Just popping in (apparently I can’t stay away from blogging very long) to show you an image I did using Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement (for website go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar). There has been so much controversy at the moment over what is too much Artificial Intelligence (AI) to apply to an image and what is acceptable. I do believe a lot of AI is being developed for apps to place on phones or tablets, but serious Photographers and Photoshop Users really don’t need or want a lot of it. It takes away some of the creative decisions we like to make. That being said, there are a few major exceptions to this rule of not using AI. I am totally in love with Topaz (for website go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Sharpen AI and Topaz Denoise AI (and don’t for get Topaz Gigapixel) – use them a lot, and I am totally crazy about Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement Tool (what I see as a filter). The image above is a great example – no matter what you do in PS, it cannot be done this quickly and easily as it is in Luminar. If you do sky replacements often, you have got to try out this software and all the sliders that are available to get a great result.
Below are a couple of Screenshots of the settings used on this image – and with Luminar as a Smart Object plugin in Photoshop, if you do not like the settings, they can be readjusted easily, including adjusting the individual tool layer masks. For information on what each of the Sky Replacement Tool sliders do, check out this Luminar 4’s Manual page on AI Sky Replacement Tool – they are all defined there. Click on each image below to see the Flicker image showing the settings used on this image. There are 29 skies provided by Luminar or you can provide your own sky JPGs. This one is from Karen Hutton’s Heavenly Clouds set called Delicate Staircase (Kelby One supplied these as a bonus a while back). Very easy to substitute in any sky!
I found that by tweaking the Landscape Enhancer Tool, the sky could be made to look even better!
What I like best, is that there is no deterioration in the image after applying it – it looks totally natural!
Below is the original image so you can see what a difference the sky made, and literally in just minutes.
Anyway, thought I would share what I think of this great AI Tool from Luminar. I know they are coming out with a whole new program of AI effects before long, so I cannot comment on what else they are doing. I just know that Luminar 4 has a real winner with the AI Sky Replacement Tool. I have not used the AI Augmented Sky Tool so I do not know how good it is. Will try to evaluate it soon. Hope this was some help for those of you who do want a decent sky replacement program – not sure this can be beat. Will blog again soon…..Digital Lady Syd
I have always liked Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Sharpen AI. Since I hand-hold my camera when taking pictures, many of my images are just a little soft and is why it has become one of my favorite plugins. Since Topaz came out with the AI version, it seems to have gotten better and better. You can now get a very subtle sharpening effect without having to use a Photoshop mask.
- In Lightroom or ACR, do not sharpen your image using the Detail Panel, let Sharpen AI do this. Also, be sure to use DeNoise first as the noise will be sharpened along with everything else if taken Sharpen AI first. This is when Topaz AI Clear is often used – where just a little noise reduction is needed. It is located in either Topaz DeNoise AI (which has a Color Noise Reduction slider) or Topaz Studio 2 (which has Exposure and Clarity sliders and I like this personally).
- Duplicate your Background Layer in Photoshop before using the filter just in case you want to reduce the overall sharpening opacity later. Topaz Sharpen AI can also be applied while in Lightroom by right clicking on the image to select the program and choosing Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments.
- Turn off the Auto-update preview button as your computer will be running all the time if you don’t. And it does take a few seconds every time the Update button is selected, so the plugin take a while to process, especially when applying at the end.
- How do you know if you need to update the plugin – this one should be intuitive, but sometimes I get lost on what it is doing. If the Update button is grayed out, it has updated. This is true also when masking. Just make sure it is updated when applying or it will not update when it goes back to PS.
- Use the Navigator to move around your image which is is set to by default to 100% zoom instead of zooming all the way out to view the whole image. It takes a lot longer to update a preview when zoomed out and can crash the program. Topaz should be correcting this issue soon, but at least at 100% View it works just fine.
- When the image is viewed at 100%, it is really viewing at 200% in PS, LR, OnOne, Luminar or most other software. So you are really zoomed in with Sharpen AI and seeing a lot of detail.
- The Auto buttons are pretty good as a “starting place” to use on your images. Now there are two Auto buttons, one for selecting the correct mode and one for the settings.
Mode and Setting Selections
If the mode selected by Sharpen does not look that great, try the others. The Sharpen mode that Topaz selected is just for overall image sharpening. Stabilize mode is good for blurred images caused by motion blur from the camera or the subject. Focus is for images where the focus is in the “wrong plane” according to Joel Wolfson. This is especially useful when the eyes are not sharp but overall the image is good. On some of my furry friend pictures, Focus can cause some really weird sharpening so watch out for this. Stabilize mode usually works best for my image since movement is why my images are soft. When you click on a different mode, the Auto turns off.
Try adjusting the Settings sliders yourself as I have found that the ones Topaz selects are usually just a beginning point. Each time you change a setting or preview area, need to click the Update button if it is not grayed out. If you oversharpen, it will begin to look a little crunchy so watch out for this – sort of defeats the purpose of what you are trying to do. To reset the sliders to their default, just double click on the word “Sharpness” or “Noise Suppression.”
The Screenshot above is set to 43% View for this blog so you can see what is happening, but I would not recommend going below the 100% View. For this image, Topaz had recommended the Sharpen mode, but it did not look good to me so I changed it to Stabilize but did try using the Settings on Auto. It is hard to tell, but the fence and the face are definitely sharper. Since I did not want the fence sharper, the mask below was created. The final settings are shown in the screenshot below.
I found creating a mask can be a little tricky for me. After watching the Topaz videos at their site (which I recommend you do), following these steps is how to do this correctly.
- First set view to Single Panel (this works easiest for me) and press Update again.
- Then click the Masking button at the top of the interface.
- Select your brush by setting the Size (which can also be adjusted using brackets keys like in PS or using the slider), Softness, and Opacity.
- Paint over areas where the sharpening needs to be applied. If close edges need to be followed, turn on the Edge-aware check box – turn it off when filling in the inside areas for selection as the computer runs a lot when on.
- It is critical that you use the Navigator to scroll around the image (otherwise the program may crash like mine does) while adding in the mask. For the peacock image there was a little bird image in the bottom left corner that was clicked – it selected part of my bird at least. Use the X key to quickly switch between adding masking and removing it. You can see the mask in the little box on the bottom left – note there is a drop-down box with Options like Fill, Invert, Clear, and Delete.
- Once the overlay shows it is all selected, click the Update button if not grayed out.
- Now click Apply Mask.
- Do not do make any other changes in AI Sharpen interface unless you want to Sharpen the whole image again and create another mask.
- Click Apply to go back into PS.
A couple links on using Sharpen AI from Topaz are Sharpen Your Skills with Sharpen AI by Joel Wolfsen and How to Fix Blurry Images with Topaz Sharpen AI by Greg Rostami. The interface in the videos is a little behind what is in the version shown below, but the info will help if you are a little lost as I was when using this program. Below is a Screenshot of image showing the Sharpen AI settings and the Mask section open. This is what the mask looked like right after clicking the bird icon.
