I use the Lucis Art plug-in for Photoshop, I confess. From the first time I saw it I liked it. I've seen it used in extreme ways that I don't care for, but in the majority of times I see it used I like it. In one operation in Photoshop you can get a simulated HDR look -- it opens the shadows, makes clouds very dynamic, and sharpens the midtones. So, the next series of photos on this blog will be uses for Lucis Art that I've discovered in the two years that I've been using the plug-in. All this being said, the makers of Lucis have completely revamped the software and pricing. It now costs between $275 and $375 for the plug-in -- a bit steep in the world of third-party Photoshop plug-ins. So if I didn't already own it, I might consider Topaz or using lots of layers in Photoshop to simulate the look. But as long as I own it and it continues to work with the version of Photoshop I have, I'll continue to use it. In fact, I probably use it to some degree in about 75% of my images.
This first image was taken from atop the San Jacinto Monument a few weeks ago. You can see the Battleship Texas in the lower right and the Houston Ship Channel running along side it. Lucis Art brought out a lot of detail in the land, great midtone contrast in the clouds, and nicely saturated colors - in one dialog box.