Anything Photoshop or Photography

Posts tagged “Topaz Adjust

USING A LEVELS ADJUSTMENT LAYER FOR A VIGNETTE

Image of a Gecko at the Jacksonville Zoo
As promised last week, here is the second new (to me) vignette technique that I am using all the time now. It works really well when you have a single subject like this Henkel’s Leaf Tailed Gecko image taken at the Jacksonville Zoo. This technique was demonstrated by Unmesh Dinda’s (the new PS guru who has so many tricks up his sleeve that I can’t keep up with his posts) excellent video called How to Match Subject and Background – Part 1. You can really drive the vignette towards your subject very easily.

First I am going to list the steps for this workflow – once you do it a couple times, it becomes very easy to do:

1. Select a Levels Adjustment Layer and set the Output Levels to 0 and roughly 90 – 100 – really darkens down the image.
2. Create a large, hard edged round brush – mine is set to Size 1900 pixels, Hardness 100%, and Opacity and Flow at 100%. If you plan on using this vignette often, it would be a good idea to save the brush settings as a Brush Preset.
3. Set the color swatch to black and click one time on your subject in the Levels layer mask with the new brush.
4. Select the Transform command (CTRL+T) and pull out the white circle to fit the subject more closely. It can be rotated and distorted to fit the area to keep clear of the vignette.
5. Next click in the Properties tab (the black round hole in a white square icon) for the Levels Adjustment Layer and set the Feather to 350-500 pixels – very large and soft. Can Free Transform again if it does not look correct.
6. Adjust the layer opacity if effect too dark.

You can see the way the vignette is centered on the little flat hand on the glass and his head. I wanted to emphasize the interesting background pattern that comes from the right corner also. This type of vignette was exactly what was needed – 500 pixel feather was used on this image and set to 59% layer opacity.

******

Image of a Ring-tailed Lemur at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm
This ring-tailed Lemur whose image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm (he definitely looks like he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar!) also uses this same technique. Very little was done to this image other than using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website info) Studio’s wonderful AI Clear to sharpen him up a little, and a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to even out the colors a little (see a nice video by Blake Rudis called Color Toning in Photoshop with Gradient Maps and Soft Light Blend Mode where you can download 26 gradients to use with this technique – I used his Gray Gradient 23 for this image which gave it this lovely warm tone). Last step was the Vignette Effect set to a 386 pixel Feather in the Properties Panel. The vignette color was changed to a brownish tone sampled from the image. To do this, a Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped (CTRL+ALT between the layers or can go to Layer -> Create Clipping Mask with the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer highlighted) to the Levels Adjustment Layer. It is fun to try different colors to see if one really makes the image pop. The Levels Adjustment Layer was then set to 84% layer opacity. I think it was a nice addition for this particular image’s vignette.

*****

Image of a Great Egret getting ready to take off at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm
This beautiful Great Egret was in the mist of taking off (the Rookery is getting very busy at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm) when I caught this snapshot – it was not processed using LR/ACR – but just Topaz Studio’s AI Clear and Topaz Adjust was used to get the pretty details in the wings. There was a little blue haloing in the sky area so it was changed using one of my blog techniques called A New Look at Chromatic Aberration where a Gaussian Filter is applied to remove it. The vignette was added as a last step with the Feather set to 200 pixels.

My three previous vignette blogs were from PS guru Matt Kloskowski using his very good technique (How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog), Blake Rudis’ using a very creative technique (Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette! blog), and using a Lightroom/ACR technique called Another Great Vignette Method by Jesus Ramirez. Hopefully out of these four very different types of vignettes, you will never have a problem with finding the correct vignette for each of your images. Have a great week – Spring is almost here!……Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO ADD A SKETCH EFFECT QUICKLY

Image of a Japanese Festive Doll This week I wanted to say that I will be taking several weeks off from blogging (after 7 1/2 years of this) to take care of a few other things on my list. Will be popping in as time allows and will definitely not be closing my site. Just a temporary break as these blogs take some time to do and my schedule is currently a bit limited. That being the case, I will present a quick sketch tip today that was used on the above image of a Japanese Festive Doll at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.

First began by creating a sketch effect. This was one I had forgotten about from the great Photoshop guru, Corey Barker, who used it in a tutorial a long time ago. This effect was first done on the doll image and then on the background image. This technique can be done on just one image also. Make sure you have all the clean up that needs to be done on the image(s) and also make sure the image is a sharp as you wanted. The background was from an image on  Unsplash by Sorasak of Kyota, Japan – when opened in Photoshop, it had a resolution of 72 so this had to be changed: go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resample box – change the resolution to 300; then click the Resample box again and set to Bicubic Sharper (reduction) since the size of the actually image gets much less (though still pretty big). Now to create the Sketch Look.

  1. Duplicate the background and desaturate the image. This can be done quickly by either pressing CTRL+ALT+U (Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate), or could add a Black & White Adjustment Layer, or a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer set to Black and White gradient or a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the Master Saturation set to -100.
  2. Create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and set the layer to Divide blend mode. Now you see a sketch effect.
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to a sketch effect you like. The doll was set to 5.5 pixels and the background to 24.9 pixels which gave a heavier look to the lines of the city. There is your sketch.
  4. To add color back into the image, duplicate the bottom background layer and place it on top. Add a black layer mask to this layer and gently dab into the mask with a lower opacity brush. The color will appear very much like an illustrated watercolor effect. On this layer, other filter effects can be used like from Topaz  (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio or Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to give a different color and look to the color being brought back into the image. Or add another copy on top of this layer to get even more effects into the image.

For the doll, another 2nd copy of the background was placed on top, then CTRL+I was pressed on the layer thumbnail to invert the colors. A black layer mask was added and just a bit of complementary color was added back into the image to add interest.

To finish the image, the doll was selected using the Quick Selection Tool and Select and Mask in Photoshop. The layer was then taken into the Kyota image where the sketching and light color effect was already done. A stamped layer was created and then Topaz Adjust’s Setting Sun preset was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to bring back some of the image contrast and then on another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Travertine Tint was added. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add more contrast back into the image. Some clean up and a watercolor edge was done to complete the image.

