The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: software

Photoshop World – Friday 10/3/09

by on Oct.03, 2009, under Articles, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Webcast, Workshops

Score, Again!

I snagged several extra Photoshop World workbooks for drawings to be held during the Nov 14 webinar with Rob Sheppard. These workbooks contain class materials from virtually every class offered during PSW this week. That’s over 800 pages of material covering everything from Fixing Common Image Problems by Dave Cross to Graphic Secrets: Totally Text by Lesa Snider to The Perfect Panoramic by Jim DiVitale.

For me, yesterday was more about recharging the batteries and gaining new inspiration than pushing sliders, tweaking colors and adjusting angles. For inspiration, Jay Maisel is at the top of my list. He’s an oddball (synonym for New York photographer) but his ability to see while the rest of us simply look is amazing. His photos of what, at first glance, appear to be everyday, mundane objects is nothing short of brilliant. If B&H had a “Jay Maisel Eye” in their catalog, the owners would be multi-billionaires. Even his photos of kids, which rarely do anything for me, inspire and amaze me. He’s not a splashy, entertaining presenter but he doesn’t need to be, his photos speak for themselves.

Fay Sirkis presented The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul. The beginning was slow and I was concerned when she said she was going to show us a technique that she applied to every photo. It turns out she’s a 1 trick pony but it’s a huge pony. I was impressed at the breadth and depth of information she was able to pack into a single tip. Her one technique had more product extensions than a MacDonald’s hamburger!

Jack Reznicki was, as usual, full of great tips, tricks and hints but, also as usual, he’s a photog, not an instructor. He was all over the place and it would have been difficult for less experienced photographers to follow. I had to laugh at the people using camera phones to try to capture his exact set-up instead of understanding the concepts.

Joe McNally was my favorite. He most reminded me of my own style: immediately useful tips and info presented in a rapidfire, humorous manner that always kept you on the edge of your seat. I really liked that Joe used V as his model instead of the typical, svelte, 20-something blonde. V was about 350 lbs of muscle and looked like a bouncer at a Las Vegas bar. He was amazingly agile and could leap into the air on cue for McNally.

There was only one disappointment during the day. It was obvious the instructor really didn’t know how to express themselves and convey their ideas. The one thing that surprises me is the lack of preparation most photographers put into their presentations. They don’t seem to understand that presenting an instructional lecture is a completely different animal. I’m also amazed at the frequency of equipment failures.

Today is slow until noon so I’ll be scrounging in the Expo area again. I’m really looking forward to 2 sessions with Ben Willmore, The Newest in HDR and Mastering Curves. PSW wraps up at 5PM this afternoon but a lot of it is, “Rah-rah, sign up for next year!”

One final point of philosophy. After one attends a number of these conferences, it becomes obvious that the tools change and the techniques get better but the desired results are always the same. We’re always looking for ways to get the most out of our art. Bottom line, it’s useful to come to these conference once in a while but don’t drink the Kool-Aid. It’s not Scott Kelby’s art, it’s YOUR art. If you find a way that works for you, don’t let the “next big thing” seduce you into trying something just for the sake of trying something new. This falls under my favorite Dr. Mits Tomita saying, “Keep an open mind but not so open that your brains fall out.”

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Photoshop World – Friday 10/2/09

by on Oct.02, 2009, under Articles, Photo Editing, Schedule, Workshops

SCORE!

Yesterday, I scored BIG TIME for my readers and webinar students. I went to many of the booths in the Expo and shook them down for prizes for Rob Sheppard’s webinar on Nov 14. At Nik Software, I got a promise of 15% off coupons. I still have to make arrangements with Nik after PSW so it’s not yet active. Then, I got a SUPER deal from the guys who market Topaz Labs software. They will extend the show price of $129 for the entire Topaz Suite ($339 value) to all my students. I also got a coupon good for a free copy (not trial) of any of their programs to give away during the webinar. It takes a lot to impress me with software but I can honestly say the Topaz stuff blew my socks off. It did things that my engineering, technical mind said couldn’t be done. I’ll have a complte writeup on some of their modules over the next few weeks.

