Photo Tip: An initial peak at Topaz Adjust

December 28, 2009
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Seeing images by others created with Topaz Photo Adjust, I assumed that it was just another HDR program.  However, seeing so many many highly regareded photographers use this tool, Topaz Adjust, I had to give it a try.  At the TopazLabs web site, one can download Adjust and the rest of their suite for a free 30 day trial.  If one decideds to purchase the tool, the cost is $30.

The download was quite simple.  The software is installed as a plug-in to your photo editing software (in my case CS3).  To use the software, one creates a duplicate layer, and then simply clicks on the tool in the filters.  That layer will become the Topaz Adjustment Layer.  You will have preset choices and the ability to use sliders to vary the impact of the effect.  Of course, since one is working within a layer, how you blend the layer back into your final workflow is up to you.

The image noted below was my first attempted within the 30 day trial of this tool.  First, the before image.  This is a simple RAW to jpeg conversion with no adjustments and resized for the web site.  As you can see, the image is flat.  The angle of the shot is not optimal, but let’s keep this review on the Photoshop adjustments and not the field work.  The image is sharp, but I feel the battle scars and history of the hippo is not really conveyed:

RAW to JPeg of a Hippo along the Chobe - copyright 2009 - P. B. Eleazer

RAW to JPeg of a Hippo along the Chobe - copyright 2009 - P. B. Eleazer

This second image was a very quick processing with Topaz Adjust.  I duplicated the base layer and used the Topaz filter preset labeled detail.  That is all I did in the filter.  Back in CS3, I felt that the detail was a little over the top and that the grass detail was distracting, so I added a mask for the background and foreground and then used the gradient tool to allow some of the detail in the foreground and none in the background.  This allowed the detail to stay on the hippo.  As a final adjustment, I lowered the overall opacity of the layer to 80% to tone down the detail.  I then simply flattened the image and resized for the web site.

Hippo along the Chobe ... with Topaz Adjust edits - copyright P. B. Eleazer

Hippo along the Chobe ... with Topaz Adjust edits - copyright P. B. Eleazer

In looking at the originals on my screen, I am sold on this product.  I hope it comes through in these two simple images.  Most of the reviews on the topic use very heavy handed adjustments that do not make the images look natural; however, I believe this tool can be used for quick and simple detail recovery while allowing the photo to look very natural.  Once my trial is over, I will definitely be purchasing to add this tool to my bag of layer tricks.

A final comment – I still do not consider this image finished.  I feel curves and some controlled dodging and burning are still needed; however I wanted to limit the discussion to the Topaz Adjust effect.

Links to other articles on Topaz Adjust:

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