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Author Topic: Creative sharpening and Lightroom  (Read 5876 times)
Mac Mahon
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« on: September 02, 2013, 04:57:16 PM »
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I suspect this issue has been canvassed before somewhere but I searched Lula and couldn't find an answer. 

I wonder if anyone else, who like me does not own Photoshop, has found a satisfactory plug in, or process, for getting good control over localised creative sharpening while using Lightroom as their main editing tool?

LR handles capture sharpening well, and, in my experience anyway, makes a fine job of output sharpening.  In another post Bart wrote "Capture sharpening is hardware-dependent, Creative sharpening is content-dependent, Output sharpening is media and magnification dependent" which explains why LR handles capture and output well, provided enough is known to the software about the hardware and output conditions.  But only the user can make the creative judgements.

I often find myself getting frustrated by the fact that I can apply creative/localised sharpening only by using the adjustment brush to increase or decrease the effect of capture sharpening.  I feel sure that some sharpening jobs need more control over radius, detail and local masking.

I've read Bruce Fraser on sharpening, both of Jeff's new books and a bunch of other stuff by Martin Evening, Seth Resnik and others, on Lightroom.  The new (Lightroom-specific) books give no other suggestions than the adjustment brush effect.  (Well, in 'The Digital Print" Jeff does demonstrate round tripping to Photoshop but PS is a huge investment for that purpose alone!).

Any suggestions for a process or a plug-in that is really good?  Or any hint that maybe a later version of LR might provide more sharpening control in the adjustment brush?

Cheers

Tim
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2013, 06:04:26 PM »
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Any suggestions for a process or a plug-in that is really good?  Or any hint that maybe a later version of LR might provide more sharpening control in the adjustment brush?

Hi Tim,

Topaz Labs Detail and Clarity are two very good plugins, and they can be applied to a copy of the file by right-clicking on the image file in Lightroom. You need to install the free Topaz Labs FusionExpress plugin for that plugin interaction between Lightroom and most of the Topaz Labs plugins that you may have installed, without needing Photoshop.

Detail allows great control over three different levels of detail size, and detail contrast (it can 'boost' low contrast detail separately from regular contrast). It also has a pretty good deconvolution Deblur function, and edge aware masking ability, so you can apply the adjustments locally.

Clarity is like Lightroom's Clarity but on steroids. Very powerful, much more control on several levels instead of only one, and no halos.

Cheers,
Bart
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Mac Mahon
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2013, 07:35:33 PM »
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Hi Bart
Thanks.  I bought Clarity some time ago and used it only a couple of times.  It didn't seem to render properly on the screen so I gave up.  However, I just reinstalled it and will give it another go!  I obviously need to persevere.  Will now look at Detail as well.
Thanks again
Tim
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PhotoEcosse
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2013, 05:00:24 AM »
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To obtain the effect of local sharpening, I tend to use the Detail Enhancer in conjunction with Control Points in Nik's ColorEfexPro4 from within Lightroom.

Works well for me.
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2013, 03:14:46 PM »
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Hello,

I'm not sure if output-sharpening will still come to the same excellent results when an additional sharpening outside of Lr is applied. As Jeff mentioned, the capture sharpening and output sharpening work 'hand-in-hand' to evaluate the right amount of output-sharpening.

Best wishes

Robert

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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2013, 04:57:01 PM »
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I'm not sure if output-sharpening will still come to the same excellent results when an additional sharpening outside of Lr is applied. As Jeff mentioned, the capture sharpening and output sharpening work 'hand-in-hand' to evaluate the right amount of output-sharpening.

Hi Robert,

There is no direct connection between Capture sharpening and Output sharpening that could be somehow broken by Creative sharpening. This of course assumes that no artifacts are produced which would be amplified by subsequent sharpening or resampling steps.

What is more complicated is getting the amount of Creative sharpening right, in a way that still makes sense after resampling for output.

Cheers,
Bart
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headmj
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 08:20:29 PM »
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In Jeff Schewe's latest book "The Digital Print" he talks about Creative sharpening in Camera Raw and Lightroom on pages 118 to 120.  Oversimplifying his answer, creative sharpening is done with the local controls or 3rd party software.  I have successfully used local controls for portrait and landscape YMMV.  He seems to indicate that Photokit sharpener 2 will work as a plug in for LR.  He also calls LR and CR creative sharpening capability "primitive".  I think it depends on your subject.

I hope this helps.  Grin

Regards

Mike
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Schewe
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2013, 10:33:58 PM »
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He seems to indicate that Photokit sharpener 2 will work as a plug in for LR.  He also calls LR and CR creative sharpening capability "primitive".  I think it depends on your subject.