Well I hope you get a chance to try out this sketch technique. It is pretty easy to do and works rather nicely, especially if you want to add some color back into the image. I will be returning in a few weeks……Enjoy the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO ADD A SIMPLE GLOW EFFECT TO YOUR IMAGE

Image of a Palm Beach Florida HomeI have always enjoyed a nice soft glow effect in my images. This week I have been experimenting with the On1 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Photo 10 (which is now version 10.5) and am finding this is a much improved plug-in from a few years ago. The image above of a beautiful Palm Beach home is an example of one of their filters I like most – On1 Effects Glow Filter. This effect is very similar to the Diffusion effects in Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Glow 2 (which has many presets but not all create the above effect – still a fabulous plug-in); and Lens Effects, Topaz Black and White Effects and Topaz Adjust and even Texture Effects plug-ins (where the Softness, Diffusion and Diffusion or Edge Transition sliders can be adjusted), or in the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4’s Glamour Glow Filter with a Glow slider, Midnight Filter’s Blur slider effect, or Monday Morning’s Smear slider result. So everyone should be able to create a similar effect. All give very interesting soft effects to your images and can be localized with masks or control points.

On1 Effects offers the a lot of flexibility for this effect by providing 24 presets to select or using the individual sliders that can be adjusted manually. This also includes the ability to protect the Shadows or Highlights from this effect. For this image, Lightroom Basic Panel tweaks were done.  Then On1 Photo was opened as a stand-alone and the Perfect Layers module was selected to swap out the original colorless sky with a new one. (Go to File -> Add Layers to Files and found a sky to use.) The sky layer was placed under Palm Beach layer. Then the Masking Brush’s Perfect Brush was used to paint out old sky so the new one underneath shows through – used CTRL + drag in trees to get rid of some of the areas. Would normally use the PS Refine Brush to remove edging.  Next the sky layers was opened in the On1 Enhance module and lightened up a lot to match the top image tones. Then back into the Layers module and the Move Tool was used to adjust sky around trees. Highlighted the Palm Beach layer and went back into On1 Enhance to make a few exposure changes on the Palm Beach image layer. Last step was to use On1 Photo 10 Effects and apply the Glow Dynamic Contrast Filter – Amount 58, Halo 22, Warm 20 and Sat -24; Detail Small -34, Medium -25, Large 58. Saved image as a PSD file. This may sound like it was hard to do since three different modules were opened, but On1 had made this switch very quick and easy now. I still wish all the different panels were in just one interface as in Photoshop or Lightroom’s Develop Panel, and I wish the Layers module was available as a plug-in in PS or LR. Effects, Enhance and Portrait are available for PS and LR (if saved as a Smart Object, when image opened in PS, layers and masks will be available to edit). Still, this plug-in has come a long way and is much improved. For more information on how the sky was replaced, check out On1 Short Clip – Replacing a Dull Sky by Bob Campbell. For info on how to adjust the Glow Filter, check On1 Short Clip – The Preset Workflow Trick by Blake Rudis.

***********************

Sign Painter at Jacksonville Zoo in FloridaSince many of you may not have the filters listed above, this image of the sign painter at the Jacksonville Zoo (this has got to be a dream job – love the paint on his pants!) used the free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters listed above to get a very similar feel. After doing some basic panel adjustments in Lightroom and sharpening up the image a little, it was brought into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer that was converted to a Smart Object (so I could go back and adjust the settings if needed – right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. These filters were selected and stacked: Glamour Glow (Glamour Glow 76%, Saturation -39%, Glow Warmth 20%, and Highlights 44% to protect them from being too soft); Midnight Color Set Neutral, Blur 37%, Contrast 50%, Brightness 67%, Color 81% and Highlights 100%. A Control Point was placed on the painter and cat’s faces to remove the softening from this area – then the filter opacity was set to 67%); and Vignette Filter (place center on the painter and cat and set Adapt Edges 0%, Transition 59%, Size 19%, and Opacity 75% – a Control Point was placed on the white Jaguars sign and set to 54% opacity). Using Control Points in this plug-in can really help shape the effect you want. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast. Very easy and it created a beautiful soft glow effect.

Hope you have a chance to try out a Glow Effect. Hope everyone has a nice beginning to the Fall Season!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow
Yellow Dogface Butterfly in her Glory!


HAPPY NEW YEAR WITH SOME TOPAZ TRICKS!

Image of Edinburgh Castle in ScotlandLooks like I am back up and running with my new computer and Windows 10. Hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year. Since I have not had a lot of time to come up with new tips, I am presenting a couple images that I used to see how my programs were working on the new set up.

The image above is one taken at Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle a while ago. What I really liked is how the colors “popped” with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow. I keep forgetting how nice an effect this filter will give. Need to take a few minutes and try making a few of your own presets. Most of my presets look terrible at Normal blend mode, so do not let that stop you – the blend mode must almost always be changed. I tend to start with Soft Light, which is what this image used. (My SJ Mysterious II desat was applied – here are the settings: Primary Glow:  Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 0.30, Effect Sharpness 0.63, Electrify 0.14, Simplify Details 0.17, Edge Color 0.28, Detail Strength -0.06, Detail Size 0.20, Brightness -0.56, Contrast 0.44, Saturation 0.00, Line Rotation 0.00, and Glow Spread 0.00; Secondary Glow:  Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.00, Effect Sharpness 0.22, Electrify 0.03, Simplify Details 0.00, Brightness 0.45, and Contrast 0.64; Color: Overall Saturation -0.54, Red Saturation 0.18, Orange Hue 0.68, Saturation -0.47, and Lightness 0.41, and Yellow Saturation 0.79; Finished Touches – all set to 0.00.) Instead of changing the blend mode in the Glow filter, the preset is applied when it looks crazy and it is adjusted back in Photoshop. It will create exactly the same effect no matter where the blend mode is added, so use PS as there are a lot more blend mode choices (Glow only has Normal and 5 other blend modes). This image used Soft Light at 79% layer opacity. The sky looked really bad with the Glow effect on it, so the layer was duplicated and taken into Topaz ReMask 5 where just the sky was removed very quickly. For me ReMask is still the best place to get a good selection. The filter created a layer mask that allowed the original sky to be used. The last step used Nik Viveza 2 to drive the focus of the image toward the Scott Monument in the center background. I would suggest trying out Glow on architectural type images – it gives a very nice effect to the lines of buildings.

