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This photo is pretty heavily processed, so it won’t be for everyone, but I wanted to get a feel for this Photoshop plugin I had heard about a while ago called Topaz Ajust. It can give your images that boosted, ultra-saturated, look that’s all the rage with the kids these days (I also, often, find myself drawn to this style), or it can blur things out in a more painterly way. The program comes with a bunch of presets that will get you in the ballpark of what you might have in mind, and then there are plenty of sliders to take you all the way home for whatever your creative vision is.
I found that the preview screen in the Topaz adjust filter rendered things sort of extremely, making processing seem a bit more harsh than it actually was when rendered back into Photoshop. I also wasn’t able to get the same sort of control and subtlety of detail that I’ve seen from programs like Lucisart, though, and here’s the real plus, it’s a fraction of the cost.
Topaz Ajust retails for fifty bucks, if you’re a member of NAPP you get a pretty good discount off of that making it a really great value. Topaz has a whole creative suite, though I only grabbed this one since I’m more interested in tone-mapping and these kind of qualities than refined masking and noise removal – both of which have been greatly improved in Photoshop CS5 anyways!