Lens Effects simulates a variety of camera filter and lens effects that you can virtually apply to your image. These effects are used to correct or enhance characteristics of your image. Let’s explore some of the included filter and lens effects to see how they affect and enhance your images…

Original Image


Diffusion



Camera – Diffusion simulates characteristics like those seen with Diffusion filters (also called a softening filter) This allows you to soften and spread out light throughout your image. This is most often used for portraits. It is used to create a hazy or dream-like effect.

Dual Tone



Filer – Dual Tone simulates color tone filters that can be applied to 2 areas in your image – allowing you to add, subtract, correct or enhance color. You can select the color tone and then set the intensity (or strength of the applied color), the transition and angle that it is applied to your image. This is a great way to balance color in your image or to create color effects.

Fog



Filter – Fog Simulates a physical fog filter and a graduated fog filter, allowing you to create anoverall soft focus effect. Fog filters can be used as a portrait filter or to create the romantic and mysterious effect.

Graduated Color



Filter – Graduated Color creates an effect similar to that of a graduated color filter, which blends a color into a portion of your image using a gradual transition. You can select your color and the set the transition application characteristics: transition, positioning and region size. The color will gradually fade out so the boundary between the colored and transparent sections will not be apparent.

Graduated Neutral Density



Filer – Graduated Neutral Density simulates a GND filter which helps reduce the amount of light without affecting the color. It is used for exposure balance, depth-of-field control, controlling overly bright or washed out images and balancing out bright skies against darker foregrounds.

Polarization



Filter – Polarization Filters out light with a particular direction of polarisation. Helps reduce reflections from non-metallic surfaces – like water and shine in foliage. It can darken skies and increase saturation.

Reflector – Silver



Filter – Reflector Simulates a traditional gold or silver reflector, used to redirect light towards a given subject or scene. Gold adds a warm light to shadows and silver adds a more neutral light.

UV/Haze



Filter – UV/Haze Allows you to reduce UV and eliminate haze from your image.

Cool Tone



Filter – Warmth Allows you to change the color temperature in your image. Lowering the Temperature adjustment will give your image a cool tint.

Warm Tone



Filter – Warmth Allows you to change the color temperature in your image. Increasing the Temperature adjustment will give your image a warm tint.

Streak



Filter – Streak Creates motion in your image for a streaked or creative blur type of effect. It can also create ghost-like effects.

1. Before jumping into Adjust, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you have a clean image. This means eliminating noise or artifacts before making any kind of color or detail adjustments…just to make sure that the image is clean. Use your Topaz DeNoise plug-ins to do this. This is going to make your final results better. See workflow tip #11 (below) for more details.

2. Presets go a long way. You can significantly cut processing time and effort by starting out with presets. Scroll through the presets to preview the affect in the preview window and see what you’re getting before you select it. Customize your look. Use the sliders in the tool panel to individually adjust settings and customize the effect to fit your image. Create presets for your favorite looks. Be sure to save any settings that you create as a new preset in your My Collection preset category.

Adaptive Exposure is key.
The Adaptive Exposure tab allows you to add more localized contrast to your image, rescue detail from blown out highlights or blocked up shadows and adjust basic contrast and brightness. Adjustments made here enhance flat images and result in more texture detail and depth throughout your image.

3. Delicate balance of Adaptive Exposure and Regions is key to getting well-balanced color, detail and exposure. However, a significantly high value for both of these sliders (adaptive exposure and regions) can produce grungy and sometimes harsher-looking effects in image color and detail. Adjusting both of these sliders incrementally will produce the best results.

4. Regions. The Regions slider determines how your Adaptive Exposure selection is disbursed across your image.  The value of the Regions slider determines how many regions to divide your image to. Increase the regions in your image you will produce more variations of color, detail and the appearance of depth. What’s unique about Adjust’s Regions is that even as you increase the amount of Regions, Adjust blends the boundaries of those Regions so that you can not detect where one ends and the next begins. So let’s take a closer look at Regions in action so we can see just how they work.


4 Regions


40 Regions

Click here to learn more about Regions.

5. Reveal lost detail using the Highlights and Shadows sliders. Increasing Highlights slider will balance brightness and reveal previously obscured detail in highlight areas. Increasing the Shadow slider will balance shadowed areas and reveal previously obscured detail in shadow areas. These work in conjunction with the Adaptive Exposure slider. The higher the value of the Adaptive Exposure the wider range of control you will have with the Highlights and Shadows sliders.