Topaz is working hard on getting this plugin to work faster and better and it is being updated often. The program is definitely much better and I find I am using it on most of my images. Using the Sharpen mode will give just a nice subtle sharpening effect when there is not a real problem with the image. I believe that Topaz is still the front-runner in the race for the AI technology in the plugin world. It will be interesting to see where this is all going. Will be taking a week off to catch up on some post-processing work – see ya soon!….. Digital Lady Syd
Taking a bit of a break this week from blogging. Well I thought I was but this image took a very long time to post process so it is a good thing I like Photoshop! I will share with you some of the techniques that went into creating this image.
- This was a 5-image HDR taken at Spanish Cay in The Bahamas several years ago. (It is also one of the places to go through customs when sailing in and out of The Bahamas.) Used the Lightroom HDR program – just made sure the auto settings were turned off so I could do the next step.
- The resulting DNG image was opened in Photoshop. I have been learning how to work with Jimmy McIntyre’s Luminosity techniques for landscapes. The steps he explains in his How to Use Luminosity Masks and Single Exposure video – this is a bit of a complicated technique that uses the Apply Image command, but it gives great results. In my Tidbits Blog of Thursday called Little House on Green Turtle Cay, the same technique was used.
- The resulting image was pretty noisy so on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) DeNoise AI was added – used the Auto settings and it cleaned it up with just a small amount of the sliders. Best I have seen it do! Also Topaz Sharpen AI was added using Stabilize model (Sharpness 74 and Suppress noise 16). Be sure to watch haloing with this filter – it probably caused some of my clean up issues that had to be addressed later.
- The Lighting Effects filter added some more warmth to the image. Last week I did a blog on this filter – this week Colin Smith came out with a new video called Lighting Photos in Photoshop – add Stunning Sunset Lighting. I felt like it did a good job on this image.
- There were several places with some color discoloration on the water – used a tip I learned from Randy van Duinen. This is the best way to fix it when faced with type of color distortion: make a rough selection of problem area and enter the Quick Mask Tool, go to Gaussian Blur Filter set to a large amount for blending edges (depends on size of selection), go out of Quick Mask, and add a Curves Adjustment Layer (or any Adjustment layer needed) and adjust all the channel curves to match up. See my How to Subtle Adjust Areas of an Image Using Two Methods blog for more on this. This is one of my favorite PS tricks.
- There was a little haloing where the clouds met the treetops – it really was not haloing but it looked bad. To smooth the colors between the clouds and the trees, David Belliveau’s fabulous mixer blender brush was used at a small size – it can be downloaded at his Painter website. The brush is one of the best for blending anything.
- Several areas were accented with a little spotlight effect – set a layer to Overlay blend mode and Brush Options set to 100% Opacity and 9% Flow. Just dab where a little brightness (or darkness or color) needs to be added.
- Last step was to create a little vignette. Since this sunset makes the image off-balance, the vignette techniques I usually like did not work. Went back to Jimmy McIntyre and followed his The Power of Vignettes in Photoshop where he uses two different Curves Adjustment Layers to create the vignette. This technique worked the best and gave a more natural look.
Well that is it for this blog – just a little landscape jargon. Hope everyone is safe and still enjoying learning new things that can be done with Photoshop. I am slowly trying out some recently viewed video techniques – many were used above. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I did some video viewing and trying out the Lighting Effects Filter again. Colin Smith from Photoshop Cafe did a set of 5 videos on this filter the last few weeks. This filter has been around for a while (it is exactly the same in CS6) and I have used it on and off over the years. Colin is an expert at using this filter, and there is a lot more to it than what it appears to be and what I knew.
Colin Smith had one particular video I felt was extremely helpful for lightening the Squirrel Monkey image above and the Butterfly image below. It was called Lighting Portrait Photos in Photoshop, Its Amazing – Part 2. The other videos are definitely worth the time to watch if you are enjoying using this filter, but this one was the most helpful to me. An Alpha Channel selection to limit the effect to just certain areas in the image was not created for my images (but is discussed in great detail in the other videos and looks great on some images), but several minutes into the video Colin shows you how to adjust the lights and use the filter.
Basic adjustments: The above image is of a Squirrel Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo. To use the Lighting Effects Filter (Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects), it is best to begin with a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) that has been turned into a Smart Object (or Filter – they are the same thing). It is good to use it as a Smart Object so the settings can be re-adjusted after applying the effect. A default Spot Light is shown when the filter is first opened. Dragging your mouse around the points on the light give you several options for adjusting the actual light (Move, Rotate, and Scale Width or change its size).
Available lights: Three types of lights were added in the above: Spot Light, Infinite Light and Point Light – Colin goes into detail on each of these types of lights in the 5 videos, but he seems to prefer the Spot Light effect. If you look in the Options Bar Presets drop-down, the first one listed is called 2 o’clock and is a good starting place. (There are many choices in the drop-down menu – check out the Adobe link below for the list.) An Infinite Light was added to basically just lighten up the whole image. The Point Light was just a small light placed on his face to brighten it up a little more.
To get good results: Need to just go back and forth making adjustments between the “Color and Intensity slider” and the “Colorize (swatch for tint of the overall lighting) and Exposure slider (controls highlight and shadow detail).” Clicking on the color swatches bring up a Color Picker with an adjustable Intensity slider which makes the color lighter and is using 32-bit lighting (per Colin).
Other sliders: There is a Texture field that does not have to be added to your image but it can really help an image that is lacking a little in detail. First set in the Texture field drop-down the Red Channel (it appears to be the best channel to use for this) and a Height of 1 (if you want texture to be in the other direction, use -1) – it really sharpened up this guys fur. Moving the Height slider too much can give some really weird looks. For a natural look keep it to 1 or 2. The Metallic and Gloss sliders work mainly as contrast sliders. Ambience is one of my favorite sliders as it lightens up or darkens the surrounding areas around the lighting edges.
This filter requires a lot of playing with sliders, which is what I really like to do! For more info on the post-processing of the Monkey, check out the end of the blog. Here is the Adobe Photoshop link to the Lighting Effects Filter.
This image is of a Malay Lacewing Butterfly (took this pix at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, Florida) and was much easier to post process. (See post-info at end of blog). Used a stamped layer that was turned into a Smart Object before selecting the Lighting Effects Filter. A single Spot Light was added – similar to the giraffe image below. No Texture field was added since textures were added before on other layers in PS. The light was directed to the left side of the wing where the light was naturally falling onto the butterfly.
A couple tips when using the Light Effects Filter:
- It is a little cumbersome to use and sometimes it is hard to adjust the lights. To zoom out, click on the bottom left corner and change the amount in box to zoom, or hold the ALT key with the scroll wheel (this did not always work for me).
- When the interface is in the way so you cannot tell what you are looking at, do a CTRL+H to toggle the tools on and off.
- When I open this filter an awful scary dialog box called Embedded Profile Mismatch comes up – just click Cancel to use the filter. Get same dialog when applying the filter – still clicked Cancel and it applied the filter. Not sure if anyone else will see this, but this does work.
