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Posts tagged “Topaz

Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3


The above was my first attempt at trying out Topaz Detail 3 and I am not disappointed. (For Topaz website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar.) To sharpen an image I usually use the High Pass filter, Unsharp Filter or convert to LAB and do localized sharpening on the L channel. Detail 3 makes sharpening so much easier and gives several ways to adjust your sharpening to get the detail effect you want. This upgrade was definitely needed – and what I like most is that you can now localize the detail. All I can say is Love It! Love It! Love It!

Since I am such a big fan of Topaz anyway, I decided to use several of their plug-ins on this image from the 39th Annual Daytona Turkey Run Car Show, the largest in the US. If you look close at this guys face, you can see a slight smile – Detail really brought that out. I first started processing this image in Lightroom (see the RAW image below) with just the Basic sliders. In Photoshop I went immediately into Topaz photoFXlab, their new plug-in interface that I love. (See my Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz photoFXlab v1.1 blog.) Next the Black and White Effects plug-in (this plug-in does things like no other filter I have seen) and from the Opalotype Collection the Hand-Tinted Chiffon preset was applied. The only change was to the Vignette which I centered on the car and adjusted the vignette sliders. Back in photoFXlab, Adjustment tab settings using the Dynamics slider (my favorite), Sharpness, Highlights and Shadows were applied. On a +From Stack layer (composite), the new Detail 3 plugin setting using just the Large Detail set to 0.53 was selected. Then in the Effect Mask tab, I lightly painted out the grill so as not to overdo the sharpening effect on it. The Overall Effect slider was set to .78 and that was it. In Photoshop the last step was to add French Kiss’s free Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay with grunge removed from center. It turned out beautifully!

What I Like about Topaz Detail 3!

1.  Totally love the localized detailing that can now be done – the Effect Mask can be used to either paint in or paint out areas of the image so just what you want sharpened is affected.

2. The effect is usually pretty subtle but makes an incredible difference when viewing the image! There is an Overall Opacity slider in the Effect Mask tab that can be reduced to lower the detail globally if it appears to be overdone.

3. The Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green, and Yellow-Blue Tone sliders where you can enhance a single color have always been a favorite, even in Detail 2. Also Color Temperature and Tint sliders are now available. These sliders all use the IntelliColor feature that keeps unwanted color shifts under control.

4. What I just learned is that the Detail plug-in can also be used as a final sharpening for printing your images.  Topaz did a You-Tube video called Output Sharpening for Print with Topaz, presented by Hal Schmidt using this process with Detail 2. I am planning on checking this out when I get a chance.

5.  Details can actually just be added to the Shadows or the Highlights of your image or both with different settings. Really handy when you have a difficult image to work on.

6. New Deblur technology from Detail 2 that brings out micro details – great for macro photos. I have not had a chance to really use it yet but it sounds like a very promising feature.

What I Do Not Like!

1.  I have a bit of a problem with the Effect Mask – I have a hard time making sure I am covering everything I need covered and at the correct amount. It would be nice if they had a colored overlay, as with Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush, that would give you a feel as to where you were going out of the edges.

2. I wish the Undo/Redo buttons would work on the Effect Mask. The only way you can erase an area you accidentally painted over is to move the brush to a different amount and hope it covers. This works okay if using Brush Strengths of either 0 or 1.00, but when in between, it gets hard to fix. Sometimes it is easier to just start over by resetting the mask. The other plug-ins, like Adjust and photoFXlab, have these buttons working. (A request on Technical Problems has been posted in their Forum on this matter.)

3. This is a small nag, but when you apply an effect, you need to make sure you press Reset button in the Effect Mask to clear the mask window or it stays on even after pressing the Apply button. When you start to make other effect changes, the mask is still there. This is also true if you have painted out an area, for a certain preset and then change your mind about that preset, press Reset All in the Adjustments tab, the mask is still in the window. Sometimes this is good if you still want the mask, but sometimes it is frustrating until you realize what happened. Most of the other plug-ins will retain the mask before you apply an effect, but clear it after applying.

4. Another small nag, but often the program gets confused and opens up on my second monitor instead of over Photoshop or photoFXlab – not sure why it happens but just some of the time.