******
View from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

This image was a happy accident as I was reinstalling the various Topaz Filters. I was using just one of my favorite basic images to make sure they were running correctly, and the above was the result of combining Topaz Adjust and Topaz Black and White Effects! There was very little work done on this image. (To see original image, check out View from Edinburgh Castle on Flickr.) Just duplicated the background layer (CTRL+J) and opened Topaz Adjust. A preset created from a Topaz video on “Rick Sammon’s Top Topaz Tricks, Tips, and Techniques” that used the Spicify preset to create a soft artsy effect was applied. (Settings used: Adaptive Exposure section: Adaptive Exposure 0.50, Regions 25, Contrast -0.56, Brightness -0.13, Protect Highlights 0.03, and Protect Shadows 0.03; Details section: Strength 0.87, Detail Boost 1.15, Threshold 0.12, Radius 25.00, and Sharpen 1.01; Color section: Adaptive Saturation 0.33, Color Regions 10, Saturation 1.00, Saturation Boost 1.00, and Hue 0.00; and Noise section: Suppression 3.24, Amount 0.51, and check Use Topaz DeNoise.) In PS the layer remained set to Normal at 100% layer opacity. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Black & White Effects was opened and my SJ Poolside preset was applied. Now this looked not too good, but when flipped to a Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity, these beautiful warm colors popped out! (Here are the settings for SJ Poolside preset: Conversion:  Basic Exposure – Contrast -0.01, Brightness 0.04, Boost Blacks 0.24, and Boost Whties -0.03; Adaptive Exposure – Adaptive Exposure 0.28, Regions 26, Detail 1.10, Detail Boost 0.98, and check Process Details Independently; and Color Sensitivity Yellow 0.19 and Blue -0.06; Color Filter – Hue 32.90 and Strength 0.60; Creative Effects: Diffusion Softness 0.39, Diffusion 0.57, and Diffusion Transition 0.55; and Finishing Touches: Quad Tone Color 1 Region 15.08 and color R1/G1/B12; Color 2 Region 143.9 and color R63/G78/B85; Color 3 Region 227.5 color R216/G211/B129; and Color 4 Region 255.0 and color R255/G254/B237; Vignette -0.42, Vignette Size 0.88, Vignette Transition 0.80, and Vignette Curvature 0.83; and Transparency Overall 0.65.) A layer mask was added and with a brush set to 30% layer opacity, a little bit of the sides of the buildings were painted over to brighten up just a bit as in the layer below – this is a way to guide the eye through the image.

Well, hopefully you got a few Topaz tricks since I have not had much time to see what new is out there. If you have a few different Topaz filters, try applying them and then using different blend modes on the layers and adding layer masks to drive the eye through the image. I am going to try and find some different filter combinations to get that unique feel to an image. Also listening to those Topaz Labs videos on their website can give you some great ideas for presets. Hopefully I am able to get some final tweaks on my computer and be back and running as before!  And once again – Happy New Year Everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CREATE A BLOWN OUT EFFECT PRESET IN LIGHTROOM OR CAMERA RAW

Image of a deserted Roller Coaster at Daytona BeachJust doing a fun quick blog this week on a Lightroom (Camera Raw) preset I created several years ago and rediscovered. This is an image of how I envisioned this roller coaster looking at Daytona Beach as we move toward the cooler months.

This image was first processed from Adobe Bridge in Adobe Camera Raw using an old preset of mine that uses the Camera Calibration Process 2010, so the new sliders were not present. It was one of my favorites and it was called Colorful Blown Out. (For an example of original use, see my blog Colorful Blown Out Look Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw Preset. The download links do not work anymore, so see Bird image below for the original preset settings.) I like this preset as it makes it easy to separate your subject from the background so the Color Range Command can be used. By adding a texture underneath, some really interesting and nice effects can be achieved. The Roller Coaster image uses the preset with the old 2010 Process and sliders. See end of blog for more post-processing info and how the Color Range selection was created.

*****

Image of Daytona Beach Another image from Daytona Beach near the end of summer. Mainly locals enjoying a few final days. Well, the same blown out preset for Lightroom 3 was used on the first image, but this time I updated it to Camera Calibration Process 2012. Click on the image below to see the settings used for the Basic and Luminance sections which make up most of the preset. The other Sections were Sharpening set to Lightroom default of Amount 25, Radius 1.0, Detail 25 and Mask 0. The Effects Post-Crop Vignetting was set to Style Color Priority, Amount +22, Midpoint 28, Roundness -14, and Feather 4. At this point the settings were saved as a preset. The Exposure and Vignette settings definitely need to be changed to suit the image, and possibly all of them – it is just a starting point. All these same settings are the same in Camera Raw as well. I do find I prefer the original preset more than the 2012 version created with the new sliders. My advice is to try both preset versions.

Screenshot of settings for Lightroom presetIt is a pretty high key look. In case you cannot see these settings, here they are: Exposure +2.39, Contrast +96, Highlights -28, Shadows +28, Whites 0, Blacks +10, Clarity +34, Vibrance +70, and Saturation 0. For more post-processing info, see end of blog.

*****

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill This rather comical image of a Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery used the original 2010 process. If you want to try it out, here are the Basic Section settings: Exposure +1.61, Recovery 0, Fill Light +56, Blacks 3, Brightness +50, Contrast +97, Clarity +68, Vibrance +70, and Saturation 0; Post Crop Vignetting set to Highlight Priority, Amount +36, Midpoint +54, Roundness -15, and Feather +76; Luminance set to Reds -39, Yellows -36 and Greens -25; and default Sharpening settings. These also need to be adjusted some to get the correct effect, but it is a good start. And lots of people prefer the Recovery and Fill sliders and use the older 2010 process with their old favorite presets often. See this short video by Matt Kloskowski, one of the best Lightroom gurus, called Lightroom’s Secret Shadow Slider Trick. The Fill In slider is quite high in the 2010 process versus the lower amount of Shadow in 2012. It is really great that Adobe lets you use the older sliders so you can still use some of your favorite presets.

