Topaz Clarity Introduced

Topaz ClarityTopaz Labs has released a brand new plugin, the Topaz Clarity. It was meant to help photographers create compelling and powerful images by intelligently enhancing contrast and clarity with no visible artifact or halos.

Here are some of the unique features introduced in Topaz Clarity:

  1. Selective Contrast Control – a cutting edge process of selecting specific contrast variations in your original image, allowing you to quickly target and then increase or decrease the contrast and clarity in that specific variation.
  2. Breakthrough Halo-free Algorithm – boost contrast and clarity without emphasizing transitions between light and dark areas, eliminating the common problems of halos, noise and artifacts.
  3. Advance Hue/Saturation/Luminance Technology – using IntelliColor technology, you can easily enhance your image with the HSL filter, getting stronger, yet more natural HSL adjustments.
  4. Re-Imagined Masking Workflow – the masking module, now attached to each adjustment tab contains a comprehensive set of tools including an edge-aware brush, gradient mask, smart feather tool, color aware tool, and more.
  5. User Interface Design – cleaner, more modern and efficient interface to improve usability, workflow and overall aesthetics.

You can purchase the Topaz Clarity at a special reduced price of $29.99 through May 31st with promo code: claritynew by clicking here. After the introductory price expires, it will retail for $49.99, so grab your copy now.

I received a pre-released version of the software, which allowed me to play with it  a little. Although, I have only used the included presets, I am amazed at how easy it is to use. I think I am already in love, and I can easily see myself using this plugin a lot. Check out the sample photo I edited using the Sunset III preset. Click on the images for a better view.

Tulip bed original

Tulip bed original

Tulip Bed

Tulip Bed:  Lightroom / PSE with Topaz Clarity Plugin

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Converting Color to Black and White

I thought I’d do something different today. I figured I would start documenting my post processing workflow and share them here. I am hoping someone reading my blog would find it helpful.

I found a photo of a pink rose that I took a while back. I wanted to covert the image into black and white, and I wanted it to have that soft look, which I think is appropriate for this subject.

Old Rose

Old Rose

Since I shoot in RAW, I “developed” the file in Lightroom 4. I fixed the white balance and adjusted the exposure. I wanted to overexpose it a little to achieve the look that I want. I then exported it over to Photoshop Elements to continue with the editing. The plan was to use Topaz BW Effects to convert the image. Here is my Photoshop workflow:

  • Duplicate background layer
  • Cleared some of the stray water drops using Spot Healing Tool in Photoshop
  • Flattened the layers
  • Duplicated the background layer again and renamed it Topaz BW
  • Launched Topaz BW Effects from the Filter tab in Photoshop Elements
  • In the Topaz BW Effects plugin, I chose Milk Memories from the Opalotype Collection
  • Played around with the strength of the effect until I am satisfied with the outcome
  • Back to Photoshop Elements, I created a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, pushed the Saturation slider all the way to the left to remove the remaining hint of color
  • I flattened the layers, then created Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to adjust the lightness to +14  (I needed to adjust the lightness because I wanted to lighten the background more)
  • Finally, on the Hue/Saturation layer mask, I brushed over the flower to bring back the details on the petals.

Et voila! The final image is now a soft black and white.

Black and white rose

Black and white rose

 

 

 

Autumn Veil

Autumn Veil

Autumn Veil | ISO – 100 | 60 mm | 1/350 sec @ f/5.6 | Edited with Topaz Lens Effects      (Click on the image for a better view)

Pardon me for posting another Autumn landscape, but I was going through some photos that I took last Fall and I realized there are a few that had some potential. This is a shot of Village Tremblant, which was taken as I was standing at the Summit.

"Autumn veil" original You must know that the fog on this image was added during post, since my purchase of the Topaz Bundle some time ago, I haven’t had the chance to play with Topaz Lens Effects and I thought this was a good candidate. I knew I wanted to add “veil” to the landscape, so, after the adjustments on Lightroom 4, I fired up Topaz Lens Effects in Photoshop and added the “Fog” effects” to the water and a little bit to the ground.

This was the original image after Lightroom 4. As you can see, the landscape was pretty clear with no fog in sight. I do like the original, but I’m sure a little creativity never hurts anyone.

So, what do you think?

Illumination, Part Deux

This  city is big on promoting its artistic community and it shows from the revamped Grand Foyer of Place-des-Arts which showcases a lively and modern design.

ESPACE CULTUREL GEORGES-ÉMILE-LAPALME

ENTRANCE TO THE ESPACE CULTUREL GEORGES-ÉMILE-LAPALME | ISO – 100 | 20 mm | 4 sec @ f/11

This image was processed with Topaz Detail. DeNoise was also applied to smooth out the visible noise that became more apparent after I did a slight Detail boost.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2013 everyone! I hope that you all had a blast during your New Year’s Eve celebration. Mine was an awfully quiet one, totally not how I envisioned it. If you must know, I rang in the New Year with a nasty flu. But no worries, big party or not, I intend to make 2013 my best year yet.

Since I have not gone out to shoot because of the flu, I don’t have any new photos to share, so these were taken some time ago, but recently edited using Topaz Simplify.

Bridge Topaz Simplify

Bridge | ISO – 200 | 32 mm | 1/125 sec @ f/11 | Topaz Simplify

Maple Painting

Maple Painting | ISO – 100 | 80 mm | 1/180 sec @ f/5.6 | Topaz Simplify

 

More On Simplify

I spent a good amount of time playing with Topaz Lab’s Simplify plug-in last night. It is such a fun tool to use, and manipulating my images on it was a breeze. I did buy the complete bundle, but I was having a kick out of Simplify that I haven’t had a chance to test out the rest.

Autumn Foliage Topaz Simplify

Autumn Foliage | ISO – 200 | 33 mm | 1/20 sec @ f/14 | Topaz Simplify

My fur-ball named Bijoux

Bijoux | ISO – 2000 | 50 mm | 1/90 sec @ f/2.8 | Topaz DeNoise | Topaz Simplify

Simplify works really well with trees and vegetation, but as you can see it is also great on fur. The second photo is of my fur-ball named Bijoux. It was taken at night, so I bumped up my ISO to 2000 and used Topaz DeNoise to remove any traces of noise. DeNoise is a part of the plugin that I purchased and does an excellent job removing noise while keeping most of the details in-tact.

Autumn Art

Finally took the plunge and purchased the Topaz Labs bundle. I had to take advantage of their awesome year-end sale. If anyone is interested, the promo is good until Dec 31st. You may purchase it here, use discount code  “topaz2012″ at check out.

The first thing I had to try was the Topaz Simplify. Rachael from Focused Moments posted a photo edited with Topaz Simplify a week ago, and I just loved it that I had to try. She has posted a few more since so be sure to check out her blog.

Autumn art

Autumn Landscape | ISO – 200 | 26 mm | 1/20 sec @ f/13 | Topaz Simplify

I found an image which was taken during Fall of last year. I thought it was a good candidate for Topaz Simplify. I used a preset on this photo, I didn’t do much tweaking as I already liked how it turned out.