Urban Landscape Photo Editing with Topaz

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“With any form of photography, the photo captures a point in time; it is a record of what was there at that specific moment. However, to make a photo interesting to the audience it must be more than just a record.

Cities contain many buildings, good and bad architecture, shapes, patterns, people, and culture. Urban landscape is therefore a wide subject that can encompass the elements of both the physical and cultural aspects of a city.” — Adrian Pym

post processing cityscapes

Urban Landscapes

During a recent visit to San Antonio, Texas, my goal ahead of time was to obtain a rooftop, urban landscape shot of the city. At the heart of downtown, this image of the well-known Alamo and partial SA skyline achieved this goal and was the chosen one to use in this tutorial:

alamo and sa skyline

Original Image

One of my favorite aspects of photography is the post-processing that follows in the ‘digital darkroom’. With the series of city images I took that day, a standard workflow was developed following the suggested Topaz workflow chart. The adjustments applied in guidance transformed my daytime cityscape images in a non-drastic way, making them stand out compared to the lack-luster originals.

post-processing with topaz

Topaz Workflow Chart

With the above workflow in mind, I brought the below images into several plug-ins in this order: DeNoise -> Adjust -> Clarity -> Lens Effects -> Detail

postprocessing urban scenes

urban cityscape post-process

before after orange building cityscape

converting cityscape to black and white

urban alley

Using the Alamo City skyline as an example, here is a general idea of the post-processing steps I followed:

Step 1: DeNoise

  • Open the image in Photoshop (or other host program).
  • Duplicate the photo (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and open it in Topaz DeNoise 5.
  • Be sure you are viewing the image at 100% so that it appears the way it should when brought back into PS. This magnification will also help you see the noise in the original image as compared to the after.
  • Apply one of the settings you find most suiting to your image. I applied the RAW-moderate preset.
  • Press OK.
before after denoise


Step 2: Adjust

  • Bring the image into Topaz Adjust 5.
  • Apply the Brilliant Warm preset for a sunny day.
  • Reduce or increase the transparency as desired.
  • Press OK.


Step 3: Clarity

  • Open the image in Topaz Clarity.
  • Apply one of the presets found in the Architecture Collection. For this image I applied the Cityscape I preset.
  • Optional: Mask out the sky using the ‘Edge Aware’ brush so that the Cityscape I preset is only applied to the city:
topaz clarity preset

Cityscape I Preset

topaz clarity mask out sky

Mask Out the Sky

  • Press OK to bring the image back into PS to apply the changes.
  • Bring the same image back into Clarity and apply the Clouds II preset found in the Landscape Collection.
  • Use the Edge Aware brush to mask out the architecture and foliage so that the effect is only applied to the sky:
presets for sky photography

Clouds II Preset

Masking Tips

  • Increase your brush size and strength around the bulk of the image.
  • Zoom in to construct fine tweaking around the edges of the skyline with a smaller brush.
  • Use the space bar to toggle between the before/after to help see what needs to be hidden or revealed.

Step 4: Lens Effects

  • Bring the image into Lens Effects.
  • Zoom in to 100% to see the exact changes that will be applied.
  • On the left side of the interface scroll to xF Add Sharpening and apply one of the Sharpening presets and press OK. I used Sharpening II:
add sharpening

Add Sharpening

Step 5: Detail

  • Open the image in Topaz Detail 3.
  • For this photo I reduced the saturation by -0.10 for a more natural feeling.
  • Apply the Overall Detail Light preset and mask out the sky/trees so that detail is only brought out in the architecture.
  • Press OK.
topaz detail

Overall Detail Light Preset

Back in PS, I made Selective Color Adjustments in the cyans, blues, and yellows to take effect on the sky and foliage:

color adjustment

Selective Color Adjustments

The Final Result

urban scene post processing with topaz

Final Image

Only Hours Left to Save on Topaz Software:

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Article from: PictureCorrect


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