The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: software

San Diego Fair Entries

by on Apr.22, 2010, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4

Your Turn to Critique Me

I won’t have time to update the site this weekend so here’s something to occupy you until next week.

Here are my entries for the 2010 San Diego Fair. The juried photography competition draws about 3000 entries each year of which about half are accepted. Just being accepted is the first step. Placing 2nd, 3rd, 4th or Honorable Mention is the next step and winning 1st and/or Best of Show are the ultimate goals. Tell me your opinion in the poll at the bottom.


The first is titled Open. The second is Book of Accounts and the 3rd is Dinner with the President.

All the photos were processed to some extend with Topaz Adjust4. I tried to emphasize what was already there instead of slathering on weird effects or hide some deficiency in the photo. Each was acceptable as-is but Topaz Adjust4 enabled me to oversharpen or soften or saturate without inducing artifacts.
Click to see more entries

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Freebies, Discounts & Goodies

by on Apr.14, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

FREE Lens Webinar

Saturday, May 15 at 11AM CDT (noon EDT, 10A, MDT, 9AM PDT), Roger Cicala, the man who owns ~3000 lenses from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, Panasonic, etc will explain what makes some lenses better than others. If you’re wondering which to buy and how best to use it, Roger has the answer, backed up with years of experience. When have you ever seen a company with a Lifetime Rating of 9.98/10 on

To dat, we have the following goodies as door prizes:

  1. Photoshop World Workbook, over 800 pages of notes, PowerPoints and photos from every session at PSW Las Vegas 2009
  2. Black Rapid camera strap – The newest innovation in camera access technology. Don’t just be fast, be Black Rapid fast.

Click here to register for the webinar.

Fantastical Topaz Deal

Topaz Labs has extended an education discount to my students at Palomar College as well as my private classes/workshops. In the future, all my students qualify for a 25% discount after the 3rd paid webinar or any $150+ Photoshoot Workshop (free webinars not included).

The discount applies to all Topaz products including single modules, multiple modules and the smokin’ Bundle. The Bundle of all 7 Photoshop/Photoshop Elements plug-ins normally costs US$179, a 47% discount off the single module price of US$340. With the extra 25% off, students can buy the Bundle for just $135.

The offer starts today but past students who have paid for 3 or more webinars or Photoshoot Workshops over $150 are eligible. Please send me the names and dates of your classes and I’ll send you the discount code. Before anyone asks, the discount is not retroactive to Topaz modules you purchased before today.

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Canon G11 – A Serious Compact Digital

by on Dec.20, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

Dual Monitors for $39.95

This is the most useful product I’ve purchased in a decade. Click the ad below to learn how you can immediately improve your editing efficiency, speed your workflow and reduce chaos on your desktop.

Monday Morning Tip – 12/21/09

I bought a Canon G11 for my wife’s (mumblty-mumble) anniversary of her 29th birthday. I’d always heard the Canon G-series were great cameras but didn’t like the direction they took when they removed RAW from the G7. The G9 and G10 (there was no G8) just seemed to be entries in the megapixel race and I wasn’t convinced a 1/1.7″ sensor could support low noise at 12.1 and 14.7 megapixels.

With the G11, Canon seems to have addressed all the negatives of previous models and put back all the positives they had previously removed. This is the first time in the history of digital cameras that a company has actually reduced the number of megapixels (from 14.7 back to 10) on a new entry. Trust me, you’ll never miss those extra pixels and you really love the clean, noiseless images.

G11 (front)

First, let me show you some things I really like about the G11. Canon has struck the perfect balance between usability and compactness with the G11. Click to read the full MMT

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Monday Morning Tip – 11/09/09

by on Nov.08, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Webcast, Workshops

Photoshop Elements Webinar is Saturday, 11/14

On Saturday, 11/14 from 9AM to 1PM PST, Rob Sheppard, editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine, NANPA Fellow (North American Nature Photographers Association) and author of over 2 dozen books on all aspects of photography, will teach a 4-hour webinar on Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers. In just 4 hours, you’ll learn how to use Photoshop Elements (PSE) to get the most out of your digital images. Rob strongly believes that PSE and Lightroom are the best combination for digital photographers and he’ll show us how and why.

