JPEG Artifacts and digital noise are both side effects of digital photography that can have negative affects on your photos such as:

  • reducing image quality
  • diminishing image detail and sharpness
  • color cast
  • color degradation

Compression artifacts are different than digital noise and are caused by different processes involved with the capturing and saving of an image. So, each will exhibit different characteristics in your images.

JPEG Artifacts

JPEG artifact sare caused by compression when an image is saved in the .jpg format. Each time an image is saved in this format it is compressed and “non-essential” data is discarded. The result of compression is that an image can suffer from blockiness, mosquito noise (around edges) and color degradation. See more…

Digital Noise

Digital noise (similar to grain) is side effect of shooting – caused by digital cameras. The presence and amount of noise can increase depending on your shooting conditions: lighting, shutter speed and ISO. Noise appears as unwanted dots, lines and smudges of color within your image. Noise the detail and sharpness of an image – it can even affect image color.

Regular noise reduction software doesn’t work well for tackling JPEG compression problems and vice versa. The technology in Topaz DeJPEG, on the other hand, was specifically built with JPEG compression in mind, and is the theoretically optimal way to fix JPEG photos – the same is true for removing digital noise with DeNoise.

Removing JPEG Compression Artifacts
Topaz DeJPEG provides unparalleled JPEG enhancement features and combines them with powerful artifact recognition capabilities – giving you ultimate control over the quality of your JPEG image. The newest version of DeJPEG offers unique new features including rapid processing speeds, noise suppression tools, incredible detail preservation, and multiple color views that work together to make your JPEG images look great.

On the other hand, while Topaz DeJPEG offers some noise suppression features, they are not as powerful as the specialized functionality available in Topaz DeNoise. An image that has strong JPEG artifacting will have the best results with Topaz DeJPEG, while an image with regular ISO noise experiences the best results with Topaz DeNoise.

Understanding the cause and effects of JPEG Artifacts (as well as being able to recognize them) is very important to the quality of your images. The jpg format is a very popular and widely used format. It’s great for small files used on websites and for emailing because it can load and send faster. However, despite the usefulness it can have, saving an image in the jpeg format also comes with some not-so-great side effects.

The JPEG format uses a lossy compression method during saving. This means that when you save your image as a .jpg some of the [unnecessary] data from the original image file is discarded and your image is saved with a reduced file size. The quality that is lost (discarded) from your image can not be recovered. In addition, each time you save your image more data is lost and image quality reduced. This is also very common with images taken on mobile devices such as camera phones and for many point-and-shoot cameras.

The degradation of image detail can appear as:

1. Blockiness or checkerboarding
2. Mosquito noise
3. Color degradation – false color or color changes
4. Dark color degradation around sharp edges

Every single JPEG image exhibits these characteristics to some degree, and the more compressed your image is the worse it will be.

Besides lowering image quality, the presence of jpeg compression artifacts can have negative effects on your post processing. Applying creative and corrective enhancements to an image plagued with compression artifacts will cause your adjustments to not be as clean and crisp as they should be. So, it is always best to start with a clean image before making any creative or corrective enhancements – this will ensure optimal quality of your final image.

DeJPEG is specifically designed to eliminate compression artifacts and restore original image integrity.

Digital noise is a very common occurrence (especially in night images) and tends to have undesired tradeoffs with your image detail when trying to remove it. Topaz DeNoise is able to achieve higher levels of noise reduction than existing methods while still keeping your photo looking sharp, detailed and natural.

As you know, checking for and removing digital noise is one of the most important things to do before starting your post processing. The presence of noise in an image can have negative effects on any additional adjustments that you make to your image. I would always suggest cleaning your image before starting any color, detail or other creative enhancements – especially with night shots.

Shooting at night usually means low light, higher ISO’s, long exposures and inevitably: digital noise.

Another side effect of shooting at night is that your image can often be left with a red or blue color cast. Additionally, any image will naturally have more noise in darker, shadow areas. DeNoise makes it easy to remove the noise, retain your details and create a stunning nighttime image.

Nichole Paschal, our Marketing Specialist, has prepared a Quick Tip Webinar on Managing Noise in Night Images with Topaz DeNoise to show you some tricks on improving your night images.

For additional tips check out the Topaz DeNoise Workflow Tips tutorial.

This post was originally posted on March 18, 2011

If you’re looking to quickly create HDR-like images (without the busywork) then Topaz Adjust may be right for you. So, let’s explore the idea of HDR a little!

If you don’t own Adjust, don’t worry! We offer a 30-day free trial. No credit card info! So, try it for free.

What is HDR?

Have you ever come across an image that was so surreal with it’s perfectly colored, detailed features? Well, that’s HDR in a nutshell. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, captures the full range of luminosity between lights (highlights) and darks (shadows) in a scene. That means that you get a more brilliant and dynamic range of color and detail in your image.