Overall the negatives are not that big a deal although I hope they do fix No.2. The revamping of this plug-in has made it so much more useful – I am looking forward to having it in my workflow!
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These beautiful little miniature mums are once again my subject. This time a little processing in Lightroom, but not much. (See image below as it was brought into Photoshop.) DeNoise 3 was applied with just an overall Strength of .11 – now you do not need to adjust the Recover Detail slider if you are going to use Detail 3. Next Detail 3 was opened and applied 3 times! Yep – First in the Creative Detail Collection, the Overall Detail Strong II preset was applied and it really sharpened the flower petals and center. Next from the Stylized Detail Collection the Desaturated Blush II was applied and that beautiful texturized background appeared. Finally from the same collection the HDR Enhancement I was applied – in the Effect Mask the mask was inverted to black and with a brush set to 1.00, the center of the flower was painted back. Now to get just the right effect for the center, back in the Adjustments tab the Saturation Boost was set to .44. That is all that was done to this image to get this beautiful effect other than adding my B&W Border Frame Layer Style. I was totally surprised by how much detail was in the image that you could not see originally and by how beautiful a texture could be created by playing around with the presets and applying different ones.

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This image of one of the Haunted Houses at for the Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios Orlando was created very quickly – below is what the image looked like after just basic Camera Raw corrections were done in Lightroom. It is not bad but Topaz added those subtle changes that really improve the image. First Topaz photoLabFX was opened and the layer duplicated. Since the image had quite bit of noise in it as it was taken at night and without a tripod, I felt it needed to have Topaz DeNoise 3 applied first – just a little Strength set to .11 and Detail Recovery set to .26 (did this before I realized that it could be done in Detail 3) – the noise was cleared. (I love DeNoise!) Then I went into the new Topaz Detail 3 plug-in and applied the Architectural Detail II preset.  Exit and a Stamped layer was created where Adjustment tab settings for the Temperature to -8 (for a more blue tone), Saturation to -23 (it was really bright  and the light was coming from everywhere), Dynamics to 27 (my favorite slider in all of Topaz – just works!), Highlights to -89 and Shadows to -23 were applied. French Kiss Glorious Grunge Edging free overlay (see link above) was applied and that was it. I was amazed how much the Detail 3 and the Dynamics slider together made this image pop. I have to say this picture reminds me of one of my kids favorite childhood books, the Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree!

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This is another example of the creative aspect of this plug-in – this image turned out very different than what I thought it would look like. This beautiful Monarch butterfly was not very happy with me taking her picture and it took off about two seconds after I captured this image. I got exactly two pictures! (See RAW image below.) After doing my Camera Raw work in Lightroom, the image was brought into Photoshop and Topaz Detail 3 opened. I applied this plug-in twice to get this effect on the butterfly and background. First application used the Stylized Detail Collection Abstraction I preset – then in the Color Section changed the Temperature and Saturation sliders. In the Effect Mask, at Strength 0.64 on a black inverted mask, the butterfly was painted in so the changes were made to just the background, but a little to the butterfly. This created the very soft background. Then Topaz Detail 3 was opened again and this time Creative Detail Collection Feature Enhancement I preset was used. This time it was applied just to the butterfly and not the background. Changes were made to the Tone sliders,including the Cyan-Red (0.82), Magenta-Green (0.68), and Yellow-Blue (-0.30) sliders – these are unique to this plug-in for Topaz and they can make an incredible difference in an image. These are not new to Detail 3 but are still one of my favorite parts of the plug-in. In Photoshop French Kiss Artiste Collection Charmante texture was added and the butterfly painted out, some text typed in and warped, and that wonderful grunge overlay applied again – I must be on a grunge kick?