Hope you try this effect, it is actually pretty nice on some images. Look forward to the coming months with everyone! Have another good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info:

Image 1: Info on finishing this photo is as follows. The Roller Coaster image was opened as a Smart Object in Photoshop where it was duplicated. This layer was rasterized to form one regular layer (right click on words in layer and choose Rasterize). This regular layer was taken into Select -> Color Range, choose Highlights, and clicked the Invert check box to select the roller coaster and not the sky. Next press CTRL+J to put selection on a layer of its own. Next several texture were tried out underneath to see what would give an interesting back effect. This time I used two of my painted textures and the Blend If sliders to get the colorful result. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link, see link at my Tidbits Blog) Lens Effects Dual Tone Red to Yellow preset was used as a starting point, then sliders tweaked to get the effect I liked. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top to see where my focus was going. By adjusting these sliders and setting the Adjustment Layer to Luminosity blend mode, the bright detail in the center were emphasized and where the image focal point is. The layer mask was inverted to black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the focal area was painted back in. On another stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken the edges a little. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step on top.

Image 2: Therefore, it was taken into Photoshop to add a few more tweaks. The Liquify Filter was used to slim down several of the beach-goers. On a stamped layer Topaz Adjust was applied using Topaz Adjust’s Painting Venice preset (one of my favorite Adjust presets) with changes to Transparency (0.57) and Warmth (0.17). On top one of my Corel Painter beach textures was added to soften and give the foreground a little more color, and was set to Normal blend mode at 53% layer opacity. A layer mask was added and the people were painted back a little to make them show up better. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step. Pretty easy and lots of fun to do! I just love all the activity at the beach!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
I Didn’t Know That! Converting Lightroom Preset to Adobe Camera Raw Preset


HOW TO GET A PAINTERLY EFFECT FOR WILDLIFE AND BIRDS

Image of an egret on a painted textureFor a few weeks I have been experimenting with some of the wonderful painterly techniques of Jai Johnson, a wildlife enthusiast who creates absolutely beautiful images. I am finally getting some results that are appealing to my personal taste as I love photographing wildlife in the natural habitat. I thought I would pass on what works for me. On her website she has several really nice videos. She uses Topaz (see website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) photoFXlab as a stand-alone, but it is pretty easy to follow along and do the same steps in most versions of Photoshop. Lately I have been doing my painting in CS6 to increase the stroking speed especially with the Mixer Brushes, although all the CC versions will work fine.

Love the beautiful egrets that can be found in the rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in the Spring. This bird just seemed happy to me and was a lot of fun to paint. The background is one created in Painter for him. I believe you could create some nice watercolor backgrounds in Photoshop that would give a similar result. I needed a yellow warm light in the background to match the sunlight on his body. Used Jai’s basic workflow that puts him on top and then in a black mask, the original background is removed. She also uses Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter – in this case used to lighten the bird up. The texture was duplicated two more times and placed on top – one used Multiply blend mode at 16% layer opacity and the other Color Dodge blend mode at 15% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer was opened and the Colorize button was checked with the Hue set to 48 and Saturation 25 – filled the mask with black (CTRL+I in mask) and painted back just lightly areas I wanted the warmer color to appear. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add emphasis to the head area. The Eyes and Beak were sharpened using two Exposure Adjustment Layers. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog,) Then a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and opened in Topaz ReStyle using the Peppermint Gray preset (one of my favorites) to get a little different color balance. Back in PS the layer was set to 45% layer opacity and the bottom foreground was painted out in a layer mask to keep it slightly darker so the bird looks grounded. Last steps involved used New Layers to clean up distracting colors or areas.

*****
Image of Wood Stork on painted background
I totally love Wood Storks, the gentle looking birds that are everywhere down here in Florida. This one happened to be standing in the top of a tree at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, but they are everywhere in my neighborhood. There were actually two other birds next to him doing some crazy things so I removed them. They seem to tolerate people very well also.

In this image he was placed on a new texture created just for him in Painter. I tried to use complementary colors to the bird. If you like this type of texture, check out Jai Johnson‘s inexpensive (and some really nice free ones) and beautiful textures that give similar effects. The usual steps were taken of putting the bird layer on top of the texture, adding a black layer mask, and painting just the bird back with a white brush in the mask so the texture shows through from below. One of Jai’s great tips is to try to match up the texture with the original background colors of your subject. Used the Properties Panel Density slider to reduce the mask opacity to be able to see where the subject is for the initial painting in the layer mask, then put the slider back up to 100% when blocked in a little. Duplicated the texture and placed it on top of the bird layer, set it to Soft Light Blend Mode at 62% layer opacity. Did some clean up layers to even out some of the edges.

I am finding Topaz Lens Effect’s Toy Camera filter is working well with my bird images. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top to apply this filter. Looked at the different presets and choose one,  in this case the Yellow Green Low Contrast preset. The Vignette was set 0 and all the sliders in the Toy Camera Aberrations section far left to 0 since I really do not want the Toy Camera effect. The next Toy Camera sections should be adjusted for the individual image. (For the above the Region Size was set to 0.17, Transition 0.42 and Angle 55.25 – especially watch the Angle as it affects how the colors lay out on the image. Next adjusted the Region A Color Cast and Region B Color Cast to fit this image – mainly adding a little bit of Reds, Yellows and Blues to get the colors I liked.) I like how you can really adjust the colors around to get some nice blended effects. Finally adjusted the standard Image Adjustment sliders to add saturation and contrast. These presets, with some tweaking, can really give an image a beautiful soft and blended result.

The Eyes were again sharpened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer, and then  another for just the beak. These two areas have to be sharp since the eye will look first at them with birds, but be careful not to over-sharpen so they do not blend into the image – reduce the opacity of the adjustment layer a little if this happens. Next I wanted to add just a little contrast around his head so a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add some burning by pulling down on the curve to get the correct tone behind his head, filling the mask with black (CTRL+I), and painting back where I want the effect. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog). The last step added Nik Viveza 2 to really make the focal point, the head area, pop out. Since the background is competing with his white feathers, the feathers needed some punch and a little softening in this area.

***
Image of a beautiful tigerThis beautiful photo was from FreeImages – wish I could take credit for taking this image. The photo was used to follow the steps in Jai’s last video called Working With Bold Colors and Abstract Textures. This image had a really bright colored texture like Jai was using as a background. In her video she suggested trying out Topaz ReStyle, and that is where this color effect was applied. Also Topaz Adjust’s Boost preset was used instead of the Bold preset she prefers on the tiger layer. Topaz Simplify’s BuzzSim preset was used on just the subject layer. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter was applied, and then ReStyle’s Dusty Desert preset which gives the almost colorless result. To finish an Exposure Adjustment Layer for the eyes and then Nik Viveza 2 to even out the background just a little were applied. Wish I had taken this image. Sigh!