6. Process Details Independently – Processes exposure and details adjustments separately. By default you may often see more crunchy, gritty, noise-like effects when working with the Adaptive Exposure sliders. Enabling the PDI will still give you that instant pop but it will also help eliminate these grungy effects and render smoother effects…especially in areas like sky and water.


Original Image


Processed with PDI disabled (grungy/harsh effect)


Processed with PDI enabled

Click here to learn more about processing details independently here.

7. Selective Adjustments.
Selective Adjustments allow you more control and flexibility over your image adjustments. Here are a few ways that you can achieve selective control over adjustments in your image.

  • a. Adjust’s Selective Brush. The 4-in-one tool allows you to selectively Dodge, Burn, Smooth and Brush Out (remove) adjustments. The Brush Out tool is great for eliminating harsh effects on skin, in skies or anywhere else that the applied effect is harshly affecting your image. When it comes to using the Brush Out option, you won’t always want to brush out all of the effect – the key is to just tone it down. So be sure to use the Opacity slider to control how much of the effect is applied or brushed out. The Opacity slider controls how opaque your adjustments become. The higher the value the more effect that will be removed.
  • b. Make a selection in your image using Photoshop’s Quick Selection or Marquee tools before opening Adjust. Then the adjustments that you make in Adjust will be applied to the selected area only.
  • c. Layers + Layer Masks. You can create two layers in Photoshop and apply two different effects to each layer. Then simply add a layer mask to the top layer, select a black brush (be sure to adjust your brush characteristics) then brush in/out the areas that you want to blend.

8. Transparency Control. Sometimes you may find that the overall effect is too strong or overpowers your image. The Transparency slider, similar to Photoshop’s Opactiy slider, controls the effect strength. You can add as much or as little effect as you’d like to your image.

9. Sky Enhancement. Often the effects applied to your main image subject and structures can be too harsh for the sky (and often water). So when adjusting the sky it is often best to process it separately from the rest of your image. The best way to do this is:

  • a. Duplicate your original image layer in Photoshop.
  • b. Select the bottom layer and invoke Adjust.
  • c. Make your adjustments – focusing on the field and then click OK to process.

  • d. Select the duplicated layer and invoke Adjust again. Make your adjustments, but this time focus on the sky.
  • e. Once your adjustments are made to your second layer, click OK to process and save back to Photoshop.

  • f. Back in Photoshop you will click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of your Layers palette (it is the icon with the circle inside of the rectangle). This will add a Layer Mask to your sky layer.

  • g. Select a brush tool and set the brush color to black and then begin to brush through the field. This will bring in the field area from the bottom layer blending the two images.

Click here to learn more about sky enhancement techniques.

10. Detail. The Detail Boost slider can be a great way to enhance fine/small details in your image, but be sure not to over-apply it. Doing so can lead to unwanted, noise-like enhancements.

11. Noise. The noise tab is not a substitute for noise reduction software, however it is a great way to clean up any noise or artifacts that are introduced into your image from the other adjustments made within Adjust. 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. This is also great for cleaning up areas of skin and sky in your image. Also, over applying the noise reduction can smooth your image too much and result in a loss of detail, so be sure not to over-apply it.

Click here to learn more about the Adjust noise tool vs. the Topaz DeNoise program.

12. Snap Shots. Snap allows you to take a “snapshot” of a group of settings….like a temporary preset. And then you can use the Prev/Next button to scroll through the snapshots you’ve taken. You can take up to 99 snap shots. This allows you to compare the way various combination settings will impact your image without losing them.

13. Apply Button. The Apply button allows you to stack multiple effects/presets during the same workflow. This can significantly increase your productivity while using Adjust, as well as speed up your workflow. Keep in mind that the Apply button is permanent. Once you click it, your changes up to that point are applied and can not be undone. You would need to Cancel (exit) the program and open it back up. Clicking Apply will also eliminate previous snapshots.

Written by guest blogger: Joel Wolfson

I built my first darkroom when I was 13. For my first several years of photography I shot, processed and printed almost all black and white. When photography became my full time profession in 1985 I shot more color than black and white. I started using digital cameras in 1987. However, now more than 30 years after my start in photography, black and white remains a passion. It’s impossible to impart all the techniques and tips I’ve learned but here are a few favorite and important ones for black and white photography. Some apply only to digital capture but most apply to film too.




These tips and techniques are a combination of technical, compositional, and mental aspects of creating successful black and white images:

1. Shoot Raw (aka RAW) Except for compact point and shoot cameras, most digital cameras allow you to capture raw images. This gives you the widest range of tones and colors possible. It also requires some post processing but if you want the best image possible, use raw capture. When you shoot in raw you will also be shooting in color (see tip #3). This may not immediately make sense but most software uses the original color information while you’re optimizing your black and white image. For example, if I’m using Topaz B&W Effects, I can lower the blue values (Color Sensitivity sliders) in a black and white landscape which has the effect of darkening the grays of the sky. Likewise I can brighten the gray tone of leaves on a tree by increasing the green values.

