cyber Monday is right around the corner so I have not had a complete chance to figure out all the new things. I will give you a quick view of what I like about each which may help you to sort out what to do. I will try to post a couple short videos after I complete some images to share what looks good from below. Note: All the links for the first five programs below can be found at my Tidbits Blog sidebar. So here I go – these are not in any special order, I love all the ones I am presenting and use them each differently:

Topaz Studio: Topaz Studio I totally love. Studio is fine – it seems very stable and I have had no problems using it so I do not believe anyone should have a fear about upgrading to this software. I usually use Topaz Studio and Labs as a PS plugin. I often just pop into Topaz ReStyle using just Topaz Labs. But I do love how quick I can get into Impression with Studio, and now with their newest adjustment, AI Clear (works wonders on slightly soft images), the Studio interface is much more appealing for me. I really love AI ReMix – the more I am learning, the better I like it. (See my What is Topaz AI ReMix???? and Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever! blogs.) If you are a creative, need to check out the Topaz Webinars. They contain a lot a information on how to use their filters and I find them major helpful.

Topaz AI Gigapixel: My favorite is the new software by Topaz called AI Gigapixel. I was totally blown away by it and you should check it out if you like to change the sizes, both up and down, of your images while still keeping the image quality. A real winner here. (See my The Best New Software Around – Topaz A.I. Gigapixel! blog.)

Skylum Aurora HDR 2019: Nothing better for HDR – period! I don’t always do HDR a lot, but this software is very special – most of the HDR effects can be loaded using just one image – no need to take 5 or more images. And for me, it really sharpens up a soft image, which is important to me. Also, the interface is now pretty much the same whether using Windows or Apple, so that is really good for us Windows users! Trey Ratcliff is the major contributor to this software and I believe it is one reason it is so good – his work is fabulous! His favorite filter is Image Radiance and he uses it on most of his images – it is a nice effect. I did a recent blog on this software which goes into all the great things it does (see my What About Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019?).

Skylum Luminar Update: I guess there is no better software that has come on the scene recently – I personally believe that is because they created software for Windows users now. A recent update came out with a rather fabulous filter that makes the whole program a game-changer for landscapes – it is called their AI Sky Enhancer filter. It is just one little Amount slider but it does incredible things to a sky. Skylum says it adds details using 100,000 images to define the sky, uses segmentation to do this, and removes noise and halos. Used in conjunction with their earlier Accent AI Filter, that may be all an image needs to pop it. I am loving these two filters. Of course I still love the Sunrays filter – no one else has anything even close to this. And the Golden Hour filter gives a beautiful look on some images. It also has that same wonderful Image Radiance filter – it does magic to a landscape image. (See my MacPhun (now Skylum) Luminar 2018 Sun Rays at a Glance blog and video.)

On1 Photo Raw 2019: There is so much to say on this one. A huge update IMHO. Much bigger than the Photoshop update. I am so happy to see how good this software is becoming. One major advantage is that you own the software. Each update is bringing it much closer in line with PS but it still has a ways to go. It loads your images so much faster than Lightroom that it is amazing. I really like that. As a PS plugin (and stand alone program), it can switch between the four modules just by clicking on Develop, Effects, Portraits (brought back and and seems better than ever – I have to check this one out), and Local tabs very quickly – all it is lacking is the Layers capability as a plugin. And they now support Layers! In the stand-alone version, the files can be saved as, get this, layered PSD files saving their masks and layers for use in PS – kind of like a smart object in PS. So you can do your initial changes in On1 Photo Raw and then finish up in PS. I think this is really impressive. I also like their new Color Enhancer panel – it is like the PS Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on steroids with a Color Range section added to really tweak a color. They also added a new Film Grain filter and a Curves filter (very similar to PS). On1 is another company that has wonderful videos and tutorials on their website for getting up-to-speed. Biggest issue for me is that it has a fairly large learning curve, but once you figure it out, it is very good. Oh yes, you can also use your other plugins already owned with Photo Raw.

Lucis Pro 6: This software has been re-introduced to the public but with no changes that I can see. Still is it a really nice effect and fairly inexpensive. Check out my blog and short video at Lucis Pro is Back!!!!! for more information.

