See the power of Topaz Products combined with the HDR processing dynamite of Aurora HDR (currently Mac only). Aurora HDR was co-designed by Topaz user, and popular HDR photographer, Trey Ratcliff.  It vastly simplifies the process of merging, enhancing and exporting high quality HDR images. Combined with Topaz tools like Texture Effects or Impression it really is a workflow to take your images to an entirely new level! Below we’ll give you an example of what a sucessful workflow could look like.

Production Workflow: In the Field: Shooting For HDR

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to capturing images for the HDR process. Mainly centered around:

  • How many images should you take? (3, 5, 7, 9, or 11)
  • What the difference in Stops should be between these images? (-1/+1 EV, -2/+2 EV)

For the purposes of this tutorial we have produced a set of three images (-2EV, 0EV and +2EV) from this scene. Keep in mind the more images you have the more image data and color range you’ll be able to effectively utilize in your final HDR image. However, only you’ll know what number of exposures, or what bracketing works best for your scene. Experimentation is the best way to learn what you like.

When prepping for an HDR shoot you ‘ll need to keep your camera stable because you’re going to be capturing multiple images of the same scene. Good ways to achieve this are:

  • Using a Tripod
  • Using an external shutter release
  • Being careful not to disturb the composition of the camera when adjusting exposure values.
Captured at -2EV
Captured at -2EV
Captured at 0EV
Captured at 0EV
Captured at +2EV
Captured at +2EV

1. Removing Noise from your Exposures

It’s always a good idea to run your images through DeNoise before importing your images into any kind of effects program to produce the best image possible into the mix. Garbage in, Garbage out.

This video has some great  overall tips on processing the image in DeNoise because your steps will be different based on the quality, exposure and the compositions of your images.

5 Tools You Need to Know in Topaz DeNoise 

Before you open DeNoise it’s a great idea to duplicate your background layer so that you have a copy of it if you need to refer to the original image. Press Command ⌘ + J to duplicate your selected layer in Photoshop.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.45.10 AMThe process I went through for my images always starts with a preset.  Inside of detail I chose to start with the “RAW – Lightest Preset” and to tweak from there.

The presets within a lot of Topaz Products do a great job of getting you almost there so after applying them you only need to do minimal tweaking to tailor the filter to produce the best image.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.45.18 AMMy Settings:
As you can see from the settings on the left I slightly adjusted the Overall strength down a bit and a few other tweaks.

  • Overall Strength : 0.04
  • Adjust Color – Red: -0.37
  • Adjust Color – Blue: -0.39
  • Correct Black Level: 0.87
  • Recover Detail: 0.43
  • Reduce Blur: 0.14
  • Add Grain: 0.08
Then press OK to apply DeNoise to your duplicated layer.

2. Combining Bracketed Exposure in Aurora HDR

Once you’ve Applied DeNoise to your different exposures it’s time to Produce the HDR image in Aurora HDR.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.24.14 AMOpen Aurora HDR, and you’re greeted with this screen, Click on Load Images, then navigate to where you stored your exposures that you processed in DeNoise, and Press OK.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 2.27.58 PM
When this window opens you can click Create HDR. Inside the next interface you’ll see a load of presets along the bottom of Aurora HDR. We’re going to locate one we like.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.25.41 AMFor this tutorial I chose the “HDR Look 1” Preset.
It gave me a nice warm range of color to choose from that would be fun to work with in Topaz effects software.

You now have a nice clean HDR image from Topaz DeNoise and Aurora HDR, there are many different effects routes you can take:

  • Step 3a: Topaz Impression to get a fine art look.
  • Step 3b: Topaz Glow to get a fantasy look.
  • Step 3c: Topaz Texture Effects to get a textured look.

You could of course combine these different effects as well for an endless array of final images. But the next few steps will explain simply how each of these effects can produce a different overall image.

3A. Fine Art with Topaz Impression

If you want to process through Impression now. Press Command ⌘ + J to duplicate your selected layer in Photoshop.

