Nichole Paschal of Topaz Labs to Present Webinar
Most digital photographers know about Topaz Labs’ powerful suite of software that can turn photos into amazing art with a single click. And, most photographers know about Nichole Paschal, Topaz’s outstanding webinar guru. A wonderful photographer in her own right, Nichole has agreed to present a custom webinar to the Wickenburg Art Club Photography Group and you’re invited.
On Monday, May 4 at 6:30PM Arizona Time (6:30PM Pacific, 730PM Mountain, 8:30PM Central, 9:30PM Eastern) Nichole will present a webinar custom designed for new photographers as well as advanced dSLR photographers. She has even added in a segment for cell phone photographers. Stripped of all the jargon and techie “stuff,” this webinar simply focuses on “Creating Beautiful Photography.”
Although the webinar, with my input, was created especially for our Photography Group, Nichole has graciously allowed me to invite my blog readers. To register, simple follow this LINK to receive your log-in code. DO NOT share that code as it is unique to you. Using that code, on Monday, May 4th at 6:20PM Arizona Time (about 10 minutes early,) log-in to the webinar. Once you’re logged in, you be able to hear us as we prepare for the webinar.
Anyone with a PC or Mac and high-speed Internet access can participate. There will be a Q&A period at the end where Nichole will field questions. There will also be a random “door prize” of a free Topaz software license of your choice. Be sure to review the complete line of Topaz Labs programs so you know which one you want if you’re the lucky winner (the complete suite is not eligible, just single licenses.)
To get a sense of Nichole’s presentation style (outstanding!) check out some of the 200+ Topaz Labs videos on YouTube. Even if you don’t use Topaz software for some reason, the basics are all there and you can learn a ton.
This Old Blog is Gonna Change
I want to thank the nearly 1000 subscribers who have helped make this blog successful over the past 10 years. But, as with everything in life, things change and it’s now time for this blog to change. Up to now, my focus has been on landscape, nature and birds with a smattering of other subjects thrown in from time-to-time. However, you may have noticed a shift over the past few years. First, I started photographing pin-up models like Tylor and Tina. Last November, I photographed glamour models at the Arizona Shootout. In between, I photographed Alyssa Caitlain at the junkyard and in a studio.
Last week, I photographed more models at the Spring 2015 Arizona Shootout and, for the first time, made fine art nude images. This isn’t to say I no longer make landscape or nature photos, just that my interests have expanded and I’m now photographing subject matter that may not be to everyone’s taste. Here are some examples.
For the moment, I’ll keep my more explicit images in my Model Mayhem account. But, as readers get used to the new genres, I may post some here. I hope my readers know me well enough by now to know that I won’t be posting erotic or pornographic images but only what, in my opinion, are artful images of the human form.
If you choose to stop reading my blog because of this change, I thank you for your past readership and wish you the best in all your future photographic endeavors.
If you choose to continue reading my blog, I thank you for your acceptance of change and hope you’ll enjoy the new disciplines I intend to pursue.
The photos of Amelia Simone (above) were made using Canon 580EX II and 550EX Speedlites (buy them cheap on Craigslist,) Impact 60″ umbrella, David Honl speedlite grid and Interfit COR751 light stands. The backdrop was a piece of mottled velour from Walmart and she was posed on a standard folding table with a piece of black cloth draped over it.
A cool device I bought specifically for studio work is the Yongnuo YN-622C-TX kit and two YN-622C transceivers for a $155 from Yongnuo on eBay. I’m not a fan of Chinese goods but, in this case, my concerns were unfounded because these E-TTL compatible triggers (yeah, you heard right, E-TTL) are well made, 100% compatible and easy to use. Even the Chinglish user guide was rewritten by New Zealander Clive D. Bolton. In the end, this was much ado about nothing because I’ve never had to read the manual.
So, what’s the big deal you ask? Let me count the ways. First, regardless of whether you’re using one flash or 10 flashes, the YN-622C-TX (C = Canon, N = Nikon) lets me control the flashes from my camera. I can twiddle around with the flash control in the camera’s Menu but that’s a lot of twiddling. I can also control the flashes using the switches and menu on the flash but that’s a lot of walking back and forth. Using the YN controller I can assign different flashes to different Groups (A, B or C) and adjust each flash output from 1/1 (Full) down to 1/128 power. For people just learning about flash photography, I can set everything to E-TTL and let the camera do all the thinking.
All native Canon modes are supported including E-TTL, 1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain, HSS and, even, Multi-Mode. Each Group can be turned on or off so it’s easy to test which lights are producing too much or too little light. And, the best feature of all is the simple, intuitive control interface. As I mentioned earlier, I unpacked the triggers from their boxes and began using them within 10 minutes.
For studio portraiture, where I want the key (main) light to fill light ratio to be about 3:1, I can set the Key to Group A and the Fill to Group B. If I want a hair light, that can be Group C. The triggers can be set to one of 8 channels so you’re not firing someone else’s flashes or vice versa. There’s a Test button to check your configuration. In the category of really, really cool, one of my 3 transceivers can be used as a transmitter if my controller should croak. In other words, I have a YN-622C-TX controller and 3 YN-622C receivers. If the TX should be dropped and stepped on, I can use one of the receivers as a transmitter. I’ll be down one flash but that’s not usually a big deal because I can set my LumoPro to Optical Slave mode and let one of the other flashes trigger it.
