Post-Processing Rocks! Using Lightroom, Photoshop & A Topaz Labs Filter

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.

Capture Details

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.

Raw Image

Straight Out of Camera, RAW—no adjustments

Next, I’ll do some basic adjustments in Lightroom.

Lightroom adjustments

RAW image with Lightroom adjustments

 Lightroom Adjustment Details:

  1. 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.
  2. Exposure + .25: Tip: always go too far in both directions in exposure to gauge correctly.
  3. 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.
  4. Vibrance +14
  5. 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.

Photoshop Edits

Further processing in Photoshop

 Photoshop Edits

This is my standard workflow for processing my “base edits” in Photoshop.

  1. 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.
  2. Crop: I thought there was too much of the wooden base showing.
  3. Retouching: I then retouch out any distracting elements like dust, bugs, etc.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Layer Panel

The Layer Panel

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.

Raw Image

Straight Out of Camera, RAW—no adjustments

Final edits

Image with based edits & Topaz Labs Detail Filter

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.

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18 Responses to Post-Processing Rocks! Using Lightroom, Photoshop & A Topaz Labs Filter

  1. LeAnne January 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I have a question about Lightroom. I process my raw photos in camera raw and it looks to be about the same as what you’ve done here. What is the difference between Lightroom processing and Adobe Camera Raw?
    LeAnne recently posted..Where Will I Find the Time?

    • Leslie Nicole January 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      With Lightroom, you have more editing, plus organizing, printing and sharing options. You are basically using Camera Raw through Lightroom, but you also have additional features with Lightroom such as burn & dodge, apply effects, vignetting, retouch & lots more.

  2. Julie Legg January 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Will the Detail 2 filter work in Topaz Adjust 5?
    Julie Legg recently posted..Beauty, God’s Billboard To You And Me

    • Leslie Nicole January 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      The Detail 2 filter is a separate filter. I have the Topaz Labs Photoshop bundle which includes both the Detail 2 and Adjust 5. Adjust does have some detail presets as well. If I had to choose 1 Topaz Filter, it would be Adjust – but I do use Detail 2 a lot.

  3. Mike March 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Hi I would like to download the Featured tweak but your link just shows the code. In Topaz detail there is an import option but this imports a .tpp file?

    • Leslie Nicole March 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      Try the link now. I zipped the file so that it will download instead of opening. Thanks!

    • Celeste March 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      Try right-clicking on the Featured Tweak link, and then choose “save linked file as” (or similar wording, as this varies by browser). You should get a dialog with a filename ending in “txt” and a window showing your desktop/Finder (Mac) or Windows Explorer. Edit the filename to remove “.txt” (and the extra “.tpp” that you may also see). Save the file wherever you can find it easily. Then from within the opened Topaz Detail 2 filter, look near the bottom left for the button labeled “Import,” click, and then navigate to where you saved the .tpp file. I just did that and the preset file imported and worked perfectly.

      • Leslie Nicole March 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

        Thanks for this Celeste. It’s my first time sharing a preset. :-)Perhaps I should take out the extra .tpp. I’m not sure why it adds the extra one.

        • Leslie Nicole March 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

          I just imported the .tpp.tpp file into Detail and that worked too.

      • Val March 23, 2012 at 2:48 am #

        Thank you Celeste for all of the info on how to move it into Detail 2. I would have been lost without your instructions.

      • Val March 23, 2012 at 2:53 am #

        Thank you too Leslie for sharing your tutorial and Feature Tweak

  4. David March 22, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I clicked the Featured Tweek, but did not get a download. Also, do I need to have Topaz Detail to get this download? I own Tpaz Adjust 5.

  5. Val March 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    The same problem as others have mentioned. Can’t download the Tweak for Topaz Detail 2. Looking forward to seeing the possibilities this has to offer.

    • Leslie Nicole March 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      try again, Val. Now that it is a zip file, it’s downloading instead of opening.

  6. Leonard Shumaker March 22, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    The download process worked fine; FYI
    Using a Mac laptop and Safari web browser. Clicked the link and the download took 0.5 sec.
    Opened an image in PS5 and then went to Tpz Detail. Hit the import button and selected the file in the download folder. Hit open and BAM its done. Its now in my preset list.

    Many thanks to Topaz Labs, to this blog, and to all who wrote comments.


  7. Daryl March 23, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    Thanks Celeste and thank you Leslie!

  8. Ivelina Aasen October 22, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    Thank you Leslie for this preset ! It worked perfect with the Topaz Details on my Mac.

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