No, I don't think I implied that PKS2 can work as a plug-in for LR....unless you want to render the image into Photoshop. And yes, the creative sharpening is limited and primitive when compared to what you ca do in Photoshop or using 3rd party products. Not to say it's useless, just limited (and primitive).
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headmj
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 07:08:25 PM »
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Thanks for the clarification.  I am still digesting The Digital Print
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bjanes
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2013, 08:53:29 AM »
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Topaz Labs Detail and Clarity are two very good plugins, and they can be applied to a copy of the file by right-clicking on the image file in Lightroom. You need to install the free Topaz Labs FusionExpress plugin for that plugin interaction between Lightroom and most of the Topaz Labs plugins that you may have installed, without needing Photoshop.

Detail allows great control over three different levels of detail size, and detail contrast (it can 'boost' low contrast detail separately from regular contrast). It also has a pretty good deconvolution Deblur function, and edge aware masking ability, so you can apply the adjustments locally.

Clarity is like Lightroom's Clarity but on steroids. Very powerful, much more control on several levels instead of only one, and no halos.

Bart,

I value your opinion and have seen numerous references by you to the Topaz plugins. I do have InFocus (which I understand is mainly useful for capture sharpening) for Photoshop, but have not used it that much because it is difficult to achieve optimal settings of the many parameters and it breaks the parametric editing of ACR by necessitating  an intermediate TIFF.  Do the Lightroom Topaz plugins require a pixel rendered TIFF which has to be stored on disk?

Thanks,

Bill
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2013, 09:56:45 AM »
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Bart,

I value your opinion and have seen numerous references by you to the Topaz plugins.

Hi Bill,

Yes, they are really trying to innovate as far as post-processing is concerned (makes one wonder what happens if they were to add a Raw converter module). Topaz Clarity is a really good addition to their suite of task oriented plugins. It can really revive an image from a bit dull to vivid, with much control left for the critical user, but also lots of opportunities to automate a workflow with presets, and really get good results fast.

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I do have InFocus (which I understand is mainly useful for capture sharpening) for Photoshop, but have not used it that much because it is difficult to achieve optimal settings of the many parameters and it breaks the parametric editing of ACR by necessitating  an intermediate TIFF.

The InFocus plugin is post-processing oriented, as all of their plugins, so basically everything that comes after a demosaicing operation of a Raw converter, including noise reduction, sharpening, masking, blending layers, color adjustments, etc., etc. They offer a really good price/performance ratio, since all updates (not just updates but also upgrades) to new versions have been free for previous owners of a licence.

Topaz InFocus (version 1) still needs a bit of work to appeal to a larger public, but it can be used in situations  (e.g. smart objects) that e.g. FocusMagic doesn't handle, and sometimes it can produce better results. It is best at Capture sharpening type of operations, for Creative sharpening of lower spatial frequencies they have 'Detail'. It often helps to first upsample a file, then apply InFocus deconvolution, and maybe also some sharpening, and then downsample again. It seems to produce better deconvolution results on such undersampled data for some reason. That also makes it useful for Output sharpening after upsampling for output at the native printer resolution.

Lightroom is different to many other programs, in that it also does a lot of other useful things reasonably well, once you get to know the particularities like highlight compression and how to control that. The fact that LR does so in a parametric fashion is nice, because one always starts the processing from the start, but it also means that external processing usually needs to be based on rendered output, e.g. in the form of a TIFF.

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Do the Lightroom Topaz plugins require a pixel rendered TIFF which has to be stored on disk?


Yes, unfortunately there is no way to avoid that, similar to Photoshop when you need to add adjustment layers (although Smart objects can sometimes allow to go back to the source). The upside is though that it often does things better than possible in LR. So if quality is paramount, I'm happy to pay the price of additional storage space. The quality improvements are really worthwhile.

Cheers,
Bart
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bjanes
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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2013, 07:17:48 PM »
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Yes, they are really trying to innovate as far as post-processing is concerned (makes one wonder what happens if they were to add a Raw converter module). Topaz Clarity is a really good addition to their suite of task oriented plugins. It can really revive an image from a bit dull to vivid, with much control left for the critical user, but also lots of opportunities to automate a workflow with presets, and really get good results fast.

Yes, unfortunately there is no way to avoid that, similar to Photoshop when you need to add adjustment layers (although Smart objects can sometimes allow to go back to the source). The upside is though that it often does things better than possible in LR. So if quality is paramount, I'm happy to pay the price of additional storage space. The quality improvements are really worthwhile.

Cheers,
Bart

Bart,

On your recommendation I did buy Topaz Clarity and, on brief use, I did find that it is capable of producing a marked improvement to many images with minimal effort. The storage penalty of pixel rendered images is one drawback, but storage is now cheap and not a major obstacle for use with those relatively few images that are really worth some extra post processing effort.

The masking features are very good, but I miss the availability of something equivalent to the adjustment brush in ACR/LR. Many times, different problem areas of the image need different treatments and with only one mask, I have not figured out how to apply a different treatment to each of several problem areas in the image.

