Containing powerful exposure technology, Topaz Adjust is a tool that helps to add depth, dimension, and color to your image, revealing details you might have never known existed. By adjusting the adaptive exposure and regions sliders, you can bring out tonalities in your photo that may have been dulled out from the camera’s initial exposure.
With Adjust you can also create HDR-like looks that make your image pop. Or, if you prefer, subtle edits may be conducted by keeping the adjustments on the light side and using the available transparency and brush out tools.
We’ve compiled a list of tips & tricks for Adjust from several professional photographers. Also, be sure to check out the downloadable preset package to the right, containing several new, custom created effects that can be imported into the program.
If you don’t own Adjust, don’t worry! We offer a 30-day free trial. No credit card info! So, try it before your buy.
Joel Wolfson conducts photo workshops worldwide from his native Southwest to Italy, France and other locales. His roster of notable clients include Newsweek, Elle, Seventeen, Houghton Mifflin, and corporate clients such as Apple, AT&T, 3M, United Airlines and Pillsbury. His technical articles on digital imaging have been translated for use in more than 30 countries. Yet he is best known for his artistic images and unexpected views of everyday places around the globe.
“It’s almost magic how you can equalize exposure without blowing out highlights or destroying shadows”
Night Scene Equalize by Joel Wolfson:
Like many people, I’m attracted to night scenes because of the drama and excitement of the different kinds of lights and lighting in stark contrast to the darkness of night. Our eyes and brains often perceive this differently than the camera’s sensor. The goal behind this preset it is to make the scene look more how we perceived it.
The heart of this preset is with Adaptive exposure. I also used a small dose of detail recovery, saturation, and highlight/shadow protection.
Because images shot at night tend to have many areas of localized lighting, I use a fair number of regions to make sure I affect the various pockets of light and dark areas. I’m also using a fairly high amount of Adaptive exposure due to the stark difference in light and dark areas inherent in a city scene at night.
I use a small amount of detail strength to recover some of the detail, but I also back off a little on the default boost to avoid excessive noise.
I also employed a mild overall saturation increase because the various colors from different lights in a night scene tend to be of greatest interest.
Lastly, I’ve used the “Protect Highlights” to avoid important highlights getting burned out and a small amount of “Protect Shadows” for the opposite end of the tonal range.
This works well for both skylines and scenes within a city shot by existing light at night. Although not perfect for every scene it provides a great starting point.
- The more areas you have of differing exposure in an image the higher the number of regions you’ll need. The more evenly lit the scene, the fewer you’ll need. Once you get beyond around 20-30 regions the difference will be very subtle.
- If you find the effects a little overdone, wait until you save back into Photoshop and use the opacity slider of the layer to get exactly the right amount of night scene equalization. By purposely leaving my Adjust settings slightly heavy handed, I can use this preset on a wider range of images and then get it just right using the opacity slider.
- You can also make use of a layer mask to selectively brush back the effect in areas such as sky and water.
Scott Stulberg is a travel and stock photographer who journeys often to distant lands looking for unique stock opportunities. He is represented by many stock agencies including Corbis and Getty Images and is a contributing writer for both Shutterbug and EOS magazine. From Microsoft, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, Royal Caribbean cruise ships and ABC News to greeting cards, calendars, bill boards and book covers, his images are used internationally.
“I use Adjust to get an HDR feeling without overdoing it. Detail that you never even knew was there can easily be brought out and colors made more vibrant. Adjust is sort of in its own league and I am glad I have been using it since it came out as it is one amazing plugin!”
Before opening Adjust, Scott Stulberg stresses the importance of making a layer copy before entering the program. Once in Adjust, Stulberg likes to start with the preset Photo Pop from the Classic Collection. He explains, “it’s a nice place to start for many of my images.”
Next, he works with the selective parameters on the right hand side. Scott’s #1 tip here is that, “less is more…meaning it is easy to overdo it..so baby steps. Little adjustments are the best.”
“I immediately go to Global Adjustments and choose Adaptive Exposure, which is my favorite part of Topaz Adjust,” explains Stulberg. Regions are then boosted, a setting that goes hand in hand with the adaptive exposure slider to enhance dynamics and tonalities.
If necessary, the contrast and brightness sliders are adjusted, followed by detail enhancements. Stulberg warns again, not to go overboard here. For the Strength and Detail Boost sliders, using the arrows keys is optimal for small increments at a time.
Once finished, Stulberg will save these settings as a custom preset. He’ll then bring the image back into Photoshop, where a layer mask is used to paint in or paint out parts of the Topaz Adjust effect, along with additional fine tuning to finalize the image.
Check out Scott’s webiste: asa100.com
Rick Sammon is an award-winning professional photographer and a well-known authority on post-processing techniques. Rick’s images, from his travels to more than 100 countries, have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, and have been featured in his 36 books and 11 apps. Rick has been named a Canon Explorer of Light and is also a Westcott Top Pro Elite. Rick is also an instructor on Kelby Training, where he shares his knowledge about light and composition.
“I like the HDR-like capability that Topaz Adjust offers, not only in values, but in colors!”
