Topaz Black & White Effects Plug-In
Topaz Labs produces some of my favorite PS, PSE and LR plug-ins so when Nicole Paschal of Topaz invited me to try B&W Effects, I jumped right on it. Unfortunately, life has a way of getting in the way including a prolonged health issue (see bottom) and I never got back to it.
Today, feeling well enough to review and edit photos for the first time in two weeks, I fired up Lightroom to find a photo for B&W conversion. I’m not saying this is the best I have available but I thought it turned out well (If you disagree, tell me why in the Comments below.)
Topaz plug-ins will be among the subjects I cover in my 30-Minute Webinar series (below.) I’ll show you what the controls do so you can customize the Preset to your own vision. Below is another photo that I made years ago. It never did anything for me in color but the Topaz B&W (middle) looks nice. The second conversion used BW Presets in LR3 Develop Module. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone.
Fast, Easy and Cheap – 30 Minute Webinar Series!
What more can you ask for in photography lessons? Are you aware that I have a separate site called Photography Webinars and Shoots? On that site, I list photography webinars and photoshoots. In fact, many of the photoshoots are free.
At least once per month and, sometimes, more often, I present a 30 Minute Webinar covering some aspect of digital photography and photo editing. To date, webinars have covered Cleaning Your dSLR Sensor, Applying Unsharp Mask, Using Layers in Photo Editing, Tips for Restoring Old Photos and others. Click HERE for a sample 30-Minute webinar (no password.)
Due to the popularity of these short, to-the-point lessons, I’m incorporating them into my annual subscription services. Starting December 1, 2011, I’ll offer two annual subscription plans: Basic and Premium.
Basic Subscription Service includes all 30-Minute Webinars (minimum 1 per month) for one year, free access to videos of all 30-Minute Webinars and e-mail support for questions of general interest. So, if you have a question about digital SLR photography or photo editing that may be of interest to other readers, I’ll post an answer on the web site. Until December 31, the Introductory Price for a Basic Subscription is $50 per year. After December 31, 2011, the price is $60. Readers who have previously attended 30-Minute Webinars are eligible for an Introductory Subscription price of $36 (send me a copy of your PayPal receipt.)
Premium Subscription Service includes access to all 30-Minute Webinars (minimum 1 per month) for one year, free access to videos of all 30-Minute Webinars, e-mail support for all digital SLR and photo editing questions, free photo review and analysis for up to 12 photos per year and three hours of 1-on-1 consulting time via webinar. The three hours can also be used for a webinar class (does not include guest speakers.) Until December 31, 2011, the Premium Subscription price is $99. After 12/31/11, the regular price is $120. Readers who have previously attended 30-Minute Webinars are eligible for an additional discount, just $89 for 2012.
An added benefit is “Competition Review and Feedback,” a new service to members wishing to enter photo competitions. Honest, detailed feedback is important to win photography competitions. The Digital Photo Guy will provide insightful and incisive reviews of your photos to not only select the best photos for a particular competition but also ideas for improving your chances of winning.
Eastern Sierras Photoshoot
Next Friday, Sep 30, I’ll be in the Eastern Sierras for 10 days. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome. I’ll be in some areas you may never find on your own and I’ll be experimenting with techniques such as star trails and long exposure night photography. For details, click this LINK.
Facebook Paradigm Shift
I recently read an article titled, “Does Facebook Really Care About You?” by Douglas Rushkoff. As I read the article, I suddenly realized what it was about FB that I don’t like. To quote Rushkoff, “…on Facebook we’re not the customers. We are the product.” In other words, FB packages your information and resells it. That, in turn, makes FB users unpaid employees, “The hours Facebook users put into their profiles and lists and updates is the labor that Facebook then sells to the market researchers and advertisers it serves.” Think about it.
Reports of My Death Have Been Exaggerated…
But, not by much. I rarely get sick but, when I do, it’s a doozy. Also, as I get older, it it takes longer to recover. Over the past two weeks, I experienced the worst gout attack in ten years. Then, I developed a sinus infection from allergies. Knowing I had just a few days before the infection dropped down to my chest and put me out for 6-8 weeks, I rushed to my doctor for amoxicillan. The point to all this is that I missed posting a Monday Morning Tip last week.
A Grand Time at Cruisin’ Grand
What more can a guy ask for? I spent Friday evening at Cruisin’ Grand Friday evening cruise with three cuties (Tina, Michelle and my wife.) Tina is my favorite pin-up model and Michelle is one of her “Cuties” from Cuties for a Cause. We had a great time photographing two pin-up cuties with classic cars from the ’40s and ’50s.
