To say that I’m excited by the release of Topaz Labs newest plug-in would be a huge understatement. This week Topaz Glow was released and what a great addition to Topaz’s arsenal of great tools.
Topaz Glow can be used as a stand-alone or a plugin (for PC & MAC) to transform your photos from dull to dazzling. Containing more than 70 unconventional and quirky filters, you can infuse your images with neon, graphic, liquid and other electrifying effects. Glow reveals hidden textures in your photos that aren’t visible to the naked eye. While you may not want to apply Glow on every image, you can take your creativity to the next level with this awesome plug-in.
Glow comes packed with 70 filters which you can use as is or you have complete artistic control to customize, combine and tweak to make your vision come to life.
Topaz Glow is regularly priced at $69.99 but until December 31, 2014 you can pick up Glow for $49.99 using the coupon code INTROGLOW.
Here are a few of my images processed with Topaz Glow. Click on each image to see a larger version.
Last week Topaz Labs announced the release of their newest plug-in, Topaz Impression. I had the pleasure of taking Impression for a test run this weekend and to say the least…I’m impressed by Impression.
As with all of the Topaz products this new plug-in is intuitive and easy to use. Impression comes loaded with 47 pre-sets that are designed to help you realize your vision by transforming your photos into realistic-looking studio art. You can use the pre-sets as they are (which is excellent) or use them as a jump off point to create your own unique piece.
Once you’ve selected your preferred pre-set you can click on it to go to the editing panel. There you can adjust the brush strokes, its width and length, opacity, brightness, contrast, texture strength and many more adjustments that allow you total control over your artistic creation. Impression also gives you total control over your colour palette.
Here are a couple of images that I created using Topaz Impression.
I liken this plug-in to a very cool app but its oh so much more. If you’ve always wanted to create beautiful digital art then Topaz Impression will enable you to do so. As with all of the Topaz Labs products you can download a free trial and try it for yourself. Click here to down load the free trial or to purchase Topaz Impression which is 25% off until September 30 by using this coupon code: SEPIMPRESSION.
You all know that I’m a big fan of Topaz Plug Ins and regularly use Topaz B&W Effects, Topaz Clarity, DeNoise and Detail just to name a few.
Topaz Labs is running a sale on their complete collection (and that doesn’t happen very often) starting today to Dec 2nd The Complete Collection is on sale for $199.99 (normally it’s $379.99) Use promo code blackfriday2013.
Can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner. Have you started on your holiday shopping? Have you put together your own wish list? If you’re anything like me the mental wish list starts in January and just gets longer as the year progresses. 🙂 Just in case you haven’t started I thought I would help you out with your list this year. The ever-growing number of products on the market makes it really hard to stay focused on what essential gear should be in your toolkit. Below is a list of equipment, software and reference material that I use and find invaluable for my photography business. So grab a cup of java, sit back and have a read through this rather long post. You may find a deal or two as well as some free stuff. Keep reading 🙂
I really love my Canon 7D. I’ve had it for about 2 years now and it’s definitely a workhorse. I sometimes find the need to shoot at high ISOs (3200 and higher) and it handles noise beautifully. It’s got a 19 point AF System and a shooting rate of up to 7fps. It’s really come down in price since I bought mine so worthwhile taking a look at this.
I must say that this lens is one of the best investments that I’ve made. The 24-70 f/2.8L is the lens that is always on my camera. It’s so versatile for all types of photography and the images this piece of glass produces are sharp, sharp, sharp. I promised myself a long time ago that as I needed to upgrade or buy new lens I would wait until I had the money to buy a quality lens and Canon’s “L” lens live up to the hype that you always hear about. You may want to put this one on your wish list ahead of time so Santa has sometime to save up for it.
Is this a must have? For me it is. It allows me to mount my camera onto a tripod in either a horizontal or vertical position quickly. The Kirk L- Bracket works with any Arca Style Quick Release Platform so if you have a Really Right Stuff or Markins ball head this will work. Make sure your purchasing the one that will fit your DSLR.
