Processing flowers with Topaz Labs

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I am working through folders of images that I have captured, but didn’t quite finish, and I realized that I was on a true flower bender last summer.  I have over 100 photos of flowers I took at home, during the hot summer months, inspired by different on-line classes and videos I was watching.  Below are different treatments of a single dahlia.

Harold Davis, one of my favorite flower photographers, did a webinar for Topaz Labs (Harold Davis and Topaz Labs,) and demonstrated how he uses the software to process his images.  I learned two key things from this video:

  1. You get more “wow”, by using local adjustments, not global adjustments.  For example, instead of using a detail adjustment across the entire flower, Harold isolates it to just the center.  He then will soften the petals – and the tension between sharp and soft creates interest.
  2. A light touch goes a long way.  At times during the video he would select an adjustment and talk about how much he liked it, and I would say to myself “what is he thinking”? But then he would reduce the opacity of the layer (the power of the effect) from 100% down to single digits.  I realized he envisioned what it would do at a reduced power while he was selecting it.

Below are four variations of the same flower, starting with the original capture so you can see the starting point.

Original Capture

This image was taken from above on a lightpad, with a gooseneck lamp shining down on it.  I removed the stem to create a simple symmetrical image, and fixed a blemish on the petals

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First Variation

I wanted to practice the tension between soft and detailed.  for this image I used:

Topaz Adjust 5/ Color Blast for the entire flower + Topaz Adjust 5/Detail Strong in the center of the image + Topaz Simplify/BuzzSim for the flower petals

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Second Variation

Using the color image (first variation) as my starting point, I wanted to accentuate the graphic nature and symmetry of the flower petals, by creating a monochrome version.

I used Topaz Simplify Painting/ Oil Painting II

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Third Variation

Again using the color image (first variation), I tried a different black and white interpretation.  Unfortunately, I do not have notes on this one, but it was a combination of treatments from Topaz Simplify.

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