Following my last couple of posts I have done some research on the areas which gave rise for concern, namely whether blown highlights and blocked shadows were expected in some of the very contrasty images produced using the Topaz software. To some extent the advice is conflicting, or maybe that is just my interpretation. According to http://my-photography-tips.com/blackandwhite.html you need pure black and pure white in order to anchor the tonal range but does that mean blown and blocked?
I also contacted Tony Cooper, ARPS as he is something of a monochrome expert in the RPS, and copied one of my imaged with my email. His guidance is quite clear in that blown highlights need to be avoided.
He did comment that the contrasts were taken to the limits, which seems to be to be a feature of most of the presets in the Topaz B&W Effects software, but liked the tones, albeit with a little more subtlety, saying that it was reminiscent of Japanese Edo Woodcut; something else to research further! Here is Tony’s version of the sunset image.
As a result of the comments I received, I have attempted to redo two of the images for this exercise using only the sliders in Lightroom to change the colours and increase or reduce saturation and increase grain slightly. In order to get the painterly effect I will need to do the third one in Elements. This was a really useful exercise as I now understand much more clearly how these images were created from scratch. Also as suggested, I removed the cloud from the top left corner, I had not thought it distracting until it was pointed out to me. The results are not exactly the same, but I think more subtle than those produced using the Topaz software. Don’t think I’ll bother buying this after the 30 day trial has expired, however I have also downloaded a trial version of Nik software in readiness for the black and white exercises. It’s good to try these things but what this has brought home to me is that you do need an understanding of what is happening.