*Fun with Topaz, featuring Billy Burg! Also, Complete Collection 40% OFF w/ @topazlabs

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I’m sure you’re getting sick of seeing me ramble on about Topaz plugins, so let’s try something new here… My friend and fairly frequent contributor, Billy Burg has shared with us, some of his results using a couple of his favorite Topaz plugins and insight into his process.  

It so happens that Topaz is running a couple of pretty substantial sales right now as well.  As mentioned last week, Glow and Impression are available individually for 25% off by using the code “TOPAZART” via Topaz Labs HERE, which runs through the end of May, but now Topaz has decided to go full bore and offer the complete collection, yes all 17 products, for 40% off (normally $499, now $299) using the code “SPRINGSUMMER2016” at checkout via Topaz’ website HERE!  

Now, here’s another cool tidbit for those of us who’ve already invested in various plugins, if you sign in at Topaz Labs with the email address/account you created to download software, your account will automatically deduct the plugins you’ve already purchased from the complete collection price, and using that same SPRINGSUMMER2016 code, you can get the remaining plugins for 40% off!  Of course, you can always download full, free trials via the link above too, and give any or all of these killer plugins a try before deciding to buy or not.  This sale runs through Sunday May 22nd, so you have a couple of weeks to try them out and decide.

Come on in to see more of Billy’s befores and afters.

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*Topaz Impression and Glow, both 25% off w/ @topazlabs

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Need a little artistic inspiration?  Try running one of your images through Topaz Impression, a beautiful paint and mixed media plugin and/or Glow, Topaz’ deliciously surreal fractal effect plugin.  These two offerings are both on sale for 25% off right now by using the code TOPAZART at checkout over at Topaz Labs HERE.  As always, Topaz offers full free trials for those interested, and I’d highly suggest checking them out if these effects suit your style.  You can download those free trials directly from Topaz HERE.  If you like them, jump on this sale before it disappears.

Come on in to see some more examples and thoughts on how and why I use these two awesome pieces of software in my own work.

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*@Topazlabs ReMask Prime?! A powerful standalone quick selection app for Mac users + FREE GIVEAWAY! (not an April Fools Joke)

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Firstly, this is not an April Fools ruse.  I am giving away activation codes for this new software:) Technology can be embraced or ignored, it can be celebrated or feared, or it can fumble somewhere in between all those things.  I myself, really enjoy much of what is on offer, especially as a photographer.  I totally appreciate those that take a purist approach, but for me, I love playing with digital imagery using various software applications, and here my friends, is a very cool, very affordable piece of remarkable software.  Enter, Topaz ReMask Prime (click here to see in in the Mac App Store).  A fully functional, standalone desktop version of the irreplaceable ReMask software.  If you already own ReMask and run it as a plugin for PS, you’ll probably not need a standalone version (although, I’m starting to see a benefit), but for those who do not, this is a very cheap way to see the power of ReMask in all its glory.

Come on in to see some info and examples from Topaz ReMask Prime, a new standalone app built on the standard ReMask plugin…

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*Topaz DeNoise 6! New, on sale, reviewed and compared to DeNoise 5 w/@topazlabs

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Topaz has just released version 6 of their DeNoise software.  It may seem like I’m plugging a lot of software of late, but it just so happens that the software that I have chosen to use is getting updated, and offered on sale which is pretty awesome.

I have used most all noise reduction (NR) plugins out there over the years, and while DAM software like Lightroom and Capture One do a good to decent job for a lot of NR tasks, I have never found better noise reduction anywhere than I have with DeNoise.  So, what has changed with version 6?  I’ve been testing version 6 against version 5 all week to see if I can really tell where they’ve improved it, and I feel that comes in the way of interface primarily, a huge boost to developing, saving and grouping presets specific to cameras, and further allowing those of us using this plugin to streamline our workflow when batch processing.

Topaz DeNoise 6 is on sale now, $30 off through March 20th HERE at Topaz Labs Website for $49.99 (normally $79.99) or as a FREE UPGRADE (as seems to always be the case with Topaz) for DeNoise owners!  Use code “NOISEFREE” at checkout to get the sale price, and do so knowing that future upgrades will very, very likely be offered as a free upgrade as well.  You can always try it out for free too.  You can download a full free trial HERE if interested to see if it makes sense for you.

I chose DeNoise years ago because it beat the pants off of NIK Dfine for me (especially when correcting for noise banding), which I’d switched to after using Noise Ninja for years.  I’ve yet to see anything outdo DeNoise, and the new version is an upgrade to an already stellar program.

If you’d like to see a side by side comparison between DeNoise 5 and 6, along with my thoughts on what has been improved upon, come on in…

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*30% off everything! Now is the time to explore Alien Skin software if you haven’t already. w/@alienskin

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I’m a long time user and fan of Exposure along with all the other Alien Skin products having originally researched and purchased Exposure back in version 3, so Alien Skin doesn’t have to do much to impress me.  I’m already convinced and know how useful and enjoyable Exposure is, and has been for me over the years.  Preacher:Choir.

If you’ve spent much time on my blog over the years, you’ve probably seen me review just about every release they’ve done over the last half decade or so, and I’ve even connected with many of you that have found me because of my involvement with reviewing and sharing tutorials using Alien Skin software, or having done some articles for their blog based on specific techniques I use Exposure for in my own workflow.

If you use Exposure, Snap Art or Blow Up, I’m guessing you already have a good idea about what these programs bring to the table, and if you’ve not yet upgraded to Exposure X, I’d highly suggest downloading the trial to see the new, non-destructive RAW editing workflow and feature additions along with beautifully customizable workspace tools.  For those that have not yet gone down this ever enjoyable rabbit hole, now is a great time to kick the tires on some seriously killer software.

Alien Skin has their winter sale going on, offering 30% off of any and all Alien Skin products new or as upgrades for current users at Alienskin.com HERE.

The current offerings and sale prices are as follows:

Exposure X ($149 – on sale for $104.30, upgrade for $69.30)

Snap Art 4 ($99 – on sale for $69.30, upgrade for $48.30)

Blow Up 3 ($99 – on sale for $69.30, upgrade for $48.30)

Photo Bundle (incl: Exposure X, Snap Art 4 and Blow Up 3) normally $299 on sale for over 50% off at $139.30!!!

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Eye Candy 7 ($129 – on sale for $99.30, upgrade for $55.30)

The sale is on now, through next Wednesday, March 2nd, so you’ve got a week to give these programs a free trial.  You can see all the programs, and find the free download links via the product pages HERE.  Come on in for more of my thoughts and experiences with the Alien Skin software programs.

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*New Aurora HDR Pro for Mac OS from @wearmacphun

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While the practice of merging exposures is a topic of much debate, I don’t really care.  If you’re not into it, I totally understand and respect that.  I too enjoy capturing and processing final images using single frames for 90%+ of my own photography.  For the other stuff though, I do love me a nicely balanced, merged exposure and have for many, many years.  I find the ability to bracket and merge in post a valuable tool when needing to be in and out of a space in a shorter amount of time (as opposed to setting up multiple lights for each and every shot which can limit the total amount of finished shots in the same time period).  I’d like to say that clients will happily pay for 4 or 5 hours while you set up and shoot, but I’ve not found many that will A) have that much down time to shoot unless I want to shoot at 3 in the morning, which I totally don’t) or B) have the budget for, or see the value in a photographer that takes that long to shoot a space.  Time is money, and the more I can save myself (and price my time to the client accordingly) the better off I’ll be. 

Over my personal journey with HDR, I’ve used quite a few programs (HDR Soft/Photomatix, Everimaging HDR, HDR Efex, Photoshop…) and when Macphun and Trey Ratcliff recently announced Aurora HDR for Mac users, I was very interested.  Much of my actual paid photography work falls into the interior design and hospitality realm, working with that wonderful group of folks at the ELK Collective.  

My goal has always been a natural representation of light and space, which as many know, can be tricky when tonemapping images through an HDR program.  When shooting an interior space, I want to take advantage of the actual dynamic range, getting detail in the highlights and shadows when and where I feel necessary, not just tone mapping for a more dramatic effect.  Well, I chose to process my most recent shoot using solely Aurora HDR Pro, and here’s what I found out about that program along the way…   Continue reading

*Topaz Texture Effects, updated and on sale through the end of the month.

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For those who may have missed the introductory sale a few months ago on Topaz Texture Effects, it’s back, and includes 42 new textures, and 15 new effects along with performance enhancements.  Topaz has added to and updated the plugin, and is offering it for $20 off (available for $49.99, normally $69.99) through January 31st.  Updatable for those who already own Texture Effects, downloadable for those interested in a full free trial, or for purchase on sale via the Topaz website HERE, and if purchasing, use code “EASYTEXTURE” to get the sale price at checkout.

I reviewed Texture Effects when it was released HERE, and have continued to use and enjoy it.  Not an everyday plugin, but a great one if wanting to create a series of images, or enjoy adding some of that textured moodiness to an image or images.  Like all Topaz plugins, it’s intuitive, fast and creatively powerful.

Find me and share your results with us via the socials, via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram. If you would like to receive email notifications as I post new articles, please feel free to add your email address at the top right of the page here as well.  Thanks for the read, and let me know if you have any questions on this new plugin, I’d be happy to try and help. 

Happy shooting,

Tyson