Plugs 'N Pixels, image creation, manipulation and education

Plugs ’n Pixels looks at the Topaz Photography Collection

  Topaz Labs offers the Topaz Photography Collection which gathers 17 different plug-ins and standalone apps into a single set. In this review I will give an overview of the various creative and corrective functionality the Collection offers and spotlight a handful of the plug-ins, rather than write 17 individual reviews.

  Topaz Labs came on the scene in 2005 and immediately began garnering attention as a viable contender in this field. A decade later, I definitely consider them one of the top players in this niche. Read on to discover more.

  The Topaz Photography Collection can be broken down in functionality as follows (with some overlap, of course):

 

•Photographic effects: Adjust, B&W Effects, Clarity, Clean, Detail, Lens Effects, ReStyle, Star Effects and Texture Effects

•Artistic effects: Clean, Glow, Impression, Simpify

•Corrective fixes: DeJPEG, DeNoise, InFocus, ReMask

•Standalone apps: Glow, Impression, PhotoFXlab, ReMask

 

  The current crop of Topaz plug-ins and apps feature a standard modern, cross-platform compatible interface. Generally, the left side of the layout shows the available presets with rollover previews (also available in grid form), the center displays the image preview in various full or split modes and at right you’ll find many tools for fine-tuning each effect to your liking.

 

  Let’s start our overview of the Collection by looking at some examples from the Photographic and Artistic effects groups, since they produce the most obvious and exciting effects. We’ll first highlight Topaz Adjust.

  If you were only going to choose a single Topaz plug-in, Adjust would definitely be the right one. With preset collections ranging from Classic, Film, HDR, Stylized, Toned and Vibrant (each with several sub-category fully-adjustable presets), you’ll be sure to find exactly the right effect or effects for your image.

 

  The beach screenshot above shows an example of Adjust’s HDR category effects, while the starfish example at the top of the page shows one of Adjust’s Classic settings.

 

  Below are several examples of the beach image treated with totally different Adjust presets, each of which I chose to draw attention to the juxtaposition of the power plant with the public beach (these effects would be perfect for an environmental poster). Of course Adjust can simply pop the details hidden in your images or obscure them altogether without making a statement if you so choose.

If you prefer creating something more artistic rather than detail-enhanced or grungy, Topaz Impression is the way to go. Impression mimics various classic art styles and applies them to your image in a single click. Here’s a screenshot showing how selecting a preset (in this case “Cave Dweller III”) and doing literally nothing else results in believable artwork:

  It’s almost too easy and it might make you wonder why you went to art school, but it works! Below are four more examples of 1-click artwork in various Impression styles, all from unedited presets. The secret to success here is to try different types of source image/effect combinations, as an art style that doesn’t quite work with one image will be incredible on another.

Topaz Glow offers totally wild effects for those times when you want something “different”. Your image is turned into a festival of light resembling fiber optics, neon, liquid and other fantasy treatments. The screenshot below shows the interface with the “Brilliant Fibers III” preset chosen.

  Here are a couple more subjects treated with Glow. The Japanese interior takes on a whole new life and everybody to whom I’ve shown the owl image loves it.

  The latest addition to the Collection is Texture Effects, perhaps your quickest means to both soft and grungy photo effects. The standalone app/plug-in comes with a slew of presets ready for 1-click application, plus you can download many more. Here’s how it looks once you load an image (I simply dragged the photo straight from Adobe Bridge into Texture Effects) and choose a preset (in this case, “Careless”) . Notice the many additional effect adjustments shown at right:

  Each preset is fully editable, with Texture Effects presenting you with several categories of effects to adjust, depending on which preset you start with. You can stack additional new or duplicates of the same effects categories onto the image until you get what you want. Choose from: Basic Adjustment, Borders, Color Overlay, Diffusion, Double Exposure, Dust/Scratches, Edge Blur, Edge Exposure, Film Grain, Light Leak, Posterize, Split Tone, Texture and Vignette. Here are a couple of screenshots of this editing process in action:

  We’ve only looked at four of the 17 Topaz Photography Collection plug-ins  thus far so you can imagine how much more functionality the whole set offers. To speed things up, I’ll provide individual sample images from a few more of the included plug-ins:

Topaz Lens Effects (tonal adjustment, focus shift, vignette)

Topaz Simplify (Line & Ink preset)

Topaz B&W Effects (Stylized preset)

Topaz ReStyle (Night Collection preset)

  The Topaz Photography Collection also includes Technical Fix plug-ins for such common image correction scenarios as noise reduction, JPEG artifact removal and masking (subject isolation).

 

  The Collection is offered as a bundle at an overall discount over purchasing individual titles, but if you prefer you can also choose to buy any of the individual plug-ins/standalones separately, according to your particular needs.

 

  Topaz generously offers free updates to its plug-ins, so once you buy any, you’re set for a long time. And they’re always updating existing plug-ins to improve functionality and appearance, as well as coming up with new plug-ins on a regular basis.

 

  The Collection or any individual Topaz plug-in/standalone is offered at 15% off on our Discounts page, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

 

  For more information about individual Topaz plug-ins, see our Tutorials page.