It’s no secret that I am a Photoshop user and that I will enhance my images. In my opinion that’s what the digital age is all about. I’m a great fan of Topaz Labs plugins for Photoshop and I have their Complete Collection installed on my computer.
Recently I did a beta test of Topaz ReStyle which is now on general release. What does it do? Hard to explain in words but you can take a photograph and apply one of a thousand different effects to it. Perhaps the best way is to show you what I mean.
Here’s the base image. Taken as the sun was setting on Talacre Beach. On it’s own I quite like it….but it could do with something a little bit extra.
With one click I can select from any one of the 1000 pre-sets and it will be instantly applied.
But you don’t have to stick with the pre-sets default setting. You can fine tune them using the control panel.
Here you can adjust the strength of the five primary colours, mask out some of the effect, change the saturation and hue of colours, even the luminosity.
Want something a bit weird? ReStyle has pre-sets for that. Or maybe something dark and moody?
A thousand different pre-sets is a bit much to look at but you can search by keyword. For instance, I used “blue” to find this pre-set.
Many of the pre-sets look reasonably natural, especially any that have to do with sunset or sunrise.
I’m not saying that ReStyle should be applied to every photograph, nor is it suited to every photograph. When I was beta testing I found I got the best results from photographs where the light was kind of low and I stuck to something that was believable. i.e. the green and really red just don’t seem to gel.
So I’m curious. Do you think photos enhanced with effects such as this should still be called photography, or should they be called digital art? I must admit I personally find it frustrating that photo competitions award heavily enhanced images many of the prizes leaving ‘real photography’ in the dark. I definitely get basic adjustments – a little contrast, levels etc, but call me old-fashioned, I’d still like ‘real photography’ to be held in a class of it’s own. Am curious to hear what others think.
An interesting conversation point Suzan. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that it is still a photograph, albeit a digital one. Altering photographs is nothing new. Gustave le Gray was combining two photographs in the darkroom to give him a composite image, this was in 1850. Probably more well known were Ansel Adams and Fred Archer, who between them developed the Zone System as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print.
Like you, I’m not keen on heavily altered images for competitions but I suppose it all depends on the rules set by the competition sponsors.
My own thoughts are that plugins are just another tool in the arsenal that’s available to digital photographers, so why not use them. However I don’t use them on every image. Many of my landscape photographs are pretty simple. Yes! I do use HDR, but even that is accepted now. Well for me it is. If the Smithsonian feels its ok to hang an HDR image in their galleries then that’s good enough for me.
I hear you! Still balancing on a fence. 🙂
Thanks for the very cool demo. I love the effects.
It’s an interesting plugin…
Mike, when viewing your image in WP reader there are lots of artefacts / digital noise around the lighthouse. Viewed at 100% they are less noticeable but still there. Is this an effect of using Topaz, a compression for web issue, or do I need a new screen? Its a great composition Mike but the noise distracts me.
Hi Adrian, I see what you mean. The images for the main blog are hosted on Google+ and normally I size them at 1232 x 816 pixels approximately 230kb in size. I use Windows Live Writer to write my blog and insert my photographs using a plugin. On checking I can see that the images are being compressed to about 90kb and that’s not good. Also for the featured image I just resize it down to 616 about 65kb and save it to my WP gallery. That really does look extremely pixelated and noisy.
I can’t say I’ve noticed a problem before, but previously I used Flickr to store my images…so it looks like I might have to do some serious investigation as to why it looks noisy.
Thanks for pointing this out.
It’s a good base image to begin with. Looks to me like the Topaz Plugins is a Photoshop plugin version of things that are easily done with Adobe Lightroom?
It is amazing what can be done with little editing. I got photoshop but I have been having a hard time to learn how to use it. Do you have any tips?