The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: Topaz Adjust

New Day, New Post, New Directions

by on Apr.26, 2015, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements

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.

AmeliaSimoneBW-102   AmeliaSimoneBW-103   AmeliaSimoneBW-104

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.

Lighting Gear

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.

YN_kitA 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.

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Everything but the Junkyard Dog

by on May.10, 2012, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

Exploring Arizona

Finally getting around to exploring some locations for shoots. So far, I’ve found a lumberyard that’s also home to an artist so there’s a rich mixture of working tools/equipment as well as objet d’art. It’s a cool place but a little out of the way. Near town, there’s a riparian nature preserve administered by the Nature Conservancy. It’s very well managed and will probably become one of my favorites for hummingbirds and macros.

My latest find is a junkyard (auto recycler for the PC) that’s a free-fire zone for photographers. Here are some recent photos. These were all “pumped up” to some degree with Topaz Labs Adjust 5. TLA is one of my favorite PS/PSE/LR plug-ins but, as I gain more experience with it, I’m beginning to be much more selective about its use. In the beginning, I slathered it on everything but, these days, I can tell where it’s going to add “punch” and where it will look amateurish.

Junkyard-1   Junkyard-5   Junkyard-3

Junkyard-4   Junkyard-6   Junkyard-2

I’m planning a shoot at the junkyard in a few weeks so if any AZ readers would like to be a VAML (voice activated manual lightstand,) drop me an e-mail. All you have to do is hold a reflector, scrim or remote flash. I’d prefer a female assistant to put the young, aspiring model at ease. The theme will be Pin-Up, an American Icon. If we have time, I also want to photograph the model in a bikini against the pickup truck tailgates titled, “Arizona Surfboards.”

Portrait Professional

In my last post, I touted the speed, ease of use and wonderful results from Portrait Professional but forgot to provide a link. I know most of my readers are smart enough figure out the URL but, just in case you’re having a senior moment or brain spasm, here’s the link: LINK

Monitor Calibration

Lately, I’ve noticed the LCD monitor on my laptop is getting darker. In the past, it was reasonably close to what I saw on my calibrated 22″ external monior. This is a function of an aging LCD. There’s not much you can do about it except to be aware. Properly adjusted images on an old LCD monitor may appear dark. Other than buying a new laptop or monitor, the only solution is to increase the screen brightness.

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Epson Stylus Pro 3880 – The Saga Continues

by on Mar.08, 2011, under Articles, Composition, gear, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Webcast

Learning to Print on a New Printer

Physically installing the Epson 3880 was a snap. The hardest part was finding all the little pieces of blue tape manufacturers seem to love to hold down various moving and mechanical parts. I have to admit, Epson does a pretty good job of identifying all the locations where the tape can be found. Some spots are pretty ingenious and actually require reading the quick start guide.

For the first test print, through the USB port (the 3880 is also network ready,) with a known, good print, I chose the photo of Celestina (left.) I set all the color management settings to what I thought were the proper settings and let ‘er rip. Oops! The colors were all wrong. After a few more tries, I printed to the old Epson R1800 to be sure the file was OK. Even with some serious clogs, the R1800 was much closer to the screen. Celestina’s red hair looked just like it does to the left and her green dress wasn’t blue like the 3880.

Scratching my head, I decided to postpone the test print and hook up the network connection. This turned into an unmitigated disaster as I didn’t read the manual. After a day of frustration, I decided I didn’t really need the network connection since I’m the only one who will print to the 3880. I just wanted to hook it up because I had paid for it! More

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Epson R1800 Printer Replacement

by on Feb.27, 2011, under gear, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Workshops

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.
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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

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Score! Rob Sheppard Presents HDR Webinar

by on Feb.18, 2011, under Composition, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Webcast, Workshops

HDR Tools, Tips and Techniques in Three Hours

Rob Sheppard, editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, National Geographic contributer and author of over 30 photography books will present a 3-hour webinar covering the ins-and-outs of producing realistic nature HDR (high dynamic range) photographs.

Rob is a laid back, easy-going guy who has a knack for getting his point across in clear, simple English. His years of experience as an award winning photographer combined with his skill as an editor make it possible for him to cut through the clutter and reduce complex topics to easy-to-understand explanations. To learn more about this webinar and register, follow this link.

Black Rapid, Topaz Labs, MediaChance and Everimaging have donated door prizes for this webinar. In all, we have 18 gifts donated by four companies. Follow the link as we reveal all the cool door prizes you can win in Rob’s HDR webinar and Gloria Hopkins’ webinar on Composition.
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