Hey everyone! I wanted to give you all a quick update on the Lens Effects 1.1 upgrade, and tell you more about the new things you will find in this version. Many of the new features and improvements in V 1.1 were user-suggested (THANK YOU!) and I hope you will find them both helpful and useful to your work. So, let’s take a closer look at the new additions…

In the Effects Menu, you will find new filters for diffusion, polarization, UV/Haze and streaks. The Diffusion and Polarization filters were the most requested and are a necessary part of every photographer’s camera bag.

Diffusion

The diffusion filter helps soften and spread out light. It’s most often used for portraits and can help improve the appearance of skin…definitely a plus when working on women! Diffusion filters can also create a hazy or dream-like effect, which can often come in handy for for wedding photography and romantic or couples shots.

Polarization

Polarization filters help to reduce surface reflections (like in water), reduce shine in foliage and darken skies. Another characteristic of a polarizing filter is that it can also increase the saturation of an image.

Streak
The Streak filter creates image motion that produces a streaked or creative blur type of effect. It can also produce a ghost-like effect.

UV/Haze
UV/Haze allows you to reduce UV and eliminate haze from your image by emulating the character- istics of a UV/Haze filter.

Other Program Goodies
Len Effects 1.1 also features improved depth-of-field simulation for better image quality, 30 new aperture shapes for enhancing your lens characteristics, and 13 new vignette masks. You can even upload your own aperture shapes and vignette masks as well.

Dual Focus – My Fav!
Last but not least, quite possibly one of my favs is the dual focus lens. This option allows you to select two focal points within your image and then quickly blur the background and around those points.


Lens Effects includes three options for applying and controlling bokeh in your images, providing you with basic to super-flexible blurring capabilities. Not only can you create bokeh, after the shot, but you also get to control the quality of the applied bokeh in your image. Before exploring the three bokeh options Lens Effects offers, let’s have a quick review on exactly what Bokeh is – for those who might be new to the topic.

What is Bokeh?
Ok, so you’re looking at an image and the subject is clear and in focus, but the background…not so much. This blurred (or out-of-focus) effect is known as “Bokeh”. The actual definition for bokeh (a word of Japanese origin) goes something like this: “Bokeh is the blur in an out-of-focus area of an image and describes the aesthetic quality of the blur in an image.”

Bokeh with Lens Effects
The three options for applying Bokeh included in Topaz Lens Effects are: Center Focus, SLR and Selective. While, each of these options allow you to create bokeh in your image as well as adjust the lens characteristics, each varies in simplicity, flexibility and precision.

Bokeh – Center Focus
This is the simplest and quickest way to create bokeh. This option provides basic control over bokeh adjustments and the lens characteristics. You can quickly set the effect center in just 1-click, by simplify selecting the convenient Effect Center button, and then clicking in the center of what you want to be in-focus. From there you can then quickly adjust the amount of blur added and the transition between focused and out-of-focus area in your image. The Center Focus option is best used for images that don’t need a lot of precision and require a very simple focus selection.

Bokeh – SLR Lens
This is an alternative lens option is sligtly more involved than the Center Focus Bokeh option, and it includes Lens presets that simulate the settings of popular Canon, Nikkor and Ziess lenses (more to be added in future updates). This option includes the use of depth map creation, which offers easy focal point adjustments once created. The SLR Lens option is great for specific lens simulation, giving you that in-camera effect, and requires very little tweaking manually (using the sliders in the tool panel).

What this option offers over the Center Focus option (courtesy of the depth map creation) is the ability to select the Focal Plane Position and set the depth of field in your image. You can also separate control over background AND foreground blur (the black and white values in your depth map) in your image – unlike Center Focus which only offers background blur control.

Bokeh – Selective
Get the most control over your foreground and background selections in your image with this bokeh option. Bokeh – Selective includes the capabilities of the Center Focus and SLR Lens options, but goes beyond by also offering tools for additional adjustments in your focus and blur areas.

Bokeh – Selective also includes the use of the depth map for exact control over exactly where you want your focal point to be. After you’ve selected your Focal Point, set your depth of field and adjusted the background and foreground blur amounts, you can then separately adjust the sharpness, brightness, contrast and saturation of your focus area to really make it pop and stand out from your background. You can also adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation of your background blur.

