- Fine art photographer Angela Andrieux provides a video tutorial on how to use AI tools to sharpen and up-res your still photos or to pull detail out of the shadows.
- Don’t use AI programs as a crutch, she says. No AI is going to deliver a perfect photo if your basic shot isn’t most of the way there.
- The cool thing about AI, she says, is how it does a much better job of preserving detail than a non–AI tool.
We all strive to get our photos perfect in camera, but things don’t always go as planned. Did you or your subject move slightly? Did you have to crank up the ISO or pull out shadow detail in post? Did you have the wrong lens and have to crop dramatically to frame your subject?
There’s an AI for that. Fine art photographer Angela Andrieux explains the benefits of using AI tools to finesse the perfect picture.
In Andrieux’s case the AI is invariably from Topaz Labs, a developer she also advocates on her website.
In mid-2022, Topaz Labs shifted from offering a suite of individual photo editing applications to merging their most popular problem-solving tools into one app — Topaz Photo AI.
“I’ve been a big fan of Topaz Labs‘ software for more years than I can count,” she writes. “And while their apps have changed significantly over the years, they continue to be an integral part of my workflow.”
In the tutorial, Andrieux demonstrates how sharpening, noise reduction, and photo enlargement tools from the Topaz app can be used to process new photos and even those taken a few years back when the resolution in your camera would not have been so great.
“You’re not going to be able to fix something that’s completely blurred,” she warns. “But we can do a lot to improve it. Sometimes it’s not perfect, but it can get you close enough to have a usable image.”
Image stabilization used to be a huge issue in photography, particularly in low light conditions where the aperture needed to opened wider, for longer, to let enough light through. Absent a tripod and that was a problem leaving motion blur on the image.
But sometimes in travel or street photography, for example, you don’t have time to find the correct setting let alone set up a tripod.
“It’s better to have an imperfect photo than miss the shot,” says Andrieux. “And luckily we’re at a point with technology, where we’re able to minimize most of those flaws that you might have when shooting conditions aren’t ideal. Because there’s a lot of times where we’re shooting in low light, we don’t have the ability to add in artificial light, there’s just a lot of things that can make a shot not technically perfect.”
Andrieux typically shoots with Canon cameras, converting the Raw file into TIFF format as a precursor to creative editing. Most of her images go through Adobe Camera Raw or Adobe Lightroom before she opens up an AI tool to post-process aspects of the image.
“The cool thing about AI is it does a much better job of a non-AI tool of preserving detail. In the past, and with lower quality noise reduction tools, you’d end up in a situation where you could clear out grain but you also lost a tremendous amount of detail. The AI tools that we have available to us now preserve that fine detail and get rid of the grain.”
Most of the AI processing will take some time to render. So be selective, she advises.
No AI is going to deliver a perfect photo if your basic shot isn’t most of the way there. It isn’t, for example, going to rearrange your composition — unless you dive into a AI image generator like Midjourney.
“It’s always better to have a clean file to start with as much as possible. Try not to use these programs as a crutch to just get lazy with your setting. AI can dramatically improve things but there are always trade-offs. Some of those trade-offs with noise reduction, for instance, mean sometimes you can lose critical detail.
“This is going to be most evident on things where you want to see fine detail in hair or fur on animals or if you’re taking a picture of an object and you want to have that texture. You can lose some of those fine details using noise reduction.”
The AI palette can do things that might have been the preserve of high end grading systems. Andrieux describes how you can add diffusion or automatically enhance faces or eyes or whiten teeth or remove the shine from skin.
“Every AI program will do the job a little bit differently. Some work better for different camera manufacturers. So just try them out and see which ones get the results that you like best.”
So what is it? It’s a space where the worlds of photo and video converge, where image-based, still photography fuses with motion capture, where you trade in existing for expansive, or simply find the inspiration to try something new.
Best of all, it’s a space to connect — not only with the end-to-end workflow for your craft, but with your community. Content creators. Photographers. Videographers. And so many others through photo walks, meetups, Q&A sessions, demos, exhibits, workshops and more!
Learn more here.