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I decided to try a little different effect for this image from the top of the Sky Tower of the Kraken Roller Coaster (check out the link for crazy roller coaster video) at SeaWorld Orlando. This image was pretty complicated as I used 4 different Topaz plug-ins to get the final effect. First my normal workflow in Lightroom. Next Topaz photoFXlab was opened and the Adjustment tab was used to adjust almost all the sliders including Dynamics that was set to 50. On a stacked layer Black and White Effect was opened and from the Albumen Collection, Chocolate preset was applied with Film Grain turned off and the Transparency set to .49. Topaz Detail 3 was applied – there were areas on the image that had been slightly lightened and blurred due to reflections from a window in the Sky Tower.  To get rid of these reflection marks and make them blend into the rest of the image, I selected the Creative Detail Collection – Texture Enhancement II preset. This really over detailed the image as it was pretty sharp due to the wonderful Dynamics slider. In the Effect Mask, it was inverted and with a brush set to Strength .55, I painted over the light areas in the black mask. Then went into Adjustments tab and changed the Exposure to -.08 and Contrast to 0.45 to make the changes blend in. This is a terrific use for this filter and makes its value so much better than Detail 2. Topaz Detail 3 was applied again using just a change to the Cyan-Red slider – it was set to -1.00 to bring out the cyan roller coaster track. Finally Topaz Len Effects Vignette – Selective was set to draw the eye to the highest point of the coaster – very subtle. My Thin Double Edge Frame Layer Style was applied sampling frame colors from the image.

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I love Topaz products and Detail 3 is no exception. I actually purchased Detail 2 as my first Topaz product – I did not use it to the extent I could have but I did use it at times for the detail and color toning I needed. Detail 3 is definitely a big step up and it does create that extra bit of sharpening and detail that is usually needed at some point in your post-processing workflow. And don’t forget that once you buy a plug-in from Topaz, the upgrades are free! I got this version for just owning Detail 2! You should definitely check it out!…..Digital Lady Syd


Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz DeNoise 5


For years I have resisted the temptation to buy noise software – it seemed awfully expensive for how much I needed to use it. When Lightroom 3 (and Adobe Camera Raw) came out with their new Noise Reduction sliders in the Effects section, I thought – this is all I needed! But as I am learning more about shooting images and attempting the “harder to get” shots, having a more powerful noise reduction plug-in at my disposal is absolutely necessary. I downloaded a trial of Topaz DeNoise 5 and am discovering that some of my images have more of a noise issue than I realized. If you like to shoot at night, or need to set your camera to a high ISO level (1250 and above) due to movement in your image, then you introduce some big problems. That is what happened to me in these examples. The image above is one I took through a window (with lots of reflection) in a low lighted restaurant on a very cool night at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I really thought there was no way I would get a nice result of this beautiful view from my table. The image was shot at ISO 1250 and the original Camera Raw image was very bright and totally grainy. I was very surprised how quick Topaz DeNoise 5 (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) fixed up the noise in this night image – just one preset, RAW Moderate Preset, was applied and that was it! Bottom Line – definitely a sound choice for removing noise at any level!

Two things need to be done to use this plug-in effectively: 1) Make sure the Noise Reduction and Sharpening sliders in Lightroom and/or Adobe Camera Raw are turned off (if using Lightroom 3 make sure the Black slider is set to 0 also), and 2) use DeNoise first to avoid other problems cleaning up the image. The sliders are pretty intuitive once you play with them a little – usually all I am using is the Overall Strength slider and sometimes Recover Detail. The manual is an excellent resource if you have a bigger problem in your image.

This Flame Thrower image was cut out of a low resolution movie as a JPG from a luau at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii. I have had a lot of trouble getting good image quality from my movie shots of that evening to look clean and sharp. This was a difficult image to clean up but with some effort, it does remind me of the luau show. In DeNoise the settings I ended up using were Overall Strength set to 0.10 and Adjust Shadow set to -0.09, but it also needed Recover Detail slider (which subtly brings detail back into the image) set to 0.30 and Reduce Blur (intelligent deblurring to fix soft or blurry edges) to 0.39. I am finding that when I use the Detail Recovery sliders I have to adjust the Overall Strength more. These sliders appear to be unique to the DeNoise program and I love them.  Topaz recommends creating presets for each of the ISO settings on your camera(s) once you get settings you like. I created a preset for my movie images using the above settings. (Set preset to Absolute only if using preset for a series of images; use Relative when taking different kinds of shots with your camera and are using different ISO settings-the program will read changes in the image.)