If you’re not backing up your images you’re taking a big risk with your images and all the hard work you’ve put into them. You’ve read it before I’m sure…the question isn’t “will your hard drive fail but when”. After I transfer all my images from my memory card to my hard drive I back them up immediately to my WD external hard drive which is a RAID drive. I then have an additional backup, the LaCie 3TB d2 Quadra Hard Drive with USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt. Both these drive perform extremely well and I’m confident that if one should fail my library of images are just a few keystrokes away.
After many years of using a traditional camera strap I found I was doing more damage to my neck then I really wanted to. I tried different straps…padded around the neck, different materials but I just wasn’t pleased or comfortable. A friend told me to give the Black Rapid a try, I did and I really love this strap. It’s saved me a lot of neck ache and the BlackRapid made specifically for women (don’t laugh you male photographers out there) is curved in just the right places so it sits across your chest nicely. And yes there are non-female versions available as well.
I just wrote a review about the Bataflae a couple of weeks ago which you can find on my products review page. I love this bag and if you or someone you know needs a new camera bag then look no further.
My go to store for photographic equipment is B&H Photo in New York. Unfortunately I don’t get to New York as often as I would like but their online store is the best. Even for little ‘ole me living in Canada, B&H has made so easy to order from them. If your living in Canada they will calculate shipping, customs and duties before you submit your order online so you know exactly what you’re paying. I’ve done the math and I save money when I order from B&H.
Software & Plug-Ins
Here’s a list of the software and plug-ins that I use and swear by. These form part of my workflow and I couldn’t do what I do without these tools. You might be surprised to find Photoshop Elements on the list and not Photoshop CS. I was holding out for the longest time and was eventually going to purchase CS and then Adobe changed the rules of the game. Since I didn’t already own CS5 or CS6 I would have had to pay the full subscription rate for Adobe CC so I decided against it. Do I feel that I’m at a disadvantage by using Elements? Absolutely not. I think the advances in Elements over the years has made it a software any professional photographer can use.
Clarity, Black & White Effects, Adjust, DeNoise, Detail…these are just a few of the Topaz plug-ins that I use. I write about them in my blog posts and usually let you know when I’ve used them in processing my images (check the tags). You can get a 15% discount on all Topaz products by using the discount ELPHOTO.
I also wanted to let you know that Topaz Labs is running a promotion on its Black & White Effects plug-in. Until November 19th B&W Effects is only $29.99. That’s a 50% savings and a steal for this plug-in.
Give the Gift of Art!
Yikes…I’ve said it…there you go. Here’s a bit of shameless self promotion. Gear is fun but if there’s someone special on your list why not give the gift of art. You can head on over to my gallery. All images are available in a variety of sizes. Make sure you check out the Float Mounted Metal Prints. They look great and they’re ready to go up on the wall when you receive them. From now until December 25 use the code Holiday2013 and save 15% on your order.
eBooks & Free Stuff
Well really…you must have known that I would include some of my favourite ebooks as part of this list 🙂
Ok…let’s start with some free stuff….yes free…first from Craft & Vision. Just click on the images and download…Happy Holidays!
Other Craft & Vision titles that are a must for your library include:
Here’s a terrific ebook from Ian Plant and the team at Dreamscapes and it’s absolutely free…
…and if you haven’t yet picked up and read Visual Flow – Mastering the Art of Composition then I suggest you check it out. You can read my review of Visual Flow here.
This free ebook has just been released from photographer and author Mitchell Kanashkevich, 7 Tips for Natural Looking Travel Portraits.
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed my little round-up of gear, software, art and ebooks. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas for gifts for yourself or for some one special. If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it with your social networks. Thanks and have a great week everyone.
Topaz Labs added to its award-winning line-up of plug-ins yesterday with the launch of Topaz Restyle. Have you ever stared at your computer screen and just felt that the image you were working on needed something else but just couldn’t put your finger on it. Topaz ReStyle helps you expands your creative vision by offering photographic styles you might never have dreamed of, or that you weren’t sure how to create. With over a thousand looks (or pre-sets) and the ability to fine tune your effect to your liking, Topaz ReStyle gives you more options than you can imaging.
The work space / interface is the same as other Topaz plug-in’s you’ve come to rely on and that big, beautiful preview box pops up before you click on your preset so that you can quickly scroll through and see what your image will look like.
Here are some of the unique features introduced in Topaz ReStyle:
1. Breakthrough Mapping Technology. ReStyle introduces a cutting-edge process of mapping color and tone statistics from a selected style to a target image. This new technology creates high-quality transformations, even for dramatic styles and looks.
2. New Style/Preset Creation Method. ReStyle creates presets using a source image’s color and tones, allowing you to save your own unique styles to use later.
5. Blending Modes. With ReStyle, Topaz Labs has incorporated blending modes for the adjustment modules, essentially showing 8 different looks for each style preset.
3. HSL Technology in 5-Color Style Sliders. Easily enhance your selected style’s 5 dominant colors using the unique hue, saturation and luminance controls.
4. Advanced Masking Workflow. The masking module, 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. Topaz Labs has developed a cleaner, more modern and efficient interface to improve usability, workflow and overall aesthetics.
Ok…so let me show you. (Click on the images to enlarge…they look better)
I also used Topaz Clarity in the second image (before applying ReStyle) to make the image pop slightly.
Topaz ReStyle will be priced at $59.99 but Topaz Labs is offering 50%off, so until Aug 31 you can purchase ReStyle for $29.99. Click here to purchase or why not download a free trial and give it a test run first.
I’ve been fortunate over the last week to have been able to test Topaz Labs’ newest plug-in Topaz Clarity. Topaz Clarity enhances contrast and clarity with absolutely no artifacts or halos. With just a few clicks you can easily manipulate your micro, mid-tone and overall contrast, transforming your image from ordinary to extraordinary, while maintaining the natural feeling and tonality you are after.
While the plug-in is simple enough (you’ll recognize the familiar interface of the other suite of Topaz plug-ins) Topaz Clarity is a very powerful tool. I was a bit skeptical when I’d first heard about this new release but once I started using it I was blown away by the subtle yet powerful improvements achieved using this.
Here are some of the unique features introduced in Topaz Clarity:
1. Selective Contrast Control. With Clarity, Topaz Labs has developed a cutting-edge process of selecting specific contrast variations in the 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 problem of halos, noise and artifacts.
3. Advanced 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. Topaz Labs has continued to develop a cleaner, more modern and efficient interface to improve usability, workflow and overall aesthetics.
Topaz Clarity comes with 9 collections of presets that includes Architecture; Fashion; Macro; Nature & Landscape. The presets are a great way to speed up your processing or giving you a good starting point for the look your after.
Instead of continuing to “tell” you what Topaz Clarity does I’ll “show” you instead with a couple of images I worked on specifically for this review. Please click on the images to enlarge and really see the detail.
Topaz Clarity will retail for $49.99, but it’s being offered now at a special introductory price of $29.99 through May 31st. Use promo code: claritynew Click here to purchase.
I suppose the title and this image may be appropriate since it hasn’t stopped raining the last 2 days. This was taken just after sunrise in Jackson Square in New Orleans. The street vendors get there early to claim their piece of real estate for the day.
I converted the image to black and white using Topaz Black & White Effects and then used the local adjustment tool to selectively bring back the colour in the umbrellas.
Topaz Labs will be releasing, later today, Topaz Black & White Effects 2.1. I had the opportunity to test out the beta version before its release and the latest update has 2 excellent additions:
The Zone System Viewing Mode which lets you see your image broken down into 11 zones that represent the full tonal scale going from 0 as black to 10 as white. Zones are shown in different highlight colors for easy viewing. This viewing mode helps you determine whether or not you have the full tonal range in your image and then make exposure adjustments in the conversion module to correct these tones.
The Borders feature in B&W Effects 2.1 allows you to choose from several realistic darkroom borders, with several styles including both bleeding and crisp edges. This new feature also allows you to select the size of the border.
I really get excited when Topaz Labs updates their plug-ins because the enhancements are always so well thought out and makes the plug-in an even more powerful tool.
The update is free to anyone who already owns Topaz B&W Effects. If you don’t have it, Topaz Labs is offering 30% Black & White Effect v2.1 until April 21, 2013. Use coupon code bw21 off. You can check it out here.
Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.
Sometimes you have your posts planned out in advance and other times you have to seize an opportunity that comes along and share certain things with your readers. Forest Impressions is an image that I made a couple of month ago when the fall colours were at their peak. I really enjoy creating these types of images, using long exposures and moving, shaking or panning the camera to see what types of effects I can create. I used a texture filter right in Photoshop to give this image its final look.