- Need to be in 8-bit mode to use this filter now (used to be also for 16-bit, but no more).
- For a dreamy glow effect, set the Metallic slider to -100 and then move the Gloss slider towards the right to achieve a nice result.
The above is an image I had shown before, but it used the Lighting Effect Filter. This bronze giraffe sculpture is part of the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach and was created by Henry Mitchell in 1959 – and was one of my favorites at the Garden. To get this effect and see what Lighting Effects filter settings were used, check out my How to Get a Fantasy Feel in Photoshop blog that shows a Screenshot of the filter. You will see in the older blog that a Red Channel was used for a Texture and the Height was set to 9 to emphasize the really nice markings on the giraffes. In this case it is okay to set the Height slider amount up a little.
Below is another older image taken at Flagler Beach in Florida and the Lighting Filter Effect was used for adding a little sunlight effect in a painted image sky. It shows a different way the filter can be used to add some artistic interest.
Since this is a Photoshop filter, it is an easy one to try out and produces some really terrific lighting results. And since photography is all about light, it has a lot of possibilities. I have used it for years on and off, and I am going to try it out some more now that I have learned a few more things about how to use it. Hope everyone is doing fine and will be able to get out and start taking pictures soon……Digital Lady Syd
Image Post-Processing Details:
Squirrel Monkey Image: To begin this image, a texture group was created using FrenchKiss’s Stone Blush texture (these are fabulous painted textures) and Kim Klassen’s Epic texture (and yes, Kim is doing her wonderful textures again). The textures were put in a Group and set to 30% opacity – this gave the image a really beautiful pastel spring-like feel. The monkey was selected and place on top and lots of clean up was done, including adding some fur in strategic places (used coyotemange brushes Rough Tuft and Long Fur from last week’s blog). Next on a stamped layer Skylum (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Luminar 4’s Sky Replacement look for this image was applied – it found all the white areas and added in the sky – totally Amazing! On another Smart Object stamped layer, the Lighting Effects Filter in PS was added. This really sharpened up his fur by setting the Texture field to Red Channel (appears to be the best default channel to use for this) and a Height of 1. A Spot Light was used first on the whole image. Next an Infinite Light basically just lightened up everything. Last a Point Light was just a small one placed on his face to brighten it up only and get that backlit feel. The rest of the image was the standard clean up layer, Curves Adjustment Layer, and Levels Vignette.
Butterfly Image: Just used Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Sharpen AI (love this filter) and Topaz DeNoise AI first. Then added a texture called BB Orange and Gold Bokeh (not sure where I got it as it is from 2008) set to Overlay blend mode at 72% layer opacity – duplicated texture and set it to 17% blend mode. On a new layer painted in some Bokeh circles sampling the colors from the texture (used a brush from MiniPixBox-Bokeh 34). Did some clean up and the image just looked a little drab to me. On a stamped layer turned into a Smart Object, the Lighting Effects Filter was opened – only a single Spot Light effect was added – similar to the giraffe filter settings. No Texture was added – here are my settings on a Spot Light set from upper left to lower center right: Color White and Intensity 26, Hotspot 22, Colorize (light yellow H58/S27/B75 and Intensity +1.50) and Exposure -76, Gloss -32, Metallic -6, and Ambience 26. It definitely added the light in the area on the wing where the light was coming onto it.
I was going to do a review of the updated Sharpen AI, but decided instead to write about when to use all these fabulous Topaz AI plugins since I think it is personally very confusing. I actually had this blog half-drafted a whole year ago and did not publish it as I could not figure out exactly what was going on. This week I finally got some answers in a couple Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) Webinars that Joel Wolfson did in the last few months. So here is my take on what is going on and how I am using these products.
Always apply Topaz DeNoise AI (or any denoise product for that matter) first before applying Topaz Sharpen AI (or any sharpening filter) – you do not want to sharpen any noise residing in your image. Lots of photographers do their RAW processing first, then use DeNoise AI, and finally apply Sharpen AI – both programs can be reached directly from ACR, Lightroom, OnOne, and several other software programs or from within Photoshop as a plugin.
Topaz DeNoise AI
They have upgraded DeNoise AI several times since it was first released a year ago. It has been greatly improved with each revision. DeNoise AI also includes AI Clear and I will discuss that in more detail below.
So why use DeNoise AI? It is especially good for images set to a higher ISO, especially with lots of dark areas like night images. More noise will show up in the shadows and with the newer cameras especially, the ISO can be cranked way up to get that all-important detail. DeNoise AI has the ability to find just the noise in the darker (or lighter areas) areas and leave other noise-free areas alone. I have an older DSLR camera and the higher ISO setting images show lots of noise – this program has been a life-saver for me as I want to take those night-time shots too. The image above was taken in low evening light using 2000 ISO, which is unheard of for me and my camera. Below is the screenshot of what DeNoise AI was able to do to clean up this image – it may appear a little soft looking here, but at 100% it is still pretty sharp.
What the Sliders Do:
First, turn off the Auto-update preview or your computer will go nuts running all the time – just remember to click Update when ready to see the changes. Also note that at the top there is a Brightness button – it sometimes helps to see the noise better. To me the Auto button does not recognize the correct amount of noise in my images, so I do not use it. When adjusting these sliders manually, I usually over-adjust the Remove Noise amount, then move it back to the correct setting. And yes, keep hitting the Update button to see the change if Auto Update is turned off. What does the Sharpen slider do if there is a Recover Original Detail slider? According to Topaz, “It sharpens the details in your image since removing noise can sometimes soften the details in images, this allows you to retain that sharpness after processing your image.” The Recover Original Detail slider allows for refinement of details in the image to achieve a more realistic look if it appears that DeNoise AI has over-corrected the image. Still not clear on this, but it does seems to improved some images. It helps add some detail back when the image looks too smooth, especially with Portrait images – it definitely helped this flower image too. Looking at other images, it appears most people use Recover Original Detail somewhere around 25 to 35 for a setting. If there is color noise in your image, moving the Color Noise Reduction slider is very useful – a Size slider will appear where you must decide how much more of the image each pixel will look at – Joel says 0.50 is a good setting for this.
TOPAZ SHARPEN AI
The above image also had Topaz Sharpen AI applied after Topaz DeNoise AI from above. This is turning out to my very favorite Topaz product because I do not often shoot with a tripod and it has saved me on many occasions. One thing Joel pointed out is that when you are looking at your image set to 100% in Topaz, it is really the equivalent of looking at your image at 200% in Photoshop or other image processors. So if your image looks a little “crunchy,” it will not look like that at 100% in Photoshop. I do believe I get some really tack sharp images with this filter and often do not use DeNoise at all, but go directly to this filter before doing any other post work. One down side about this filter is that it takes a while to process and the larger the image, the longer it will take to Update and Apply.
