Getting Your Glow On

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Topaz Lab’s Glow is a clever and affordable ($34.99) Photoshop-compatible plug-in that’s as much fun to use and play with as a 100 pound box of Lego.

At its simplest, Topaz Glow lets you create different glow effects and adjustments with subtle enhancements that can be made using different blending modes.

This latest version has 50 new presets bringing the total up to 120 one-click ways to create impressive effects. Glow’s masking feature lets you apply “luminous detail” exactly where you want using a variety of masking tools including spot, color, luminosity and brush. There are more than 25 blend modes and an opacity slider that offers even more control over the final effect.

One of my favorite tips for using any special effect plug-in is to grab each slider, one at a time, and move it to each end of the scale to see what the extremes look like. Then move it gradually in a direction where you like the effect to find the sweet spot for this particular image and slider. Don’t worry, the built-in Opacity slider lets you globally vary the effect’s intensity. Here’s a few more tips:

  • It seems to me that simpler shapes work better than more complex subjects. But if you don’t agree give it a try anyway. You never know.
  • Apply the effect to a duplicate layer. This gives you additional controls to manipulate the image after you’ve applied Topaz Glow:
  • You can use the layer’s own Opacity control to apply even more subtle effects.
  • You can use Photoshop’s Eraser tool to selectively erase portions of the layer that you want to remain sharper and can further temper the effect using the Eraser’s own Opacity control to erase just a percentage of the effects.

Some of these changes/adjustments can be done within Glow but by having Glow on a separate layer (and saving as a PSD or layered TIFF file) gives you the ability to change your mind at a later time. Using all of Glow’s sliders plus the ability to manipulate the image further by placing it on a separate layer provides what seems like an infinite number of possibilities, making this plug-in one of the most fun ways to play with your photographs that I’ve found in a long time.


Ilight.bookf you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat Joe to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here.

Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photograph that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available from Amazon for $21.88 with used copies selling for four bucks. For some reason, the Kindle price is really high.