In this tutorial, Joanne West shows how to edit an image using the dynamic sliders and  masking technique in Topaz Clarity.

by Joanne West

This is one of my favorite structures in Mariposa County, CA, an area abound with beautiful old barns. I have photographed this red barn in every way possible: front, back and side-to-side. This particular image is being used for the tutorial because it adds some complexity with the fence. I wanted to make the barn “p0p” while keeping the background and foreground in its original state. Easier said than done unless you are using Topaz Clarity!

Before:

Red Barn Before - original 2After:

Red Barn After - clarity finished 2

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architectural renderings, anita bice, topaz labs, photoshopBy Anita Bice

Photographs are great! Sometimes they tell everything that needs to be told and are the perfect fit for the project at hand. There are times, however, when the end product needs that artistic touch. If you are an artist, then the fun part begins. Or, if you have artwork fees included in your budget, then it’s time to place that call to your favorite illustrator. What if neither case applies? Or you just want to turn that favorite snapshot into a frame-able piece of artwork? Here is a great way to get the artwork you need!

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If you’re avid Adjust user like me, you may sometimes notice that Adjust enhances any existing flaws or artifacts in the image and can also introduce new noise and unwanted artifacts. These side effects can include noise, halos, grain, grittiness, splotchiness and a grungy type of effect. Now, there may be occasions where a gritty, grungy look is what you are going for, but for the most part I think you’ll agree that well-balanced color, detail and exposure (with out the side effects) is most desired. So let’s take a look at a quick workflow so you learn how to take control over your Adjust workflow and get exactly the detail you want.

Now, before we jump into Adjust, keep in mind that one of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you have a clean image before using Adjust. I always use Topaz DeNoise (and DeJPEG when necessary) before making any kind of color or detail adjustments…just to make sure that the image is clean. This is going to make your final results better.

Now, some of you may be thinking: “does the noise tab in Adjust serve as a substitute for Topaz DeNoise?” No, Adjust’s noise tab is not the same as the DeNoise program and does not replace the actual DeNoise program. The noise tool in Adjust is included simply to help remove minor instances of noise caused by enhancements made while using Adjust. The Topaz DeNoise program is specifically designed to eliminate noise, color noise, banding noise, restore black levels and revive detail. So naturally DeNoise is more powerful and better suited for tougher noise jobs. If you do find the need to use the tools in Adjust’s Noise tab then be sure to do this as the last step in your workflow before processing your image. Also be sure that your image preview is 50% or higher.

So onto Adjust! So, one of the most common uses for Adjust is to take a somewhat flat image like below, and give it that WOW factor by making it POP with color and detail.

So, like many users, I am going to get my workflow started by applying a preset. For this example I used the Dramatic preset. And as you can see below, my image is instantly transformed with enhanced color, exposure and detail. It may be hard to notice right now (I’ll zoom closer in a bit), but there is also a harshness (noise and grittiness) in the image which…especially seen in the sky and water. You will also notice that shadow areas are intensified as well.

So there is actually a very quick and easy way to eliminate this harsh effect. Once you’ve finished your adjustments in the exposure tab, go to the detail tab and make any desired adjustments there. At the bottom of the Detail Tab you will notice a checkbox – Process Details Independent of Exposure. By checking this option, you can maintain the color and exposure enhancements in your image, but your image details will be processed separately and this will instantly cleanup harshly affected areas of your image. In addition to improving the appearance of water and skies, using this checkbox can also help minimize halos, grain or noise-like effects, grit and grunge. This is a great way to tone down the effects of stronger presets in the program.

After making adjustments in the Detail tab, move onto the Color tab and make your desired enhancements here. If you still notice additional (smaller patterns) of grain or noise in your image, you can then go to the noise tab and use the sliders here to eliminate it.

Below you can see the final images. This first image is the more harsh one of the two.

This version made use of the Process Details Independent of Exposure checkbox and renders smoother, more appealing results.

So go ahead and give it a try in your Adjust workflow!