County Courthouse


Back to Friday Harbor for a view of the County Courthouse and I am assuming also the administrative seat for the San Juan Islands.

The top photo is produced in HDR, edited in Lightroom, and then had one last tweak in Topaz Clarity. Below is the same image before I ran it through Clarity.



Below is a single image processed in LR and then Clarity, followed by just the LR edits. I have just started a trial of Clarity and am finding many things to like. It certainly can produce some spectacular results, but like everything else it is easy to go to far. With both these examples one can see both advantages and disadvantages in the way I have processed them in Clarity. For instance, the road surface below shows some of the potential for bringing textures out, but the dark shadows under the trees don’t work at all well. These can be got rid of, I just left them for illustration, and because it was a good setting for the sky.





While I have lots to learn, and some features are still pretty opaque to me; that I can use it pretty easily without once consulting a manual or guide, is a good sign as to its utility. I am using it as a plug-in to LR4, and that is where I wish for changes, minor ones though. Getting the plug-in to work in LR4 was quite complicated as you have to download Topaz Fusion Express as well and the installation did not follow the steps exactly as laid out in the help documents. I found my way, but had to leave it for a day and try again.

Another thing that I wish were different is when it is stacking images, it always makes the Clarity file “1 of nn”. Other plug-ins that I use, such as Photomatix, make the new image the next number in the sequence. I am finding this disconcerting. In Clarity itself, the sliders operate a bit differently as well – when you click on the slider, to drag it for instance, it takes that as a new value and processes it. You can just click elsewhere on the bar without dragging and that seems to produce less processing time. I find a delay in the new view sometimes too – with changes stalling and only showing when going to a new slider. This is probably something I am doing. I wish that a double-click on the slider returned it to a zero or central value as in LR4. Otherwise, I have no complaints, and these are all trivial. I probably will buy a copy of this software, once the 30 day free trial has run its course, though that decision is yet to come after I use it quite a bit more. And find a manual so that I can figure some things out that are not intuitive.

You can find out more about Topaz Clarity in the Toadhollow Photography review, especially as it relates to HDR workflows. And Anne McKinnell also has an interesting take on it here.



Canon 5Dii, Nikkor-N 24/f2.8 lens, ISO100, 1/2000th, f-stop not recorded, top image +/- 2.0 E.V.

14 thoughts on “County Courthouse

  1. Pingback: This Many Incredible Photography Links Might Throw the Earth Out of Orbit

  2. Thanks so much for the kind mention here, Ehpem, we really appreciate it! I really love the subtle effects the plugin brings to our post-processing myself, I find it adds a perfect layer of depth and dimension to the picture. Great details and textures in these pictures, and as I am sure you would guess I like the first picture posted here best.


    • Hey Toad – glad you like that shot. I am enjoying the plug in, and regretting I did not jump on that intro special you included in your review – such a good price.


  3. Pingback: Urban Dune II | burnt embers

  4. I can see subtle benefits from Clarity. I’ve been using Topaz Detail, and Clean recently and am impressed with the results. These install with ease into Photoshop CS5 but I find the re-draw after changing a slider a slow process.


    • Thanks Andy. I believe that perhaps you won those Topaz products in a competition! With a terrific photo of braided water surface that I can still picture in my mind all these weeks later. I think that Clarity is a lot easier to install in Photoshop since it does not need Fusion Express as well. I don’t have Photoshop, so can’t say for sure, but it seems designed primarily for that platform. I find the redraw reasonably fast, but if there are a few of them backed up it seems to slow down, so I guess not quite fast enough on my machine.


  5. I also have Clarity and have only just started to play with it. I have to say though, that so far I like the reuslts from Nik ColorEfex’s tonal contrast filter a bit better. I don’t know if you have the Nik software or not, but would be interested in your opinuion between the two.


    • Hi Howard – nice to have you commenting. I have never used any of the Nik products, so I really can’t compare. Sorry about that. Maybe one of my other readers can pipe up with their experiences.


    • Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment. This is one of those skies that was hard to appreciate at the time as it had replaced a wonderful blue warm sky, and we were on a short holiday. However, as soon as I saw it with the courthouse, I had to get out the camera.


    • Thanks Lynn. I like that one too – the tree is quite wonderful in this setting. I have been trying to see if there is a way of applying changes in batches. If there is, then I could use Clarity for the timelapse videos too. If not, then I don’t have the patience to apply changes one image at a time when there are hundreds of them.


  6. Even though the difference the Clarity plug-in is subtle (a good thing), the improvement is obvious in the comparison. I had intended to purchase the plug-in during the introductory price, especially after reading the Toad’s review, but I let it slip away and I’m unlikely to pay full price. I’ll wait until there is another sale and purchase it then. I like the detail in the top shot best. This is the type of photo where Clarity shines.
    I usually run plugins from Photoshop and save the files as PSDs. It’s worked fine for years so I have no reason to change.


    • Thanks Ken. I missed that deal too, let it slip away as you say. There are several options in this plug in for saving the files – tiff (8 and 16 bit), psd and jpg. Can’t recall if there is another. And with Photoshop no need for Fusion, though I don’t think it costs any more to have it. This is one way to get a copy for free, though a bit of a long shot for me:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: