Writing with Light

Posts tagged “plug in

I Can See Clearly Now…with Topaz Clarity

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.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 10.25.50 PM

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.

Flower, Macro, yellow, gerber

Before

Flower, Macro, yellow, gerber, Topaz Clarity

After – with Topaz Clarity

Boston, harbor, long exposure, black and white, pier

Before

Boston, harbor, long exposure, black and white, pier, Topaz Clarity

After – with Topaz Clarity

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.


Topaz Adjust 5 & Sample Images

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.

Original RAW file

Using Topaz Adjust 5

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.


Old Montreal City Hall with Topaz B&W Effects

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.

Canon XTi, Sigma 10 - 22mm, 3 Exposure HDR Tonemapped with Photomatix

Black & White conversion with Topaz B&W Effects

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.