For convenience, vignette and grain application is also included- giving you the most control and most flexibility over your adjustments.

The bokeh selective option will require more user-interaction than the other two bokeh options, however it is also going to produce the most accurate and flexible results. Use this option when you have a more complex subject and when you want to create a more intense (but still natural) bokeh effect in your image.

For more Lens Effects tutorials and archived webinars visit the Topaz Labs tutorials page


One of the reasons we’ve been so quiet in this new year is that we have been working on a new and substantial addition to the Topaz Collection, and I’m excited to share some of my favorite features with you.

Topaz Lens Effects simulates realistic lens, filter & specialty camera effects. With new interface features and a simple method of creating effective depth maps, Lens Effects makes it easy to emphasize your focal point, create beautiful bokeh effects and have creative control of your image after the shot. It’s definitely going to change the way you shoot!

Let’s take a sneak peek at the new program so you can see what’s in store for you!

Here’s a shot of the interface and 10 of my favorite new features:

1. Smart Brush. Brush in the areas of your choice for easy selective adjustments.

2. Gradient tool for easy depth map creation.

3. Apply button. Stack multiple effects and presets during the same workflow – If you’re anything like me, then this just might be your favorite feature.

4. Tilt-shift effect – for creating those awesome little miniature scenes.

5. A more powerful sharpening algorithm.

6. Split Screen. Use the 2-screen split view for easy before and after comparison.

7. Effect Center. Single-click ability for selecting effect center.

8. Click to position. Click anywhere on slider to jump to that adjustment value.

9. Interface Style Option. Select from a light or dark color scheme.

10. 18 camera, lens and filter effects with over 100 presets for a quick and easy workflow with unlimited creative possibilities.

The release of Lens Effects is just around the corner, so you don’t have too long to wait. We have some intro to Lens Effects webinars planned, starting Sunday, to introduce you to the new program and it’s features. See the schedule and sign up on our webinars page.

Once the new Lens Effects is available we will send out a newsletter announcement with trial and purchasing details. If you are not currently signed up to receive the Topaz newsletter you can sign up now online at: www.topazlabs.com/list

We truly appreciate the feedback we’ve received over the years…it’s your comments and suggestions that help us in creating fun and useful tools that I hope you all enjoy.

Best,
Ashley Robinson
Product Manager

Some basic background info:
One of the things that I like about Macs is that they come preloaded with iPhoto, which is ideal for those who want to manage their images and also for those who do not have a dedicated image editing program – or are just starting out in the Photography game. In addition to being able to view, organize and share photos, iPhoto also includes basic editing tools (accessed using the “Edit” button) for minor adjustments and enhancements. Even better, you can also access your preferred image editing programs like Photoshop and Topaz (via Topaz Fusion Express) through iPhoto.


(You can set your external editing selection in your iPhoto preferences)

The problem and the solution:
However, when you integrate these programs as your external editing program for iPhoto, they take control over your “Edit” button…making your basic editing tools inaccessible. And if you’re like me, you still want access to your default tools for quick and easy edits. Even if you have an external editor selected you can still have access to your iPhoto tools. To do this, simply right-click (or control-click) and select: “Edit in iPhoto”…this will bring up your default editing tools. Now, this doesn’t just apply for those that have Topaz Fusion Express set as their external editor…this will work no matter what external editing program you have selected 🙂

And that’s all there is to it!

Additional Info:
Fusion Express is a free compatibility program that makes your Topaz filters accessible in iPhoto, Aperture and Lightroom (Mac and Windows). To learn more about how it works visit www.topazlabs.com/fusion.

So you’ve captured the perfect shot, made some corrective/creative enhancements and now it’s time to save…but what do you Save As? Well the answer depends on what you are saving and how it will be used/shared.

PSDs are great for saving projects and keeping each element intact (and separated), but they aren’t ideal for tasks beyond Photoshop editing. When it comes to sharing, sending, posting and printing your images there are a few options and things to consider. Below is a chart that reviews the most common formats, and the pros and cons of each. This information can show you the benefits and key uses for each format…helping you to decide which (and when) one to use.

RAW and DNG are image formats generated from your camera (depending on the type of camera you have and the settings used). While you would not select these from the “Save As” menu in Photoshop, it is still important to know the key features and facts of both.

Download the 17×11 image reference chart

We want to hear from you!
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