Traditional HDR (processing) is a multi-step process that requires taking a series of images at different exposures, known as bracketing, and combining the multiple exposures during post-processing. This gives you a perfectly exposed image with an attractive balance of highlights, shadows, and details. The downside is that the process of creating HDR can often be tedious and time consuming, not to mention difficult to those that are new to HDR.

How can I quickly create HDR-like Images?

Creating HDR-like images with Adjust simplifies traditional HDR processing by eliminating the excess shooting and processing steps. Topaz Adjust is unique in the fact that it allows you to take a single image and enhance the highlights, shadows, and details in just a few clicks to create a dynamic image. If you are new to HDR processing, Adjust can help you achieve the same look with less work. If you a seasoned pro you might even use Adjust to further enhance your traditionally-processed HDR images for some added WOW!

Check out the images below to see how easy it is to create HDR effects with a single image. The Adjust-Lite image was processed once through Topaz Adjust and features dynamic color and detail. Adjust-Strong was processed twice through Adjust to give it a stronger, bolder, and more detailed HDR-like look. When processing your images, you can apply the effects as strong or as subtle as you’d like.

HDR with Topaz Adjust

Click on the image above to see larger preview
Learn how to create stunning HDR-like image using Topaz Adjust, demonstrated by professional photographer and BetterPhoto.com instructor, Deborah Sandidge. If you don’t own Adjust, don’t worry! We offer a 30-day free trial. No credit card info! So try it for free and then follow this tutorial.

Don’t forget to check out Topaz Labs on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram and see what other users are creating. We also offer free Webinars and have a great Discussion Forum if you’re interested in learning more!

This post was originally posted on March 4, 2011

One of the neat things about digital photography and post-processing is that your creativity is limitless. Everyday I receive questions about workflows and techniques used to create different effects with Topaz. Today I want to share with you a quick and fun way to create cartoon-like images using your Topaz programs. Now, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to achieve this type of effect and this is just one of many ways. Also, as you are following along, keep in mind that you can adjust your settings more or less to perfect the optimal look that is right for your image. So let’s get started!

Above is an overview of my image transition. This was created using Simplify, Clean and Adjust. Now let’s break it down.

STEP ONE
The first thing I did was take my image into Topaz Simplify and applied the BuzSim preset. The preset simplifies the image by removing detail and saturates the image color. Manual adjustments were also made in the Simplify and Edges tabs. The parameters that were manually changed are as follows:

Simplify Tab:
1. Simplify Size decreased to 0.20
2. Feature Boost was increased to 0.28
3. Details Strength was increased to 0.10
4. Details Size was increased to 0.25

Edges Tab
1. Reduce Small was decreased to 0.13

When working on your images, be sure to play around with all of the settings until you find the right fit. Click OK to save the changes.

 

STEP TWO
The next thing that I did was take the image into Topaz Clean and apply the CrispStyle preset. Using the preset, we were able to smooth out the image, reduce just a bit of texture and stylize the edges and lines. Manual adjustments were also made in each of the tabs. The parameters that were manually changed are as follows:

Edges Tab
1. Sharpness increased to 1.65

Texture Tab
1. Texture decreased to 0.15
2. Boost decreased to 1.10

Again, when working on your images, experiment with the sliders. Click OK to save the changes.

You can already see the cartoon effect starting to take shape. You may find that you are happy with the effect after applying Topaz Simplify and Topaz Clean and that is OK. However, for this image I decided to take it one step further by running it through Topaz Adjust – which is one of my favorite programs.

STEP THREE

Now, the last set of adjustments were created in Topaz Adjust just to give it a little POP! The preset that I used in Adjust is one of my personal ones that I created. I will provide the settings used so that you can have it as well. If you like the preset then be sure to save it in your Adjust program after setting the parameters for your image.

The parameters are as follows:

Exposure Tab
1. Adaptive Exposure: 0.56
2. Regions: 32
3. Contrast: 1.07
4. Brightness: 0.09
5. Highlight: 0.00
6. Shadow: 0.04

Details Tab
1. Strength: 1.31
2. Boost: 1.21
3. Threshold: 0.18
4. Radius: 28.00
5. Sharpen: 1.02
(Process details independent of exposure is NOT checked)

Color Tab
1. Adaptive Saturation: 0.14
2. Regions: 15
3. Saturation: 1.31
4. Saturation Boost: 1.23
5. Hue: 0.00

Noise Tab
1. Suppression: 0.40
2. Amount: 0.75
(Use Topaz DeNoise IS checked)

If you want to save this preset then go to the presets panel on the left side of your interface and click “Save” then give it any name that you’d like!

Be sure to make adjust the parameters as needed to perfect your image. Once you are happy with your adjustments, click OK to process your image. And that’s it!

 

Of course this is just one example of the many types of effects that you can achieve in during post processing. All you need is an image and a little bit creativity. If you want to learn more about creating cool effects and other ways to incorporate to use Topaz in your workflow then be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming webinars. Details will be available online at: www.topazlabs.com/webinars

This post was originally posted on February 18, 2011