If you’re interested in photographing pin-up style models, Cuties for a Cause will be featured at the ArtHatch reception on Sept 9 after Cruisin’ Grand. The reception offers live music, book signings (available for purchase), pin up girls, Stone beer, hors d’oeuvres, plus over 30 local artists works and 75 national and international artists works on display for $25 at the door or $20 in advance.
Learn Something Useful in 30 Minutes
Last month, I started offering a 30-Minute Webinar Series. To date, we’ve covered an overview of photo editing programs, a tutorial on cleaning dSLR sensors, how to apply USM and an overview of layers in photo editing. The next 30-Minute Webinar, on Wed, August 24, covers High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography.
The advantage of short, focused webinars is minimal time and money investment. Anyone can set aside 30 minutes to learn something they really enjoy. To date, the webinars have been priced at just $3. Later this year, the price will increase to $5 per webinar.
Anyone who registers for a webinar before the price increase will be eligible to register for 12 webinars for $36. After the price increase, the series will cost $50 for 12 webinars or $5 each.
Here’s a short sample video of the Layers webinar.
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Desired versus Correct Exposure
Something I hammer in my field workshops is the difference between a “correct” exposure and “desired” exposure. Most new dSLR users assume the exposure is correct when the ELI (exposure level indicator) shows the tick mark at zero (see below.)
To the left is the ELI on the Quick Screen of a Canon 60D. Every dSLR has a similar ELI on the top LCD, bottom of the viewfinder or, often, the back LCD. Sometimes, it’s in all four locations. As you might imagine, this is a key tool in setting desired exposure. A tick mark below the scale (unseen in this image) is used to indicate more or less light.
dSLR users often mistake the zero point as the “correct” exposure level when it’s really just the point where the exposure algorithm reports the light and dark areas are balanced. That would be like saying the center of the speedometer is the “correct” speed. Try telling that to the cop who pulls you over for doing 60mph in a 25mph zone.
Think of the Auto Exposure Meter as a starting point. Here are three images from Julian, CA, an old gold mining town now reknowned for its apple pies. I was in Aperture Mode because that’s my usual exposure mode. I knew I wanted the dark center of the sunflower exposed for details but I also wanted to preserve some cloud details in the background.
For my first test shot, I added +1 EC (exposure compensation.) The result was a bit too bright and I didn’t have much detail in the clouds. I dialed back EC to +1/3 to keep details in the dark center of the sunflower and recover some details in the clouds. Because I was shooting Raw, I knew could recover cloud details in Lightroom if necessary. In the end, I decided the clouds weren’t as important as the bee. If I had blindly accepted the metered exposure, the bee might have been lost in the dark center.
Point Loma Lighthouse Open House
Rick Phillips sent me a link to an article he wrote for Examiner.com. In a nutshell, on Thursday, August 25, 2011, Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma, San Diego, will open the Point Loma Lighthouse for its annual Founder’s Day celebration. This is indeed a rare opportunity to make photos from the top of the lighthouse. Read Rick’s articles for details.
I’ll post a Meetup on the Photography Webinars and Photoshoots site for those who would like to join me there.
Canon 40D for Sale
My Canon 40D body is up for sale. This is just the body, no lens. I have the box, manual, CDs and all accessories that originally came with it. I’ll post photos later this week in the Tips & News section under Excess Equipment for Sale.
The asking price is $675 and includes a Canon BG-E2 Battery Grip for extended battery life. This combination is perfect for fast sports photography where you are quickly changing between landscape and portrait modes. Because of the weight, shipping is $25. My preferred method of payment is PayPal.
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?
The (Short) Life of Hummingbird Eggs
Last week, I wrote about my excitement over a Rufous hummingbird that built a nest in a potted ficus tree on my front patio. On Day 2, the first egg showed up. Two days later, right on schedule, a second egg was deposited. Mama got down to business and spent hours on the eggs. This morning, Day 6, I found both eggs smashed on the tiles below the nest (photos too graphic for family web site.) I can only surmise a gust of wind blew the ficus branch violently enough to toss the eggs out of the nest. Mama is no where to be seen. As I get older, I find that I mourn more for the little creatures than Homo (not so) Sapiens. Although I’ll miss her, I hope Mama builds her nest in a more secure location next year. RIP little hummingbird eggs.
More Photography, Less Teaching
As I alluded in my post of April 10, 2011, my business model is changing. Starting on July 1, 2011, my focus will be 1-on-1 classes/workshops and special webinar events. Group classes, webinars and workshops will no longer be offered although I will offer $3 Webinars from time to time. These are short webinars covering specific topics.
The intent is to spend more time teaching a few select students and making more and better personal photos for myself. In order to do this, I need to drastically cut back the time I spend maintaining and marketing this site. Past students will be given preference in booking classes and events. To book a class, see the Workshops & Webinars page. As currently scheduled classes expire, they will be rescheduled “on demand,” i.e. when a student requests.