  • If your camera isn’t capable of being set for RAW, shoot in color for the reasons just cited.

2. Shoot with the intention of creating black and white images. The best black and white images are generally those intended to be that way from the beginning. If you’re not an old hand at black and white photography then it’s important to train yourself to think and visualize in black in white and shoot specifically with that in mind. Of course you can discover an image that looks great as a monochrome after the fact but your rate of successful black and white images will be much higher with that intention behind them.

3. Set the LCD screen on the back of your camera for Monochrome. Most cameras will allow you to shoot raw and also be able to view the images on the LCD in black and white/monochrome. This helps you to visualize in black and white as you’re shooting. Canon calls it “Picture Style” and Nikon calls it “Picture Control”. On some cameras you may have to set it to shoot RAW + JPEG- meaning it will shoot both of these at the same time and what you will be viewing on the LCD is the black and white JPEG.

  • A word of caution here. The LCD on the back of your camera is NOT very accurate whether you view in color or black and white. If you treat it as a general guideline it can be helpful but don’t try to judge nuances from the LCD.

4. Compose without color. This is a mental challenge. When you’re looking at or thinking about a scene, subject, or moment to capture, ask yourself: Will this image tell the the story best in black and white? This means trying to think about the lighting, subject, and tonal values over any influence from color. Look for images you can create that are compelling without color.

5. Shoot on overcast or rainy days. For color photography many photographers will avoid shooting on overcast or rainy days. I think such weather is great for black and white (I could make the same argument for color but we’re talking monochrome here.) There are all kinds of subtle tones that might otherwise be lost on a sunny day with harsh shadows. It’s also great light for portraits and photos of people.



6. Think about the non-color visual design elements of your image. Without color the components of visual design become that much more important. Look at the lines in the image. Are they horizontal? Vertical? Diagonal? Do they form a pattern? Rhythm or repeating elements in a photo are interesting, with a break in the repetition being even more interesting. Also look at the texture, shapes, and forms in the image. Concentrating on these will take your mind off the color and enhance your ability to “see” and think in monochrome.

7. Use a calibrated monitor and neutral viewing environment. A properly profiled monitor is essential to making any judgements about, or adjustments to, your images. This may be even more important for black and white where the subtleties of tone are critical. Also best to keep your viewing environment as neutral as possible. White walls are better than bright red and even subdued neutral clothing helps because your clothing will be reflected back into the monitor. I usually wear a gray or black shirt or sweatshirt when I’m adjusting images.

8. Train your brain for black and white by comparing the same images in both black and white and color. Most photo software lets you go back and forth between images or look at them side-by-side. A good way to teach yourself how to visualize in black and white is to look at the same image both ways. Do this with as many images as you can. I would include images that you initially intended to be black and white as well as those that were not intended that way. Sometimes you will discover great black and white images that weren’t shot with that purpose. More importantly it will ultimately help you be able to look at a color scene in the world and visualize it as a black and white image.

9.Crop your image before doing adjustments to it. If you’re looking at a lot of extraneous information that will be cropped out eventually anyway, you don’t want it to influence your adjustments to the image (which it will if you leave it there). Our eyes and brains look at things relative to what’s around it- so don’t let irrelevant information get in the way of fine tuning your image.

10. Before converting your color image to black and white make it a bit gaudy. By this I mean make your image more contrasty and saturated than you would if the final image were to be in color. Monochrome images are about the contrasts of tones and I’ve found that by exaggerating the contrast in color you end up with a better starting point when you convert to black and white. This may mean using both contrast and saturation related controls in your software.

Successful black and white photography is a combination of both technical and artistic elements. Good camera equipment and software is only a starting point. I hope that these tips will help those starting out and serve as reminders for those that are more experienced. Most of all, have fun!

More from Joel Wolfson:
Pro Insights: Black & White Rediscovered
Joel Wolfson’s workshops, website, and blog
Preview of Topaz B&W Effects

Ok, so Friday our friend and pro travel photographer Scott Stulberg did a webinar with us…and boy was it GREAT! Scott, who is well-known for his striking images, showed us how he uses Topaz to help create his images. He also offered some great insight on his go-to lens, loupes, model release forms and much more. If you missed the webinar you will be able to view the recording later this week at: www.topazlabs.com/webinars.

