“With any form of photography, the photo captures a point in time; it is a record of what was there at that specific moment. However, to make a photo interesting to the audience it must be more than just a record.
Cities contain many buildings, good and bad architecture; shapes; patterns; people and culture. Urban landscape is therefore a wide subject that can encompass the elements of both the physical and cultural aspects of a city.”-Adrian Pym, writer and judge for the Digital Lightroom
In lieu of the on-going photography competition hosted by The Digital Lightroom, I was inspired by the current submission theme ‘Urban Landscape’ (see here on how to enter the competition to win a free copy of Topaz Clarity).
During a recent visit to San Antonio, TX, my goal ahead of time was to obtain a rooftop, urban landscape shot of the city. At the heart of downtown, this image of the well-known Alamo and partial SA skyline achieved this goal and was the chosen one to use in this tutorial:
One of my favorite aspects of photography is the post-processing that follows in the ‘digital darkroom’. With the series of city images I took that day, a standard workflow was developed following the suggested Topaz workflow chart. The adjustments applied in guidance transformed my daytime cityscape images in a non-drastic way, making them stand out compared to the lack-luster originals.
With the above workflow in mind, I brought the below images into several plug-ins in this order: DeNoise->Adjust->Clarity->Lens Effects->Detail
Using the Alamo City skyline as an example, here is a general idea of the post-processing steps I followed:
- Open the image in PS (or other host program)
- Duplicate the photo (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and open it in Topaz DeNoise 5
- Be sure you are viewing the image at 100% so that it appears the way it should when brought back into PS. This magnification will also help you see the noise in the original image as compared to the after.
- Apply one of the settings you find most suiting to your image. I applied he RAW-moderate preset
- Press OK
- Bring the image into Topaz Adjust 5
- Apply the Brilliant Warm preset for a sunny day
- Reduce or increase the transparency as desired
- Press OK
- Open the image in Topaz Clarity
- Apply one of the presets found in the Architecture Collection. For this image I applied the Cityscape I preset
- Optional: Mask out the sky using the ‘Edge Aware’ brush so that the Cityscape I preset is only applied to the city:
- Press OK to bring the image back into PS to apply the changes
- Bring the same image back into Clarity and apply the Clouds II preset found in the Landscape Collection
- Use the Edge Aware brush to mask out the architecture and foliage so that the effect is only applied to the sky:
- Increase your brush size and strength around the bulk of the image
- Zoom in to construct fine tweaking around the edges of the skyline with a smaller brush
- Use the spacebar to toggle between the before/after to help see what needs to be hidden or revealed
- Bring the image into Lens Effects
- Zoom into 100% to see the exact changes that will be applied
- On the left side of the interface scroll to xF Add Sharpening and apply one of the Sharpening presets and press OK. I used Sharpening II:
- Open the image in Topaz Detail 3
- For this photo I reduced the saturation by -0.10 for a more natural feeling
- Apply the Overall Detail Light preset and mask out the sky/trees so that detail is only brought out in the architecture
- Press OK
Back in PS, I made Selective Color Adjustments in the cyans, blues and yellows to take effect on the sky and foilage:
The Final Result:
Be sure to submit your own urban landscape image(s) to the DLR’s Photography Competition for your chance to win a free copy of Topaz Clarity or other Topaz plug-in! The deadline for entries is June 28th. See here for competition and submission rules.