I get a lot of emails asking me how I get my images to look clear and crisp and I’ve had questions asking me about how I use the Topaz Labs filters. This is a good opportunity for me to do a demo of how I capture and process my images. Let’s take a look at how I created this still life Solo Quince.
This image was shot in my studio using natural light and reflected flash fill.
- ISO 100, f/11, 1/6 second, RAW format
- Canon 40D
- Canon 60mm macro EF-S f/2.8
First Edits In Lightroom
I love Lightroom. It’s become an essential part of my workflow. All RAW images need some processing.
Here’s my RAW image before Lightroom adjustments.
Next, I’ll do some basic adjustments in Lightroom.
Lightroom Adjustment Details:
- White Balance: Whenever I can, I start with a white balance adjustment. White balance needs to be done on a neutral color like white, gray or black. Here, I chose the white background.
- Exposure + .25: Tip: always go too far in both directions in exposure to gauge correctly.
- Clarity + 43: Tip: I usually find the Lightroom Preset: General/Punch works well as a starting point for my images. This will add Clarity and Vibrance.
- Vibrance +14
- Sharpening: 50 (this is adds a little pre-sharpening—all RAW files need sharpening.)
Further Adjustments in Photoshop
Although Lightroom is quite powerful, I’m just more comfortable doing my edits in Photoshop.
This is my standard workflow for processing my “base edits” in Photoshop.
- Exposure: I start by doing further edits to the exposure. I usually use a Levels Adjustment layer to fine-tune the exposure and contrast. There are probably those that would argue I should do this in Lightroom, but I just feel more comfortable with Photoshop.
- Crop: I thought there was too much of the wooden base showing.
- Retouching: I then retouch out any distracting elements like dust, bugs, etc.
- Burn/Dodge: Anyone who has ever worked in a darkroom had a kit for finessing localized exposure. The same is true for digital. It’s rare an image couldn’t stand a bit of burning & dodging. In a future tutorial, I’ll show you how to use a burn/dodge layer, which is much better than the Photoshop Burn/Dodge tools.
- Merge Visible: Next, I’ll merge my base edits together so I can run a Topaz Labs filter. Tip: the keyboard shortcut is Command+Option+Shift+E (Mac) or Control+Alt+Shift+E (PC)
The Final Touch: A Topaz Labs Filter
Here’s the Final Image comparison.
Note: I’m no longer using image mouse-overs for the Before/After as they do not work on touch devices such as iPads.
Topaz Labs Filter Info
- Topaz Labs Detail 2 filter: I have created a preset for the Detail 2 filter called Feature Tweaked that is a slightly stronger effect than just the Feature Enhancement (which is the mildest setting.) Tip: immediately name your layer with the filter you run. That way, if you want to re-edit in the future, you’ll have a reminder of what you did.
- I’ve never tried this before, so cross my fingers that this works, but I’ve exported my Feature Tweaked preset. Click the Feature Tweaked link to download it, unzip it and Import this into your Topaz Labs Detail 2 presets.
It’s harder to see in these web images as I’ve used a delicate touch with the filter, but it does make a difference. A lot of the default presets in the Topaz Labs filters can be too strong. Play with tweaking them for more pleasing results. I’ll cover more of my favorite Topaz filter settings in future tutorials.
Next: Texturing The Image
Next week, I’ll do a tutorial on adding a texture to this image.
P.S. Yes, I will get an affiliate commission if you happen to buy a Topaz Labs filter by clicking through on one of these links. I love these filters and think you will also find them valuable. Thank you for your support.