Let me start by saying I’m generally not a big fan of shortcuts. I’ve been studying photography for a long time and I’m a firm believer in knowing how to use the tools of the trade. That’s why I was skeptical when a good friend and mentor encouraged me to check out the software from Topaz Labs several years ago. Not long after, I was wondering why I hadn’t heard about it before and I’m still surprised to find how many of the photographers I know aren’t using it.
The facts are simple: I’ve been a Photoshop user for a long time, too, and there’s no doubt that it’s an incredibly powerful tool for photographers. It’s also the bane of many. I’ll be frank: I’m fairly good with it and I’m getting better, but I will never be a Photoshop master. Let’s face it, friends, if I have to take a separate set of college-level courses to master the software, I’m going to look for an easier way. I’m a photographer because I like to take pictures, not spend all my time editing them.
So, as I was saying, a friend and professional photographer living in New Zealand (Am I jealous? You bet!) confided that one of her professional secrets was the plugins from Topaz Labs. She shared several examples with me and convinced me to give them a try. Thus was the beginning of the journey to several of my favorite “Oh, my God” moments.
I would like to point out here that I did NOT type “Ermahgerd!”, above. You’re welcome. Now, back to the article.
If you’re like me and would rather be taking, producing and hopefully selling stunning images than spending all your time at the computer tweaking them, you absolutely need to check these products out. They give you full creative control, without referring to complex histograms or the need for a dictionary of technical terms.
Turning good photos into masterpieces is a simple matter of selecting the right, well-described adjustment and using a set of sliders, along with a few options, to adjust the images. What’s more, with a little easy experimentation, you’ll find ways to improve them that you may not have considered. It all happens with live previews and comparisons and a host of features that make post processing not only easy, but actually fun.
I’m not on their payroll. I’m not getting any kickbacks for endorsements, although if they offer, I can use the extra cash. Still, I’m here to tell you that the folks at Topaz Labs have built some of the most powerful, intuitive, and easy-to-use tools for novice and expert photographers ever. They’re also affordable, which is something I can’t say for every piece of software out there. You can even try and buy them singly, instead of having to invest in a whole package to get the features or effects you need.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Mac or PC user; the products are available for both. Plug-ins are available for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Aperture, iPhoto, Irfanview, Paint Shop Pro, Photo Impact and Serif Photo. There’s also a standalone effects editor.
Although you’ll be able to start using their products “right out of the box”, Topaz offers live training and webinars, and even provides product discounts for those who attend some sessions. Blogs and forums are available, so there are more than enough ways to find answers to any questions you may have. The list of resources is so complete, in fact, that I won’t bother to promise any upcoming tutorials - they’re already available and far better than anything I might put together.
I’m not going to delve into any particular product in this article, either. I have my favorites, and I hope to follow up with some information on individual packages. Meanwhile, the purpose of this article is simply to pass on a tip that I believe every photographer or prospective photographer needs to have. Whatever your specialty and level of expertise, I believe this software will be worth your investment.
‘Nuff said? Go check it out: Topaz Labs
Article by Dana Crandell