This image was taken at SeaWorld‘s large Shark and Manta Ray Exhibit in Orlando, Florida. It was really hard to capture moving fish in a dark environment so they were not too blurry – an ISO setting of 1600 needed to be used to get the shot. DeNoise really helped clean up this image. Below is a comparison of what the image looked liked as a Raw image in Lightroom without Lightroom changes or DeNoise applied at 2 to 1 view.

Here is a similar shot as it appears in Photoshop at 200% view after Lightroom and DeNoise was applied but before the clean up layer and Curves Adjustment Layer were added.

To really see how the effect is being applied, the image should be viewed at 2 to 1 in a mid-tone area. It is not necessary to overdo getting rid of noise, a little remaining will not hurt an image. One of the features very unique to DeNoise is the ability to preview the noise not just in RGB , but also in the Luma, Color, Red and Blue. I usually start by previewing on the RBG mode and adjust the Overall Strength to get a feel for what the noise reduction is doing to the image. Next I go to Luma – sometimes there is more in this preview and the slider needs to be adjusted a little more. What I really like though is that on the tough images, the Blue  and Red Previews are great – you can adjust out splotchy areas by moving the Adjust Color – Red and/or Adjust Color – Blue component sliders a little bit to remove. Usually I finish up with the Detail Recovery sliders. For the above image though, only the Overall Strength slider was set to .33 and Recovery Detail to .30. I really do not use the other sliders very often as I don’t seem to need that much adjustment. Nichole Paschal at Topaz Labs has done a great video called Introduction to Topaz DeNoise – Remove Image Noise, Recover Important Detail that goes into more detail on how to get good results with all the sliders – definitely worth checking out if you download the trial. Also there is a really good banding section if your image has color noise across the image (often seen in JPG images especially) – I have not had to try this yet. I used a Curves Adjustment Layer to open up the shadow areas a little more back in Photoshop.

Bottom line – I am really enjoying this plug-in. It does a good and fast job of noise reduction with just a couple slider adjustments. But if you run into that difficult image, the tools are available to adjust these issues. I am very happy with the results I have gotten – and once again Topaz gives free upgrades when you purchase their products, so any new advancements are yours. Got to love this plug-in!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:

Clowning Around with Topaz!
Topaz DeNoise 5 and InstaTone


Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In

I am happy to say that I am using the new Topaz Lens Effects Plug-in. I am still learning about all the things it will do but so far I like what I see. They advertise 20 lens effects and over 150 presets so there are plenty of things to try. These filter effects can be stacked to create a final look. Topaz has several short tutorials up on U-tube that walk you through many of the new features. Click here for Topaz Lens Effects Intro and this good basic tutorial called Introduction to the New Topaz Lens Effects to learn how to use some of the features. Here is a link to the Topaz Lens Effects User Manual that will help explain exactly what is going on in each of the listed sections below and lets you see for yourself all the great effects they have included.

Bokeh – Selective Effect and Vignette

The image above used the Bokeh – Selective Effect with manual settings. It helped a lot to watch the second tutorial above to understand how to make a good Depth Map. The Depth Map created by the program is usually a very good starting point. See the next section on how to use the brush to fine-tune your Depth Map. Some adjustments were then added to the Focal Plane and Focus Area sections. A slight Vignette from within this effect finished up the image. Once you have the focus set by using the Depth Map, it is pretty self-explanatory to figure out how to proceed.

Fisheye Effect and Bokeh – Selective Effect

There has been a lot of excitement about the Fisheye Effect since you do not have to actually buy the expensive lens to get the look. It is easy to apply – this funny image below used the Extreme Fisheye Preset for a starting point and just a tweak to center the effect under the FishEye Adjustments section. (To see original image, click here.) Next a Bokeh – Selective Effect was applied. It is really necessary to play around a bit with the Depth Map and understand how to use it to get a good result. First uncheck Use Gradient Brush if you want to paint on your depth map. (Check Use Gradient Brush only if you wish to create a gradient on the Depth Map.) White areas are used for distant objects, black for near objects, and gray in-between – for some reason this seems strange to me. At first I kept getting a completely black Depth Map when the Reset button was pressed – finally realized that the Depth Value Slider was set to 0 so everything started as black or in focus. Set this slider higher, not all the way back or it will be a completely white Depth Map, to get a place to start if you do not like what the program generated for the map. Then add areas in black or white with the Brush and adjust the size to fit the areas you are trying to contour. The manual states that the larger the brush size, the more it will affect the adjacent areas. I found this to be true so a little experimentation is required to get the correct map. The side-by-side view gives you a real-time comparison to see how the effect is working.

