The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: Webcast

Topaz ReMask2 Video Tutorial

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Webcast, Workshops

Monday Morning Tip – 12/07/09

If you’ve ever tried to cut a person or pet out of a photo and found it to be an exercise in frustration, you need to watch today’s Video MMT. Topaz Labs has released ReMask2 and it is an order of magnitude improved over the first version. Here’s a quick example of what ReMask2 can do for you.

The initial pass took about 3 minutes and I spent another 3 minutes cleaning up the edges. It’s still not perfect but much, much better and faster than previous manual methods. Click here to read the rest of this MMT

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Monday Morning Tip – 11/23/09

by on Nov.22, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Monday Morning Tip

Another VMMT (Video Monday Morning Tip) has been uploaded to the MMT archives on the Tips & News page. This time, I mix it up bit and show how a Topaz Labs Adjust 3 preset can be used as a starting point but then segue into a demo of Dodge and Burn Tools.

The “take-away” from today’s VMMT is to use Presets and Effects as starting points, not as final results. These are just some engineer’s idea of what looks cool/cute/hot or whatever the flavor of the day happens to be. Don’t believe for a moment that an engineer sitting in his/her cube knows more about how to enhance your photo than you.

While I’m on this topic, don’t use effects as a means to cover up lousy photos. Work to get the photo as good as you can SOC (straight out of camera). Slathering on effects to hide bad photos is like slathering on icing to cover up a burned cake. It doesn’t work in either case.

Wild Animal Park Photoshoot

The next WAP photoshoot workshop is December 5 from 9AM until 1PM. We spend 3 hours inside the park covering all aspects Exposure, Focus and Composition. Then, we retire to my RV where we download the photos and demonstrate a basic Photoshop Elements workflow to make good photos into great photos by Cropping, adjusting Levels, Color Balance and Sharpening. Register HERE using PayPal.

Another 5 Minutes Out of Nearly 200 Minutes

After the jump, I’ve added another 5 minute clip from the Rob Sheppard webinar so, if you missed the webinar or want to see what it covered before ordering the DVD, follow the “more” link. Keep reading for more goodies…

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Photoshop Elements Webinar Video Clip

by on Nov.18, 2009, under Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Webcast, Workshops

Last week’s Photohop Elements webinar with Rob Sheppard was a huge success. For those who were unable to attend the live webinar, the videos are available as high resolution DVD files for just $19.95 plus $2.00 S&H (see below).

Here’s a short clip to give you a taste of Rob’s easy-going personality and clear, concise teaching style. Rob is so smooth and good that I was able to edit the videos in near record time.

Five Minutes Out of Four Hours
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Check out more of Rob’s lessons, techniques and workshops at his site. You can also keep up with Rob’s immediate activities on his blog.

I hope to have Rob back early next year after Adobe Lightroom 3 is released to tell us why Lightroom and Photoshop Elements are the best combination for digital photographers. Stay tuned.

Buy the 4 hour DVD here:

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Monday Morning Tip – 11/16/09

by on Nov.15, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Webcast, Workshops

Another Video MMT

Good morning! This week is another VMMT (Video Monday Morning Tip). This time I review the noise reduction capability of Topaz Labs Adjust 3 and compare it against my old favorite, Neat Image. I’ve been using Neat Image for about 5 years and the company has been great about keeping the product updated. But, bottom line, I believe they’ve wrung out about all the performance that can be gotten from their wavelet-packet noise reduction algorithms. Topaz Labs claims their newer design is better than wavelet analysis.

(If you’re a “bottom line” sort and just want the results, the VMMT is in the Tips & News section)

Anyone who uses noise reduction (NR) software knows that a basic trade-off is loss of details. This is seen in portraits where skin looses texture and appears “plastic” when NR is applied with a heavy hand. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good test portrait but I used an otherwise very noisy photo.

After I produced today’s VMMT, I remembered these photos from the Barona Indian Powwow. These photos are good examples of bad examples and work well for NR testing. The first two are resized, compressed jpegs of the entire photo while the third is a portion of the image to better show NR details. Can you tell which is which? A major advantage of Topaz Adjust is that both NR and sharpening can be performed inside one plug-in.

Noise Image v6   Topaz Adjust 3

100% Crop, A-B Comparison

Topaz Labs intrigued me because their proprietary algorithms are developed in-house which makes sense as the founder, Dr. Albert Yang, is a DSP (digital signal processor) expert. (continue reading…)

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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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