Finally, under the heading of “It Don’t Get No Gooder’n This”, I scored a FREE (as in gratis, zero, zip, nada, nothing, no cost) Black Rapid camera strap. You, in the back, STOP yawning! You think camera straps are boring? Well, citizen, take a look at their site. Photos can’t do justice to how easy it is to carry AND deploy your camera using a Black Rapid system. I will give a FREE Black Rapid RS-4 to one lucky winner at Rob’s webinar.

The prize list keeps getting longer and the $49.95 Early Bird Special days keep getting shorter. Remember, the Early Bird Special pricing for Rob’s webinar ends sometime tomorrow, Sunday or Monday depending on when I have time to update the website.

Classes on tap for today include Location Lighting with Joe McNally, The Eyes are the Windows to the Soul with Fay Sirkis, ABCs of Digital Portraiture with Helene Glassman, Seeing the Light with Jack Reznicki, Light, Gesture and Color with Jay Maisel, One light for Real People with Jack Reznicki. Talk about an All-Star line-up. There are other classes in the Expo area but I’ll be busy shaking down more vendors. I’ll also be snagging PSW Workbooks (800 pages of Photoshop tips) and anything else that isn’t nailed down.

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Monday Morning Tip – 09/28/09

by on Sep.27, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photoshop Elements, Workshops

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed this week due to so many tasks and projects so I’m taking the easy way out. I have a series of links from disparate sources that should keep you occupied until I get a chance to write some new material later this week (as if I’m really going to have time to write during Photoshop World).

Photoshop Elements 8 for PC and Mac Announced

The biggest thing this week has been the release of Photoshop Elements version 8 (PSE8) for PC and Mac. The PC version is shipping and the Mac version will be available late-October. Rob Sheppard, editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, has written a book about PSE8 and will share his findings with us during the webinar on November 14 from 9AM until 1PM. Learn Photoshop Elements in just 4 hours for only $49.95 (early bird special good until Wed, Oct 30).

One of the new features incorporates Content Aware Scaling (CAS), a Photoshop CS4 (PSCS4) technology, into an easy-to-use tool for PSE8. CAS in PSCS4 is a very powerful tool that lets you tell PSCS4 to scale (resize) a photo but not change some objects in the photo.

It’s easier to demonstrate than talk about it so here’s a photo from the first and only time I photographed a polo match. The first photo is the original and the second has been squished (that’s a technical term) with PSCS4 Content Aware Scaling. Notice how the ball, which I didn’t tell CAS to preserve, is deformed in the second photo. Without CAS, the players and horses would have suffered the same fate.

CAS Demo - Original   CAS Demo - Squished  

If I had tried to use something like the Transform Tool, the horses and riders would have become distorted like a house of mirrors. With CAS, only the non-selected (unprotected) areas of the photo are squished while the rest is kept intact.

While CAS is a powerful tool, it’s a bit more involved than most amateurs will want to futz (another technical term) with. In PSE8, the Recompose Tool is touted as a way to turn landscape photos into portrait orientation in a few short clicks. It’s really CAS with a fancy interface so the user doesn’t have to futz.

Coronado Speed Festival

Pam Davis of San Diego got the Press Passes for the Coronado Speed Festival and has now posted some photos on her blog. Not only is Pam a great photog but she also writes a fun blog. Please check out her blog and leave a comment. Bloggers like comments.

Some Fun Stuff

A friend sent me this link. It’s a riot, especially if you’re a cat person. Dog people will wonder what the fuss is all about but cat people will understand.

Photoshop World

I’ll be in Las Vegas for PSW from 9/30-10/3. On 10/4, I’ll be at Bugorama, a huge VW show in Las Vegas. That should be a target rich environment. Remember, I’ll be giving away a PSW Symposium Proceedings (1000 pages of PS tips) during Rob’s Photoshop Elements webinar.

Bristlecones Around Bishop, CA

From Oct 4th through the 11th, I’ll be in the Eastern Sierras around Bishop, CA to photograph landscapes and the legendary bristlecone pines made famous by Galen Rowell.

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Monday Morning Tip – 08/24/09

by on Aug.23, 2009, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Webcast, Workshops

Rob Sheppard to Teach Photoshop Elements

On Saturday, November 14 from 9AM until 1PM, Rob Sheppard will teach a 4-hour Photoshop Elements class jam-packed with tricks, tips and shortcuts used by professional photographers. Whether you are a complete newbie or an experienced PSE user, you will learn more about Photoshop Elements than you ever imagined possible. After this class you will be able to enhance and edit digital photos faster, easier and more precisely than ever before. Most of the material from this class also applies to Photoshop CSx.

