Boring Photos are For the Birds!  Use Topaz Adjust to Add Interest to a Snapshot.

Every year in Texas we are greeted by the birds that fly south for the winter. It seems nice that they always come to visit, like a distant relative. And while it’s inspiring and majestic to see the geese flying in formation proudly, I’m always the most fascinated by the thousands of black birds I see silhouetted against the sky. It’s an almost sinister feeling that reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, The Birds. Every year I’m amazed at just how many birds can fit on the power lines and light poles, and I always try to snap a photo with as many of them in the composition as possible. Here’s a photo from this year’s migration taken with my iPhone through the car window.

Bird Photo_Natasha Teague_Before
Original Photo taken with my iPhone

Like so many other times that I’ve been inspired by a passing moment, this photo fails to capture the eerie sense of wonder that I felt when I took it. Since boring photos are for the birds, I challenged myself to enhance my photo with Topaz Adjust to give it just the Hitchcockian feel I was experiencing. (Before you ask, yes, I did my journalistic due diligence and made sure that Hitchcockian is a real word. Strange, isn’t it?)  Through a quick Google Images search I found two source images to reference for inspiration.

Source ImagesLeft Image Source; Right Image Source

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GUIDE (1)Sure, you can apply a preset or photo effect to your entire image, but why would you want to do that? There are certain instances when applying an effect globally will only hurt the image rather than make it better.

For instance, you wouldn’t want to apply a blemish removal filter found in Topaz Clean to the entire image. If you own a copy of Photoshop, there is a valuable tool you must start using now if you haven’t already. This feature is called layer masks.

In his book, The Digital Photographer’s New Guide to Photoshop Plug-Ins, author Scott Stulberg refers to layer masks as the “best kept secret in Photoshop.” By using layer masks with plugins, you are granted more control in the editing process as you can selectively apply adjustments to your image, while leaving other areas untouched.

So are you ready to have complete control in your editing workflow? Whether new or experienced with layer masks, read on for some tricks on how to use layer masking with plugins.

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Topaz Adjust is the ultimate, compact tool box for what it carries. Inside of the plug-in, options for global photo adjustments include tools that work on color, curves, detail, noise and exposure manipulation. Local adjustments can be made with brushes that dodge, burn, smooth, and mask out.

In the opposing left panel, photo effects organized by collections composed of pre-made settings, or presets, can be applied to your photo; ‘Exposure Correction’ ,’Detail Light’, ‘French Countryside’, ‘Spicify’ and ‘Light Pop Grunge’ are to name a few. At the end of the workflow, finishing touches can be added, such as a vignette, grain, or border.

With an array of offered components, here are ten features that you should know about in Topaz Adjust:

1. Adaptive Exposure – the core technology behind the program, this feature allows you to balance your image’s tonal values, enhancing local contrast and dynamic range as well as recovering detail from blown out highlights or blocked up shadows. Useful tip: increase the regions slider for higher variations of color, detail and appearance of depth of field.


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