My Photograph, My Vision


Over the years I have played with various plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom but I always return to the offerings from Topaz Labs. In fact I would go so far as saying 99% of the photographs I have taken this year and featured on Flickr, Facebook, Google+ or either of my blogs has had some input from at least one of the Topaz Plugins. Clarity is my goto plugin mainly because it adds that extra bit of punch and depth to a photograph.

Talacre Sunset Original

This is an old photograph. I took it in June 2013 long before the winter storms of 2013/2014 destroyed the sand dunes at Talacre. If you were to visit Talacre today you would not see these stones, they are buried under all the sand that formed the dunes, which now forms a massive sand bar on the beach. Maybe some day we will see them again but not in the near future as conservationists reckon it will take 15 to 20 years for the dunes to reform, and that can only happen with the action of the wind and tides. Yet Talacre is one of those places I like to photograph, especially in the winter, as we now get pools of water forming on the beach when the tide goes out. Due to the action of the tides it’s an ever-changing landscape with one constant, the lighthouse. Each day can present a similar theme but a different photograph and those pools of water are fantastic for getting a photograph with the reflection of the lighthouse and clouds. What about you? Do you have a favourite place you visit again and again?

Anyway back to the photograph. The original sunset was dull and flat. Talacre Lighthouse does lean to one side, quite markedly but a wide angle lens accentuates the lean even more causing perspective distortion..

My first step was to correct the distortion using the Lens Correction Filter in Photoshop (Filter, Lens Correction, Custom, Vertical Perspective). Fortunately I didn’t need to straighten the Horizon, but that can also be done with the Lens Correction Filter. Now to get some punch into the photograph and the best way to do that is to add some contrast. For me the best tool is Topaz Clarity. Sure you can add contrast in Photoshop but I find that it tends to blow out the highlights or deepen the shadows too much. Clarity gives me better control of how I add that contrast whilst still keeping the photograph looking natural.

Talacre Sunset

Now this is where I know some of you will say he’s gone over the top and you may be right, but hey “it’s my photograph, my vision”. When I took the original photograph the sun was setting. I remember the sky being more orange than what the photograph at the top shows and I want to get it looking like that sunset I remember. The Purists will gasp in horror but I’m about to invoke another good plugin from Topaz Labs called ReStyle. It’s hard to describe exactly what ReStyle does but with about 1000 effects in it’s arsenal it’s the plugin I use when I want to fine tune the colour in an image. You could almost say it’s like Instagram on steroids but with far more control.

So there you have it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you use Topaz Products? Have I gone too far?

Disclaimer: Although I am endorsing products from Topaz Labs I do not get paid for doing so. I am however a beta tester for new Topaz plugins which has allowed me to receive a free license for several of these plugins.

8 thoughts on “My Photograph, My Vision

  1. eldy November 9, 2014 / 00:07

    Ding dong it I love the photoshopped/topazed photo. Your photo and vision rock!

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    • Mike Hardisty November 11, 2014 / 16:05

      Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.

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  2. Andrew November 9, 2014 / 01:59

    I have not tried Topaz. I’m only using LR, CS and NIK. Clarity to me is structural and I find if I tweak clarity in LR I need to adjust contrast too. I see nothing wrong with reinterpreting the colours. It is what you want it to be. Simple. Have you tried the LR perspective correction tool? I find it works extremely well.

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    • Mike Hardisty November 11, 2014 / 16:08

      Clarity in Lightroom is all or nothing Andrew, that’s why I use the Topaz plugin which gives me greater control. If I know I’m going to be working solely in LR I use the tool. If I know I’m going to be creating layers I prefer to use the perspective correction in Photoshop. I suppose it’s just a matter of what I am used to.

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      • Andrew November 12, 2014 / 02:46

        I’m not sure its all or nothing Mike as you can brush clarity on selectively but maybe I have misunderstood.

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        • Mike Hardisty November 12, 2014 / 17:38

          I suppose what I meant by all or nothing is that Clarity affects the contrast of the midtones and although you can brush it in I’ve always found I have better control with the plugin. But there again it’s down to what you are used to, I suppose. Photoshop was always my first choice editor and even although I have Lightroom now and know I should be using it more I still turn to what i know best.

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  3. petspeopleandlife November 9, 2014 / 05:07

    Mike, both scenes are fantastic to me. I really like the vibrant sunset colors. If the photo pleases you as the artist then that is all that matters. I see nothing wrong with altering a photo. I don’t think it is over the top at all.

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