Monday, April 25, 2011

Topaz Software Magic

I've been using Photoshop plug-ins by Topaz Labs ever since they came out with Adjust a number of years ago.  The Topaz products I most frequently turn to are DeNoise and Adjust.  DeNoise, as its name implies, removes the speckles and blotches from underexposed areas of an image.  Adjust provides a range of enhancements that will bring out details, pump up colors, and create effects that, in the extreme, can be called cartoonish.  I use Topaz Adjust when working on many of my images, as the last step in Photoshop before saving the file.  I bring it into the image as a separate layer and usually I dial it down with the opacity slider to make its effects barely noticable and quite subtle. 

However, sometimes an image needs the industrial strength treatment. 

A few weeks ago I was out to lunch with my wife and her mother, and decided to capture the moment with the only camera I had with me ... an Android smart-phone.  Back lighting was severe, and even after activating the "flash" (a.k.a. LED bulbs) on the phone, the autoexposure on the smart-phone's camera couldn't handle it.  Here's the picture straight out of the camera:

Cllick on image to enlarge
 Keep in mind that this is a jpeg capture on a smart-phone, so it doesn't come close to giving me the latitude of tonal adjustment a RAW capture by a DSLR would grant.  I turned to Topaz Adjust for help.

I didn't expect very much from this image, but I went to work on it anyway.

First, with Topaz DeNoise, I selected the preset JPEG-strong.  That pretty much smoothed out the noise in the image.

After that, I brought up Topaz Adjust and  moved the Adaptive Exposure slider to 0.70 and the Regions slider to 6. I didn't move any other sliders from their default setting before clicking on OK.  Here's the jpeg image that resulted

Click on image to enlarge
Finally for the finishing touches, I imported the image into Lightroom.  In the Develop module, I moved the Red Saturation slider down to -30 to remove the exaggerated redness from the skin. Other slider adjustments followed:  Fill Light to 40, Blacks to 3, Clarity to +30, Brightness to +20.

Here's the final image, before cropping and vignetting.

Click on image to enlarge
... and after cropping and vignetting in Lightroom

Click on image to enlarge
 Topaz to the rescue, again!

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