Processing Images to make them Pop

I’ve been struggling over the last year or so with the feeling that there’s something missing in my images, especially when I see images from others that seem to have that certain “pop.” From my perspective, I’ve done a pretty good job of learning some of the technical aspects of photography like composition, exposure, depth of field, and am now even on the path to exploring my more creative side especially with depth of field. I now have a vision of the shot that I want in my mind (at least 95% of the time!) before I click the shutter and even though I still experiment with different creative exposures, I still have a pretty good idea of what I need to try and make the camera see.

On my last photo outing with my friends, we had a discussion about software for HDR and finishing software, or tools to make your photos POP. One of the suites we discussed were tools from Nik Software and after doing a little more looking around, I discovered some from Topaz Labs too. I decided to give a couple of tools from Topaz a try since they have an interface to Lightroom and a free trial.

I’ve been using Adjust and Denoise for about a week now and it’s been pretty interesting. I’m seeing some detail in images that I truthfully didn’t know was there. I’m also seeing that the software manages to create quite a bit of noise or “grain” which generates the need for the Denoise product for me as I really, really don’t like to have any grain aka. noise in my images.

So today’s post is a comparison of an image (before and after) that I took recently at Chateau d’Amboise. It’s a standard “postcard” shot but I liked the composition, the colors and of course the chateau. I’ve included three images, (1) the original imaged edited in Lightroom, (2) the Lightroom edited image after being processed with Topaz Adjust and (3) the Lightroom and Topaz Adjust edited image after being processed with Denoise.

Figure 1 – Lightroom Edited

Figure 2 – Lightroom + Adjust

Figure 3 – Lightroom + Adjust + Denoise

I’m curious which image you prefer and why. I can’t honestly see a difference between Figures 2 and 3, even in Lightroom. You can click on the images to get a higher resolution view. My feelings are somewhat mixed on this topic as I like the look, but begin to wonder if I am creating “fake” images by the additional post processing that can’t be done in the camera. What are your thoughts?

Jonathon

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2 thoughts on “Processing Images to make them Pop

  1. I keep going back and forth betwen 1 & 3. The LR looks the most natural but I’d lighten up the whole image slightly. 3 looks better light wise but it looks a little oversharpened and I see a litte chromatic abberation around the vignetting.

    That’s good you’re comparing. Interesting…

  2. I prefer the 2nd image over the other two here.
    First image seems to be a tad bit underexposed – as seen on the brick textures and it also seems a bit soft.

    I think you want to compare with something minimalistic like an indoor shot of an everyday object and such.

    Nevertheless I like this composition.

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