Local College Performance Hall - playing around with Topaz

Ray Sachs

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I'd seen some images processed with Topaz Adjust that were intriguing enough that I plunked down my $40 and started playing. Took some shots this morning at the local college performance hall (where my daughter frequently performs piano pieces) and started playing around with Topaz. The first four (in the first response) are just four different levels of treatment, from the original to fairly subtle adjustments to less subtle to downright cartoonish, just to show the range of effects possible. And then a handful of shots around the hall using a level of adjustment that I HOPE enhance the photographs without tipping over the line into the absurd.

Any comments welcome, particularly on the processing, because I don't trust my eye with this stuff yet. I liken this kind of software to getting an effects box for my electric guitar back in the day - when I'd first get it I'd be so enthralled with the SOUND of the thing that I'd forget to play any actual music through it. Eventually the sound would start to get obnoxious and I'd tone it waaaaay down or abandon it and start to play music again. And eventually, usually, I'd get to the point where I could use it somewhat appropriately. Hopefully I'll get there with this stuff - for now I fear I like the sound too much to play any actual music!

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

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First four - just examples of the "adjustments"

No Topaz:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5064711203/" title="Asplundh (2) by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150969"1024" height="794" alt="Asplundh (2)" /></a>

Subtle Topaz:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5064711299/" title="Asplundh 1 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150970"1024" height="794" alt="Asplundh 1" /></a>

Less subtle Topaz:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5064711393/" title="Asplundh 2 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150971"1024" height="794" alt="Asplundh 2" /></a>

Cartoon Topaz:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5064711511/" title="Asplundh 3 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150972"1024" height="794" alt="Asplundh 3" /></a>
 

Ray Sachs

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A few others, hopefully at a reasonable level of adjustment

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5065556070/" title="Asplundh (3) by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150973"1024" height="794" alt="Asplundh (3)" /></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5065152845/" title="Corrected Asplundh by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150974"1024" height="794" alt="Corrected Asplundh" /></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5065324058/" title="Asplundh (1) by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150975"1024" height="794" alt="Asplundh (1)" /></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5065323962/" title="Asplundh by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 150976"967" height="1050" alt="Asplundh" /></a>
 

walt_tbay

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Wow. I love the effect of the "subtle" Topaz in the first series of pics and the last three pictures in the second series. I need to get a copy of that program. My favourite picture is the one with the sculpture.
 

Ray Sachs

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It really does make the images "pop", for lack of a more technical term. The challenge for me, so far, is to not make them pop too much. I get sort of intoxicated by some of the effects and I have to step back to remind myself they can look sort of ridiculous. But even with the subtle treatment, when you toggle back and forth between the original and processed version, its very noticeable.

-Ray
 

Gwendal

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Looks like they are playing a lot on micro contrast to get an HDR look - a bit like a supercharged Clarity slider ? The "No Topaz" image seems blurry by comparison ! Interestingly, it looks like this kind of look is catching on even for portraits, in place of the classic "glamorous soft blur" : for instance the latest ad campaign for HSBC Advance (https://www.hsbc.fr/1/2/hsbc-france/particuliers/hsbc-advance) - it is more visible in the ads in the street than the shots on the website.
 

Ray Sachs

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Looks like they are playing a lot on micro contrast to get an HDR look - a bit like a supercharged Clarity slider ? The "No Topaz" image seems blurry by comparison ! Interestingly, it looks like this kind of look is catching on even for portraits, in place of the classic "glamorous soft blur" : for instance the latest ad campaign for HSBC Advance ) - it is more visible in the ads in the street than the shots on the website.
I think so - they have various sliders for exposure, detail, and color. Some of them have the same NAMES as the sliders in Aperture, but I've never gotten results that were like that from Aperture. (Ulfric - not sure how they relate to what you can do in LR or PS - I'd imagine you can do a LOT of this kind of thing in Photoshop, but I don't really know). They also have pre-sets for "detailed", "strong detail", "mild detail", and even "small detail" that arrange the various settings differently with VERY different results. In terms of portraits, they have settings for extremely overdone (in my opinion) soft blur and also for "dramatic" portraits. Here's a set of three, normal, smooth portrait, and dramatic portrait to show the difference. I can't see a situation where I'd want to use these "smooth" settings, which they use in several presets. In terms of portraits, I don't particularly like the sharpened settings either, but for many other uses, I'm finding I like them. For portraits, I think I'd just stick to normal processing unless I was after something really weird. But if forced to choose, I'd go with dramatic over smoothed.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5067034069/" title="Portrait 1 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 151014"1024" height="768" alt="Portrait 1" /></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5067645586/" title="Portrait 3 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 151015"1024" height="768" alt="Portrait 3" /></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5067645536/" title="Portrait 2 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">View attachment 151016"1024" height="768" alt="Portrait 2" /></a>
 

Ray Sachs

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I like these Ray. I've just this w/end bought the "bundle" for PS and LR - they have a 20% off sale at the moment.
Yeah, the 20% off is what brought "adjust" down to $40 for the Aperture plug in version - I guess they're all the same. Let me know if any of the other components are really helpful. I might buy one more, but I didn't see springing for the whole bundle...

Edit - I downloaded a trial version of "de-noise" this morning. WOW! Really effective and clean looking. I'd seen some noise reduced shots from LR that I was really impressed with - I'd never done as well with Aperture, but I think the couple of test shots I just cleaned up with de-noise are as good as I've seen. I suppose I'll have to buy that while its still 20% off also. The other ones don't really interest me and seem to be somewhat more specialized versions of what "adjust" already does.

-Ray
 

dko22

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I've tried out most of the Topaz stuff but in the end only found the Denoise useful. And this should be used together with LR3 as Denoise is better at luminance and LR3 better at colour noise reduction. Adjust has two or three great presets which initially got me quite excited but most are vaguely HDR like rather like the ones above which aren't really to my taste. Simplify is perhaps worth looking at as well but I found photoartmaster superior in that area and now, if you can get hold of it at all, costs virtually nothing.
 
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