My favorite Photoshop filters vary over time. I go through simple phases and heavy-handed phases, sometimes I don’t process my photos at all for a while, other times I fall in love with one particular filter or technique and do it to everything. Here’s a recap of the filters I’ve been using most often the last few months.
My current go-to filter is Athentech’s “Perfectly Clear.” I just use the default settings, which tend to improve the contrast and color palette of just about anything you throw at it. I’d say about 90% of the photos I’ve posted lately have this filter applied, and no others. Here’s a night shot of Tower Bridge, the River Thames and East London before and after applying the Perfectly Clear filter:
The effects of Perfectly Clear are subtle, but I feel it improves most photos. By comparison, for the last couple of years before I started using Perfectly Clear in 2014, I was using the Topaz Adjust “Photo Pop” filter on most of my photos. Here’s Photo Pop in action:
My second-favorite filter in the Topaz Adjust bundle is “Vibrance,” which is similar to Photo Pop:
When I want to push things a bit, the aggressive filter I use most often lately is Topaz Adjust “Detail – Simple Pop,” which looks like this:
In addition to simply applying a filter with a single click, there are many things that go into post-processing a photo these days. You can spend a lot of time touching up details with the Clone tool (and I do), and any shot worth processing deserves some good noise reduction (Imagenomic Noiseware rocks!). Before those steps, I may adjust the rendering of the RAW file: saturation, contrast, brightness, and so on. Those details are all very dependent on the nuances of the particular photo being processed. But when it comes to filters, the ones above are my current faves.