What the Sliders Do:
So more confusion here. Personally I do not use the regular Sharpen mode – it corrects for just general out-of-camera softness and does not do too much for my photos. But usually I will try both the Stabilize Mode (for motion blur or camera shake issues) and Focal Mode (great for bringing an eye in really sharp focus – corrects up to 10 pixels of focus blur). Sometimes one gives better results than the other. I will use the Auto button as a starting point for this filter – it appears to be a little better than DeNoise AI’s. Also, turn off the Auto-update Preview if you do not want to update every time you move a slider or the image – just remember to click Update when ready to see the changes. Obviously the Sharpness slider will sharpen. But why yet another Suppress Noise slider? Topaz says it is to help remove noise so I am not sure why they put it here when they have DeNoise AI. I have found that if I do not quite remove all the noise in DeNoise AI because I am losing too much detail, by going into Sharpen AI, the noise can be adjusted a little more accurately to keep the sharpness tack sharp. But that is a bit of a pain to do. I never use the Add Grain.
Here is the best part about this filter – it now has masking capabilities and you can paint in just where you want the sharpness to be applied. So if you are doing a portrait and want the eyes sharper, just adjust the whole image for the eyes only, then click on the brush icon at the top, adjust the brush size, and paint out the eye only. The rest of the image stays just how it was. This is a fabulous addition. I like that you do not have to sharpen the background of an image to get a really sharp foreground such as a bird or animal in the foreground. The brush has settings for Edge Aware, Radius Size, Softness, and Opacity. A red Overlay can be turned on and off to show where the mask is being applied and a small mask window appears in the bottom right. Just click apply mask, click update again, and Apply.
In the DeNoise AI filter, there is an AI Clear Model. This is supposed to be exactly the same filter as the one that is in Topaz Studio – one big difference is that you can adjust the View with the Scroll Bar in Studio while you must use the parameters Topaz gives in you in DeNoise AI – mainly 100% and 200% are the most useful. I will not go over all the settings as there is an overlap between them and the DeNoise AI sliders – basically one is simplified for quick use. Below is a screenshot of the red flower using only the AI Clear filter in Topaz Studio and using the extra Exposure and Clarity sliders.
I personally like having the other two sliders to help adjust the lost contrast that denoising causes. Also, I noticed that the Recover Details did not work well on this image using either filter. Below is an image of Piccadilly Circus in London after AI Clear (Remove Noise High, Enhance Sharpness High and Recover Details 55) and Topaz Sharpen AI (Model Stabilize, Manual mode, Sharpness 100 and Noise 100) was used. For some reason, when Topaz DeNoise AI Mode was applied it lost a lot of the detail, especially of the very back building.
Here is a screenshot of part of the original so you can see all the noise in the image – it was taken at ISO 1600 and F/7.1. I was totally surprised that AI Clear would do a better job, but it did here. I would suggest trying both modes in DeNoise AI if you do not the like the results of one of them.
What is the difference between DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI?
From Topaz website “DeNoise AI uses AI algorithms specifically made for digital noise removal. Its sharpening functionality is used primarily to smooth out any artifacts created during the process, and aren’t nearly as advanced as Sharpen AI, whose AI algorithms are custom built for focusing images.”
What is the difference between Sharpen AI and AI Clear?
From Topaz website “The Stabilize (shake reduction) and Focus (focus correction) modes in Sharpen AI have no AI Clear alternatives. These modes serve the purpose of InFocus classic plugin (with better results) rather than pure output sharpening.
The Sharpen module in Sharpen AI does have similarities with AI Clear. The difference here is a bit more subtle and come from the training process between these two products. AI Clear was trained on images with generally more noise, whereas Sharpen AI was trained on images with generally less noise but more blur. Resulting in AI Clear’s main detection is noise whereas Sharpen AI’s main detection is to recognize blur. This makes Clear optimal for noisy images and Sharpen more effective for a bit more blurry images.”
What is the difference between DeNoise AI and AI Clear?
Joel answered this question and I have found it very helpful. Most DSLR camera’s have a low pass filter in front of the sensor which blurs the image a little. AI Clear is basically a Capture Sharpening and he personally applies it on every normal image first thing. He does not need a lot of denoising or sharpening, but just a little. I know I have used AI Clear in Topaz Studio (he uses it from DeNoise AI) for a long time and it is one of my favorite filters. You should use DeNoise AI when there is a bigger noise issue.
Use DeNoise AI for images that just have too noise. The Sharpen slider adds back any softness that the filter may have caused, but it has limited capabilities.
Use Topaz Sharpen AI to fix up any images that are a little soft from shake or lack of focus. Especially useful for helping images that were hand-held. The DeNoise slider in this tool does not seem to be as robust as using DeNoise AI’s Remove Noise slider but does work some.
Use Topaz AI Clear (in Topaz Studio or DeNoise AI) for capture sharpening at its default settings for most images. Just really sharpens them up the right amount and helps with the final look.
For me Topaz Sharpen AI may be the best filter on the market right now – it is totally incomparable IMHO! The new Masking Brush is just an added bonus. By having the Suppress Noise slider, it will find any excess noise that was missed in DeNoise AI. I would definitely get this filter if I did not already own it. I think DeNoise is a fabulous program but it is not usually my issue. AI Clear does a wonderful job in Topaz Studio for me so I stick with it. I believe if I upgrade my camera soon, DeNoise AI may be much more important since I will be using those higher ISO settings, but right now, AI Clear fixes most of my noise issues.
Hope this cleared up a bit of the confusion on these filters. It has been a struggle for me to figure out when and which one to use. Have another great week and I hope everyone is catching up on some of that post work that seems to be always waiting for you! ….. Digital Lady Syd
This week I am just going to give you a few of my favorite plugins that I think are worth checking out if you are interested in purchasing a few on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I am a huge filter (plugin) fan and these are all ones I own and use a lot or I would not waste your time. The image above is the final after adding several of the filters below.
Topaz Sharpen AI
Hands down in my mind is Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI – it seems to be just getting better and better each rendition they release. Probably 80% of my images are improved by this filter, even if I do not realize the image needs it. The image below used the Topaz AI Sharpen set to my favorite settings of Processing Mode Stabilize, Remove Blur 0.80 (this is the sharpening slider) and Suppress Noise 0.30. For some reason these settings work on most of my images. I will try the other Processing Modes (Sharpen and Focus) if there is no noticeably improvement with these settings. And by applying and adding a black layer mask to the image back in Photoshop, just areas needing the sharpening can be painted back quickly. See my Topaz Sharpen AI – Good or Bad? and Yes, Free Upgrade for Infocus Owners blog for a quick review. Below is a split screenshot of how the image looked before using LR and after with this filter – it is especially noticeable in the little branches that are hanging down. Subtle but definitely better.
