Transform Your Photo into a Surreal Work of Art

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In this tutorial I will demonstrate how to extract a subject (in this case a tree) from its background using the Color Range brushes in Topaz ReMask.

We’ll then apply selective adjustments by bringing out the tonalities & exposure in the tree using Topaz Clarity, followed by enhancing the tree’s edge texture using Topaz Clean.

To finalize the image, we’ll bring the background into Topaz Lens Effects to create an abstract, dreamy background.

So if you’re tired of your same ole editing workflow and looking to try something new, download the image to the right (or use your own) and follow along!

Don’t own the plugins used in this tutorial? Download a free 30-day trial here.

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Creative Sky Replacement with ReMask

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The conditions of outdoor lighting and nature can be sporadic. Mother Nature may not always grant you the most ideal weather when on a photo shoot; a flat, cloudless sky reflecting nothingness into the water beneath it may not be something you want to put in your portfolio or share to Facebook & Instagram (as compared to a magnificent painter’s sunset).

Creative Sky Replacement with ReMask 4Knowing when the sky will be a beaut isn’t always easy to detect. Usually post-storm or pre-storm skies can produce interesting lighting as the sun sets, however there is no particular device (to my knowledge) that tells you when the sky will be brilliantly filled with vibrant colors.

Luckily, you can use masking tools, like Topaz ReMask, to replace a boring sky with a more interesting one!

Topaz user Gary Lamott has shared his method for replacing an average sky & water reflection using ReMask, Clarity and PaintShop Pro. So follow along and learn how to transform a plain sky into something worth displaying on your wall! (download example image to the right – photo for personal use only please.)

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The 3-Step Flower Enhancement

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It was a warm summer afternoon in Texas when I spotted a row of beautiful sunflowers and decided to snap a few photos including this one:

The 3-Step Flower EnhancementEquipment and settings for this flower image are as follows:

  • Camera: Canon Mark III
  • Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4.0
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Exposure: 1/640 sec at f/4.0

It wasn’t the most ideal shot as the sun was directly in front of me, however if you find yourself in this sort of situation where the image is underexposed or something doesn’t feel quite right, do not fret! I always have in the back of my mind that I can correct it in Topaz later on. Just remember, it’s better to have an underexposed photo where details can be recovered, than an overexposed one where details are lost and cannot be recovered.

Here’s what I did in Topaz Labs. (Follow along by downloading the original image or use your own!)

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Photography Drawing™ (PhtD) with Topaz B&W Effects

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Guest tutorial by Julia Anna Gospodarou

In this tutorial I will make a demonstration of how I use the Topaz plugins in my Photography Drawing™ (PhtD – in short) workflow and what I consider as the best plugins and features to use when processing a B&W image, a long exposure architectural photograph in my case, so you can get the results I’m getting in my work and that brought me numerous awards and distinctions.

The image I will demonstrate my workflow on is Fluid Time II, from the series Fluid Time which is an image of the Prudence Plaza building, shot in Chicago using a Canon 5D MKIII camera and a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lens. The image was shot with 8.5 degrees tilt at 45 degrees rotation of the lens, so to create the characteristic tilt-shift blur on specific portions of the image (upper and lower side of the image, diagonally disposed), and it was realized with the technique of long exposure (121 seconds exposure). To create the long exposure effect I used two stacked ND filters –  10+3 stops in total, the Formatt-Hitech ProStop IRND Joel Tjintjelaar Signature Edition.

Julia Anna Gospodarou_Fluid Time II_2000px_240dpi

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Selective image sharpening with Topaz Detail’s Effect Mask

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Image © Robyn Aber

To obtain a crisp and clear photo, image sharpening in Topaz Detail is an applicable solution as it can emphasize texture, bring out details and add depth to your image. However, image sharpening shouldn’t always be applied globally or to the overall photo. Common areas to be cautious of sharpening include:

  • Skies
  • Water
  • Human Skin
  • An out of focus background (bokeh)
  • Areas with evident high ISO noise
  • Areas of constant/flat color

Masking is a valuable tool as it allows you to pinpoint exactly where you want the sharpening adjustments to be applied. For instance, emphasizing a model’s eyes without sharpening the fine lines in her skin would involve masking.

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Create a preset from scratch with ReStyle

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Within Topaz ReStyle you’ll find hundreds of presets, commonly referred to as ‘styles’ or ‘looks’. Each of these presets was created from a source image; the technology within ReStyle identifies the dominant colors within the source image and records that data into a preset, listing the colors from primary to the fifth most dominant (some presets will only have 3 or 4 dominant colors).

Create a preset from scratch with ReStyle

Interested in creating your own preset in ReStyle? Follow these simple steps to learn how to create a custom effect based on your image’s color data.

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Enhance your imagery with Adjust, Simplify and Detail (44:38)

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Enhance your Topaz workflow as John Barclay introduces Topaz Adjust, Detail and Simplify, then demonstrates how he uses each within his own workflow to help create stunning imagery.  John is an award winning freelance photographer and enthusiastic workshop leader. He is also an inspirational speaker who has been presenting his program Dream – Believe – Create to audiences around the country.

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Awaken the artist within (47:54)

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“I truly believe that every photographer, and that includes you, has an artist within – an artist that can be awakened in the digital darkroom by using creative plug-ins. An artist that can make your time sitting at your computer, processing your images, more fun. One of my favorite plug-ins is Topaz Adjust. With a click of your mouse and a swipe of a slider, you can transform your pictures into more creative – and professional looking – images.” -Rick Sammon

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