Then after renaming the copied layer “IMPRESSION” and selecting it, go to your filters list and select Topaz Labs > Topaz Impression.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 3.05.31 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.07.18 AMOnce you’re into Impression you’ll see along the right had side a list of presets available. Impression comes with dozens of effect presets, so to narrow this down we’re going to click on the Category Dropdown in the upper right hand corner and select Pictorial. That will narrow the list of presets to something more specific to the painted photo look we want.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.07.24 AMScrolling through the presets you’ll see one called Photo Painting 1, select that preset, then click on the slider image on top of it to open the effect sliders. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.21.12 AMNow that you’re inside the effect, you’ll see that impression gives us a ton of brush options to change the look of the brushstrokes it applies. I’m fine with those settings but i’d like to make the image a little warmer and a bit more saturated. In the COLOR panel, bump the overall saturation up to 0.10.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.21.19 AMNext click on the ORANGE BOX and turn the Orange Saturation to. 0.2

Then click on the  YELLOW BOX and turn the Yellow Saturation to. 0.31

Now click on the  GREEN BOX and turn the Green Saturation to. 0.26

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.19.48 AMYou’ll also notice that our light source is coming from the upper left. So we’re going to go into the light direction option and drag the little dot to the upper left hand corner.

Final Image with Topaz Impression

Beautiful moring in beech forest
Aurora HDR + Topaz Impression

 

3B. Fantasy with Topaz Glow

If you want to process through Glow, press Command ⌘ + J to duplicate your selected layer in Photoshop.

Then after renaming the copied layer “GLOW” and selecting it, go to your filters list and select Topaz Labs > Topaz Glow.

glow interface

 

Like Impression you’ll see that we have a list of Presets to quickly create stunning images listed along the right hand side. If you Scroll through the Featured category of effects you’ll see one call Brilliant in Black III, simply click the effect then click OK to apply it to the GLOW layer in Photoshop.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.11.49 AMThe effect is coming on a little strong, we’re loosing a lot of the HDR effect we got through Aurora HDR. So we’re gonna fix that with Blending. With the GLOW layer selected, click on your Blend Mode and select Soft Light, the click on the Opacity setting for the layer right next to it and set it for 50%.

Final Image with Topaz Glow

Beautiful moring in beech forest
Aurora HDR + Topaz Glow

 

3C. Textured looks with Topaz Texture Effects

If you want to process through Texture Effects, press Command ⌘ + J to duplicate your selected layer in Photoshop.

Then after renaming the copied layer “TEXTURE” and selecting it, go to your filters list and select Topaz Labs > Topaz Texture Effects.
TE Interface

Texture Effects is an amazing program to quickly achieve a variety of textured, toned, and lighting effects. But one of the most amazing aspects of Texture Effects the ability to share your custom made effects through the new Topaz Community.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.11.39 PM

In the upper right hand of the interface you’ll see a Browse button, give it a click and you’ll open up the Effect Browser.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.15.08 PM

The Effect Browser combines both your local and community effects (as long as you have an internet connection). To show how easy it is to download and apply effects, I’ve created a specific preset and shared it with the community already to apply to this image.

Seearch BoxOnce you’ve opened the effect browser, in the upper-right hand corner. Type in the letters “HR”, then click the Magnifying Glass to search.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.04.41 PMLook for the preset HR Warm Bursts then click on the Download button to download to your system. Once the preset finishes downloading click the slider icon that appears over the preset.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.27.27 PM

You can now see the list of all the Adjustments that were included in the HR Warm Bursts effect. To apply it to the layer in Photoshop all you have to do is click OK.

Final Image with Topaz Texture Effects

Aurora HDR + Topaz Texture Effects

This is just one of the many workflow options you have when you use Topaz Products and Aurora HDR. But it shows how easy it is to take your HDR exposures, and combine them to create amazing images with the Power of Topaz Products.

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