Spring is a time of new life as everything becomes green again. There isn’t a more perfect time to practice macro photography and absorb all the new life that is quickly growing around you. Topaz Labs advanced technology can help you emphasize the intricate details, bring out color, and remove distracting background subjects in all your springtime images. This tutorial uses Clarity, Restyle, and Detail. If you don’t already own these 3 Topaz products, download a free 30-day trial!
About the Image
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:
Here are the equipment and settings for this flower:
- 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 a friendly 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.
Before we get started, if you noticed that there is a distracting element in your photograph, check out this tutorial, Enhancing Macro Photography, on how to remove it, then head back here to enhance your flower image! If you wish to follow along, you can download the original image or use your own!
I always like to use Topaz Clarity towards the beginning of my workflow (after technical fixes with programs like DeNoise and InFocus). Clarity works to improve the overall tone and dynamics of the image where you have great power over selective contrast control.
Step 1: Open Your Image
Start off by opening your image in one of our compatible host editors. For this edit, I am going to choose to open Topaz Clarity in Photoshop. After opening your image in Photoshop, click Filters > Topaz Labs > Topaz Clarity…
Step 2: Adjust Lighting
My usual workflow in Clarity for an underexposed image is to increase the mid-tones and shadows while decreasing the highlights slider. In addition I prefer to increase the micro, low, and medium contrast sliders, while decreasing the high contrast slider.
A good starting point, though is to go to the Macro collection and select one of the Flower presets. The Nature collection is also applicable. From there, you can tweak the sliders according to your preferences.
Step 3: Adjust Color – HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance)
The HSL panel is great for selective color adjustments. For instance, in this image I increased the yellow saturation slider, so only the yellow hues were enriched. In addition, I increased the yellow luminance slider to brighten the yellows in the flower petals.
Step 4: Import your Edit in Photoshop
Once you are satisfied with your edit, click OK to import your edit back into Photoshop.
Step 1: Open Topaz Restyle
I always like to edit non-destructively, so I always duplicate my layers you can do this by right clicking on your layer and selecting Duplicate Layer… after you have duplicated your layer, open it in Topaz Restyle. You can do this by clicking Filters > Topaz Labs > Topaz Restyle…
Step 2: Browse Effects
Think of Topaz Restyle as what you would do when applying a filter in Instagram. It’s virtually the same thing, except ReStyle has a whole thousand more options than Instagram. If you’re an indecisive person, don’t worry as we’ve grouped the many presets into photography genre categories. So for a flower image, you’d want to check out the Nature Collection.
Be sure to compare and contrast presets in grid view mode to cover more ground (select the 3×3 tiny square icon in the Presets panel). Check here for a tutorial on how to use the search features in Topaz ReStyle.
Step 3: Customize your Effect
Browsing through the Nature Collection, it seems pretty straight forward that ‘Sunflower Fields’ is what I want to use for my sunflower image (how convenient!). I never like to leave the preset at 100%. To reduce the opacity, this option will be in the right hand panel adjacent to ‘RESTYLE‘.
Next to opacity is Blending Mode, in which I selected ‘Luminosity‘.
From there, I adjusted the temperature, saturation and structure to my liking. I thought a cooler temperature would compliment the yellow hues. By increasing the structure slider, depth was added without sharpening.
Step 1: Open Topaz Detail
Again, I’m going to duplicate the layer. If you forgot, you can do this by right clicking on your layer and selecting Duplicate Layer… after you have duplicated your layer, open it in Topaz Detail. You can do this by clicking Filters > Topaz Labs > Topaz Detail…
Step 2: Resize your Image
To finalize the image, output sharpening will be applied with Topaz Detail. Before you sharpen your image, be sure to resize it to final output size. If you resize after sharpening, then those adjustments may be lost or pointless.
Step 3: Sharpen your Image
Upon opening Detail, press Reset to start with a clean slate. From there, what I like to do is to zoom into my subject (the sunflower) that I want to be brought out with sharpening. I then made these adjustments:
For a deeper understanding on how the sliders in Topaz Detail work, check out these awesome videos:
- Determining and Controlling Small, Medium and Large Image Details
- Understanding Detail Boost Sliders
Step 4: Mask Out your Background
However, I do not want these adjustments to be applied globally as an out of focus background does not need to be sharpened or it may just amplify noise artifacts.
To correct unwanted background sharpening, scroll down to your Effect Mask and expand it. Press Invert and then increase the brush strength to 1.00.
You’ll notice that when you press Invert the effects will go away and the Effect Mask turns black. Now, adjust your brush size and brush over the flower to selectively sharpen it.
If you need additional help on selective sharpening, check these out for additional information:
Once you are satisfied with your mask, click Apply to apply these adjustments (Note: this will reset the Effect Mask).
Step 5: Adjust Tone
Finally, I expanded the tone panel in Detail and decreased the Yellow-Blue slider to around -0.20 to brighten the yellows.
Save your Image
Once you are satisfied with your edit, click OK to import your edit back into Photoshop. Once you are back in Photoshop click File > Save As… and choose an appropriate file name and location.
Here’s the before image:
And here’s the after:
One last additional tip that was not covered…if you find that your flower image does not have a shallow depth of field and that there are distracting background elements, use the selective bokeh in Topaz Lens Effects to blur it out.
I hope this tutorial has given you some ideas on how to better use the Topaz plugins in your editing workflow!
If we haven’t quite sold you on the awesome power of Topaz Clarity, Restyle, or Detail don’t worry. We let you try before you buy. Download a free 30-day trial of all of our products!