DXO, Google, Nik Collection: As far as I can tell, this 7 program software has not been updated from the early version, only updated to work with newer operating systems. I am not having any problems with mine, so I am not messing with the upgrade. I use Viveza 2 on almost every image – still in my mind, it is the best plugin ever made. It does compete with the Camera Raw filter, but I find it easier to use and creates better results. (See my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.) And of course Color Efex Pro is still a wonderful program. In fact all their programs are first rate and still work fine, maybe better, than most new plugins. If you have it, continue using it. Otherwise it can be bought at the DXO Website.

Photoshop CC2019: Figure you actually do the monthly update thing or you do not. It took me forever to set up the program as I had it – always does when PS does a major update, but it seems to be major solid now. Did have one crash when I ran the large action used on the above but that it is. I love the new Edit -> Content-Aware Fill, but found the name major confusing since Edit -> Fill has always been content-aware fill to me. Also love being able to use Math in the fields like *2 to double the size of an image. I think what you like is based upon how you use PS. Anyway, it is still the industry standard so it is hard not to keep it updated. I will add I do keep CS6 on my computer and often use it for painting and to use the now defunct, but very useful, Variations adjustment.

So now, to save a bit of money this week, my image is of a tri-colored heron above created using a free Adobe Action from Adobe Create Magazine. This was really fun to make but I did have to watch all the short videos to understand how it all works. Your image has to be set up correctly to get the action to run properly. The action takes several minutes to complete, but when done, there are lots of layers that can be adjusted to give some great looks. The cute font is called Flamingo Shaddow. It was a lot of fun to do while taking a quick break from all this software/plugin craziness.

Hope everyone checks out the trials on all these programs and good luck with the sales!…..Digital Lady Syd


TOPAZ REMIX – UPDATE AND BETTER THAN EVER!

Digital Art image of a person playing guitarDecided to do just a quick blog and video on Topaz Remix since it a rather unusual filter by Topaz (for website, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog). I reviewed the filter back in March (see my What is Topaz AI ReMix!!! blog), but this week they came out with an update (if you already own it, be sure to open up Topaz Studio and update the filters). It now has 102 styles (not layer styles as I called them in the video but just styles) and are sorted into 5 different categories: Abstract, High Impact, Pastel, Sketch, and Pastel. Below I did a short video just showing exactly what the adjustment interface looks like and what some of the style effects do. I am finding this plugin lots of fun to use. If not applied at too large an amount, some very creative but natural looking results will occur. The original image used is free from ISO Republic called Guitar Man.

Here is a list of what was shown in the video if you are interested. (First showed A Neon Rise and set the Opacity to 0.53 set to Low Style Strength. Next shows Ashen Waves, then Burnt Off and shifted the blend mode, Ink Blot at 0.74 opacity, White Water at 0.27 opacity, and finally applied Velvet Abstract.) To finish off the image above, just a Curves Adjustment Layer was added and that was all.

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Image of a guitar playerSame image using different settings in Topaz Studio. AI Clear was added, then Black and White Adjustment set to Darken blend mode. Next AI ReMix using Bleach Beach style was selected and set to 0.41 opacity and Color Blend Mode. Last step used Texture Adjustment at 0.46 opacity where one of my Bokeh textures was added into the filter – a layer mask was used to remove off the guitar player. Very different result – much more of a photographic effect.

These styles also look terrific on any of your textures. There are so many possibilities. This is definitely the same kind of filter as Topaz Impression, which as I said, may be one of the very best plugins ever created. My other go-to creative Topaz filter is Topaz ReStyle – use it all the time! This is just one of the reasons I find Topaz to be such a fabulous company as they do work very hard to give the Photoshop creatives some great choices, and AI ReMix fits right in. And I do not want to forget Texture and Simplify, but I do not use them quite as much. Well I hope you will at least download the trial and see what you think of this adjustment. I think it will surprise you how much you will use it – it did me!…..Digital Lady Syd

 

 


WHAT’S NEW IN THE PHOTOSHOP PLUGIN WORLD

Image of Edinburgh, Scotland, cityscape

This has been a major busy week for us Photoshop people so I thought I would pop in with what’s new. The above image was post-processed with the new Aurora HDR update using 5 layers including one that totally softened down the clouds. This program is turning out to be a favorite of mine, especially when wanting a really nice sharp look.