Luminar 4 or Luminar Flex – looks like Skylum has pulled Flex
Last week I did a quick review of Luminar 4 (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) and I have discussed Flex previously. Flex at one time was a free program for Luminar 3 owners and the was sold as a separate program. Until recently it was available on their site, but at this time I am having problems finding it. I hope that they have not quit updating or selling this product as it is very handy for people who do not need the cataloging function of the program but love the filters. I will try to find out more and update any new information. There is a difference – mainly in the filters. If you want the latest and greatest of the AI filters, Luminar 4 has them – the new AI Sky Replacement, AI Structure, and AI Skin Enhancer along with the new Portrait Enhancer are in it. Luminar Flex has the Accent AI Filter 2.0 and AI Sky Enhancer and a total of 51 filters that can be applied to your images. Luminar 4 has the cataloging capability but only 32 total filters (some are grouped together under a new name and were counted individually). This has upset some people. Also I have found in both programs that using the Structure filter with the Details filter gives an excellent Sharpening effect. Flex has been around for a while and the reason people loved it is that it had a Smart Object capability which Luminar 3 did not. Luminar 4 does have the Smart Object functionality, but if you are a Windows person, the recent update to Photoshop 2020 makes it uneditable – this is also true for Flex. The Tech team is working on it and the issue should be resolved soon. I think both programs do an excellent job at a fairly reasonable price. Once again, give them both a try. I find Luminar products seem to have really good color in them and some excellent photo filters. See my Checking out Skylum’s Luminar 4 blog and Luminar Flex – Exactly What Is This? blog for interface screenshots. I do use Flex all the time on my images – just got Luminar 4 so still deciding which is better.
DXO Nik Collection 2
They have now updated the original Nik Suite and added some new filters and a new interface. I am still using the original as it seems to be working fine for me with the new Photoshop 2020 update. My all time “Favorite” plugin that I use on 98% of my images is Viveza (the last step on the image above used this filter to emphasize some focal points). Many people feel that Lightroom does the same thing, but not for me. It was the second plugin I bought (behind the original Topaz Adjust) many years ago and I still love it (as well as Topaz Adjust – they have a Topaz Adjust AI program that I am still trying out). Back to DXO’s Nik Collection 2 – they claim to have added 40 new filters (8 to just the Color Efex Program). I can’t say enough good things about Nik – they supported my blog for years before Google bought them. I strongly suggest you try out their products.
TOPAZ STUDIO 2
Topaz considers this their “creative filter collection” and that is probably a fair assessment. Since it contains Topaz Impression and Topaz AI Remix leading the way to get some really unique results, it is probably the most versatile of all the suites available. It also contains Glow, Edges, Precision Contrast and Precision Detail, and Color Theme (a hidden jewel for changing colors in your image) filters besides all the useful Looks (presets). It is now available for just a flat fee – if you own some of the filters, there is a discount available to you but you need to contact them before you buy to find out what it will cost. That said, there is no cataloging and more limited Camera Raw ability going on here – just lots of filters to give unique effects and fabulous color results. Topaz has worked very hard to improve their original Topaz Studio 1 to make it easier and faster to use. I love parts of it, but I miss parts of it too. The biggest issue is that the older Topaz plugins are no longer linked within the interface (they can still be used from the Filter -> Topaz Labs back in Photoshop) – but it will link the newer AI filters. I use this program a lot – definitely worth getting. Check out my What About This Topaz Studio 2 Update? Not Bad! blog for more info on it.
OTHERS I LIKE BUT DO NOT USE ALL THE TIME
TOPAZ DeNoise AI
I am a huge Topaz fan so I must say that I do love their plugins, but some I do not use all the time. The Topaz DeNoise AI is a fabulous plugin – and it does contain everyone’s favorite AI Clear that can be selected when opened. I find I do not need to do this often since DeNoise AI seems to overlap with the Sharpen AI somewhat and AI Clear is in Topaz Studio 2. Usually I use Studio to add the DeNoise as this little filter is so handy to access (and you can use a brush to paint it off in parts of the image in Studio.) For more info, check out my Topaz DeNoise AI – And Yes, Free Upgrade When Your Own DeNoise6 or AI Clear blog.
Corel’s Painter Particalshop
This Photoshop plugin is a really great way to add some fun to your images. There are many new brushes that can be added to the plugin (at a cost) to get some interesting effects, so check it out if you want to see what is available. For example, Particleshop has a Perfect Pets set, Sketch, Sunny Rays, Rust and Patina, Trees & Foliage – all kinds of brushes to get. I do not this plugin a lot, but there are times it adds just the perfect touch. Most have several settings to change the look of the brushes. This plugin is working fine with Photoshop 2020. Check out my Intro to Corel Particleshop Brushes for Photoshop blog.
Flaming Pears Flood Filter
The Flood Filter has been around for years without changing much, but it is still one of the best effects for water I have ever seen. Lots of sliders and a very smooth effect with great reflections can be obtained as well as very rough waters and lot of waves. Great for getting some interesting effects. I have an older version and it works just fine with Photoshop 2020. And check my older blog called The Flood Look.
Still the best for enlarging your image – I love this program and use it all the time. It is constantly being upgraded and does a fabulous job! Now you can add some sharpening to bring in more detail when enlarging and denoise if there is a problem with this. One of Topaz’s best! And yes, I have done a blog on it too – see The Best New Software Around – Topaz A.I. Gigapixel! blog.
These are just some of the great plugins out there. I have found that I get confused when I use them all so I am trying to choose what are my very favorites and stick to learning how to use them better. That being said, sometimes getting a new set of filters really helps on the creative end of things. I hope this blog gives you some ideas for a few nice add-ins to Photoshop. Have a great shopping week and Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating! I am taking next week off, so see you in a couple!…..Digital Lady Syd
Had a bit of a glitch last week and a blog was missed. Occasionally I will be skipping a week here or there but hopefully I can give you some notice. There is a lot going on in the Photoshop plugin world. Therefore this week here is a run down of recent plugin news and my take on it all.
- On1 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) has released for free their On1 Effects Standalone 2019 – this contains just the Effects module and can be opened from inside Photoshop as a plugin. Personally I think this is Huge! I would suggest downloading it if you do not have and see what you think of their filter and preset effects. There is no link available for access to the On1 catalog or Develop module, just the Effects module. All the presets and filters are still available and all their brush tools. For me, my computer runs a little hard when using On1 so it helps when all the catalog info is not added – I am a Lightroom user so this is a bit of overkill for me. Smart objects can still be used to save all the settings for further adjustment as before.
The Pink Hibiscus Tree image from Maui above used On1’s Effects LUTs filter called Campari set to 79%, Photo Filter at 58% opacity with Filter Type blue (#25425c), Lens Flare Type Sunspot, and Border using Sloppy Border 19. It is nice to be able to access their filters so quickly and I have always felt their borders are unmatched.
- Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) released their latest update this week, this time to Topaz Adjust and it is now called Adjust AI. The AI effect can be turned off, set to standard or to an HDR Style. I am finding the HDR Style is interesting. The standard Adjust sliders are still available but they have added Precision Contrast and Precision Detail into the plug-in which adds a lot of extra versatility to the filter. Also available are Split Tone and Grain sections. Note that the presets can be found by clicking on the Blue Back circle at the top over the Navigator window – would not probably know that as it is not labeled. If you own Topaz Adjust, Topaz Detail, or Topaz Clarity already, it is a free upgrade. I will write a review soon on this plugin once I have had a chance to work with it on several different kinds of images. The hotel swimming pool shown below is one I did use it on just to show what it looks like.
