Topaz Labs always seems to be working hard to keep new Photoshop plug-ins at a reasonable price. One of my main complaints about most plug-ins is the high price, but Topaz seems to make them at a more modest cost.
So what can Topaz Detail, the latest offering from Topaz Labs, do for you? Let’s say you just have a photograph that looks flat, maybe low on contrast or you need the subject to pop off the page. Maybe you want that new-school, HDR, specially-lit composition. You know it, the Dave Hill or the Lucis Arts look.
They’re the portraits that have the grunge look that just flies off the page or landscapes or interiors that are 3D masterpieces.
According to the developer, “Topaz Detail is uniquely designed to give the user full creative control over all aspects of detail enhancement without creating edge artifacts. It internally separates the image into three detail sizes – small, medium, and large details – and offers exceptional control over the precise manipulation of each detail type.”
Ok, let’s try and break it down into what this means. Topaz Detail lets you add sharpness and contrast without adding the noise usually associated with the process. While the Detail software is similar to Topaz Adjust it does a much better job of creating the enhanced effect without the increasing edge artifacts or over-sharpening.
Topaz Detail uses the normal Topaz Labs software interface with presets down the left side with examples, a large window for the preview of your photograph and sliders at the bottom to make adjustments.
I usually click on one of the presets and then make minor adjustments from there. Presets include: creative detail accent, micro-contrast enhancement, edge softener, soft looking, deep-blue sky, black-and-white contrasted, bold detail, and interior strong detail.
With the Topaz Detail software, you do have a choice of making the images more contrasty, softer or even changing to black-and-white, so plan on spending some time working with your photographs. This is one of those software programs that gets addictive, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.
Topaz Detail works works with Photoshop CS3 and CS4 and Elements 6 and 7. They do support Aperture 2 by Apple but not Lightroom. They do offer a free 30-day full function trial on their website or you can buy it for $39.99. They are offering the newsletter subscriber price at $19.99 until August 31, 2009 with the coupon code “SODETAILED” so check the Topaz Labs website to see if it is still available. I think Topaz Lab has really come up with a fine piece of software at a great price. The software is comparable to others that cost over ten times as much. I won’t mention any other names. Topaz Detail is a little slow when working with large files. I tried it with a 41M Photoshop file and it took Detail about 2 minutes to load on my older model G5 Intel iMac. But, once it’s loaded, it works very quickly when you click from preset to preset or make adjustments.
Snap Art 2 by Alien Skin software is a Photoshop plug-in which changes your photographs into art work. If you need to turn a beautiful landscape image into an oil painting or a senior portrait into a water color it’s a perfect fit. I tried it out with Adobe Photoshop 4, but it will work with Photoshop CS3, Element 4.0 or later for Mac and Photoshop Elements or later for Windows.
According to the developer, “Snap Art 2 expertly applies thousands of brush strokes. You simply show where you want more detail. This improved level of control makes it easy to render stunning portraits.”
The software is very easy to use. It’s simple: just open up your photo in Photoshop, click on the filter menu, roll down to Snap Art 2, and pick out the expressive style you’re looking for which include: color pencil, comics, impasto, pastel, pen and ink, pencil sketch, pointillism, stylize, and watercolor.
Image Doctor 2 installed without a hitch using the current version of Leopard and Photoshop CS4.
We all have good photos that we want to turn into great photos. What makes the transition from good to great takes much dedicated skill using Photoshop CS4 or some other sophisticated imaging editor.
All of the above gets incredibly simplified with Alien Skin’s Image Doctor 2. Like me, I am sure you have some digital photos that contain some components that either should be removed or changed in some way:
Smart Fill: Allows you to remove unwanted objects within your photo simply.
Dust & Scratch Remover: Got an image with dust or an old scanned image that has some scratches. Gone baby gone!
Blemish Concealer: Use this filter to remove distinct skin blemishes, such as pimples, moles, and birthmarks.
Skin Softener This filter helps clear up oily patches of skin, wrinkles, splotchy redness, and rough skin spots.