Well hope you get a chance to check out Jai Johnson’s techniques on your wildlife images. Like I said, all her techniques can be used in Photoshop without too many changes – just experiment with the brush opacity and Flow settings is about all I see that is a little different. And I really like the Topaz Lens Effects Toy Camera effects – something I had not even looked at before! Hope you are all having a great summer – I am!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Topaz Lens Effects For Some Image Fun
How To See If You Captured the Focal Point
A Little Birdie Told Me So!
Jumping Whales
Horses Checking Me Out


Making An Ordinary Image Your Own


I find that many times my images just look like everyone elses and I really want an image to reflect something slightly different without being over processed or unrecognizable. I struggle with this concept a lot. So this week I have been thinking about what I really like and it is not always what I am seeing. The image above reflects that very sentiment. The image is of the water from one of the boat docks at the Hilton Waikoloa Village but the sky is not the actual color and the highlights were accentuated by using plug-ins. (In Photoshop Topaz Adjust plug-in was used with the Lomo II preset as a starting point, then turned off the Grain setting, readjusted the Vignette by centering off center and adjusting the sliders, and added a little more Warmth. Next Topaz Simplify 3 was added using BuzSim but changed the Simplify Size to 0.05 to make paint strokes very thin, Details Boost to 0.79, Details to 0.13, and then adjusted Saturation to 1.38. See sidebar in my Tidbits blog for Topaz website link.)

……

The view of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Beach Resort and Spa is a similar example. This image definitely has a real blue tone to it even though the original is not nearly as striking. The final result is how I would like to remember this place. (This image was processed using OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects 3 plug-in – Detail-Amazing Detail filter applied first; next a custom Black and White Effect was created with Color Filter set to 0, Contrast -52, and Toner Strength 22 – then a Masking Bug was applied and  inverted so the middle of the image was not affected by the blue tone; and the last step added a Vignette – Big Softy to the image. For OnOne’s website link, see my Tidbits Blog.)

…..


This is a beautiful Roseate Spoonbill taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida. The bird was not shot with a reflection – that was added with Flaming Pear’s Flood plug-in. I really like the image with the reflection much better than the original – it gives that unique feel that I was looking for. (The canvas was extended at the bottom of the image to make room for the reflection. Even though Flood is an older plug-in, it is still the best one for a good reflection with many different sliders to control the effect you want. See my blog “The Flood Look” for more information on this plug-in.  The frame is from OnOne PhotoFrame called Instant Film B Warm R2.)

…..

A few week ago I did a blog called “Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect” that also creates a very unique look to the images and they make me think of Hawaii when I see them. I believe this is what I am trying to convey in this blog.

I do love the classic images I take from my trips, but the ones I really like are the ones I make my own. The various plug-ins can make those ordinary images unique and if that is a look you want, give them a try. There are so many out there and it has surprised me how varied and unique a look you can get with a little experimenting. And that is why Photoshop rocks!…..Digital Lady Syd


Topaz Plug-Ins – Same Image Trying Each!

Since I am such a big fan of Topaz, I thought it might be interesting to use the same image and see what effects I could come up with using each of the five major plug-ins in the Topaz Plug-in Bundle (to go to website, click on the sidebar in my Tidbits Blog). The photo is of an old Sears Victorian house built in St. Augustine about 100 years ago. There are still a few that can be seen when driving around the city. Very beautiful houses! I could picture myself living in one! All these images were finished by painting in a flare in the top right corner using my Lens Flare Brushes since the image was blown out by the sun in that corner, and a Curves Adjustment Layer. I have written about almost all of these plug-ins previously, so check out my related blogs at bottom if you find you want more information on one of them.

Topaz Adjust


This is the mainstay of the whole Topaz Plug-in Bundle, in my opinion, so this is the first plug-in used on the image. I used a preset I had created a long time ago to get this effect. Basically it involved using a warm feel to achieve an early morning look. Many different filters could easily have been used – this plug-in is fun to try on new looks to your images.

Topaz Simplify


This is a creative plug-in – definitely gives a more painterly look as opposed to the more realistic look some of the other plug-ins give. The canned Buzz Sim preset was used to create this look, an effect I have always enjoyed – see my blog “Simplifier and Simplify Filters” about the original filter that was picked up by Topaz many years ago.

Topaz Lens Effect


Topaz recently updated this plug-in and added three more filters and several presets to make this plug-in even more versatile. I am not the best at setting up a great depth map, it does take some practice. In the image above, you can see that the center ground is more in focus than the foreground and background. This is where this plug-in really excels and once you get the hang of it, it is quit effective. I do not know of any other plug-in that does this type of effect. In this image, a Bokeh Selective effect was applied and several adjustments made after the depth map was created. This plug-in allows you to stack filters, so next a Filter Dual Tone was created where a Blue/Cyan color was added to the top and a slight yellow cast added to the bottom of the image. Finally a new filter from the latest upgrade was used called Warmth and the Warm I preset was applied. Overall, a bit of a different look with softer lines of the house with the focal point being centered on the palm tree and the color beams in the image.

Topaz Detail


Topaz Detail is an overlooked plug-in but actually gives some wonderful results. This image uses the Desaturation Blush preset with the Saturation slider set to -0.62. It gives a very nice effect on this house and perhaps the most natural of them all. I was surprised how similar it looks to the Topaz Adjust filter result.

Topaz Black and White Effects


This is my favorite plug-in in the bundle and a relative newcomer. Every time I use it, the image comes out really nice – not necessarily like I shot it, but with a bit of artistic flair added, and yet it retains the true nature of the image. It looks like how I envision an old Victorian house should look on a hot summer morning. Totally unique feel. In this image a preset I created for a sunny water landscape was used. (This preset contains the default Basic Exposure settings; Adaptive Exposure Settings: Adaptive Exposure 0.18, Regions 26.10, Protect Highlights and Shadows – 0, Detail 1.11 and Detail Boost 1.09; Quad Tone settings: Color 1 Region (color R1/G1/B12) set to 0.60, Color 2 Region (color R63/G78/B85) set to 95.97, Color 3 Region (color R216/G211/B129) set to 141.2, and Color 4 Region (color R255/G254/B237) set to 255.0; Edge Exposure set; and Transparency set 1.00. The key to this look is the Quad Tone section in Finishing Touches. See my Tidbits Blog “Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in” for more information on this.