One of my main issues with Topaz AI is that there is no way to mask out effects for each of the sections. Not sure why this has not been implemented yet, but I am sure they will soon. Also there is no way to adjust the strength in each of the sections except in the AI section. This image used the Standard AI setting at a Strength of 0.53. No Brightness sliders were used but the Micro Contrast slider was set to 0.26 and Medium 0.34 along with Detail Medium slider set to 0.39 – had to be very careful here as it can over-crunch the image with too much detail. What these settings did do is bring out the reflection in the water very nicely. Split Tone was set to Highlight Sat 0.25 and Hue 0.13, Shadow Sat 0.16 and Hue 0.69, and Balance of 0.26. My image was still too crunchy so the plugin was applied and a black layer mask added. Just the areas needed were painted back. I do believe that the image has that Adjust look to it. Added some elements from PixelSquid to add a little pizzazz to the image and the Brushed Rose texture from the Adobe Paper Texture Pro panel – set to 42% opacity and Overlay blend mode.
- Just a note that Skylum’s Luminar 3 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) did update recently – mainly improving the catalog aspect of their program. My recent blog (see my Luminar Flex – Exactly What Is It? blog) explains why you should download Flex since the main program will not contain the Effects section of the program in the future.
The image above was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens – I was really just testing the settings on my camera but the tree detail turned out incredible. Thought the image made another good example of using Luminar Flex. I am getting so I really like their filters. The above used Advanced Contrast, Structure, Top & Bottom Lighting, Image Radiance and LUT Mapping using my SJ Darkly Bright preset created in my video here. (LUT files made for PS can be used with Luminar also – just Import from LUT section and go to your .cube folder to load.) No Detail Enhancer used, just Structure. The bird object is my image and the Wolf is from PixelSquid.
- DxO has released the Nik Collection 2 where 42 new presets were added (there are 10 new recipes for Color Efex Pro, 10 new B&W presets in Silver Efex Pro, 12 new HDR presets in HDR Efex Pro, and 10 new tool combos in Analog Efex Pro) in a new interface. Here is a link to a good review on this program. Regarding the old Nik (Google) Collection of plugins, there is a lot of confusion as to whether they still work. The problem is that the Nik Panel does not work but the filters all work just fine. Since I never used their panel (if using filter as a Smart Object Layer, the panel was not available). Since I always use a Smart Object for their filters, it has not been a problem for me. The work-around is to add a layer mask onto the Nik filter layer and brush the effect in or out on the mask. I have not tried out the newer version, but will be soon. As far as I can tell, the new presets are the major improvement.
- The image at the top used Topaz Denoise AI which I am finding I really like and am using on almost every image. Usually I like to set the Noise Level lower (used 0.35) and Enhance Sharpen higher (used 0.70) – really works better for me than Topaz Sharpen AI at this point in time. Note that Topaz has now added their AI Clear as a choice in the Select a Model drop-down menu so you do not have to open Topaz Studio to use it.
Well hope this catches everybody up and you get a chance to check out the new things going on in the plugin field. It seems everything always comes out at once! Have a great start to your Summer!…..Digital Lady Syd
I am a little late discussing this software, but I only recently got a chance to really try it out. Luminar (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Flex is basically a spin-off of the bigger program, Luminar 3, meaning your images are not being pulled into a catalog for sorting. Basically it just contains the filters. Currently it is a free program so if you own Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018, please go download it. Why? See the quote below from Skylum that pretty much sums up what is happening and why you need to download it:
“We’re fully committed to our desktop editing and organizing platform in Luminar 3. But we’ve heard from many current customers and several others that they want just our editing tools for enhancing their images when working in other apps.
Our goal is to develop Luminar as a comprehensive platform which will become your go-to photography tool. With your support, we’ll be there soon.
Current workflow – Both Luminar Plugin and Luminar 3 with Libraries offer plugin options for popular photography software.
Future workflow – With the next major version of Luminar, you’ll find plugins available only in Luminar Flex. The plugins workflow will be removed from Luminar with Libraries.”
It looks like Skylum has decided to create different modules, not unlike what On1 (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) has done with the Develop vs. Effects modules. I do not see this as a real problem since I do not use Luminar as a Raw Processor, even though their Develop filter is in Flex, to categorize my photos like Lightroom does at this point. I may decide to do this down the road, but at this point I mainly use Luminar 3 as a plugin with all their beautiful filters.
This macro image above is of a Queen Emma Lily plant, possibly my favorite bloom in my yard – you certainly notice them from the street. Luminar Flex was mainly used on this image – Accent AI Filter, Golden Hour, Advanced Contrast, and Detail Enhancer filters. A High Pass sharpen was used and Nik Viveza 2 was used on the front petal.
Both programs interface with most of the major programs including Lightroom and Photoshop. The Workspace names appear to have been renamed, but seem very similar between the two. Flex opens up with the Image Aware workspace but that can be changed by going into the the drop-down.
The major difference between the two programs at this point is with the new Accent AI 2.0 that is available with Luminar 3 but not yet with Flex – it is coming later this year (Flex is still using just Accent AI). Is this a deal breaker – not a problem since Luminar 3 still is supporting its filters but down the road it will probably only be available in Flex.
Regarding the Looks (presets), those made or used in Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018 are all compatible with the Flex, even the ones downloaded from other sites. You can either reinstall your custom Looks packs in Flex, or manually copy items between the Luminar Looks folders.
This image was taken on the water’s edge of Lake Rowena at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in the heart of downtown Orlando, Florida. Hard to believe such a tranquil place is located in all this hustle and bustle! And yes, Luminar’s Flex was used – landscapes are Luminar’s specialty. These filters were used to get this soft cool effect on a very hot day: The first layer contained the wonderful Accent AI Filter and AI Sky Enhancer Filter – both set pretty high, just a little Golden Hour Filter and Foliage Filter, the Saturation and Vibrance Filter (toning down the color a little), and the Brilliance and Warmth Filter – then on a 2nd layer above, one of my favorite filters called Image Radiance was applied. To see if I liked the filter on this image, it was placed on its own layer and the Gradient was used to remove the effect off the clouds which had gotten way too soft. One thing to watch with the Luminar filters is they tend to over-saturate the image so in PS the Saturation/Vibrance Adjustment Layer was added and the Saturation reduced to -17, even after adjusting it in the plugin. I think I could have pulled up a chair and just enjoyed the view from this point for a while, but the flowers were waiting!
