*Topaz Detail 3, my first run

TimberlinePano (1)

Hi all and welcome to a quick review on your Topaz special plugin of the month!  This month Topaz is running a special on Detail 3 for 50% off!  Normally $39.99, if you use the code “aprdetail” HERE on Topazlabs website, the price drops down to $19.99!!!

That’s all well and good, but what does Detail do?  I had not tried it until I was made aware of the sale, so here is my experience and thoughts on what I think it is best at doing.

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*Fun with soul windows. Eye retouching techniques using Photoshop.

 

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A couple years ago, I’d posted a tutorial on simple eye enhancement techniques and I wanted to revisit and build on that.  Lately, “Photoshop” has seemed to be getting absolutely bludgeoned and cast as some evil, socially destructive outcast.  Used as a verb, photoshopping has become akin to kicking a blind puppy, and then forcing it into a life of anorexia.  While I am in no way a fan of, nor support using photoshop to unnaturally build unrealistic body proportions, or overly plasticize a face to perfection, I will make the case that retouching is an art and like anything has boundaries.  If viewing retouching from a creative angle, there are things that can be a lot of fun.  If viewing retouching from a practical angle, it can be effective.  Going overboard in any direction can certainly lead to criticism, but so many forms of artistic manipulation have and will always continue to draw ire.  For this post, I want to play around with both the creative and practical angles in regards to enhancing one’s eyes in a portrait.  Thank you to my friends Mat and Heather from Mirrorlessons – Bestmirrorlesscamerareviews.com for the shot you see above.  Eyes are often a focal point in many a good portrait, so why not add a bit of punch to that focal point?  Come on in to see how I achieve this quickly and easily.  If interested, you can download these eye enhancement Photoshop actions for free…

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*Topaz DeNoise5, updated and on sale for 50% off!

Topaz DeNoise5 On Sale

Hi guys!  Your monthly Topaz deal is here!  Topaz Labs is offering up DeNoise for 50% off.  I have written up a more in depth review on DeNoise 5 before, and feel it is one of the best, and most effective plugins I use.  It’s pretty amazing to see what this software can do for your high ISO images.  Topaz is running this sale through the end of March via Topaz Labs Website HERE.  Just use the code “mardenoise” at checkout to get the discount.  C’mon in to see some before and after examples…

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*Topaz – Simplify 4, quick and easy digital painting filters with a click!

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Topaz continues to improve they’re line of valuable plugins with the new release of Simplify 4.  Currently on sale through the end of this month for $19.99 (50% off!) when using the code “febsimplify” during checkout, Simplify 4 provides a quick, easy and very controllable plugin for a variety of painting and line drawing effects.  You can see it on Topazlabs.com HERE, or come on in to see a screen shot and read my ramblings on why I think this is a pretty amazing plugin for $20.

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*Topaz Star Effects, on sale just in time for the holidays

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With the recent kitchen sink sale that Topaz had, it got me curious about some of the other plugins on offer.  I love DeNoise, Clarity and ReMask, but what about all these other cool, quirky plugins?  Topaz Star Effects allows a user controlled enhancement for any point of light in your image, and through the month of December, it is on sale at 50% off for $14.99 here at Topazlabs.com when using the code “decstar” at checkout.  Well, if you have an extra few bucks lying around, and would like to enhance any points of light in your images, check this out…

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*Alien Skin Snap Art 4, Instant digital painting effects

As seen above, Alien Skin has released Snap Art 4, featuring an example image from yours truly!  I am a big fan of the Alien Skin plugins and with this new release, they’ve continued to refine one of their most unique offerings.

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Painting has never been so easy.  With their most recent release, Alien Skin has yet again upped the ante on creative digital photography plugins.  Snap Art 4 provides many jumping off points and the final result can vary between a single click, or as much time as you’d like to throw at a painted rendition of your digital image.  The use of improved masks and even more creative controls, Snap Art 4 builds on what was already a powerful and fun tool.  C’mon in to see more examples and info…

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*Topaz ReMask 3, why have I not been using this until now!?

HalloweenReMask Topaz

Topaz is offering yet another one of their awesome plugins at a steep discount through the month of October (50% off using the code “OCTREMASK” CLICK HERE).  This time, it is ReMask, and I’m amazed that I have not used this plugin until now.  As I’m sure anyone who uses Photoshop or Elements can attest, the task of having to select and mask strands of flyaway hair, or pull a subject from a detailed background can be a bit of a pain… Worry no more, seriously, check this out:

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*The Mirrorless Diet, how to lose weight instantly! Part 3

Rainier Morning Ascent

PART 3: Processing your shots

After applauding your choice to invest in featherweight cameras and optics that have the image quality to rival top end digital SLR’s (well, in many scenarios anyway), it all comes down to processing, and turning those files into the beautiful images you knew they’d become.  While weight is no longer a huge part of the equation, it is now time to see if we’ve compromised our ability to document our travels for posterity in all their pixel rich glory…

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*The Mirrorless Diet, how to lose weight instantly! Part 2

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PART 2: Shooting your trip

You’ve already suffered through my long winded gear explanation in the previous post about gear weight in part 1. Here are some of the images and techniques I use with the gear being utilized for each shot, laid out. The above panorama shot was a handheld series of 5 frames, shot in portrait orientation using the Canon EOS-M and 22mm f/2 lens. The third and final part in this series will focus on the actual processing of the shots and won’t really have much to do with backpacking per se, nor the weight saved, but hopefully can show that with these small cameras, image quality is not compromised.

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*The Mirrorless Diet, how to lose weight instantly! Part 1

mirrorless diet

PART 1: Preparing for a trip

Have you ever had to pack for a trip, a hike, climb, vacation or another adventure where you’d be carrying everything on your back or slung over your shoulder?  Gear laid out on the floor the night before leaving for the trip after having unpacked and repacked to see if you could fit everything in less space getting rid of everything you can to save weight.  For those that saw their toothbrushes in half to shave off a few grams, or anyone that could stand to lose a little weight in the camera bag, this series of articles may be useful.  Now, the question is, can we do this, and still carry quality photographic gear with us?

This will be the first part in a three part article focused on capturing images while backpacking and wanting to keep weight down while not compromising image quality.  It is also potentially useful for any travel situation where gear weight may become cumbersome.

I’d like to thank Yukon Trading CompanyMarmotJetBoil, LEKI Trekking Poles43rumors.comExpert Shield screen protectors, and B&H Photo for the continued support, and particularly for much of the stuff provided for me during this trip.  Losing weight isn’t always fast and cheap, but they’ve helped make it sexy.  Throughout these articles, I’ll be mentioning and linking to various products that I use(d) and highly suggest looking into.  Fortunately for me, we got hooked up with companies that put quality at the top of their list.  It doesn’t hurt that they also engineer some of the best, lightest and highest performing gear on the market, so, thanks guys!

Never has weight been more a factor for me than when trying to stuff all my gear into a pack with the realization that I’m going to have to carry all this stuff on my back for days on end, all while climbing, hiking and sliding around in the snow. I will start by disclosing that I am far closer to resembling a photographer than a back country, mountaineering aficionado. I’ve certainly been adventurous throughout my life, spending many nights in the elements, climbing and hiking my way to the next spot so that I may eat dried fruit, ramen and nuts for dinner, or do my best to create aches in areas I was previously unaware my body had by forgoing any type of sleeping pad or pillow. Most of the time, when I travel, or set out on any type of adventure, photography is a very large part of it, and I’ve tended to sacrifice other comforts to enable the room for my camera gear. Since adopting a mirrorless setup, I’ve not had to sacrifice at all…

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