Topaz Adjust, Detail and Black and White Effects


Topaz has done a wonderful job of providing great videos to learn how to use all their plug-ins provided in the bundle. A video, “Creative Essentials with Topaz Plug-Ins presented by Joel Wolfson,” was presented where he went over his Topaz workflow to create some beautiful works of digital art. I followed some of his suggestions and created this final image. I was very pleased with the results – looks similar to the one above but is more of a black and white effect and, again, not unlike what I visualize an old Victorian house might look like.

I hope this is giving everyone a chance to see the flexibility that this bundle of plug-ins can produce. With just a few of these plug-ins, a great variety of effects can be achieved and they can be used together to get even more interesting results. I am very happy that I have this set of filters at my fingertips – they do produce beautiful results. …..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Using Topaz Adjust 5 and Color Efex Pro 4 with Photoshop Elements
Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look!
Topaz Lens Effect’s Artistic Flair!
Combining Plug-ins – Double the Effect! (Several Topaz Plug-ins)
Little Nighttime Fun from Topaz! (Topaz Adjust and Len Effects Plug-ins)
Loving Both Filters (Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in)
Trying Out the Minimalist Look? (Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in)
Same Image – Different Plug-In (Topaz B&W Effects and Lens Effects Plug-ins)
Sunny Preset for Topaz Black and White Effects
The Art Corner: Painting and Sculpture by Tassaert (Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in)
Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in
Get Rid of Those Power Lines Fast – with Paths and Spot Healing Tool! (Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in)
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Just Another Topaz Black & White Effect Example
Topaz B&W Effects vs. Nik’s Silver Efex Pro
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-In – A Real Winner!
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In
Topaz InFocus Plug-in – Digital Lady Syd’s Review
More Filmstrip Fun – How Can This Be? (Topaz Detail Plug-in)
Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop (Topaz Simplify Plug-in)
How to Add Images to Text (Topaz Simplify Plug-in)


Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz Adjust 5!


A no brainer here – another winner! Topaz Adjust has been probably the best plug-in value since the first version came out (and the first plug-in I bought). The price is always reasonable and the results are always great! Therefore there was no reason not to believe that this plug-in would not be up to the same standard and it is. The train engine image above was created using the classic Spicify preset which has been their signature look since they created this plug-in. Still looks great and there are many adjustments that can made to the preset to get the overall feel you want. (To access the Topaz website, click on my Tidbits Blog and click on the Topaz Adjust 4 sidebar.)

Below I created several different looks using the same HDR (done in NIK HDR Efex Pro – Realistic Strong preset) storefront image to show the vast variety of looks with a minimal amount of adjusting. So here they are:


This storefront image is from Jackson, Mississippi. The same tone colors used in my Tidbits Blog “Topaz Adjust 5 is Here! First Look!” image which were the same colors I have used in the Black and White Effects plug-in – see “Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in” for exact colors. I really like the Tone section in Adjust – very similar to the Quad Tones in Black and White Effects plus the added benefit of a Tone Strength slider to change the amount applied. Another benefit over the Black and White Effects is that a preset with just the Tone section can be saved so the colors can be changed to your favorites easily.
…..


The above uses two presets applied separately – first the Lomo III preset as is and then the Vintage III preset, both from the Film Collection. In the last preset, on the right side I adjusted in the Color Section the Hue slider to 0.1o to change the storefront color from orange to yellow and then the Color Saturation slider to 2.39. The Tone slider was set to 0.94. In the Local Adjustments section, with the Brush Out tool set at 100% opacity, the whole image was brushed out except for the yellow storefront. Therefore you are getting the Lomo III preset effect on everything except the middle storefront. I thought it turned out really nice and was very easy to do.
…..

The unusual look of the image above was created by applying the Spicify preset in Topaz Adjust 5 with a Tone Strength set to 1.00, Warmth set to 0.57, and Transparency set to 0.44. Then the photo was taken into Topaz Black and White Effects and a sunset effect preset I had created a while back with Transparency set to 1.00 (which is really 50% of the color in the image). Overall a very nice combination of the two plug-ins.
…..
Pros:

1.  They have changed to the interface to look like their new great plug-in “Topaz Black and White Effects” and what a great improvement!
2.  You can apply more than one effect to get some really great new looks like in their “Topaz Lens Effects” plug-in. This allows you to save your favorite Tone colors or Vignette settings as presets to apply individually. Much increased versatility here.
3.  There is a new Local Adjustment Brush (like in Lightroom or ACR) that can used to brush out effects (at varying depths) that is totally fabulous. You can apply a new effect and brush out everything except what you want to show through. It is a great addition!
4.  Price is still the best in the plug-in world and once you buy the plug-in, all the newer versions are free! Now that is unheard of in the plug-in world!
5. It loads in Photoshop very quickly – very refreshing!

Cons:

1. Does not save the settings you applied with the first effect if using Smart Objects unless you saved that portion as a preset first.
2.  Smart Object does not save your Local Adjustments that you did with the various brushes.
3.  Topaz said that the plug-in can be set to save as a new layer with the changes instead of having to duplicate the background layer and then apply the plug-in. So far I have not been able to find how to enable this.
4.  When you brush out the effect, I am not having much luck brushing out the vignette I applied within Adjust. It has to be turned off completely, not painted away from certain areas.
…..
Here is a final image done with the new Topaz Adjust 5. It is of a closed cafe’s sign in Jackson, Mississippi.


The Extreme Color Blast preset in the Stylized Collection was applied and the letters and white part of the little pictures were painted with the Dodge brush to make them whiter. That was it and I love the beautiful texture in the wall and sign.

Well, once again I do believe that Topaz has created a very strong plug-in to compete with its more expensive competitors. I would say if you cannot afford much but would like a great plug-in to start with, this is the one hands down. Lots of versatility in a small bundle. The pros definitely outweigh the cons and the cons may be fixed without much difficulty. Have fun experimenting and see what you think – I will be…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Little Nighttime Fun from Topaz


Combining Plug-ins – Double the Effect!

