Reviews

2014 Year in Review

2014 Year in Review

As we head into 2015 it is once again time for my annual year in review post. I always enjoy these for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they provide an opportunity to reflect back upon many of the images and the associated memories created during the past 12 months. 

2013 - Year in Review

2013 - Year in Review

As we close out the year 2013, I present my year in review with some of the more popular images created since the 2012 version

Topaz Labs ReStyle Review

As a longtime user of the outstanding stable of Topaz Labs products, whenever they release an upgrade or a new product they have my attention. On August 7th they released a new product called ReStyle. I had an opportunity to beta test this product before it's final release and here is my review. Needless to say, I was excited about another Topaz tool to add to my workflow knowing this would provide even more possibilities for creative expressions. What I did not know was how extensive Restyle would turn out to be in terms of tools, choices and selections.

So what is Restyle?

Basically it is a package of presets for color manipulation and tinting of your images, providing near limitless possibilities.  Your creativity can run free with this program and it is a lot of fun to use.

The product can be purchased as a plugin for Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture or Topaz's stand-alone product, Photo FX Lab at a retail cost of $59.99.

But wait!

It is currently on sale for the introductory cost of just $29.99 through August 31st, a real bargain in my humble opinion. Simply enter the discount code: restyleit

As you will see below, it is super easy to use as well. So let's get to it.

Features

  • Breakthrough Mapping Technology -ReStylesamples and maps the color and tone statistics from your selected image. This data is then transformed into high-quality presets and transformations, yielding dramatic effects.  You also have the ability to save these presets for future applications, thereby adding to the more than 1000 presets that ships with the product. Awesome!
  •  Blending Modes - With ReStyle, they have incorporated blending modes for the adjustment modules, essentially showing eight different looks for each style preset.
  • 5 Color Style Sliders with HSL Technology - Using the Hue, Saturation and Luminance sliders you can enhance the five dominant colors of your selected image.
  • Create Custom Presets - Each preset can be further adjusted and enhanced to suit your taste, providing you with an unlimited number of custom creations.

Below we have an original HDR image, which I can cross-process or color tint as many times as I desire.

The Royal Towers HDR
The Royal Towers HDR

Let's Move to the ReStyle user interface where the real fun and creativity happens.

The Topaz ReStyle Interface
The Topaz ReStyle Interface

Once inside, ReStyle maps the colors and tones of your image and creates five dominant regions of color in order of prominence, as seen in the top of the right panel (above). As previously mentioned, you can adjust each to create even more looks and presets.

In this case, I chose the "Saffron Sunset" in the Landscape section, one of nine preset categories. Architecture, Fashion, Graphic, Moody, Night, Portrait, Seascape and Street are the others.

There is also a strength slider in the Texture section, which I found to drastically boost the depth and overall appearance of images. All of this adds up to be a wonderful way to add style and pizzazz to your images with a few clicks of the mouse. And if that's not enough, consider the masking module where there are even more tools including an edge-aware brush, gradient mask, smart feather tool, color aware tool and more.

And all for only $29.99 through August 31 after entering the discount code: restyleit. Afterward the price will be $59.99, still a bargain but why pay more?

Overall, I am very impressed with this new product by Topaz Labs and I think you will be as well.

Below are a few more results from the original HDR image posted above.

 [soliloquy id="topaz-restyle-review"]

Check out this and other Topaz Labs Products here.

Thanks for visiting!

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4-4-2011 8-19-18 PM
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4-4-2011 8-19-18 PM

Topaz Clarity Review

Topaz Labs has done it again! The software developer will release it's latest product, Topaz Clarity, today the 22nd of May 2013. I love the Topaz stable of products for their effectiveness and ease of use and Clarity, which I have been fortunate enough to beta test, is no exception.

Clarity is designed to enhance both the contrast and clarity of your images without the resulting halos and artifacts we often see.

When I first saw the product title I immediately thought about the slider in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, wondering if there were any similarities. Users of these products will be happy to know that they function in similar ways but with one huge difference. Topaz's Clarity provides far more control over your end result.

Here is a before and after example.

[soliloquy id="5052"]

A nice result using a single click of one of the more than 100 presets, which are categorized by types of photography (Nature, Macro, Architecture, Wedding and more). I used the Landscape Pop III preset in this example.

Here is a quick look at some of the features:

Clarity Module- The Dynamics section of this module allows you to selectively adjust contrast in your image, without adding halos or artifacts, resulting in a very natural looking image, which is very important for my style of photography.  The contrast sliders range from micro to high, and refer to the original image contrast variations allowing you to increase or decrease the contrast in that specific variation.  The highlight of this module is the ability to adjust mid-tone contrast quickly and easily, something that would normally take many steps to achieve.

The Tone section gives you the ability to adjust the tone levels to retain a high range of tones in your image.  It includes black, white, and mid-tone sliders that can bring back details in the shadows and highlights that would normally be lost with high contrast adjustments.

HSL Module- Topaz Clarity is the first to use a quality enhancement method in the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustment module, which can produce strong adjustments with much less artifacts and noise.  The HSL module allows you to selectively enhance specific colors in your image.  It works by breaking your image into 8 different colors, giving maximum control over the colors in your image.

Advanced Masking Technology- Topaz has incorporated several new features in the masking module to allow for more precise masking.  Clarity offers three different types of brushes; normal, edge aware, and the new color aware.  You now have the ability to feather the mask and control the color range.  You also have the option of choosing a gradient mask that includes linear, radial, and reflected types of gradients.  In addition, there is a separate mask for the Clarity module and the HSL module, which allows for much greater control of adjustment areas in your image.

New Intuitive User Interface- The new interface is really flexible and user-friendly. The modules themselves are streamlined for quicker and easier adjustments.  

Have a look!

Topaz Clarity User Interface
Topaz Clarity User Interface

The resulting image.

Condominium - Annapolis
Condominium - Annapolis

There are many uses for Topaz Clarity, including HDR image enhancement.  I can hardly wait to experiment further with this impressive new tool.

The list price for this will be $49.99 but you can get it now through May 31st for $29.99 by using the Promo Code claritynew.

Topaz Clarity
Topaz Clarity

 Click the box or HERE to purchase!

4-4-2011 8-19-18 PM
4-4-2011 8-19-18 PM
4-4-2011 8-19-18 PM
4-4-2011 8-19-18 PM