Adventures, Tips & Stories
"Adventure is not outside you, it is within." after Mary Ann Evans
WHAT IS TOPAZ SHARPEN AI ?
Topaz Sharpen AI is Topaz Studio2 software with Lightroom and Photoshop plug-in for $79.99 USD that corrects focus, reduces shake and sharpens soft images. Here are some ideas to use it effectively. You can save 20 bucks if you purchase before December 28th, cost is $59.99 at https://topazlabs.com/sharpen-ai .
Topaz Sharpen AI is a free trial, so after you enter your email, you'll get an email link to download a free trial, and the company keeps your sign in and information private.
HOW TO DOWNLOAD FOR 1 Month TRIAL: 3 Steps
1. Put in your name and password to create an account on the Topaz Labs My Account Page. 2. Download Sharpen AI from the Topaz Labs Downloads Page. Then you Log In. Put in your account information. 3. Choose "Start Trial" to start using Sharpen AI free for a month. Easy.
Many photographers capture images with RAW files now. Sharpen AI only supports .jpeg, .tiff and .png files. Convert your RAW files to one of these formats before you open your image into the Topaz Sharpen AI program.
The thinking behind Topaz Sharpen AI is that sharpening, instead of getting applied to both noise and detail, is selectively applied to detail alone to enhance it without boosting any noise that's in the image. This explains why there is a separate slider for Grain (Noise) to balance out and make even the finish of the grain over the image.
Let's look at examples of what the program does. The version used here in 2019 is Version 1.4.2. The program's three modes are Sharpen, Stabilize and Focus. In each mode, there are sliders called "Remove Blur" "Suppress Noise" and "Add Grain".
The first examples, in the Sharpen mode, show how this mode enhances detail in a BW image The slider was adjusted to the lower numbers. For this example where only the Sharpen Mode was applied, the Add Grain slider was not used, and only Remove Blur and Suppress Noise were applied, and again these were set to low settings.
The Second Mode for Topaz Sharpen AI is Stabilize. This mode picks up on how much shake there is, often from hand-holding a shot or having too slow a shutter speed. Then, it corrects motion blur for a crisper look.
If the image focus is off, Focus mode picks up on patterns in the image within ten pixels to recover from slight lens blur.
MORE ABOUT TOPAZ AI SLIDERS
Images vary in their lens blur, their motion blur, and their level of detail. The sliders called "Remove Blur" and "Suppress Noise are best used in small adjustments, so start with smaller values first to correct the image. Other images may need larger effects produced by the sliders. Try not to overdo the sharpening.
If the program is taking too long, the first thing to do is to change the Automatic Preview Update setting. Find Update Preview and change it from On to Off. It is located under the three sliders. You may also choose to reduce your image size. Topaz Sharpen AI needs time to
If there is strange looking smoothness in some areas of the image, consider using the "Add Grain" slider in rare instances. It puts in a bit of noise to make the photo look realistic. Add grain or noise when the Sharpen mode, Stabilize mode or Focus mode you've used applies too much correction to the image. The goal is to restore realistic detail.
BUT I HAVE LIGHTROOM
No worries. Topaz Sharpen AI and Lightroom are fully compatible. First, set up Sharpen AI as external editor. 1)START: Preferences → External Editing 2) From within the Additional External Editor section, choose Preset. 3) Click Choose. 4) Find Sharpen AI 5) Make sure you have the actual icon itself, not the entire Sharpen AI folder 6) Click on the preset drop down menu select the option for “save current settings as a new preset” 7) Type in Sharpen AI for the name. 8)To access from within Lightroom click EDIT IN > Sharpen AI > Edit a Copy. 9) SAVE. To save your file back into Lightroom, click FILE > SAVE and never use Save As.
APPLY and SAVE
Click the blue button in the lower right corner of the interface to Apply your settings. Then, if you are in the stand alone program, Click Save As. Of course, if you are in a plug-in, after Apply is clicked, the image will reopen back in to PS or LR.
Once you are done sharpening a photograph, click the "Save As" button.
WHERE TO BUY?
You can purchase the software directly from Topaz Labs: https://topazlabs.com/shop
IMAGINE A FRAME OF MIND
Has this happened to you too? You are out on a shoot, and someone sees your gear and begins to ask a series of questions. With the best of intentions, it seems some of the questions box you into a certain mindset: "What camera system do you use?" "Are you a (Nikon) shooter?"
Let's think deeply about the mindset. The idea of defining ourselves by a brand or type is nonsense. You never hear a violinist say "I play Black and Decker." The brand, the gear and the machine always take second fiddle to the idea.
The frame of mind frames the frame.
APOLLO & DIONYSUS
Sure, there are technically-oriented folks who love the mechanism. And when people ask about gear, they have good intentions. Some want to share the shots they've taken. Some tell you a little about their gear. Yet, others go on about gear 'til the cows come home, steering the exchange away from expressing the essence and to the science of gear: "You use that big lens?" "This only has 10 megapixels, but...", or "That's so heavy; I use my cell phone- it takes shots just as good, and when I sent the video to..." These topics are from our Apollo side, our rational balanced side. But this may be the time to let loose our Dionysian self that is intuitive, musical and emotional.
When silence is vital to photograph nature's creatures, gear talk can distract, and when such talk becomes debate, vision is interrupted, so I walk on. Now, there are times for gear talk, depending on context; when I am with people and we are not photographing, a lively conservation about gear is appropriate and I love the exchange.
Here's the thing. When the conversation shifts to gear, brands and types, only you can guide it back to what's truly important. Moment. Color. Light. Less information, more interpretation. It is our responsibility as visionaries to evolve, and to frame the best of our craft. Who crafts essential photographs? The creative, conscientious, curious brains that shape each mindful frame.
Let's keep working on the subject matter of our photographs, contemplate scenes that emerge from our inner being. Let light, culture, and expression be first and foremost. As we ponder ways to deliberately practice our intention, we can ask "why am I taking this?" Photo gear has been around for over 180 years. Your singular visual creative mind is here, now, in this place. Put the soul before the shutter.