Topaz InFocus: When Pelicans Drink Red Bull   1 comment

A pelican splashes furiously in the waters off Cape Lookout, Harkers Island, North Carolina

Is it coincidence then that Red Bull’s slogan is, “It gives you wings?”

As the sun sets over the waters near Cape Lookout, NC, hundreds of pelicans converge on a small island we’ve come to know as ‘Bird Island’, although I don’t know if it has an official name. The pelicans take this time to socialize, bathe their wings (which is what this guy is doing), and burp fish.

Get splashed by viewing this larger. Click the image to open it in a new window.


A few elements were used to draw out this picture, taken from a single exposure. Nik’s Color Efex Pro was used to provide the warmth of the splashing water, along with a slight vignette on the background. The real star of this, though, was the new Topaz InFocus plug-in for Photoshop, which helped to sharpen up the background pelicans. After addressing those guys in a separate layer, another tweak with Topaz InFocus provided the water splashes with a real punch that reminds me of welding sparks.

You can find out more about Topaz InFocus on a recent blog entry, here.

An oft-asked question seems to be, “How does Topaz InFocus differ from Topaz Detail?” Ashley Robinson from Topaz Labs answers that question:

“InFocus is a new sharpening plug-in that offers users a comprehensive solution for reducing image blur, restoring image clarity and sharpening image detail. InFocus uses advanced deconvolution technology that actually reverses image blur, unlike most other sharpening solutions that only increase the perception of sharpness. In addition, the micro-contrast detail enhancement in InFocus can subtlety enhance fine details. InFocus can be used as a pre-processing sharpener, if you are trying to rescue a somewhat blurry or motion blurred image, or a post-processing sharpener, if your goal is to refine and add definition to your image.
Topaz InFocus also includes a convenient blur estimation tool to help contend with complex and unknown blur types.

“Topaz Detail, on the other hand, is a detail enhancement plug-in, designed to bring out image detail using micro and macro adjustments. It allows for intricate and selective detail enhancement allowing users to bring out varying levels of image detail – without creating halos or edge artifacts. Topaz Detail is going to render more natural looking enhancements with more precision and more options for making those detailed adjustments. In addition to selectively enhancing small, medium and large image detail, users can also selectively remove detail as well.”

I was recently asked by a reader whether or not Topaz InFocus would have a place in my workflow. Absolutely, or I wouldn’t be recommending it here. Plus, at the introductory price of $29 or so, it’s a great deal (enter the code “supersharp” on checkout.)  The best part about the plug-in is that if all or part of your image is just a touch out of focus, InFocus can bring it back nicely, and if it’s not going to work on an image, you’ll know it right away. I have found that InFocus is a bit ‘touchy’, as it is very easy to push the detail recovery over the edge, creating large artifacts, only some of which can be addressed by the InFocus “Suppress Artifacts” slider. I think that part of this comes from an old habit of “slammin’ sliders” all the way to one side or the other to see where a filter takes us (think: Photomatix Pro), but the sliders on Topaz products tend to be much more sensitive to small changes. Once you have experienced this difference, you learn to control things more carefully. Then, you store those changes as a preset.

As Ashley writes above, Topaz Detail is a feature-rich and intricate program for making detailed adjustments; Topaz InFocus provides a method for cleaning up blur either before or after further processing.


One response to “Topaz InFocus: When Pelicans Drink Red Bull

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  1. Holy cow! Those guys are going crazy! Love the image and the Red Bull reference 🙂

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