From One, Many — No. 4

A not-so-quick post . . .

Original as output from camera

Those are leaves just under the water surface (some are poking through the surface).

I picked a photo at random from a group of similar shots. I had planned on a quick post, but . . .

. . . confronted by the many post-processing tools at my disposal, I panicked. 

What if I choose the wrong one? What if I process something and I don’t absolutely nail the processing? What if new readers see the photos and are turned away by the lack of originality coupled with the poor post-processing choices? What if everyone knows I’m a post-processing hack but won’t tell me to my (Internet) face?

None of those thoughts crossed my mind, but you got to admit it sure adds drama to the narrative.

Nope; what happened is this; I tried the top seven post-processing tools I have and then decided I’d afflict my readers with the results.

First up, an easy one: Lightroom.
Let’s be clear about this; Lightroom gives you pretty much everything you need to process a photo. You can use it as a blunt tool and adjust a few sliders, but you can also do finesse work with it. It doesn’t have as much power as Photoshop, but it’s plenty powerful enough.

Here’s the gallery of the processing done with just Lightroom. Hint: it might be useful opening the original in a new window and have it nearby for a quick comparison.

So, if Lightroom gives you all you need, why all these other ones?

Easy. That’s it; that’s the answer. These other tools make it easy; you can get particular looks in just a few clicks. Or, you can use one of their presets as a starting point toward a particular look. Also super easy; barely an inconvenience.

My current go-to post-processing tool is DxO Nik Collection (Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, and their sharpening and Denoise modules). It’s been several months now that every photo I process goes through one of the Nik Collection modules.

The problem with the Nik Collection modules is that they are not well-integrated with each other. You have to call them up individually, modify the photo, save the work, then open the saved file in the next module.

DxO Photo Lab does a better (but still not perfect) job of bringing the tools together, but here’s the thing . . . DxO lab can generate close — if not exactly — the same processing as what one can do with the Nik Collection.

DxO has always been a favorite of mine but I’ve not used it as much as I should have because it was a pain to use. Photo Lab 3 has me convinced I should use it — if not exclusively — more often.

This is a small gallery and it could be joined with the Nik Collection gallery as I consider the two tools essentially as one.

Topaz Adjust AI is another tool making it easy to output good versions of one’s photos. The tool can either function as a plugin or as a stand-alone program.

Last year, Topaz introduced Topaz Studio (the latest is Version 2) and it integrates many of their stand-alone modules and previous plugins. It can also run Adjust AI as part of the overall processing workflow.

If I’m in a mood for flights of fancy, Studio 2 it is.

The most recent programs added to my stable of editors and post-processors are Luminar 4 and Aurora HDR 2019.

I admit to needing more time with these tools. They are powerful and have lots of adjustments and I need to spend some time understanding how the various processing options interact.

Unfortunately, I’m finding myself always busy with other stuff (and I still have to write my piece for the short story challenge). But, I’ll get to them, I will.

Meanwhile, here’s the Luminar 4 gallery:

And here’s the Aurora HDR gallery:

I have a few other editing tools and that’s without considering using combinations of multiple tools. Suffice it to say that at the end of my processing efforts, no one remembers what the original photo looked like.

Here they are, the original and all the versions in one random gallery . . .

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Aurora 2019 HDR, Black and White, DxO Software, Effects and Filters, Lightroom and Photoshop, Photo Post-processing, Photography Stuff, Software, Topaz Plug-ins and Studio and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to From One, Many — No. 4

  1. mvschulze says:

    The sheer number of processing tools is …frightening, It’s a fascinating world of visual manipulation. You want it …you.Got it. And it’s easy to get crazy caught up with all the possibilities. M 🙃🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      One reason I do these posts is to keep in mind what is available. My normal workflow only uses a few tools but if I hit on something that needs something different, I then at least know what’s available.


  2. oneowner says:

    This exercise with this one image is very interesting. I have some of the tools you are using but seldom (if ever) use them. I have not used the Topaz suite (except for the recently purchased Sharpen AI), the On 1 suite or Nik suite at all in the past year. I purchased (except for the Nik suite, which was free) the plugins for two reasons – ease and fun. The fun factor ceased to be fun after a while leaving just ease. But that ease of use came at a cost; loss of control. I know that there are many more options available and that the user has much more control over the presets (especially in the latest versions of these plugins) but I’ve still not been able to force myself into using them. Probably because the “fun factor” just isn’t there anymore. Also, the controls in LR are much more sophisticated and fairly comprehensive lately. And my own photography has settled into a particular look that is more expressive for me. However, this doesn’t deter my interest and appreciation in how others approach their own photography. I especially like the Aurora Zebra regrets and 20191123__DSC4431_1-studio-remixx 01.


    • disperser says:

      Yes, as I mentioned in the previous comment, I typically use only one or two tools and mostly for expediency.

      Although I have many presets I saved in Lightroom, the program seems to work better when the adjustments are specific to the photo. It takes longer for me to get what I want in Lightroom than it does to fire up one of the other programs.

      And, yes, these days the presets have a lot of adjustments and you can stack presets thus giving you even more flexibility. You can usually also change how much to apply and how to blend it. Essentially, it’s the same idea as working with layers in Photoshop.

      I don’t think I have a “signature look” and hence I’m apt to periodically change the type of processing I use. Yet another sign I’ll never be a famous photographer. As I mentioned, I’m drifting to Photo Lab 3 and also eyeing Luminar/Aurora.

      And, yes . . . for fun, Topaz does all the heavy lifting (and it’s no slouch for quality processing, too).

      Thanks for the feedback.


  3. The original photo looks very nice!


  4. Leaves are one of my all-time fav things in life…and photos of leaves always capture me in!
    Tools, no tools, many tools…
    I find all of these photos beautiful and each one unique!
    I do have a few favs though.
    HUGS to you and Melisa!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. and so many choices of both tools and photos warmest regards, ed

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Yes; I used to believe in GIGO but now GI can be salvaged to where it’s presentable.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      • interesting, there would appear to be more data in the GI than one first thought


      • disperser says:

        That original is not bad — meaning, it’s not complete garbage — but you bring up an interesting point; shooting RAW gives you more data to work with and hence allows for more manipulation.

        Understand, you can manipulate JPGs as well, but there’s a limit to what you can do. RAW files have more information than is apparent from any one rendition of the data.

        BUT . . . even then, the tools have improved tremendously. I covered that in an earlier post but the gist of it is that modern tools can do a lot more with RAW files than tools available even a few years ago.

        By do more, I don’t mean RAW files shot with newer cameras. I mean I can take RAW files from 15 years ago and do a lot more with them than I was able to do when I originally processed them.

        Plus, as a future post will show, it goes beyond that. Modern tools can adjust for actual mistakes like camera shake and out-of-focus shots. Shots I would normally discard can now be salvaged. They might not be amazing, but if they are shots you need, at least they are presentable.


  6. AnnMarie says:

    Ahhh . . . my kind of post . . . processing . . . post. Excellent original photo and many wonderful choices to ooooh about!


    • disperser says:

      Sorry about the late reply . . . got interrupted by chores and stuff. Here goes . . .

      Thanks, Ann. It was a learning experience; I learned stuff I pretty much knew already but needed reminding of.



    Not easy to obtain this photo


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