*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.

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*Topaz DeNoise 5, like a fine wine.

Smooth, yet refined with an impeccable attention to detail.

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.  You can download a free trial, or purchase DeNoise.  If interested 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…

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*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…

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*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…

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*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…

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*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.

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*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…

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