NIK Color Efex Pro 4, Topaz Lens Effects, and OnOne PhotoFrame 4.6

The original image was of a shop on St. George Street in St. Augustine. My Vivid Drawing Look preset (see my Tidbits Blog “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe“) in Lightroom was used with some luminance color adjustment before being brought into Photoshop. In NIK Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4), the Darken/Lighten Center filter and Film Efex: Vintage set to Film Type 27 was added. The layer was copied and Rasterized to get rid of the Smart Object (right-click on layer and select rasterize) and then the Topaz Lens Effect plug-in was used. The Fisheye Lens Effect was applied using 73% distortion amount and adjusting all the Image Adjustment sliders. A New Layer was added above and the Sharpen Tool was used to locally sharpen parts of the image. Finally the “acid burned controlled 05” OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish the look. This is a crazy look but it shows what an interesting result you can get by stacking the plug-in effects on one image.

Photomatix Pro 4, NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust 4


This image is of the famous pedestrian St. George Street in St. Augustine, Florida. It was processed as an HDR in Photomatix Pro 4.0 and then brought into two of my favorite Photoshop plug-ins: NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Adjust. To get this vintage artsy effect, six CEP4 filters were stacked into a recipe (Darken/Lighten Center, Brilliance/Warmth, Tonal Contrast, Image Borders, Dark Contrasts, and High Key in that order); and in Topaz Adjust 4, a preset was created from a Topaz video on “Rick Sammon’s Top Topaz Tricks, Tips, and Techniques” that used the Spicify preset to create a soft artsy effect.

NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0, Topaz Black and White Effects, and OnOne PhotoFrame 4.6

All my favorite plug-ins were used on this one. The Flagler Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine is one of the beautiful places to see while enjoying the city. NIK CEP4 was first applied using my Pseudo HDR1 preset from my blog “Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4” with an additional white Vignette filter. It was then toned down by using the Topaz Black and White Effects plug-in.  The Albumen Collection – Aubergine preset was used as starting point and then adjusting the Basic Exposure settings and setting the Transparency setting to 0.58. Back in Photoshop this layer was set to 59%, a New Layer was added and the Sharpening Tool was used to bring out the edges on the tops of the little towers, and finally the “acid burned controlled 15” preset from OnOne PhotoFrames was added in a matching cream color. These three plug-ins really do go hand-in-hand to create some stunning results!

It is a lot of fun to use these plug-ins! It is even more fun to mix and match! I use the OnOne PhotoFrames a lot because it can enhance an image that lacks some pizzazz. It is very great that the colors can be changed easily and sampled from the image to match the colors in the image. I also like Topaz Black and White Effects and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 as my two favorite creative plug-ins. Topaz Lens Effects does a great job of recreating the fisheye look without having to buy an expensive fisheye lens – there are several other effects in it that can be a lot of fun to try out. See below for my other blog links to these plug-ins for further information on how to use them.

Try stacking some of these effects – you will be surprised what great results you can create! Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd Blog Links:
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in – A Real Winner!
NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0 – First Try!
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter from NIK CEP 4
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
The Art Corner: Painting and Sculpture by Tassaert
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro Pseudo HDR Recipe


Why I Love Topaz Adjust!

I have been doing Photoshop for several years now – I actually learned the program using Adobe PhotoDeluxe, which came with my printer (this was the precursor to Photoshop Elements). When first learning Adobe Photoshop, plug-ins were  way too expensive for me. A few years ago, I finally bought my first plug-in, Topaz Adjust (for website link see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog), and it has been totally worth the money! Topaz Adjust is the whole package and at a very reasonable price (at the moment it is $50 – for link see Tidbits Blog tab above).


The image above is one of my all-time favorite pseudo-HDR images – it was taken from the London Eye as it was moving. Therefore I had to use Topaz Adjust if I wanted an HDR feel to the image. To get this particular look, I applied the plug-in twice, first using the HDR Pop preset and next using HDR Spicify preset (use a layer mask to paint out any portions you do not like from the top layer). Remember to open up the shadows by increasing this slider and possibly lowering your highlights a bit – check the contrast slider too.


I do love the HDR effect. Since I am not always very good about using a tripod, especially when taking travel pictures, Topaz Adjust has saved the day many times for me. On the Jackson downt0wn picture, I hand-held my camera for HDR and got such a garbled mess, I ended up using Topaz Adjust’ s HDR Pop preset on the middle exposure  image. This preset needed a few adjustments to get the right look, but don’t pass it over with the first glance. Rick Sammon, who is one of the great HDR guys, did an excellent video for Topaz called “Awaken the Artist Within” where he discusses his settings for this preset. What I did was create a Rick Sammon HDR Pop preset using his adjustments and applied these settings with very little tweaking – and it took just a few seconds to do! (Rick Sammon also has written a very good basic book, “HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers,” which I found to be very useful, although both Photomatix Pro and Topaz Adjust have updated their software since its publication.  (There is some controversy on what people expected from his book – I still found his discussions on when to use HDR very useful. I hope Rick is considering updating his book as it has the best information on Topaz Adjust and how to use it.)
…..

I wanted to show a comparison of using a single image with  HDR Toning in CS5 and the Topaz Adjust HDR Pop preset. For Photoshop CS5, go to Image -> Image Adjustment -> HDR Toning. (Note: the program will flatten your image for this adjustment so save to a single layer first.) This brings up a dialog box that gives a convincing HDR effect when limited to just one image. There are various Presets in a drop-down menu and you can save your own presets here if you find some settings you like. Overall it is a very nice addition to Photoshop and you should definitely explore it. (Check out my previous blog “Different Images-Same Look Using HDR!” for more information on HDR Toning.) The image on the left was created using this technique. A Nik CEP Tonal Contrast  filter was also added to get more detail into the image. The image on the right just used Topaz Adjust using Rick Sammon’s HDR Pop preset and the same Nik CEP Tonal Contrast filter. I find that combining two different plug-ins can really make an image pop and that is what happened when the Tonal Contrast filter was applied.

When you look at the two images, they look pretty similar – the HDR Toning effect is missing a bit of detail, the color is not quite the same – even the OnOne PhotoFrame (for website see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) looks different even though it is the exact same frame for each image. I spent an hour just manipulating this image trying to duplicate Topaz Adjust’s look – I ended up using some Burning to bring out the detail on the white stones and after trying every adjustment layer, I settled two, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and the Photo Filter Adjustment Layer set to Cooling Filter (LBB) at 44% density to get the closest proximity for color. Now I would not normally spend all this time trying to get two images looking exactly the same, but I wanted to show it is possible to get a very similar look without purchasing a plug-in. I personally still like the Topaz image as the detail and color makes the image look like it did when I saw it – and after all, that is the name of the game!