While some editing processes can be tedious and time-consuming, Sammon uses Adjust to get away from that. “I mostly use Topaz Adjust to add some fun to my photography – and fun is why I got into photography in the first place. What’s more, Topaz Adjust opens up new creative artistic opportunities for me,” he explains.
Watch Sammon’s creative workflow using Adjust here:
Visit Rick’s Website: ricksammon.com
Blake Rudis is a 3 time self-published author and the founder of EverydayHDR.com & HDRInsider.com. He has recently developed Zone-Edit.com. This site is devoted to his Photoshop post-processing technique that utilizes the limitless potential of the Zone System and the power of Photoshop to capitalize on the contrast in any image.
“One of my favorite tricks with Adjust is in the HDR Collection. I use the Dynamic Pop II preset a lot! While it is pretty powerful (sometimes overbearing) when you initially select it, if you go to the Transparency tab in the Finishing Touches and change it to 0.50 it makes it more subtle. I have used this preset to achieve that HDR “look” on a single exposure more times than I can count on my fingers and toes!”
How to create a Split Tone and Moody preset:
- Start with a mild boost in Adaptive Exposure; be sure not to overdo it.
- Slightly boost the Details section to enhance the smaller details.
- Expand the Finishing Touches panel. To create a soft edge diffusion, set the Softness to 0.61, Diffusion /34, and Transition 0.72
- Reduce the transparency to 0.32 to allow enough of the original image to come through the effect. This slider can be adjusted to taste after the preset is applied.
- Add a slight vignette to help pull the viewer into the focal point and wash out the edges.
- The bulk of the “look” of this preset comes from the Tone section. A Purple/Yellow split tone effect is added to the image to give it the nostalgic almost sepia effect. These colors can be changed to fit the mood of the photo. I suggest changing the colors to complements, Red/Cyan, Blue/Yellow, Green/Magenta.
- When modifying these colors, try to place the darkest colors in Regions 1 and 2 and the lighter colors in regions 3 & 4. For example, darker Blues in regions 1 & 2 and Yellows in Regions 3 & 4.
Visit Blake’s websites: EverydayHDR.com, HDRInsider.com, Zone-Edit.com
Ron Martinsen is a well-known international photography and photo editing blogger. While his images are featured in magazines around the world, his real passion is photography education. His blog, ronmartblog.com, has enjoyed over 1,000,000 visitors with topics ranging from gear, plug-ins, and book reviews.
“One of the things that attracts people to this product is that causes you to explore in new directions and process photos entirely different ways from what you might be accustomed to. Some will love it, and others will hate it – but in photography it’s all about being different. Adjust certainly helps you to do that!”
Ron’s workflow generally involves starting out in Photoshop and creating several layers with each Adjust effect, later saved into a PSD file.
Ron explains, “I might use layer masks to exclude certain parts, but generally speaking I do the heavy lifting in Adjust and then use Photoshop to keep track of what I’ve done as layers (as opposed to the Apply button in Adjust).”
Tip: For a lot of the built-in effects, if you see that the details are too harsh try unchecking the “Process Details Independently” option. This gives you a lot of what is great about an effect without over-sharpening it. In some cases where I have super sharp images, I’ll also turn off the details group entirely so that I only get the Adaptive Exposure and Color effects for a given filter. A good example of this is the psychedelic filter used on the Space Needle in the above before and after.
Tip: For night shots, sometimes it is best to mask out the sky to get the benefits of the Adjust where you need it and not rely on noise reduction to eliminate the artifacts that sometimes can occur in the sky – especially at high ISO’s.
Visit Ron’s Photography Blog: ronmartblog.com
Importing New Presets
Available for download in the resources to the right, 5 new Adjust presets have been created by each of the featured photographers. Before importing these 5 presets, please make sure that you have updated your version of Adjust to the latest version. You may download the most recent update from our downloads page.
How to import presets:
- Download the file to the right. In the folder, you’ll find 20 presets with .tpp extensions.
- To Import the preset, Open Topaz Adjust and navigate to the collection you wish to import the preset into.
- Above the Menu in the bottom left corner, click on this icon and then select Import.
- Navigate to the file you just downloaded and select the preset you wish to import.
- After you press OK or Open, the preset should then appear in the Collection.
Please note that this method only allows for the import of one preset at a time. Should you wish to import everything at once, you’ll need to navigate to the Adjust 5 installation location. There will be a presets folder that contains each collection and you can drag the new presets here. Depending on your operating system, the presets folder will be located in one of these destinations:
- Navigate to Computer -> MacHD -> Library –> Application Support -> Topaz Labs -> “Adjust 5″ -> Presets.
- Copy and paste the presets or drag them over to this destination (you’ll want to put them into the correct Collections folder).
- Navigate to (32Bit machines) C: Program Files Topaz Labs “Adjust 5″ Presets, (64Bit machines) C: Program Files (x86) Topaz Labs “Adjust 5″ Presets.
- Copy and paste the presets or drag them over to this destination (be sure to place them into a certain Collections folder).
Thanks for reading! Be sure to submit your before & afters edited with Topaz Adjust to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to check out Topaz Labs on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram and see what other users are creating. We also offer free Webinars and have a great Discussion Forum if you’re interested in learning more!
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