Students will be able to hear, watch and ask questions as Rob edits and enhances images on his PC desktop using PSE. All 4 hours will also be recorded so students can review the videos for free for 60 days.

Did I also mention there’s a pot full of “door” prizes? “Door” is in quotes because there really isn’t a door as such. Maybe I should call them URL prizes? Anyway, one of the hot prizes is a bundle of Topaz Labs plug-ins (Adjust, Clean, DeJPEG, Denoise, ReMask and Simplify). Today’s video MMT happens to be a quick overview of the first module I’ve tested, Adjust 3. See the video below.

Video Monday Morning Tip – Topaz Adjust 3

Topaz Labs plug-ins were demonstrated at Photoshop World last month and I can honestly say it’s some of the most amazing software I’ve seen in a long time. At the same time, to get the most out of the software, you have to read the manual and practice (There Ain’t No Free Lunch). Like almost any software, you can use the preloaded presets for good results or you can learn how to create your own effects and get some amazing results. It’s all up to you and how much effort you invest.

Video Monday Morning Tip, 11-09-09
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In the future, if there’s interest, I’ll cover the other modules in more detail. Also, if enough people request it, I’ll ask Topaz Labs to conduct a short free webinar using my webcast system. So, if this looks interesting and useful, leave a comment.

If you’re new here and want access to over 100 past MMTs, register using the form to the right. Most MMTs are behind a password to keep web scrapers and other creeps from taking everything off this site and fooling people into thinking they’re visiting a legitimate site.

Quick Tip

If you have a laptop or desktop PC with a biometric authenticator and want to upgrade to Windows 7, I’ve got a great tip for you.

A biometric autheticator is a device on your PC that you wipe or lay a fingertip across and it identifies you by your fingerprint. As with any computer device, there’s a hardware portion (the scanner) and a software portion (the analyzer).

My Fujitsu laptop came with an Authentec scanner and Softek software. Together, the system allowed me to use long, nearly impossible to hack passwords like “yDBr5#228%nN4” without breaking my brain.

When I upgraded to Windows 7, the Softex software no longer worked but it turned out to be a good thing because Microsoft has standardized biometric systems with a handy protocol called Windows Biometric Framework.

Fortunately for users, we don’t need to understand any of this. All you need is the make and model of your biometric scanner. If your scanner meets WBF standards, you’re golden because you can use any WBF compliant software. In my case, when I contacted Softek about upgrade pricing, they blew me off and tried to charge me for a whole new package. After a bit of poking around, I discovered a company called Upek (where do they get these names?). For US$19.95, I was a bit skeptical but decided to give the free trial a spin. It’s a bit more complex than the Softex program because it does more but, overall, I’ve been pleased with it.

Bottom line, if you have a biometric scanner and want o upgrade to Windows 7, search for “windows biometric framework scanners” and you’ll find lots of programs that now work with your scanner. You’re no longer stuck with whatever software that originally came with your scanner.

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Monday Morning Tip – 10/26/09

by on Oct.26, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Workshops

Go-o-o-d Monday Morning from Boron, CA

Yeah, you read that correctly. I’m in Boron, CA (pop 2000), just outside Edwards AFB in the California High Desert. We drove up here last night without any plans for where to stay and lucked out. George, the manager at the Boron Food Mart let us boondock in his parking lot so we had a very quiet night in the middle of Boron. Today, we’re meeting up with some friends and touring the wind farm in the area. There’s also a huge solar facility nearby. I hope to have some great photos to post next week.

Monday Morning Tip

Today’s MMT is open to all viewers since it’s something that many of us may need to do over the next few weeks or months, upgrading your Windows XP or Vista PC to Windows 7. I received Windows 7 last week along with a new 160GB Western Digital hard drive. I wanted to get out of Vista bad enough that I paid Microsoft’s usurious price for the new OS.