About all I can say is “Thank You Mike Moats” for teaching me many years ago how to do this! If you like macro photography, he is the guy to learn how to do it right! This was taken using Aperture Mode set to ISO 200, F/7.1, and -1/2 EV with my Nikkor 60 mm Lens with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro added to the lens. This center of a Neoregelia Bromeliad image from the Gardens was also taken into Luminar Flex and just a few filters were required to get this effect: Foliage Enhancer, Structure, Brilliance/Warmth, Top and Bottom Lighting (to reduce the top reddish bromeliad color from the actual bromeliad), and Details Enhancer (just using the Small slider) filters. Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) new DeNoise AI was used to remove some of the noise (this plugin is incredible and now AI Clear is included with it. This is pretty cool -first set the Remove Noise high to 0.72, Enhance Sharpness to 0, and applied; then added a mask and painted back with a small brush set to 30% just the areas that needed a little detail brought back like the centers of the blue flowers. Got both the sharpness and noise removal at once!) Not much else was done but to add a spotlight effect in the center. This was definitely a Tiny Garden inside a Big Garden! Here is how the interface looked for this image (click on image to see larger in Flickr):
Bottom Line: Flex is definitely here to stay since it will be the only way in the future that Luminar’s filters can be accessed using Photoshop, which is what I like to do. I love Luminar’s filters because they are unique, and in a sort of odd way, their results always make me happy. I like it when my photos make me smile so that is probably why I am a big fan. Please check Luminar Flex out – it is much more than just their Sunrays and AI filters – very easy to use and the program does not make your computer go into crazy mode to apply them. It is so exciting to have so many choices and new ways of applying effects being available to us Photoshop nuts who totally love this! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Since it is the Memorial Day Holiday here in the U.S., I am letting my Animal Buddies take over the the blog and I am going to play hookie. (Hope you all have a sense of humor!) With that, will see you in a couple weeks after a blog breather! Take it away guys!
I am a beautiful Greater Flamingo showing off my new pink beak polish (DLS: Where in the world did she get this?) at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. Syd took a selfie for me that involved a bit of post-processing in Photoshop to get my gorgeous looking beak. (DLS: To be honest, she had a pretty bright pink beak as it was). There’s a whole bunch of us in the pen – we love to dance and follow each other around. Please come and visit me and my large family. You can find us on the Main Path – we love it when people visit! (She has some really colorful, noisier relatives called Caribbean Flamingos further back in the zoo so visit them also – see my short blog called I Am Feeling So Sleepy!) (Check out Image 1 for pix info at end of blog.)
***** Hi Everyone! Nice to have someone visit! I totally love living here at the Lemurs of Madagascar Exhibit at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. If you come by early when the Farm just opens, you can enjoy breakfast with me. I am a Ring Tailed Lemur and our family is headed by a female. I always check out my breakfast of tamarind and flowers carefully – I don’t like to share my food. (DLS: I think we’re seeing here a very picky eater!) I also have to share my quarters with several Red Ruffed Lemurs (Here is one sunbathing from a previous Flickr link). Usually after breakfast we all do a group sunbathe in the morning. Come on by and say “Hi” to us – we will be glad to entertain you for awhile. We have lots of fun here! (Check out Image 2 for post work on this image.)
OK, Syd thinks I wanted to eat her! Not really – I do not like to eat animals, strictly a vegetarian here. I just thought I would give her a different pose since she seemed upset I was not looking at her so she could take my picture. I am called an Eastern Bongo, which in your lingo is antelope, and there are some pretty weird stories about my species on the Jacksonville Zoo website. It says I can hang from branches by my horns and drop on unsuspecting hunters in the forest. Really??? I have never done that in my life! Where do these tales come from??? Come on by – I am near the Plains of East Africa section and either me or one of my family will be glad to give you a nice camera pose. (See Image 3 below for pix info.)
Excuse me while I get situated here! I am not sure what happened! Oh my – this is embarrassing! Well apparently Syd got a shot of me at my worst! I am an African Spoonbill – not pink like the pink Roseate Spoonbills that are always flying into our River Valley Aviary at the zoo this time of year. I spend most of my time walking in the water looking for a seafood lunch, but sometimes I like to hang out on big branches. Did you know I am the size of a 3-year old human? I will be very happy to pose for you, but do not get too close or I will run away (DLS: or lose your balance?). (Image 4 has info this pix.)
DLS: Uh….Where did these guys come from? Hi – we are dolphins that are a figment of Syd’s imagination so we decided to make an appearance even though you can’t come visit us. Pretty nice digs though? I think she was thinking about Hawaii or maybe sailing in the Bahamas. Either place is fine since we will fit in anywhere. I know Syd loves dolphins so you will probably see us make other appearances in the future. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday and celebrating like us! (Image 5 info below.)
All us animal buddies hope you enjoyed out blog this week. It was really fun to do something different and help Syd out with her blog. She will be back soon with more tips and maybe, just maybe she will let us do this again down the way. Everyone have a great weekend and come see us!…..Animal Buddies for Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) DeNoise AI was applied first on the image first. Her background was created in Topaz Studio using the Impression Adjustment and the Chalk Smudge III preset where the bird was painted out. Precision Detail and Precision Contrast adjustments were used on the bird. PS’s Fan Flat Blend mixer was used to paint in the bird feathers, neck and head. The Topaz ReStyle filter was applied using the Cadet Gray and Copper preset – lots of changes in there to get the nice texture on the background. On a stamped layer, Skylum’s Luminar 3 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) plugin was opened and Joel Grimes Details Warmth preset was applied at 52%. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer and a Levels Adjustment Layer Vignette. The font is called Style Casual, one of my favorites but is not free.
Image 2: Not much with done with my little friend here. In Topaz Studio AI Clear was applied to sharpen him up a bit. A little dodge and burning with Curves Adjustment Layers and an On1 Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 36% was used to pull the image colors together a bit. The font is a free one called kb Sickboy. That was about it.
Image 3: This pix was hard to post process since he was cut out of a larger image. I had to use a Blur in the background to create the DOF I wanted. The color was hard to get close to what he looked like – easy to over-color here and I am still not sure it is that accurate but he looks good. Topaz Sharpen AI was set to Stabilize and the defaults. Then just the standard (for me) dodge and burning, Nik Viveza 2, Spotlight layer and Curves Adjustment Layer to finish up.
Image 4: This Spoonbill took me a long to get right as I had a little trouble with the white feathers. Also the background was just too sharp so that had to be softened a bit. And then pretty much the same ole workflow – edges had to be cleaned up, a little sharpening, and contrast added. The font is another one of my favorites called Honey Script.
Image 5: This image was just total fun and tons of layers. The main attractions, the two dolphins, palm trees, and flying birds are all from my favorite object place, PixelSquid. The square effect is from a free action called Inception by Sparklestock which is what started me on make this composite. The waterfall is a brush from a set by Frostbo called Waterfall Set 2. The waves in the water are more brushes from Aaron Blaise’s water brushes. The overall soft effect was created by going into Luminar 3 using their new AI Filter 2.0 and AI Sky Enhancer filters along with another favorite, the Radiance filter, which gave the overall soft feel to the image. The not free font is called Fratello Nick. Nik Viveza 2 was used to even out the color in the palm fronds. Then just my basic workflow. I love doing this kind of image!
