Have you ever had a photo that needed something a little extra, some “oomph”, and HDR just wasn’t appropriate for the task? Yeah, that happens to me all the time.
Enter: Topaz Adjust.
It’s a Photoshop plug-in that is capable of adding the “oomph” you might be looking for. I got it pretty recently and have used only the presets thus far, as I really haven’t had time to explore the program in depth yet. But what I’ve seen so far has been exactly what I was looking for in terms of spicing up otherwise bland photos.
Let’s start with a photo I took of Joe.
This is actually a series of five images that I stitched together into a pano using Hugin (tutorial on using Hugin located here). But other than that, the photo is essentially straight from the camera and has not been otherwise digitally altered. Some might be happy with this image, but to me, it feels like something’s missing.
Before beginning, I always, always, always make a duplicate of my background layer. I’ll explain why I do this very soon.
Once I’ve made my duplicate layer, I navigate to the Filters menu in Photoshop and drop down to Topaz Labs, selecting Topaz Adjust.
This opens the plug-in in Photoshop in a separate window.
All of the presets are located in the left toolbar. If this isn’t visible when you first open Topaz, just click on the small arrow on the left border and it will expand this toolbar.
Now, from here on out, it’s really just a matter of tweaking settings and seeing what you like. For this, I wanted to give it a bolder look, so I appropriately chose the preset labeled “Bold” in the “Vibrant Collection”.
Now of course, this is way overdone for my taste, but pretty much every technique I use to process my images ultimately gets refined and toned down quite a bit until it’s just the right level of enhancement; not too much, not too little.
You have the option of going into the toolbar on the right and tweaking the settings for any of these presets, or obviously creating your own, but I’m pretty happy with this result as a starting point, so I’m just going to click “Ok” and the plug-in will close and take me back to the main Photoshop window.
Here’s where my duplicate layer comes into play. The Topaz filter has only been applied to the duplicate layer and my original background layer is still hiding beneath. This gives me the option to tone down the look a bit, which I’m most definitely going to do.
I’ve now reduced the Topaz layer’s opacity to 53%, which has toned down the effect pretty dramatically. It’s still way too much for me though.
The main thing that’s still too dramatic for me at this point is the clouds. They just look overdone (in my opinion). So I created a layer mask on the Topaz filter layer and used a gray brush to tone them down a little bit. I finished off by adjusting the opacity of that layer a little more down to 40% and was finally happy with the end result.
Just what the doctor ordered.
A free trial of Topaz Adjust is available here.