Surprisingly, though, it was what he had going on behind the scenes that caught many of your eyes. Two of the most asked questions were actually regarding his use of Photoshop Notes and Actions…both of which help him streamline not just his use of Topaz but his overall post processing workflow and productivity. (Sorry Elements users, Adobe has only incorporated these features into Photoshop)

So, I wanted to give you all some insight on these two very useful Photoshop features that you might not know about and show you how they can help you in your workflow.

Notes


Now, if you’re anything like me you will recognize the following (simplified) workflow:

1. Adjustments in Photoshop
2. Take image into Topaz and add a preset
3. Tweak the sliders in Topaz to perfect the look
4. Take your image back into Photoshop and make a few more adjustments
5. Save your image
6. Wonder later on: “what presets/adjustments did I apply to this image?”


(before)


(after)

So many times you may end up with a great final image but forget the exact combination of adjustments, plug-ins, presets and other enhancements used to create that look. This is where your Photoshop Note tool comes in! You can find this tool grouped with the Eyedropper Tool (I) in your Tool panel. Notes allow you to add written transcript to any part of your image. This is useful because you can keep track of your workflow, production notes, add comments or any other necessary and helpful information to your image. Notes are also handy if you need to leave yourself a message about where you left off in your workflow so that when you come back to that image you know where to pick up at or if you are passing the file off to a friend or colleague. You can hide/show your notes, you can use multiple notes, apply notes to a specific part or image subject and you can edit your notes.


(your note will appear as a yellow sticky on your image)

Commands for Notes:

1. Add notes
– You can add notes anywhere on your Photoshop image canvas. When you create a note, an icon appears on the image. Select the Note tool in the toolbox. (If the tool isn’t visible, hold down the Eyedropper.)

– In the Options bar, enter or specify the following as needed:
– Author Specifies the note author’s name.
– Color Selects the color for the note icon. Clicking the color box opens the Adobe Color Picker so you can select a color.
– Click where you want to place the note.
– The cursor will automatically be active

2. To Open and edit notes:
– Using the Note tool, double-click the note icon in the image. The text editing area appears in the Notes panel.
– Choose Window -> Notes to display the Notes panel, and click the back and forward arrows to toggle through all notes in the active image.

3. To Show or hide notes:
– Go to View -> Show -> Notes

4. Delete notes:
Select the Note tool, and then do either of the following:
-To delete an individual note, click it in the image, and then click the Delete Note icon in the Notes panel.
-To delete all notes, click Clear All in the options bar.

Actions


Actions, which automate repetitive tasks, are a great way to speed up and simplify editing steps and tasks in Photoshop. Actions allow you to record your workflow. As you are recording, Photoshop is capturing a memory of your steps that it will be able to reapply on any image. Incorporating Actions into your workflow is one of the best ways to streamline your workflow by doing your most common tasks in 1-CLICK!

Maybe you have a group of noisy images that have the same amount of noise that you want to quickly eliminate, you want to quickly rotate an image instead of going to Edit -> Transform -> Rotate, merge down layers, add copyright, load or save a selection, save your image for web, print, resize, flatten, create a layer copy or any other number of tasks that you repeat often.

Bottom line: Actions SAVE TIME!

Button Mode. The screen shot above shows the Actions panel in default or “Edit” mode (on the left) and in button mode (on the right). When recording, modifying, organizing and deleting actions you MUST be in the default mode. However, if you are simply applying actions then you can do that from the button mode. Button mode allows you to easily apply an action in one-click (and is color coded) and then move on. Button mode is great for beginners or for those who prefer a cleaner more simplified display.

Commands for Actions:
1. Action Set: Store sets of actions. Actions must be saved in “sets.” A set can contain between one and 100 actions.
2. Action: This is the actual set of commands recorded in macro form.
3. Toggle Action (On/Off) command: use to enable or disable action (or an effect nested inside of an action)
4. Dialogue Control: Requires user input. When the action is running, the user may click this to modify the highlighted command. If it is turned off, Photoshop will execute the defaults for that command.
5. Play button: Begins playing an action (or set of actions).
6. Record button: Starts recording (or resumes) recording.
7. Stop recording button: When finished running an action, hit this button.
8. New set: Creates a new set in which to place your actions.
9. New action: Creates a new action within the selected set.
10. Delete action: Deletes the selected action (or steps within the action).
11. Action menu: Opens the action menu with additional menu options

And that’s it! So, now that you know about these two nifty features go ahead and open up Photoshop and try them out. Once you get the hang of them you will discover so many ways to incorporate them and streamline your workflow and increase overall productivity. Enjoy and thank you again to Scott Stulberg!!!

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!