For most people, here’s a great set of instructions from Smart Computing magazine. In a nutshell, if you’re upgrading from Vista, is should be a snap. The operative word is should. Upgrading from XP requires a clean install meaning you need to backup your data, reformat your hard drive, install Win7 and then reinstall all your applications INCLUDING your settings. In other words, a complete and total PITA. Many experts are advising people with XP to consider just buying a new PC with Win7 preloaded.

Since my main Fujitsu laptop running Vista is just a year old and I like it, I decided to go the upgrade route. However, having designed disk drives and computers in a past life, I knew better than to trust the old, “when in doubt, swap it out” theory. I wanted to remove my old 320GB C: drive and set it aside in case things went “bump” in the process. That way, I could always fall back to the old Vista system if necessary.

I was only using about 60GB of the 320GB so I decided to order a new 160GB C: drive. When everything was back to “normal”, I would use the 320GB drive as a portable backup device. The theory sounded good but things started going sideways almost from the get-go. Most of it was my fault for using new software that I hadn’t yet tested. Without getting into all the gory details, here’s what I would recommend for people who want to save their old C: drive in toto.

First, a quick tip, buy the System Builder version of Windows 7 and save US$10 because the Retail version only gives you access to Microsoft’s vaunted (NOT!) tech support. You can tell how much they think of their tech support when they only charge an extra 10 bucks. This is where your kid, neighbor’s kid, kids’ friends, niece, nephew, etc can come in handy. Put them to work if you run into trouble. If things really go sideways, apply the $10 you saved toward a Geek Squad visit.

Quick tip #2. Follow the KISS principle. Use the Windows Easy Transfer utility (Start->All Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Windows Easy Transfer) to move your data and settings from the old C: to the new C:. The Smart Computing article (above) tells how to do this in great detail. Smart Computing used to offer free tech support to anyone but I think they’ve stopped that. These days, you have to be a subscriber. The Easy Transfer utility will need a medium sized removeable media (DVD burner, 16GB USB drive, External HD, Network drive, etc) to store all the data and settings that will be moved to the new HD.

Quick tip #3. Readers of this forum need to be especially mindful of this step. Deactivate Adobe Photoshop CSx. This is an option under Help in PS CS4, it may be located elsewhere in other versions. If you don’t deactivate PS CSx, it will think you’re trying to install a 2nd or 3rd version and will lock you out. Don’t ask how I discovered this. When I get home, I’m going to have to contact Adobe and prove to them that I have a legitimate copy of CS4, a royal PITA. There may be other programs that require deactivation so think about what programs you have on your PC before pulling the old C: drive.

All-in-all, my upgrade went fairly smoothly. There were a few things that surprised me such as the biometric scanner. The Fujitsu laptop originally came from Fujitsu with an integrated biometric scanner and password software. When I tried to upgrade the software, the developer wanted another $50 for a whole new program. Given this, I may look for a new password program. Many printers including the high-speed laser, the color laser and the Dymo label printer needed new drivers, which was no surprise. So far, the only thing I haven’t figured out is a Microsoft 2.4GHz transceiver. I don’t have a clue what that may be since everything else seems to be working.

Recommended Books

While in Bishop, CA for the Eastern Sierras workshop, I stopped by the Mountain Light Gallery which was established by Galen and Barbara Rowell in 2001, just before their untimely death. One of the books I purchased there was Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape. This is an outstanding book for all photographers, not just landscape photographers. It’s only US$30 and should be on every serious photographer’s bookshelf.

I’ll write a full review in a week or so after I’ve had a chance to distill what I’ve learned and continue to learn from the book.

IMPORTANT NOTICE for Photoshop Elements Webinar Students

A number of people registered for the webinar seem to be incommunicado. I suspect their e-mail program is relegating my messages to their spam folder. If you’re registered for the webinar and haven’t received the 3 e-mails over the past month, please check your spam filter. You need this information to participate in the webinar on November 14.

We have students registered from Hawaii to Connecticut to Florida to Washington. If you are a serious digital photographer or want to be one, you owe it to your artistic side to take this webinar. In 4 hours (9AM to 1PM Pacific Time), you’ll learn more about getting the most out of Photoshop Elements. And, you won’t find a better deal than this webinar.

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