Click on the image to enlarge (it really looks better) or to Purchase a Print.
About a week ago Topaz Labs announced the release of its newly revamped Topaz Detail 3 plug-in. As much as I wanted to take sometime and write a review of this new release, time just wasn’t on my side and I always want to try something before I pass on the information to you. On Friday I received an email from Topaz Labs letting me know that while the initial promotion period would be over on the 16th they were going to extend the 30% off promotion to affiliates only. I took this opportunity to download the software over the weekend and really give it a test run.
As with other Topaz plug-in’s Detail is very intuitive and I was pleasantly surprised with its capability. The entire engine of the plug-in has been completely redesigned and the results are outstanding. I dug into my archives from Italy and here’s the result.
Click on the images to enlarge and really see the difference. I love how subtle the changes are and how it just gives the final image that added punch that it needs.
The discount period has been extended for 2 days only, Monday Dec. 17th and Tuesday Dec. 18th. Use coupon code “getdetail” Topaz Detail retails for $39.99 but with this discount you get it for only $27.99 which is an absolute steal for a plug-in this powerful. Click here to getdetail.
Over a month ago Topaz Labs released an update to its popular Simplify plugin – Topaz Simplify 4. I updated the latest version when it was released but really didn’t have time to test it out although it was on my to-do list. Well I finally had a chance to try it out this weekend and I was really pleased with the changes that Topaz made to this plug-in.
Aside from some new adjustment sliders and the addition of an edge aware selective brush to dodge, burn, smooth and brush out effects they’ve also included over 100 new presets.
I decided to try out some of the new presets with an image that I felt was just “ok.” I wouldn’t have normally posted this image because I feel there are too many things wrong with it but I really like how Simplify helped me salvage this image. With each of these presets I’ve also used the adjustment sliders to adjust contrast, saturation, curves, etc, depending on what I felt the image needed. Let me know what you think.
If you already have Topaz Simplify and you haven’t upgraded then what are you waiting for…it’s a free upgrade. If you don’t have Simplify then you can download a free trial from the Topaz Labs site…here. If you decide to purchase the plug-in then you can use the discount code ELPHOTO to receive a 15% discount.
Topaz Labs announced today that they have just launched a new plug-in…Topaz Star Effects. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to play around with the beta version this week and this really is a handy tool to have in your post processing arsenal of tools.
Topaz Star Effects allows you to create unique star effects by manipulating and enhancing the various light sources within your digital images. With just a few clicks you can easily transform points of light within your image to create stunning lighting and star effects, supplement existing light sources, change or enhance image mood, add shimmering effects to things like water and jewelry, and much more.
Some of the unique features you can expect ot find in Star Effects are:
- Selective Brush. Intuitive selective adjustment brush that allows you to select the light sources in your image that you want to add (or remove) star effects.
- Star-Type Selection. Choose the type of star you want.
- Star Stack-a-bility. Features an apply button allowing you to create various layers of star effects with different characteristics.
- Color Adjustments. Allows you to adjust the color characteristics of your added star effects.
Star Effects has the same, easy to navigate, layout as the rest of the Topaz Labs suite. The beta version had 13 presets but more will be added. The presets are a good starting point but there are hundreds of variations to the effect you can produce by using the adjustments tools.
“Star Effects™ is the most customizable and inclusive star filter out there right now. With adjustments like star type, glow, ring flare and color controls, the program allow for users to create effects from realistic sun flares and glowing water to more obvious, artistic additions,” said Nichole Paschal, Senior Marketing Specialist for Topaz Labs. “Plus the ability to selectively add and remove these effects, in a single click, is easy to understand and an important aspect to Star Effects™.”
Here’s an example of 2 different ways you can use this plug-in. Click on the images to see a larger, more detailed version.
Click on the images to see a larger, more detailed version
Topaz Labs is offering a special introductory price of $19.99. Just enter coupon code “TopazStars” when purchasing.
On Tuesday November 15th Topaz Labs will be releasing its latest update…Topaz Adjust 5. As a long time user of Topaz Adjust I was very excited to hear that they were updating the software but once I read what those updates would include…well let’s just say I’v been spending a lot of time in front of the computer.
