Saturday, December 12, 2009
About a month ago one of my coworkers, and a talented pano shooter, Scott Knauss, mentioned Topaz Labs and asked me if I had tried any of their plug-ins. Being the crash test dummy that I am I downloaded a few of them and requested a temporary license key so I could test drive them (the test license is good for 30 days).
I've since registered Topaz Labs Detail, Adjust, and DeNoise. I use Detail and Denoise on my macro images now, and Adjust on my closeup and landscape images (for those few times that I actually take the MPE-65mm macro lens off of my camera). The image included with this post was processed as follows:
I first open the image in the Element's RAW editor and make any necessary changes to the exposure and white balance (usually setting the temperature of my light to 5800 K). I then open the image in the Elements main editor and use the healing brush to rub out any dust spots. I then run Topaz DeNoise and use the standard RAW preset. It takes a little while for DeNoise to analyze an image, but it's worth it -to me it does a better job of preserving detail than NoiseWare Pro.
Once I've removed the image noise I sharpen the photo with Topaz Detail using the Micro Contrast preset. With Detail I also adjust the highlights and shadows (if necessary) and add a little saturation. Once Detail is finished I create a Levels adjustment layer and set a black point.
I can not emphasize that last step enough -setting a black point will really make your photos "pop"!
All that's left is to save the image as a PSD (in case I want to go back and make any changes) and a JPG. At the risk of sounding like I've been paid to write a review: Topaz Labs has allowed me to bring my post processing to a level where it's no longer the weakest aspect of my photography. If any of you have been using Topaz Labs plug-ins and have any tips for me then please leave them in the comments!