Below, the top image was processed using three images with Photoshop CS5’s Merge to HDR Pro and underneath, the Topaz Adjust plug-in on one image.


Very similar look. The Topaz Adjust plug-in used the Rick Sammon HDR Pop preset I created and the Nik CEP Tonal Contrast filter. A PhotoFrame was added and that was it – very quick. The Photoshop HDR Pro image took a lot longer – the trees did not match perfectly and caused me to bring in one of the images to clean this up. It looked a bit flat to me so I had to Burn in some detail. It once again took about an hour to get this adjusted the way I like it. Since I am only using one image in Topaz Adjust, the tree line looks sharp and crisp and I like the way the windows popped. Therefore, once again the Topaz plug-in created a nice effect faster and with great detail from a single image.

Here is what the original middle exposure RAW file looked like straight from the camera, and the one used in the Topaz Adjust image, in case you are interested in what these programs can do with a pretty uninteresting subject.

The one thing I have had trouble figuring out it is when to use HDR and when to use Topaz Adjust. Rick Sammon explains in his book, ” If the dynamic range of your scene is 3 F-stops, you can manage it in Photoshop.” Therefore, if you have an image with a lot of contrast, you will need an HDR program to get all the detail. Otherwise, Adobe Camera Raw (see how to get back into ACR after opening file in my blog “Edit Layers with ACR Script“), CS5’s HDR Toning, or Topaz Adjust can be used on a single image. Raw file format is the best choice, using your image with the most contrast from the HDR set of images, if you took them. You will not get anymore detail in your image using three HDR images that only has 3 F-stops of information. (See above images.)

When doing HDR, you will probably still have to do some adjustments in Photoshop afterwards. Adding a Topaz Adjust preset or a Nik CEP Tonal Contrast filter can finish up an image – it is that extra step that might make the picture better than the average HDR. Use layer masks to mask out effects and Curves Adjustment layers to emphasize contrast.

The final image is another example of using Topaz Adjust but this time it is giving an artsy look by using the Spicify preset and increasing the Noise Suppression. This was another of Rick Sammon’s examples in the linked  video above. I made another preset to duplicate his basic settings. Below is the result.

I could go on-and-on with what this little plug-in can do. It definitely adds to my total pleasure while working with Photoshop – and I definitely would not use it if it was not fun! I hope you will download a trial of the Topaz Adjust plug-in. I believe you will enjoy a lot of the results you get. I find that I use this plug-in about as much as the regular HDR programs to get that really interesting effect, whether using HDR or pseudo HDR – and you got to love the way it can make a really boring picture interesting! Good luck experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd


Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop

Continuing on my current trend of looking into the various Photoshop plug ins available, I decided to explore the mirror effect.  I could only find three filters available.   Let’s start with the Mirror effect that is part of The PlugIn Galaxy 2.01.  This filter was originally called Instant Mirror in version 1.0, so I will keep this name to distinguish it from the others.   A demo, which displays print throughout the image, can be downloaded but is fully functional so you get a real feel how the filter works is available at  The Plugin Site.  There are 17 effects in this bundle that includes this one.  The really cool thing about Instant Mirror is that when applied,  it does change instantly -no waiting around or increasing canvas size.  And the resulting effects are pretty amazing.  Here are a few results of what can be achieved with very little effort.

The above image is a bush and mountains on Hana Highway that was taken on the back dry side of Maui, Hawaii. This is a pretty basic application of the filter – applied Mirror set to Vertical Left. The whole trick to this filter is that by right clicking and dragging on the center (+) mark, the best effects are achieved. A Nik’s Color Efex Pro Glamour Glow filter (Glow 63, Sat 27, Glow Temp 40) to make the bushes stand out more and OnOne PhotoFrame (Dave Cross 01) were applied to finish up the image.

For this image Instant Mirror was run in the Manual Mode (there are four different modes to try), setting the image to Horizontal Top, and Right Click dragging the (+).  I exited out of the filter and ran it again using Vertical Right and dragging the (+). A layer mask was applied so the leaves at the top left showed through from the layer below. I finished up with Topaz Simplify Sketch Hard Pencil effect. There is a book called “Photoshop Plug-ins” by Jim Zuckerman and Scott Stulberg that does a great job of discussing this filter in detail.

With this spica image, the Mirror Preset called Kaleidoscope No. 08 was applied to create the border. Kaleidoscope Vertical was applied next for the plant effect. Finally Topaz Detail was used to bring out the color and detail in the image.

The second mirror plug in is a free download and called Quick Mirror by Julia World.  The thing I like about Quick Mirror is the images are not distorted at all.   It is basically just a flip {that can be done in Photoshop with a Free Transform) but it is easy and more effects can be generated by selecting different part of the image.  Once again I used my London Eye image.  The basic steps to for using this filter are:   Duplicate the layer you are mirroring, create a selection around the areas you want to duplicate (I used the Rectangular Marquee Tool and made my selection from top to bottom around The Eye),  invert the selection (CTRL+ALT+I), erase selection (BACKSPACE), deselect the selection, and run the filter.  In this case, a layer mask was then added to give less of a total duplication look on the bottom and upper left.

This last London Eye image shows a creative effect that can be achieved by using the steps above but making the selection just around The Eye itself. Continue along with inverting the selection and deleting, deselecting and applying the filter. It is a pretty simple workflow to achieve very nice results – and it is FREE!  I also used Nik Color Efex Pro Reflector Filter (Gold, Light Itensity 64, Light Falloff 42, Position 48, Source Direction 0).

The last plug in I will mention is called Filters Unlimited 2.0 – a fully functional demo with 150+ effects can be downloaded but the results cannot be applied (the full version has over 350 filters).  There is a setting called Tiles and Mirrors with several different kaleidoscope and mirrored effects.  I used my original The Eye image and applied the Seamless Blend (horizontal) to the image.  The results gave great looking clouds but the fine lines were not clear, sort of a ghosting effect.  I do believe it is not that bad an effect, just not as good as the other two filters discussed.  My personal opinion is that both the Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror are great plug ins and easy to use.  You get more options with Instant Mirror but more distortion to the image when you use it.  Quick Mirror is pretty basic but gives great undistorted results.

Once again, this has been a blast putting this blog together.  There are so many effects with these filters that I did not cover.  Hope I can get time to play some more with these plug ins!