Topaz Denoise AI and Sharpen AI Review
There are many great plug-ins available for editing photos in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Some make small changes to polish up a photo and some make very drastic modifications for an unrealistic look in the photo. And then there is a whole slew of products in between.
I don't use a lot of filters or plug-ins; my training started in journalism so I feel images should be as close to what I felt at the time I took the photo as possible. That being said, I have also suffered from what I call the "Disney syndrome" with my photos.
You see, rumors abounded in the 70s and 80s that Walt Disney was in a state of cryostasis—frozen in time until medicine could catch up and reanimate him. This is of course not true but the principle still applies with my photos. If I capture a photo of something pretty spectacular, rare, funny or impressive, I save it even if it isn't technically perfect.
Topaz Sharpening AI
This brown pelican shot is an example of that thought process. This bird looked right at me in beautiful afternoon light and gulped down on a carp. (See my Photo of the Month page for the story behind the shot and the full photo.)
The problem was that the bird moved just ever so slightly faster than I had my settings ready to capture (1/1000 sec, f6.3, ISO 320, 700mm [500mm lens with 1.4 teleconverter], Nikon D4s). The result was a little bit of motion blur in the image.
Solution: try out the new Topaz Sharpen AI plug-in I recently purchased.
I think the results speak for themselves and the image is now a useable, albeit maybe not printable, photograph that displays a unique moment with this large bird.
Topaz DeNoise AI
Another plug-in that came with the Topaz package I purchased was Denoise AI.
On the high-end, pro-level digital cameras of the current marketplace, noise is not as much of an issue as it was even five or six years ago. You can shoot at ISO 3200 and sometimes higher with stunning results.
But in 2011, I was shooting with a Nikon D80. It was my first digital camera that was considered a prosumer level body. It did great and I captured many fantastic and publishable photos with that body but I had to watch the ISO levels on it.
This is another example of where the "Disney syndrome" came into play.
On the morning of December 31, 2011, I was venturing into Yellowstone National Park for my last visit of my trip. It was shortly before dawn and all you could see were shadows along the roadway. As I ventured up the road out of the north entrance and along the Gardner River, I caught the sudden movement of a coyote on the far side of the water. I pulled into a pull out and watched the shadows for a moment. Turns out it wasn't a coyote that I saw but a wolf—three of them actually. They had just taken down an elk, which was now laying in the river. The wolves were feeding on it within full-frame distance of the roadway.
I stayed in my vehicle while I watched and waited for the light to improve enough to capture photos.
To this day that is still my best wolf encounter.
Those photos, however, were just a little too noisy to do much more than share on social media.
The new Topaz DeNoise AI was the perfect solution to bring these photos into the next decade and make them publishable images.
The top image is the original photo with standard post processing that was completed in 2012. (1/640 sec, f5.0, ISO 1250, 500mm; Nikon D80)
As you can see there is quite a bit of noise and a lack of detail in the image. I was also hesitant to open up the shadows and lighten the image more than I did in fear of introducing noise to the image.
The bottom image has been reprocessed with the Topaz DeNoise AI plug-in. I am very happy with the results, so happy that I included this image as my December photo in my 2021 Rocky Mountain Wildlife calendar.
If you are interested in learning more about the Topaz plug-ins or purchasing this package (I purchased the Utility Bundle, which is currently [4/24/20] on sale for $249.99 from $359.96), visit topazlabs.com. Use discount code DWPhoto15 to save 15% on your purchase!
Keywords: editing, Labs, Lightroom, nature, photo, photograph, photographer, photography, Photoshop, plug-ins, post-processing, processing, tips, tips for nature photographers, Topaz, wildlife
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