FREE Photoshop Elements Webinar
On Wednesday, May 18 at 7PM Pacific Time, the first 10 people to register will be able to join my Photoshop Elements in 6 Weeks class for a sample session. The webinar is 1 hour and this session covers Selection Tools. Non-paying attendees will not be able to ask questions or interject comments and will not have access to the recorded video afterwards.
To register, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the log-in information. Registration is open until Tuesday midnight or when all 10 seats are filled.
Learning Lightroom 3.0
With the release of Lightroom 3.0, there’s been a lot of interest LR training. Recently, I received an e-mail from Adobe with a list of LR classes and workshops. From the list, I checked out the website of George Jardine, a Denver photographer/LR instructor and I was blown away!
George offers 3 video tutorials (over 16 hours) covering LR Library, LR Develop and Adobe Camera RAW (ACR.) These are not cheesy, jerky, blurry homemade videos but full up professional productions of LR and ACR tips and techniques for every level of LR, PSCS or PSE user. Best of all, George offers a “bundle” deal. The LR Library and Develop tutorials are $24.95 each and the ACR tutorial is $34.95. However, if you buy both LR videos for $$49.90, George gives you the ACR tutorial for FREE! It don’t get no better’n that!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to immediately recognize George as a “Conscious-Competent” among Photoshop trainers. George is not just very knowledgeable but he knows how to transfer that knowledge to others in a clear, succinct manner without the over-hyped, self-promotion of many Photoshop trainers.
George gives you the tools so you can make better decisions about your adjustments. Unlike many so called “gurus,” George recognizes there are no quick & easy formulas for excellence, each of us needs to make our own decisions about our photography. George gives us the tools for making those decisions. Lest I sound like George’s #1 Fanboi, I’ve never met George and I get nothing by promoting his video tutorials. I just want my readers to get the maximum “bang for their buck” when seeking training.
Here are some photos that have nothing to do with LR training but how can I possibly post a photography blog without a few photos?
Death of an R1800
My Epson R1800 has been a real love-hate affair. When it’s working, I love the rich, vibrant colors on Calumet Brilliant Luster paper. When it clogs, which is frequently, I hate the stupid printer and the idiot who designed it. I’ve had this printer for over five years and I’ve produced wonderful prints which have hung in galleries and sold enough to pay for itself. But, factor in the emotional toll of not knowing when it will throw another clogging tantrum and I’m ready to chuck it off the roof. Well, it saved me the hassle by finally dying last week.
I stopped by Fry’s Electronics to look at an R1900. As I hemmed and hawed about an R1900 and the dinky 11ml (milliliter) ink cartridges (see comparison to left,) it struck me that an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 with 80ml cartridges dropped my ink costs down to 75¢ per ml versus $1.27 for the R1900, a 40% savings. That pushed me over the edge. Before my wife could say, “What the *$%+!” I threw down the plastic and walked out with a $1295 printer. My rationale was as follows: More
Breaking News – Topaz Labs FREE Webinar
The long awaited Topaz Labs webinar has been scheduled for Thursday, December 16. Ashley Robinson, Product Manager, will present a demo of ReMask3, the latest iteration of this amazing tool and Adjust2, two of TL’s most popular programs. If you’ve ever pulled your hair trying to get a great mask of a frizzy haired person, ReMask3 will make your eyes pop out. That’s what happened to me when I saw the first version of ReMask at Photoshop World 2 years ago. Since then, it’s become the de facto, go-to tool for cutting out complex images from the background. So, if putting Grandma’s head on Grandpa’s body is your idea of fun, this is a “must see”. To sweeten the pot, Ashley will have several Topaz Lab’s programs as door prizes. The last time we did this, about 6 people walked away with prizes worth as much as $300.
We don’t yet have an exact time but it will be the afternoon in Central Time (1-7PM Eastern, 11AM-5PM Mountain, 10AM-4PM Pacific). Stay tuned for more details.
PSE9 – The Good & The Bad, No Ugly
After playing around with PSE9 for a few hours, my conclusion is that it’s only worth buying it if you’re already a power user of a previous version or if you’re currently using a version older than PSE 7 or you’re buying PSE for the first time. If you’re on PSE7 or 8 and aren’t yet fully adept with it, PSE9 won’t do much for you.
Flash in a Flash
In advance of the Flash Photography Workshop at Deer Park Winery and Auto Museum on November 13, here’s a quick MMT covering the basics of flash. I can’t cover all the details that normally take 4 hours but this will get you started.
Canon currently has two primary dedicated flashes, the 430EX II (US$280, above)and the 580EX II (US$445, below). The main differences between the two besides price are power (430 = GN43 vs 580 = GN58) and Master Mode. In multi-flash situations, the 430EX can only be used as a Slave while the 580EX II can be a Master or Slave. Is the 580EX II worth an extra US$165? Probably not unless you’re into flash photography. Having said that, my recommendation is to always buy the biggest, baddest flash you can afford as your first flash.