Adobe Camera Raw/Lightroom Updates

Apparently the biggest news is that Adobe added the ability to sync your presets and profiles with Lightroom Mobile on your phone and tablet. In LR Classic the Preset Rollover feature can now be turned off and the Profiles feature can be stopped by just holding down the ALT key while selecting and no previews will be seen. To me the best feature is that any preset folder can be turned off by right clicking the plus sign on the Preset column and select “Manage Presets.” Then uncheck the ones you do not want to see and click save. This seems major handy to me. It can also be done to the Profiles by right clicking on any profile group – then uncheck ones not needed and save. There are a couple other features for stacking images and adding label colors for folders. Check out Scott Kelby’s Lightroom Classic 7.4 Update blog on Lightroom Killer Tips for more information.

Skylum’s Aurora HDR 1.2.0 Update

I really love both the Luminar and Aurora HDR programs that Skylum owns, but lets face it, we Windows people still are not quite caught up with the Mac versions. (For website links, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) Aurora now supports batch processing – it seems all the plug-ins are rushing to get this added to their programs. Other updates includes a new White Balance/Eyedropper Tool, layers can be renamed, and quick previews are enhanced. Aurora seems not near as finicky – the brushes work smoother in both the layer masking area and the Darken & Brighten filter. That was one area that needed improvement. For more update info, check out this page called Aurora Is Better Than Ever.

On1 Photo Raw 2018.5

On1, not to be outdone by Lightroom, did a huge release this week and it appears to be really good! This program is starting to grow on me. When I first got the new On1 plug-in several years ago, it ran my computer hard and I did not like that. Now this is not a  problem and it is lightening fast when adding files into its Browse module. One of the areas that I am totally loving is they have added lots of new LUTs (lookup tables) that can now be hovered over to see the effect. You can now right click and choose Create Version which is the same as a Virtual Copy in LR – love that! There are so many things that it is best to just check out the website to find them – I am still digging through it all. (For website link, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) I will blog on its new features soon after I have had a chance to try them all out.

Image of some pink azaleasThese beautiful pink azaleas were growing in my yard a while back. What a perfect color of pink! Most of the post-processing was done in the new stand alone version of On1 Photo Raw 2018.5, but a little more was done in PS. The Effects module’s LUTs filter was applied with the Color Pop category and Honkey Tonk LUT. Just loved the result. Also used my favorite Dynamic Contrast and Sharpening filters at their default settings.

Topaz Studio AI Clear

I love Topaz and this is their newest filter released this week. (For website link, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) It detects and removes noise in an image while sharpening the details at the same time. They say the filter “uses the insight of a custom neural network trained on millions of images to detect and reduces noise as well as enhances details in your images automatically.” When I tried it out, it did a pretty good job on my images. But it seems to overlap with their really good Noise Reduction and Detail/Clarity filters – I need to work with it more to understand how to use it properly. In the Disney Tomorrowland  image below, one of my new favorite filters, AI ReMix, was applied and then Topaz Adjust was added on top. Topaz recently added several new presets to the filter which gives a lot more choices for making images more interesting. There are so many ways to use Studio that is it a bit mind-boggling.

Image of Tomorrowland Sign at The Magic Kingdom

Google (Nik) Collection

Last, but not least, DxO recently bought the Nik Collection from Google. They have now updated the collection to run with all the operating systems. I do not believe any new filters have been added to the group, but now it is functioning properly for everyone. If you have had problems with the original aging plug-ins, I would definitely recommend updating to this new version. To get the upgrade, here is a link.  I am so glad these filters are being updated and will continue to be used. It contains my favorite plug-in that I use on almost every image – Viveza 2 so I could not be happier!

Well that’s it – just thought I would catch you up since it seems like a lot is going on in the plug-in world. I am so glad the plug-in folks are busy adding to their collections and improving their programs to keep up with the times. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd