Topaz Monthly - August 2012

Special 30% Savings on ReMask during Masking Month!

Avoiding masking because of difficulty or confusion? If so, you are missing out on a serious workflow advantage that masking offers photographers when it comes to background replacements, selective adjustments, repositioning and more. As a special offer to new users, to help you get started, we are offering a 30% savings on ReMask until August 20. Just enter coupon code ” ProMasker “ during checkout.

Get fresh perspectives and workflow tips from industry professionals to help you improve your craft.

Could Vinny have been the first to ReMask?
By Harry Kerker

“I’m asked a lot if enhancing your photos with your own masked images is in some way cheating. I quickly remind people that it’s a concept great artists have been using for centuries. Artists like Van Gogh would trek to the countryside, sketchpad in hand. He would sketch a landscape, an unusual tree, a bail of hay, a turbulent sky or a horse grazing in a distant field, then back at his studio he would assemble his sketches into the masterpieces we know today. He didn’t have Topaz ReMask or Photoshop, but his principal of not limiting himself to what was in front of him is the same today.

What your imagination sees most times cannot be captured in one shot and you leave a lot on the table if you don’t use all the amazing digital tools we have at our disposal today. ” Continue Reading…

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Masking Explored
New to Masking? Explore the what and why’s of masking, and learn more about ReMask’s powerfully simple tools that make masking easy. Continue Reading…

Shooting Natural Elements for Masking
Interested in shooting natural elements for your masking workflow? Here are some tips to help you capture the best images possible. Continue Reading…

Understanding the Color Range Slider
ReMask’s Color Range Slider extends the functionality of your Single Color Selection brushes and is extra handy during your masking cleanup. Learn More…

ReMask Color Decontamination
The powerful color decontamination technology in ReMask helps solve color bleed issues and can come in handy when you are refining your mask. Learn More…

Quick Subject Enhancement
Pro Photographer and Topaz user Joel Wolfson offers some quick tips on using ReMask to bring more attention to your image subject. Get Inspired…

Tutorial: Collage!
Follow along with Topaz user Mike Bedford as he shares with us his creative process on using ReMask to help make unique collages. Download Now…

ReMask Tutorial
Tutorial: Creative Photography with ReMask Topaz. Jeff W. shares a fun and easy way to be creative with ReMask
Continue Reading…

Tutorial: Compositing
Topaz user Peter Tellone shows us how he used ReMask to create an HDR composite. Continue Reading…

Featured User Images from the Topaz User Gallery


© Dean Taylor


© Peter Van Allen


© James Howe

Written by guest photographer: Harry Kerker

Could Vinny have been the first to ReMask?

I’m asked a lot if enhancing your photos with your own masked images is in some way cheating. I quickly remind people that it’s a concept great artists have been using for centuries. Artists like Van Gogh would trek to the countryside, sketchpad in hand. He would sketch a landscape, an unusual tree, a bail of hay, a turbulent sky or a horse grazing in a distant field, then back at his studio he would assemble his sketches into the masterpieces we know today. He didn’t have Topaz ReMask or Photoshop, but his principal of not limiting himself to what was in front of him is the same today. What your imagination sees most times cannot be captured in one shot and you leave a lot on the table if you don’t use all of the amazing digital tools we have at our disposal today.

Continue Reading

Shooting natural elements for masking.
Written by guest photographer: Harry Kerker

• On clear days shoot before 10 am and after 4pm. Avoid strong light and dark on your subjects. Flat light, even overcast is optimum even though it may not look sexy in your viewfinder, it leaves you with a lot more latitude for matching multiple light situations later.

• Avoid Auto exposure or anything auto. Here’s where you become a photographer. Shoot at a low ISO of 200, try not to go above 400. F8 is the perfect aperture and most times the sweet spot of your lens.

• A good tripod is essential. As the natural light lowers so will your shutter speed and you don’t want to be bumping up the ISO and adding unwanted noise.

• Avoid windy days. Nothing is more difficult than masking a blurry image. A 250-500 shutter speed will stop motion in most cases unless you’re in a hurricane, but you’ll need a lot of light to keep your ISO low and your aperture in a sharp range.

• Try to segregate as much of the subject from the background as possible. Find an angle of a tree where 70% is against the sky. Getting low to the ground will help pick up more sky.

• Get yourself an assistant and a large white/green reflector. We have some 6’ X 4’. In most cases white works best with plants so snug it up behind your subject to segregate it from everything else. On bigger plants and tree trunks, use your tripod and shoot multiple exposures of the same subject moving the white reflector around until you’ve captured the outline of the entire object. Then combine layers in Photoshop creating an edge defined by white

About Harry
Harry Kerker is the president of LayerCakeElements.com. He started his career as an Art Director in Boston and New York, then became Vice President, Creative Director of Young & Rubicam Los Angeles were he is the recipient of over 200 national and international awards. He shows in galleries in Los Angeles and started LayerCake Inc. in 2008 with internationally acclaimed art photographer Alan Mayer. Connect with Harry on Linkedin “Harry John Kerker” for trading photo manipulation tips.

See more of Harry’s work and LayerCake Elements at: LayerCakeElements.com

The Color Range slider works along side your Single Color selection brushes, and comes in handy when refining your mask. The Green and Red single color selection brushes allow you to select the a color from within any area of your image to restore (green brush) or remove (red brush) a color element.

The Color Range slider extends the functionality of these two selection brushes by allowing you to adjust the range of shades affected within the image the selected color. The higher the value the more shades are affected with your brush stroke. A good time to use the Color Range option is when there is a slight variation in a color tone of an isolated area that you are trying to restore/remove.

Use of this tool is done in three steps. After choosing the green or red color Single Color Selection brush
1. Click on a color element in your image (to keep/remove)
2. Adjust the Color Range slider
3. Brush over the area that you want to keep/remove.

Let’s take a look at the Color Range Slider in action. For this example we are focused in on a small instance of the yellow building in the background that is peeking through the trees. While the yellow color is fairly constant, there is a small variant in the tones and adjusting the Color Range Slider (prior to brushing) will allow me to affect more/less colors when I do make a brush stroke.

The first thing you will do is select either the Green or Red Single Color Selection Brush. For the following examples we will be working only with the Red (Cut) Single Color Selection brush – which will allow us to brush out areas of the image. When you select either one of the Single Color Selection brushes, the icon will automatically change to a color selection tool (dropper). We’ll use this to select a color element from the image. You can change to any view that works best for you. I suggest the quad view or a side-by-side view that uses the original image preview. You’ll see the small color square in the Single Color Selection area change to reflect your color selection.

Example 1: Color Range Slider is set at 1. It does a pretty good job of removing most of the yellow building.

Example 2: Color Range Slider is set at 25. It does a better job of removing most of the yellow building.

Example 3: Color Range Slider is set at 1. It does the best job of removing most of the yellow building.

So you may be wondering if you should always just set the Color Range Slider to 50? The answer is NO. A higher value isn’t good for all images. For some images it can actually move too many color elements…especially in sensitive areas where there are many like colors shared between your foreground and background.

Pro Photographer and Topaz user Joel Wolfson offers some quick tips on using ReMask to bring more attention to your image subject.

Step 1: My original image (left side), shot in the Fall is this curvy aspen that looks like it’s dancing.
My first step, using Topaz Adjust, is to bring the slightly washed out leaves and sky in the background back to the way they looked (the camera often lies). I do this using the Adjust’s Adaptive Saturation to make them more vivid. I also use the Detail controls to bring out the detail in the bark. These are fairly subtle changes but look closely at the two images and you can see the differences. The adjusted image is on the right.

At this point I think the foreground tree, although compelling because of its shape and the light on the edge, is competing for attention with the background.

Step 2: Next I use Topaz ReMask to isolate the foreground tree. The funky colored image you see is what it looks like within the software when you create a “mask”. A mask is a cutout where you can block everything out except what you want to work on- in this case the foreground tree. Everything with a reddish cast gets blocked out, the blue outline tells the software what you are isolating, and the green area is what will show through the mask. The righthand image is the mask itself.

Final Step: Now with the tree isolated by the mask I just created, I can lighten it up which draws more attention to it. Voila! Here’s the final image (some of you may have noticed a black and white version of this in a previous post but that process I’ll save for another day…)

See more of Joel’s work at: http://joelwolfson.com