BeforeAfterCar

by Mike Rogers

I love to capture images of architecture and automobiles and have found that you must be able to work in the moment in order to capture and create the best image possible with the time and setting that is available. This tutorial covers the use of Topaz Clarity in the editing of an image from the Colorado Grand Concours, held in Vail, Colorado on a rainy fall morning in 2011. This event is held once a year and only lasts a few hours. The image was captured with a Canon 40D and EF 28mm lens on a tripod, ISO 100, f9, 1/10 sec RAW exposure.

To begin, I opened the image in Adobe CS6 Camera RAW (ACR) and made adjustments to various exposure settings, highlights, levels and lens correction. The image below is the original image after ACR adjustments:

Image 1 - Unedited

Due to the drizzle of rain and soft light, the image is lacking in visual impact.  My goal was to brighten the colors, add a bit of contrast, and bring out more details in the building façade and trees, while keeping the overall scene honest.

I opened the Topaz Clarity filter and tried previews of all of the presets, but didn’t find any that took me where I wanted to go, so I chose to make my own custom adjustments.

Image 2 - Open Clarity Image Editor

My first adjustments were within the Clarity editor. I chose to keep track of two key areas in the image during editing; focusing on the car/reflection and the background/art piece, zoomed in to 100%.

As you can see in the screen capture images, I rely heavily on the Histogram and the overall image when making edit adjustments. These are the before and after Clarity edits:

collage5The next edit was done with the outstanding HSL module. This is my personal favorite element of the new Clarity plug-in filter. The HSL module allows you to make individual adjustments to Hue, Saturation and Luminosity, with separate sliders for 9 color channels and an overall slider. After a bit of experimentation, I chose to make adjustments to the Saturation and Luminosity settings:

collage6This is the finished image after the Clarity and HSL edits:

Image 9 - Finished Clarity EditI did additional editing using Topaz Adjust, Detail, DeNoise and InFocus, along with a minor crop in Photoshop CS6 for the final image as shown:

Image 10 - Finished Topaz Edit-1

For me the key to getting the most out of the Topaz products is taking your time to work with the various settings and obtaining an understanding of how each adjustment affects the image properties. Hopefully you find this tutorial useful!

About the Photographer: 

Mike Rogers is an automotive photographer and digital artist. He got his start with automotive in 2004, photographing vintage racing events. That’s when the addiction truly took hold and his venture into automotive photography and digital art began. Mike got involved as a corner marshal with some local vintage racing clubs, and at the same time honed his photography skills on the track when not involved as a corner marshal.

Since that time he has branched out to shooting the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, road racing at Road America, and local car and motorcycle road racing, hill climb and rally events throughout Colorado. You will also find him at various car shows and concourse events. His images and articles have been published in Victory Lane Magazine, Vintage Motorsport Magazine, Vintage Racecar Journal and Firing Order Magazine.

In addition to automotive photography Mike enjoys creating landscape and architectural images. He has a keen interest in the history and landmarks of his home state of Colorado, and he searches out new locations and subjects to challenge his skills whenever possible.

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