This blog shows how to add some very soft directed lighting using Lightroom (or ACRs) Adjustment Brush, and how to get rid of the noise caused by the high ISO settings usually associated with interior images. I am not particularly an interior photographer, but there are times when touring old homes or museums I have taken some pretty boring images. I decided to try a technique learned from watching Serge Ramelli’s The One Trick That Got Me the Most Jobs on Interior Design Photography video to pop these image a little – if using LR (or ACR) a lot, check Serge out even if you do not like his total style, he always has some of the best ideas on how to use LR creatively. The image above was taken at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida and was quite forgettable. Two major things changed this image dramatically: Serge’s LR adjustment brush settings and in the use of the new Topaz (for website link click sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) DeNoise AI filter in PS.
Serge’s Lightroom (ACR) Adjustment Brush Settings
The RAW photo is shown below. After watching Serge’s video, the soft lighting effect was painted in on a JPG (gasp!!!) created when trying out the DeNoise AI filter. These are the Basic settings used: Exposure -0.44 (want it darker here for this technique), Highlights -91, Shadows +85, Whites +72, and Blacks -54 – pretty standard sliders to use when beginning the image processing. Next click on the Adjustment Brush set up a brush with these setting from Serge: Set the basic brush to Flow and Density around 70, Feather 100 and no Auto Mask (in LR only, I set my Brush B to these settings). In the Panel set the Exposure to +0.84 and Clarity to -48 (he says for a glow effect). At this point I created a preset of the brush called SRamalli Interior Lights. Then just started brushing with a fairly large brush in places where the light would go or have a pleasing effect on. Paint on the ceiling and carpet also. The trick is to go back and forth between the Basic Panel and the Adjustment Brush Panel settings to get exactly the right settings for the look needed. I would encourage you to watch Serge’s video to get the total feel of how he does this. To finish up this image, the Transform Panel’s Upright was set to Full since the image was very crooked (caused a few lights on the walls to disappear but this is not an image that I be publishing – just one to remember how nice the Museum was.)
Topaz DeNoise AI
Normally I would have finished up in LR by going into the Details tab and adding sharpening and removing noise, but this time I decided to let Topaz DeNoise AI filter do the heavy lifting in Photoshop. (Note that you can actually access DeNoise AI from Lightroom if you add it on as an External Editing program from your Preferences panel.) This image was originally selected to try out the new AI fiter and it really created a great result (set Noise Level to 0.50 and Enhance Sharpness to 0.50). Most of my images are not that noisy so this was the kind of shot needed to try it out. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added called Vintage Chrome by On1 (they recently gave out to software owners a whole bunch of great LUT’s for both their On1 (for website link click sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Photo Raw 2019 software and PS.) It was set to 57% layer opacity and the lace in the curtains were darkened in window using a layer set to Overlay blend mode and a low opacity black brush painted over them.
This image below was an taken in one of the historic rooms at Flagler College (was the old Ponce de Leon Hotel built in 1888) in St. Augustine (not to be confused with the above Flagler Museum image taken where Flagler used to live in Palm Beach). Same steps in Lightroom and then in PS, used the Topaz DeNoise AI filter (set to Noise Level 0.50 and Enhance Sharpness 0.50). But also Topaz Sharpen AI filter was applied (set to Processing Mode Stabilize, Remove Blur 0.50 and Suppress Noise 0.50) – needed a little more sharpness since the image was taken hand-held at a high ISO and Stabilize mode will fix this. Last step involved adding a Levels Adjustment Layer to even out the midtone contrast. That was it.
Hope you enjoyed these couple little tricks – it is pretty easy to do and I plan on trying this technique out on a few old cathedral images taken in Europe. It does add some nice of emotion and color to an image which in normal circumstances would be pretty uninteresting. And do download DeNoise AI, especially if you have AI Clear or DeNoise6 – it is really good! Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Showing Some of Serge Ramelli’s Effects
Topaz DeNoise AI – And Yes, Free Upgrade When You Own DeNoise6 or AI Clear
This week Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) came out with their new DeNoise AI filter which is supposed to replace the older DeNoise 6 filter and the Topaz Studio AI Clear Adjustment. I am glad we still have access to all of them – and yes, if you own either DeNoise or AI Clear Adjustment, you get the the DeNoise AI filter and stand-alone products for free. What could be better!
So what is DeNoise AI? Once again I have to take info from the website as there is not much info out there on the filter. It seems to me that a pretty noisy image works best when using this filter – for me that means a higher ISO setting or overall darker images. The interface (see screenshot below) is basically the same sliders as AI Clear Adjustment (without the Exposure and Clarity sliders) so it is easy to figure out how the filter works. Definitely need to fiddle with the Noise and Sharpness sliders but I could not see much change with the Restore Detail slider at this time. Also be sure to set the Automatically Update Preview button to Off. It seems this filter produces a much higher DeNoise effect than either AI Clear (which has Remove Noise buttons called Auto, Low, Med and High as choices) and Sharpen AI (which has a Suppress Noise slider). The older DeNoise 6 plugin does not use AI technology so it may not be so useful now.
The only negative I see is DeNoise AI has only a small preview area which limits viewing of the whole effect on the image. It takes a while to get the preview and has to be reapplied each time you move the view area. Once the Apply button is pressed, it takes an even longer time, depending on the size of the image, to set the change on the layer in PS. This will probably be improved with future updates. On difficult images like the one above, it does do a fabulous job and my house image can now be used. Therefore I am finding AI Clear is still working great when I just need a little quick noise clean up but when I see real noise issues, DeNoise AI is excellent. On Topaz’s website, there are several images you can download and try with this software.
On this image when a sky was added (see steps in next paragraph for this), I had to also run the sky layer through the DeNoise AI filter so it would match the image – did not expect to have to do this but it worked! Sometimes textures and sky images are pretty low res and have a lot of noise in them. (Set the sky to Noise Level 0.70 and left Sharpness and Restore Detail at 0.) The house image had these camera settings (ISO 1600, 35 mm using a 18-200 mm zoom lens, F/9.5 at 1/500 sec. taken from a moving car) and was in bad shape. In LR only did a Crop, Enable Lens Profile and Remove Chromatic Aberration. See the screenshot of what the interface looked like after applying the DeNoise filter to the LR image. Click on the image to see a larger view of the interface in Flickr. The noise was particularly apparent in the glass in the windows. Notice all the other reflections from the car window that had to be removed with a Clone Stamp Tool too.
And a little trick for adding a sky: if the original sky is basically all white with lots of tree branches and leaves around it – just add the cloud image on top and then double click on the layer to open the layer style for the sky; set the Blend If to Blue and in Underlying Layer move the black tab right to bring back the leaves and branches (split the tab by ALT clicking on it to pull apart and get a more natural transition between sky and trees). Really quick and easy to do. I might also add that Skylum’s Luminar 3 (for website see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) upgraded this week and totally improved their Accent AI Filter – I used it on this image and was very pleased with the result. Their AI Sky Enhancer was also used on the image. This is also a free update for Luminar 3.0 owners.
I plan on writing about this filter again after I have had more time to test it out. If you own either of the other noise products, be sure to upgrade. Definitely worth doing and it really is a nice addition. I am sure there are many ways to use it on your images. Have a very nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd