*Should we continue to do the monthly Flickr challenges? It’s up to you guys, w/ @mirrorlessons

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I know that the umpteenth Flickr redesign last month made it really hard to use, or even find the best part of Flickr in the community discussions inside the various groups.  A few days after the redesign, Yahoo finally realized they’d pissed (probably) millions of users off by ignoring the biggest and best part of Flickr, by trying to turn it into an Instagram knockoff, but from what I’ve seen, it may have turned many of us off, and has since seen a near halt in our monthly challenges.

We’ve noticed that for the first time, our monthly Flickr Photo Blog Challenge Theme thread for this month has died on the vine and it has led Heather, Mat and myself to question if we really want to continue to do this.  Is it just a hiccup, or are people just not into Flickr in the same way anymore?  The theme, released in June (and subsequently carried over into July due to minimal activity) is “Friendship” and has, in nearly two months, provided a fraction of the normal amount of submissions that we’ve seen on any other given month prior.  Do you guys want to keep doing this?

I ask because it is quite a bit of work for us to keep up with it, posting various threads and polls throughout each month. I also have invested a lot of time into relationships with various companies that are cool, and kind enough to give me things to give away for these challenges.  Obviously, if we’re not interested in it, I can redirect that energy into putting something together that folks will be interested in, I just don’t want to waste your, nor our time, so I ask, should we continue the monthly Flickr Photo Blog Challenges?  

If yes, just revisit the Flickr group threads (TRP Group Thread HERE, and Mirrorlessons Group Thread HERE) and submit an image for this month’s theme.  If we see enough interest, we’ll continue, but if not, I think we’ll have to call it quits.  I’d like to at least get through this run of 6 monthly winners (we’re three in, with three more to go) so as to giveaway the software, camera straps, and who knows what else I will have to our third 6 month champion, but that will be entirely up to you guys and gals.

I’ve loved doing these, seeing and showcasing the wonderful photography from so many readers, friends and cohorts.  I know that the Flickr redesign made it tougher to go about finding things the way we had prior, but if we’re gonna keep doing this, we need to know folks are still interested in us doing so.  

Let us know, and thank you to everyone who has made our nearly year and a half long project so fun, and (up to this point) successful in sharing your photography with the greater TRP and Mirrorlessons community.

Keep on keepin’ on, and happy shooting!

Tyson

 

*Topaz Adjust, ‘a bit of everything Topaz’ plugin on sale! w/ @topazlabs

For many of us, Topaz Adjust was the first Topaz plugin that we bought.  It was a one click solution to enhance a variety of images in a multitude of ways.  Many of the newer Topaz plugins have even been born as an expansion from some of the filters in Adjust, so I guess you could call it the OG Topaz plugin.  It has grown over the years to include many more filters and is onto version 5.

It is currently on sale for $29.99, 40% off through July (normally $49.99) on Topaz Labs website HERE (use code julyadjust at checkout).

If you’d like to see and read more about my thoughts on Adjust, come on in!

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*Micro 4/3 Portrait Lens Shoot Out! Leica Nocti vs Voigtländer Nokton vs Olympus

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Few systems can boast multiple, high quality portrait prime lenses.  Here I’m looking at three, very good lenses all in their own, respective rights.  Each, have their upside and for a given shooter, a very justifiable argument in favor of, over the others.

While there are two more proprietary portrait prime, focal length lenses with a micro 4/3 badge printed on them (the Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro and the new Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7) I have been able to justify buying all three of these for one reason or another over the last few years.  I must cull my quiver to make room (and provide budget) for new, fun things to review, so I need to decide which I’m going to hold onto.

C’mon in for some shots, and my thoughts…

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*Lensbaby Velvet 56 for Micro 4/3 Review! w/ @SeeInANewWay


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There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the newest lens in the Lensbaby family.  The Velvet 56 offers a bit of a departure from what Lensbaby has been known by in that it has forgone the ability to selectively manipulate the plane of focus into a point or tangential plane, with most lenses offering the ability to be swapped into or out of one of their lens housing bodies like the Composer Pro, or Scout.

The new Velvet 56 is a solidly built, fixed focal length 56mm f/1.6 prime lens that has a different trick up its sleeve.  In days of yore, many portrait photographers used lenses that would intentionally soften contrast and the overall image, aptly called “soft focus” lenses.  

Enter the Velvet 56, and as its name suggests, it is as smooth as Barry White by candlelight.  C’mon in for some sample shots and my thoughts…

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*A quick color balancing tutorial vid using Exposure, with @alienskin

Hello everyone.  If you have ever been plagued by color casting or color temperature imbalance, here is a quick and easy way to neutralize color shift in an image.  I shoot a lot of product shots, and often do so with congruous backgrounds.  In these cases, I’ll often use different lights to get everything lit just the way I want it.  This often brings in some issues when wanting to balance that color in post.  Using Alien Skin Exposure (click here to give it a free trial and follow along), by converting a layer to a fairly flat, black and white image, I can control the shift in color while bringing back color where I want it to be.  As opposed to trying to reiterate the video, just give it a watch, and c’mon in for a few example before and afters…

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*Yes! Topaz DeNoise on sale!!! 25% off through June @topazlabs

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I’m often asked about various plugins that I use, and would recommend.  One that I always suggest, and state as one of my go to’s is DeNoise, and it is $20 off through the end of the month (use code “junedenoise” at checkout) HERE!  DeNoise usually goes on sale about once every year for a couple weeks, so if you’ve been waiting for this plugin to go on sale, here ya go!  If you’ve not yet tried DeNoise, I suggest downloading the free trial via the link above, at least and seeing what it can do.  C’mon in for some examples and my take on why I find it to be so useful.

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*Wrap your subject in light, a 4 light, high key setup.

 

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I’ve been working through some lens reviews, and wanted to take a break from the technical, to share a lighting setup.  Portraiture wise, I tend to normally go in one of two directions, either very minimal, directional, moody light, or a sh*t ton of lights.  This setup is the latter.  Using 4 lights and a reflector, my goal for shooting with Trisha was to wrap her in light from every direction.  I knew I wanted to really showcase her beautiful blue eyes, and getting enough light into them meant lighting her from the front high and low. C’mon in for the setup.

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