Regards,

Bill
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2013, 03:35:17 AM »
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The masking features are very good, but I miss the availability of something equivalent to the adjustment brush in ACR/LR. Many times, different problem areas of the image need different treatments and with only one mask, I have not figured out how to apply a different treatment to each of several problem areas in the image.

Hi Bill,

It's a real time saver, and it can achieve significant improvements that are hard, if at all possible, to achieve with other methods. You are correct in that it currently only allows to use a single mask at a time. That forces the user to process an image in stages, saving the results before addressing a different area.

Of course, with Photoshop that would add the possibility to do these additional adjustments on a new layer, either a copy from the original image, or from the 'Clarified' image. That adds even more control than combining various adjustments in a single filter operation. Topaz Labs also have a plugin, which also runs as a standalone program, called 'photoFXlab' that offers blending layers and masking, for those who don't have Photoshop, or would like to add Layers capability and combine several plugin effects to a single output image, e.g. with a right mouse click from Lightroom.

I also would not be surprised to see an addition to the plugin which is also used in some of their other plugins, an 'Apply' button which freezes the current situation, and allows to proceed with the new image as a basis without having to leave the plugin. I'm not sure if there is already a feature request for that, but with enough people asking for it, it would be a logical addition, and relatively easy to implement. I did already post a few feature requests for Clarity on their forum, so this is another one, and I've just added it to my earlier request thread there.

Cheers,
Bart
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Cem
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2013, 04:04:09 AM »
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...I also would not be surprised to see an addition to the plugin which is also used in some of their other plugins, an 'Apply' button which freezes the current situation, and allows to proceed with the new image as a basis without having to leave the plugin. I'm not sure if there is already a feature request for that, but with enough people asking for it, it would be a logical addition, and relatively easy to implement. I did already post a few feature requests for Clarity on their forum, so this is another one, and I've just added it to my earlier request thread there...
Fwiw, I have added my vote to your requests Bart. One thing which has bothered me though is the forum site of Topaz Labs. I have received warnings from Firefox and Google that this was reported as an "attack site" and it was not safe to browse there! I have ignored the warnings but I am not really happy about it. In the past I have received lots of spam emails on my email account which was registered with Topaz Labs and I had to eventually change it. These things create a stain on their otherwise good name.
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Kind Regards,

Cem

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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2013, 05:13:43 AM »
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Fwiw, I have added my vote to your requests Bart.

Hi Cem,

Thanks for voting in favor of the requests, it can only help to make the software better. In fact, they have implemented one of my requests already in their latest plugin addition to their suite, 'Restyle'. It allows to update some of the preset fields, instead of having to recreate them from scratch.

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One thing which has bothered me though is the forum site of Topaz Labs. I have received warnings from Firefox and Google that this was reported as an "attack site" and it was not safe to browse there! I have ignored the warnings but I am not really happy about it. In the past I have received lots of spam emails on my email account which was registered with Topaz Labs and I had to eventually change it. These things create a stain on their otherwise good name.

Strange, I never get such warnings with Explorer (and my VirusScanner), but then FireFox and Chrome are not my main browsers. I just tried it, and indeed get a warning with FireFox and Chrome, both getting their info from Google. I'm not sure if it was someone else's software found on the same server as where Topaz store some of their stuff, because the applications themselves and surfing to that site do not trigger my virus scanner(s).

Maybe it has something to do with the heuristics of Google's Anti-virus statistics, I don't know. I've recently switched to a different anti-virus application, and additionally activated it's heuristics. I now do get false-positives on all sorts of programs that were fine before, but only with the heuristics activated so not based on actual known infections. But it's not too much trouble to 'White-list' those, better safe than sorry.

I've sent a note to their forum admins, to make sure they are aware. Maybe they need to switch to a different server host.

Cheers,
Bart
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bjanes
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2013, 08:54:25 AM »
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Strange, I never get such warnings with Explorer (and my VirusScanner), but then FireFox and Chrome are not my main browsers. I just tried it, and indeed get a warning with FireFox and Chrome, both getting their info from Google. I'm not sure if it was someone else's software found on the same server as where Topaz store some of their stuff, because the applications themselves and surfing to that site do not trigger my virus scanner(s).

Maybe it has something to do with the heuristics of Google's Anti-virus statistics, I don't know. I've recently switched to a different anti-virus application, and additionally activated it's heuristics. I now do get false-positives on all sorts of programs that were fine before, but only with the heuristics activated so not based on actual known infections. But it's not too much trouble to 'White-list' those, better safe than sorry.

I've sent a note to their forum admins, to make sure they are aware. Maybe they need to switch to a different server host.

Cheers,
Bart

According to a 2/26/2013 note on the forum by the administrator, Nichole Paschal, the malware problem has been resolved. Perhaps it has recurred or the Google information has not been updated.

Bill
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