Here are just some of the exciting new features and tools you’ll find in the new Topaz Adjust 5
- Selective Brush. For easy dodging, burning smoothing and removing adjustments.
- Finishing touches. Features options for borders, transparency, grain, warmth, vignettes and more.
- Preset collections. Presets are organized into unique collections.
- Apply button. Stack multiple effects and presets during the same workflow.
- Auto create layer. Automatically creates a new layer where your adjustments will be saved to.
- Effect enable/disable. Clickable preview options that allow you to hide or view a set of adjustments for easy comparison.
- Histogram. Built into the Preview Navigator window.
- Ordered interface workflow. The interface is set up in numbered stages for a quick and easy workflow.
- Individual tab reset buttons. Quickly reset the parameters in a specific adjustment tab without affecting your other settings.
- Split Screen. Use the 2-screen split view for easy before and after comparison.
Topaz Labs have made some great changes to the plug-in. The interface is now very similar to Topaz Black & White Effects and while its always been intuitive and user friendly it now makes your workflow that much easier.
You can click on the images to view a larger size.
The first image is the original RAW file straight out of the camera. This was taken on the Amalfi Coast in Italy and I wanted to give the image an old 60’s feel to it. The final image, under it, was created with Adjust 5 using the Film Collection and the Timeless IV preset. I gave it a slight boost in detail and added a vignette and then desaturated a touch to come up with this final image.
This new version really rocks but what I love most is that it automatically creates a new layer in Photoshop when you launch the plug-in. With over 100 presets, the new collections & presets really allow you to get creative with your images. The selective brush tool lets you easily and effectively make selective adjustments such as dodging & burning. The Smooth option lets you smooth out details when you need to clean up a sky and the Brush Out tool allows you to easily taper down the strength of effects or remove them altogether.
The tentative release date for Topaz Adjust 5 is NOvember 15th. Check the Topaz Labs site on that date for information.
Ok…I’m excited. Last week Topaz announced the release of its new plug in, Topaz Black & White Effects. As an avid user of Topaz plug-ins such as Topaz Adjust and Topaz Lens Effects (just to name two) I’ve been wondering when they were going to come up with a plug-in for black and white conversion. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to test their beta copy and really give it a trial run. Topaz Black & White Effects has the same look and feel as other Topaz favorites like Adjust, Simplify and Lens Effects. Its very intuitive and easy to use and the results are pretty impressive. One of my favorite new features is the selective brush tool for dodging, burning and selective color. With that there’s also an “edge-aware” slider which ensures that you stay within the area that you’ve selected when, for example, you’re burning a selected area.
I was in Montreal last weekend and thought I would test out the plug-in using some of those shots. This image of City Hall in Old Montreal was a 3-shot bracketed exposure which I processed and tonemapped with Photomatix and then brought into Photoshop and adjusted levels and unsharp mask.
Topaz B&W Effects is a black and white converter and image enhancer that gives you a variety of tools, making it easy to create stunning black and white compositions. More than your traditional black and white conversion tool, Topaz B&W Effects offers more tools and flexibility for a diverse range of looks. It includes 8 Effect Collections with over 120 presets (more coming with the release version) that simulate traditional and alternative BW processes, offering the ability to create traditional and stylized looks. It also features a simplifed, yet intuitive, selective brush, creative effects and finishing effects for high-impact black and whites.
Here are just some of the unique features found in Topaz B&W Effects:
1. Selective Brush. Intuitive selective adjustment brush for burning, dodging and selective color – plus edge-aware options.
2. True Grain Filter & Grain Creation. Choose from your favorite films or create your own grain.
3. Adaptive Exposure. The power of Topaz Adjust is infused with B&W Effects to help create dynamic detail and exposure.
4. Quad Tone. Allows for 4 different tones to be selected and applied to different tonal regions within an image.
5. Creative Effects. Includes popular Topaz effects to creatively enhance images.
6. Finishing Touches. Includes effects to give your image the perfect final touch.
While we haven’t been given an exact release date or pricing, Topaz Black & White Effects will be available this week at a special introductory (discounted) price. Watch the blog for more information.