*Topaz Black and White Effects 2.1 Update, free for existing users, discounted for the rest of us!

topaz B&W Effects

Hello All.  You may remember my original review of Topaz B&W Effects back a little while ago.  It was, in my opinion, a great black and white plugin for the money.  With B&W Effects 2, they streamlined the interface, added more filters along with a few other bells and whistles.  With the 2.1 upgrade, (which is a free upgrade for existing users of B&W Effects, or available for new users at a 30% discount using promo code “BW21” here at TopazLabs.com) They’ve added an 11 Zone review system along with a new smattering of awesome borders.

Continue reading

*Topaz DeNoise 5, like a fine wine.

Smooth, yet refined with an impeccable attention to detail.

*UPDATE! Currently, DeNoise5 is on sale for 50% off through the end of March 2014!!! Click HERE to get to TopazLabs website, and use the code “mardenoise” to get the 50% off.

Noise has become less and less an issue for digital photographers over the last few years as sensor technology gets better, in camera processing is capable of shouldering more of that load than ever before and digital asset management software/RAW converters are up to the task for much of the noise reduction needs.  Still, with analog to digital information translation, there is an inherent signal:noise issue that can always be further helped by a good noise reduction software.  Add to that, pro-sumer 35mm format models breaching the Medium Format pixel counts, or compact sensors pushing the pixel pitch to near immeasurable dimensions, there is, and will be a need for a manual noise reduction control through post processing.  While Lightroom and Aperture have good noise reduction algorithms, they are the swiss army knife of image processing, giving you many handy tools, but what happens when you need a power tool?  That little Swiss army knife’s mini-saw ain’t gonna cut through that noise riddled log for you, you’ll need a chainsaw.   Enter, Topaz DeNoise5, your powerful, noise reducing chainsaw.  Right now, through October 12th, get 30% off of Topaz DeNoise5 by using the code “NoiseFree” at checkout, click HERE to go to Topazlabs.com.  I’ve used Noise Ninja and Nik Define in the past, and I think both of those have just been pushed out of my workflow.  Read on for examples and my take…

Continue reading

*DIY day! Using apps to create textures, plus free texture files.

The title just about says it all.  There are a multitude of free and cheap apps for smart phones nowadays and they can be more useful than just uploading dozens of pictures of your late night goings on directly to facebook.  Read on for downloadable freebies, suggested apps and a little instruction on how to best utilize these tools to come up with fun final images in photoshop…

Continue reading

*Everything you need to know about digital photography (well, almost). Two years of tips, tricks and various freebies, revisited.

With my blog’s second anniversary coming up, I wanted to thank everyone that has stopped by, commented and added to the content.  It’s been a fun couple of years and has been far more educational for me than I’d ever thought it would have been.  I wanted to make a list of my more popular posts as well as some that can help some of us who may be just stumbling into the fold.  Any of us who have recently acquired a new camera and may be wanting to learn how to use it to its potential, or are looking to build up a few post processing techniques, I’ve compiled some of the more useful and popular posts below…

Continue reading

*Tiffen Dfx 3, one plugin to rule them all?

There are no shortages of plugins to help photographers and digital artists streamline their workflow and help fine tune their look. Tiffen Dfx-3 offers an amazing amount of digital filters and user manipulatable options in one plugin. Is it useful to have this many options in one plugin, or is it too much? Well, depending on your needs and budget, this may be the only photoshop plugin you’d ever require. Read on for examples and my tip of the iceberg review on this amazingly filter packed plugin…

Continue reading

*A quick, simple and free Vignette Action

This is a quick and easy action which I use often.  While so many photographers (myself included) spend time and money in software to correct for light falloff, I like to go the other direction and introduce it sometimes.  Of course, there are times and places where a darkened vignette doesn’t make sense, and that time, and cost spent to correct it come into play, but for the times you’d like to delicately direct attention to a specified area, this action can help that happen.  Also, you can completely determine the “shape” of the vignette to suit the frame.  C’mon in and see the difference a vignette can make.

Continue reading

*Free Bleach Bypass photoshop action.

Bleach Bypassed

Bleach Bypass is a fun way to add contrast and moodiness to an image.  Because of the way it renders luminance, it tends to flatter skin tones in that it will push the highlights a bit which, if controlled, can produce nice, smooth skin.

Used in color film processing where the bleach portion was skipped, resulting in the emulsion retaining the silver and color dye in the process, it produces high contrast images with muted colors.  Digitally, it can be reproduced by layering a black and white duplicate over the color image and adjusting the blend mode in photoshop…

Continue reading

*The Eyes Have It.

Eyes are not only a window, but a roadmap.  I’ve always felt that I can tell a lot about a person based on the shoes they wear, and the kind of person they are by their eyes.  Eyes tell you a story, they paint emotion and can determine the power of a portrait.  Of course there are many, many other elements to pay attention to, but a good portrait quite often starts and ends with the eyes.  Even in snapshots, making sure everyone’s eyes are at least open is one of the first things you check when glancing on the LCD screen right?  Assuming we’ve captured a shot with eyes open wide, getting them to pop can make the difference between a good portrait and a wow shot.  Here are a few techniques that I use, and have found from others, that can help make those eyes stand out.

Continue reading

*Alien Skin Bokeh 2

Bokeh (/bō’kɛ/): In photographic terms, has grown to mean the subjective quality of the out of focus areas in a photograph, and how a particular lens renders out of focus points of light (adopted from the Japanese term boke 暈け, meaning fuzzy, disoriented, et al).  Pronounced BO (as the bo in bone) and KE (as the ke in ken) if we are taking it directly from the Japanese word, while the “h” was added to help non Japanese speaking photographers pronounce this adopted term (see the wikipedia article for the history on the term and idea in photographic application).  While the definition, pronunciation and it’s subjective nuances are often debated as to it’s application in the photographic realm, it hasn’t stopped Alien Skin from creating a plugin that beautifully applies an out of focus blur to selected areas of an otherwise focused image.  With their second release, Bokeh 2 has added new bells and whistles as well as a more refined control of both radial and planar regions within an image and it’s area of focus.  Read on for examples and why I think this is a wonderful deal of a plugin.

Continue reading

*Exposure 3, third time’s a charm!

Alien Skin's Exposure 3 makes your digital files instantly feel film like. - ©tyson robichaud photography 2010

I have been curious about the Alien Skin Exposure software plugin for Photoshop for a long time.  With the third iteration, Exposure3  has taken their film simulation software even further.  Read on for examples and reviews…

*Authors note: Link to Alien Skin’s Newsletter showing this article here!

To those who’ve come from the newsletter, welcome!!!

 

(March 2012) Now that Exposure 4 has been released, you can read my updated review HERE!

Continue reading