JPEG Repair The JPEG Repair filter helps fix the effects of over-compression in low-quality JPEG images. Use this filter to fix blocky areas and other effects that occur when JPEGs are saved in low quality.
The contained manual simply shows you how to execute all of the above. The filters offer amazing results and make using the software package fun. Although not cheap, $199.00 is a solid investment if you like me love to take pictures and then enhance them to make them look beautiful. Also, many of the effects can also be achieved by spending hundreds of hours learning Photoshop skills. Alien Skin’s software negates the hours and offers professional looking results.
This week I’m going to review Topaz Adjust software by Topaz Labs, a plug-in for Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. It’s a little hard to explain what this software does, except it’s fun to use and adds a lot of pop to your photos.
According to the company line, Topaz Adjust uses advanced algorithms to achieve unique exposure effects and adjustments in seconds. It offers the user full control over creative exposure, color, and detail effects, and has the ability to save and reuse presets for maximum convenience.
Adobe offers their new CS4 Suites in 5 different versions, but the Master Collection is the big show itself, it contains every application in the Adobe Creative Suite. Although priced for serious professionals, it’s a relative bargain compared with buying each ingredient piecemeal. Installation is no small adventure. With 4 DVDs and the dozen apps we listed above, plan for an evening for the festivities to get this suite on your Mac. Mac users need an Intel multi-core processor running Mac OS X version 10.4.11 or newer, at least 2GB of RAM, and free hard-disk space of 26.3GB or higher. More info is available at Adobe’s Web site.
This week I’m going do a review of Blow Up 2 software from Alien Skin.
Now you might say to yourself, how cool is that, there’s software that you can just blow everything up and it will look perfect. Well, that’s really not the case. It’s really better to shoot high quality photographs.
It’s when you need to crop and enlarge you can start having problems. When you starting blowing photographs up by just increasing image size or DPI in Photoshop, Elements or your favorite image editing program you can start to have a drop off in quality.
This week I’m reviewing NIK software’s Aperture and Photoshop plugin, Silver Efex Pro. While I really like Aperture, its black-and-white conversion leaves a lot to be desired. One thing is certain, all black-and-white conversion is not created equal. There are no hard and fast rules on exactly where to assign your grey and without savant-like abilities, you can destroy the look of your photograph with careless conversion. I know, quite simply, because I have done it.
Adobe today announced the immediate availability of the Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 product family, the highly-anticipated release of industry-leading design and development software for virtually every creative workflow. Delivering radical breakthroughs in workflow efficiency – and packed with hundreds of innovative, time saving features – the new Creative Suite 4 product line advances the creative process across print, Web, interactive, film, video and mobile.
Customers can choose from six new versions: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web Standard, Production Premium and Master Collection. The combination of Creative Suite and the new capabilities of Adobe Flash® Player 10, also available today (see separate press release) deliver new levels of creativity and expressiveness across media channels. Designers using the Adobe Creative Suite 4 product family will gain unprecedented creative control using the new expressive features and visual performance improvements in Adobe Flash Player 10 to deliver breakthrough Web experiences across multiple browsers and operating systems.
This week I am going to review Alien Skin’s software, Exposure 2, the Photoshop and Photoshop Elements’ plug-in to give your photographs the look of film. It’s a one-click way to give photographs that edgy, arty, cross-processed film look. It also can be used to add a soft focus glamour look, change your color photographs to black-and-white.
Photoshop Elements 6. I feel like it needs little fanfare. The program has been updated from Elements 4. I’m not sure whatever happened to version 5 for the Mac. I guess when your a Mac user you can’t expect to get all the different versions. Elements has always been my recommended software for those who want to work with their photos and want take the next step up from the rudimentary controls in iPhoto. It continues to be the perfect step and the new version makes it even easier.
When I was browsing through the photo books at Amazon.com, one book, Matt Kloskowski’s new book, “Layers,” the complete guide to Photoshop’s most powerful features, really jumped out at me so I clicked the buy button. That was easy. I am a sucker for any new photography book, you could say, I’m an easy sell.