I could not get the Lens – Motion effect I wanted for this image so I went back to my OnOne PhotoFrames and chose one from their Zoom Effects. I may be able to achieve this look in Topaz, but for this image it was just not working out. I also did some adjusting with the Clone Stamp in Photoshop where the Depth Map was not quite correct and the edges were smudged a bit. The Eyes were sharpened to make them pop more.

Camera – Toy Effect

This image was created using the Camera – Toy Effect and the FoliageI Preset as a start. The effect was centered on the wheel and Toy Camera Aberrations were set as follows: Vignette Strength (-0.30), Camera Shake (2.22), Camera Shake Angle (8.87), Grain Amount (0.09) and Double Image (No); Placement Adjustments were set to: Region Size (0.01), Transition (0.48), and Angle (130.3); Region A Color Casts were all 0 except for the Blue Cast A slider (0.06); Region B Color Casts were all 0 except for the Yellow Cast B slider (0.06); and Image Adjustments: Brightness (0.41), Contrast (0.09), Saturation (0.06), Saturation Boost (-0.08), Shadows (0.53) and Highlights (-0.01). I listed these settings so you could get a feel for all the sliders that can be adjusted to get a really unique look as shown above. A preset called Bright Colors was then created since it is very different from the ones provided. (Two OnOne PhotoFrames were added to give the grunge and frame effects.) Smashing Magazine has an article, “Uncovering Toy Cameras and Polaroid Vintage Effects (with Photoshop Tutorials),” that shows what some of the original images looked like with different types of toy cameras if you need some inspiration.

Camera – Tilt & Shift Effect

This image was created using the built-in Tilt and Shift Effect after watching another short U-Tube video called Quick Tips – Miniature Scenes 101 from Topaz. It turned out to be fairly easy to create but a little Gaussian Blue was added to the image in Photoshop for a little more blur in a few places. Smashing Magazine has an article on 50 examples of Tilt-Shift Photography if you want to get some good ideas how to use this effect.

Dual Tone Effect

For this image a Dual Tone Effect adding a bit of yellow and red was applied. For the original as seen on Flickr, click here. The preset that was used as a starting point was Top Left Red Leak but then a lot of sliders were adjusted to get the look above. There are four areas that can be adjusted:  Transition Adjustment which includes the Region Size, Transition and Angle – all of these are really important sliders; Region A Adjustment which sets the top color; Region B Adjustment which sets the bottom color; and Image Adjustment which includes the Brightness, Contrast and Saturation – all really important features. An OnOne PhotoFrame filmstrip border completes the image.

My final conclusion on this plug-in is that the Bokeh Effect has a possibility of being fantastic – it just has a bit of a learning curve but with practice, you should be able to get the exact results you want with the Depth Map. The other effects seem to give very pleasing results from the fun effects to the serious effects for doing major adjustments to you image. Even the Saturation and Sharpening effects I found to be really good. The Topaz Lens Effect plug-in is a great plug-in, but then I am a big Topaz fan and use most of their other products on a daily basis. The thing I like best about Topaz is that they keep the price down so for most people it is very affordable and makes Photoshop faster and more fun. (Check around for sites that will give you discounts for their products – NAPP members get 25% off.) Therefore, I give major Kudos to Topaz and all they do for the Photoshop community. That said, I do believe it is important to pool all your resources and if one plug-in does not give the look you want, use another one – they usually all work well together and the results can sometimes be spectacular.

Topaz has a 30-day fully functional download and they present short Webinars almost daily on the different effects. Give it a try and see if you can give your old images some new looks!