If that’s not enough, you’ll receive 60 days of e-mail support after the class. That’s right, for 60 days, if you encounter a problem and just can’t figure out how to apply Rob’s tips, send me an e-mail and I’ll get you an answer. What class have you ever taken that offers that kind of help?

Anyone with the slightest interest in photography knows the name Rob Sheppard. He’s the editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and editor/founder of PCPhoto as well as author of over a dozen books on photography.

I literally ran into Rob at the NANPA (North American Nature Photographer’s Association) summit earlier this year and asked him to teach a Photoshop Elements class for my readers. He was enthusiastic but, understandably, his schedule was filled.

Rob is now available to teach that class on November 14 via webinar. Even better, the cost is just $59.95 ($49.95 early bird special until Sept 30). If you had attended Rob’s class at NANPA, you would have paid $155 plus hotel, meals & travel to Albuquerque so this is a screaming deal!

Click below to register today. Seating is limited.

Monday Morning Tip

When I first converted to digital in 1998, almost everyone used JPEG. This was reinforced for me because I was a sports photographer who came home from events with upwards of 1000-1200 frames. All the frames except total disasters were quickly processed for levels and sharpness before resizing and uploading to my web site for people to order. As orders came in, I reprocessed each photo for printing but, during the initial rush, there wasn’t time for messing about with RAW files.

 

Today, one of the most frequent questions I hear is, “Should I shoot in RAW or JPEG?” Even rank newbies are pressured into thinking they should be shooting RAW because “that produces better photos.” Let’s set the record straight. It’s just as easy to capture crappy RAW photos as it is to capture crappy JPEGs.

 

Today’s MMT addresses this question head-on for newbies. This MMT will answer this age-old question once and for all. As always, the MMT is in the Tips & News page of this site.

Quick Tip

One of the trickiest things to do in Photoshop or PSE is selecting hair when you’re trying to knock out a person’s head from a photo. Let’s say you took a family photo at the reunion but Cousin Ernie couldn’t attend. You try to paste Cousin Ernie’s photo from last year into this year’s photo but it’s nearly impossible to get a good selection of Cousin Ernie’s curly blonde hair which was photographed against a white wall.

Whenever you have friends and family together, take several head shots against a contrasting wall. Cousin Ernie’s blonde locks will stand out nicely against a dark wall while Aunt Ruthie’s mousey brown hair contrasts with the standard Navajo White found on most interior walls.

Next time you want to knock out Cousin Ernie from a busy background, use hair from the easy photo. You don’t want to use too much because the light and angle probably won’t match but little wisps here and there will help fill out areas where his hair blends into a white object in the background.

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Nothing is as Simple as it Seems

by on Jan.31, 2009, under Articles

For the past 3 days I’ve been dinking (that’s a technical term) with my new blog-style web site. The intent is 3-fold (in keeping with Lee’s Rule of Threes).

  • First, I want a site I can maintain myself instead of relying on others to make minor changes.
  • Second, I want more interactivity so readers can communicate more easily with me.
  • Third, I want better security and PayPal integration to make it easier to pay for classes.

I didn’t think that was asking too much since my misspent youth was wasted in an engineering lab, poring over schematics and software code. Geez Louise, was I ever mistaken. The level of sophistication in today’s software is lightyears removed from 1983, the last time I was in an engineering lab. This stuff is all supposed to be WYSIWYG but you could have fooled me.

My site has 2 different photo gallery plug-ins, appliances if you will, that are supposed to help me manage my photos. Ben installed two so I could compare them and decide which worked better for me. In the first place, the 2 are so completely dissimilar that I couldn’t keep straight which was handling what photos. Next, I couldn’t repeat tasks I’d stumbled across but wouldn’t work when I tried to do the same thing a second time. Finally, I can’t figure out the relationships between photos, galleries and posts. A photo should be a single image while a gallery is a collection of photos which I should be able to embed in a post (such as this rant)! Sometimes it works and other times the wheels fall off with no rhyme or reason.

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