Using Topaz Adjust in Photoshop

Above is an example of what you can expect from following this tutorial.

Here I have a photo I took recently in Kauai. Its ok, but I can get artistic with Topaz:

Topaz Adjust is a program that installs right into Photoshop as a plug-in. Once you install the Topaz Adjust program into Photoshop, it will go into the Filter menu. To open, I’ll go to Filter/Topaz Labs/Topaz Adjust 3:

This is what the interface looks like:

I can pick one of the presets that are on the left side of the screen, or I can use the control panel at the bottom of the screen. I prefer to use the controls:

With the first example, I’ll give this image a grungy HDR look. Here are the Exposure settings for this image:

Here are the settings for Details. The details controls are what really gives the grungy look:

Here are the settings for the Color:

With this photo, since I’m going for the grungy look, I won’t use the last tab — the Noise tab. When I’m finished and I like how the photo looks, I’ll click OK. The photo will open in Photoshop, where I can make more adjustment if I want to.

At any time, if I should change my mind about a setting, all I have to do is hit the Reset Tab button. This resets only the individual tab like the Exposures, Details, Color or Noise. If I were to hit Reset All button, all the tabs that I used would be reset to the original photo:

Here is the before and after:

Now I’m going to take the same photo and give it a painterly effect. Here are the Exposure settings:

To give this image a painterly look, I’ll use the Details tab opposite of the way I used it to give the image the grungy look. I’ll bring the Strength slider to the left, giving the image less details, and the same with the Boost. Play around with all the sliders and see the effect it has:

Here are the settings for the Color tab:

Next I’ll use the Noise tab. This tab gives an extra soft look. When I use the Noise tab, it zooms in on the photo. To look around the photo, I’ll just hover my mouse on the image, then click and drag the photo to see effect on different parts of the image.

Here is the setting I used for the Noise tab:

Here is the before and after of the painterly look:

Here are other examples of what can be done with this photo in Topaz Adjust:





Topaz has 30 day unlimited trials on all of their products, if you want to try this out.

HDR – Using The Dynamic Photo HDR Program

Above, I have five images exposed for HDR. That means one properly exposed image and one to two over- and under-exposed images. The images are of a tree showing off its fall foliage:

Open the Dynamic Photo HDR program. You can get a free trial version on their web site.

Go to the File menu and bring in the images that you want. This is what it looks like:

A dialog box opens up called Create New HDR Image. Click OK:

The next dialog box asks to “Align Files”. Click on each image and use the dials to align them. Even if the images don’t need aligning, click on each image or the program won’t let you go to the next step. Then click OK:

This next step will take a few moments while the program creates the HDR image:

Here, you can correct the exposure and gamma by moving the sliders:

Now it’s time to click on Step 2 – Tone map HDR file:

Here the “Tone Mapping” dialog box opens up. Go to the left side of the box where it says “Method”. Check out which one you like best. Then go to Setting. This is where you can tweak the brightness, shadow/highlights, saturation and radius. On the right of the box there are the curves, color equalizer and the hue shift:

If you want more options, you can click on the Kelvin tab, which brings up this dialog box. There are a lot to choose from. The thing I don’t care for is that the boxes are too small, and there is no way to make them bigger:

Then there’s the Match Color tab. Another cool feature, but again the boxes are too small:

When you’re happy with the way your image looks, click Process. This will take a few moments. You can see the blue line going across as the image gets processed. When it’s done, your computer will ask you which folder you’d like to save your image in, and to name your image:

The program won’t close, or even seem like anything happened. You should check the folder where you saved the file before closing the program.

There are a lot of different features in this program. I’m still learning them, myself. This is just another HDR option for your creativity.

Here’s the finished image:

Don’t forget to download your free trial version to check it out. Enjoy!

Correcting Halo in HDR

Above is an image of a lighthouse that I took using 5 exposures. I put the 5 images into Photomatix for processing. I liked the way the final process came out except for the halo effect in the sky. I’ve discovered that when the sky is a sold blue this happens:

I find it hard to correct the halo effect in Photomatix. So, I bring the image into Photoshop to do this correction. The first thing I do is clean up the image by removing any sensor dust spots off the blue sky. For this I just use the spot healing brush:

The next step I do is make a selection around the halo using the quick selection tool in Photoshop CS3:

Then I use the clone tool, and clone the blue sky from the left, to the part of the sky that’s selected. I recommend bringing the opacity of the clone brush down to about 30%. This will give you more control:

Here’s the before and after images:

This image was an easy halo fix. Some halos wrap themselves around trees and branches making it very hard to do this kind of fix using the clone tool. This halo was up against a building with a straight edge. Here is the finished product:

Here’s an example of a halo embedded in a tree. This is a trickier kind of fix:

Adjustments that may help are lowering the “strength” and/or increasing the value of the Light smoothing setting. Look at the difference between the two images and the settings. Just from changing these two setting there’s a huge improvement:

Here’s the finished product. I just dropped this image into Photoshop for a little brightness and contrast, and that was it:

HDR Color to HDR Black & White

Above is an example of a black and white HDR image that I’ll show you how to create from an original color image.

HDR images can look really good if they’re done right. Some HDR images look great when they’re converted to black and white. I don’t think it works for all HDR images so you’ll have to experiment. Experimenting can be a lot of fun.

Here’s an example of the Croton Dam in Westchester, NY. Some people I know like the color version better and others like it in black and white. It’s all a matter of taste. If you like your end results, then that’s what matters.

This is how I did the black and white conversion in Photoshop CS3. First bring the image into Photoshop. Then go to Image / Adjustments / Black & White.

Here the Black and White dialog box opens up. There are red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta sliders. Slide the sliders back and forth to see how it will affect your image. Every image is different and it’s up to your taste how you want the end result. When I decide that I’m happy with the results, I click OK.

These are the settings I used for this image:

I’m not finished yet. At this point I like to go to the Image / Adjustments / Brightness/Contrast settings:

I don’t touch the brightness slider. I just bring up the contrast to about +20, depending on the image.

Here’s the end result:

Here’s another example with a different image. Instead of leaving this image as a black and white, I gave it a sepia “tint”. In the Black and White dialog box, there’s a check box at the bottom that says “Tint”. Click that check box on, then click OK.

Here are the images from color, to black and white, to sepia tint:

Here’s one more example of color to black and white:

HDR – Tone Mapping vs. Details Enhancer

Above, I have the five images I’m going to put into Photomatix.

Here are the images blended together in Photomatix before processing. First I’ll click on Tone Mapping which will open up the processing box. Here you can choose between the tone compressor and the details enhancer:

Here I picked the Details Enhancer for my first example. I worked the sliders to my liking. Every image is different so you’ll have to adjust your images to your tastes.

The detail enhancer opens up the shadow areas, and can give the image a surreal look. Depending on how you maneuver the sliders you can also get a painterly or realistic and natural effect. It’s all a matter of taste.

For more details on the sliders you can go to the Photomatix website:

Here I took the same image and put it into the Tone Compressor. The tone compressor gives the image a more traditional and realistic look. It preserves the shadows with good control of tonal range. Sometimes shadows play an important role in creating a mood. This is a very good reason to use the tone compressor over the details enhancement:

Here I have the two images side by side. You can see the difference between them. In both images the end result depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want a surreal look or a realistic look or perhaps something in-between? I prefer the in-between look for some of my images and other images I find that getting crazy is a lot of fun. As long as you’re happy with the results then life is good:


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