Photoshop & Topaz: Winning Combination

You already know I love Photoshop. I use the CS6 version because I refuse to pay a monthly fee to access their goddamn cloud crap. Lately, everyone seems to think users are made of money. I am not. If I can’t buy the software outright, I will not use it. So I stick with what I know, and mostly, it serves me well.

The only plugins I use are from Topaz. Their products are good, and they allow free upgrades once you purchase them. I have several, but the ones I use consistently are Adjust, DeNoise, and Simplify.

And now a word on masking: if you use Photoshop and don’t know what that is or how to do it, LEARN. A layer mask lets you bring things in from another layer. Layers are the magic of Photoshop. 

Masking allows you to do marvelous things with your photos. Here are some examples.

This photo is straight out of the camera. The dog’s name is Mandy, and she lives next door to R. img_0555-sm

It’s a nice enough picture, but post-processing can make it so much better! R can’t stand photo processing. He thinks the camera is god. He’s an idiot. Cameras capture all the detail but you don’t see it unless you process the pictures.

I placed the original photo (after basic adjustments) on top and a copy processed in Topaz Adjust underneath, and then I combined the best elements of both using masking. Tip: don’t bring back 100% of the processed background; it will vie with the subject for attention. For this photo, I concentrated on Mandy and mostly left the background alone.mandy-1-15-17-sm

Here they are, side by side. comparison

The camera’s sensor captures it all, but unfortunately, you don’t see it unless you mess with it. That sucks, but that’s current reality. It’s why vacation photos never look as good as what you saw when you were there. To achieve that, you have to process the photo. It took me only a couple of minutes to get from Point A to Point B. After you know your software, the process is fast.

In the old days, before the magic of digital and software, darkrooms were used. It was painstaking work. It’s a heck of a lot easier these days to get good results quickly.

Here’s another example. comparison1

The original pic is okay, but the second one seems to leap off the monitor, doesn’t it?

And another. example

The photo was straightened, cropped, filters applied and adjustments made, and masking was done. Notice how more vivid the final picture is. It’s what we see when we look at things in real life. To reflect that in photos, process them.

Taking the picture is only the first step. For most people, that’s enough. They don’t have time or interest in messing with their photos, and that’s fine. But for the rest of us? There is Photoshop and Topaz (or Lightroom, or whatever software you are comfortable using).

If you want a step by step example of how I do this, let me know in comments. I’ll put something together.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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4 Responses to Photoshop & Topaz: Winning Combination

  1. Helena Stone says:

    Gorgeous pictures and you’re right, the ‘worked’ images have far more life to them than the originals. Not that it will turn me into someone who’ll work on her pictures (apart from the occasional crop), but I do see why you would. 🙂

    • Fenraven says:

      I’d feel guilty if I posted a photo that hadn’t been worked on. Like I’d put up something not good enough. Photographers of old spent hours, days, in darkrooms, trying to achieve what photographers today do in minutes. Amazing, isn’t it?

  2. Jaycee Edward says:

    Amazing difference. I don’t have the patience though.

    • Fenraven says:

      I do one of these in about two and a half minutes. 🙂 Some take longer because I experiment, but Mandy, for instance, was done in a flash. It’s knowledge that’s required, not patience. 🙂

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