*Topaz Simplify, on sale through May 31st!

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Hey guys.  Topaz is back with their monthly sale, and this month, it’s Simplify, a plugin that puts a painterly spin on your photos. You can download a free trial, or purchase from Topazlabs HERE, and if you do purchase, use code “MAYSIMP” to get 30% off through May 31st for a sale price of $27.99 (normally $39.99).

If you’ve not yet tried Simplify, download a free trial via the link above, come on in for some more info and insight into this cool plugin and follow along.

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*Lens by lens on the Sony a7II…

lens by lens on the sony a7ii

This is purely a personal journey here.  A little retrospective look back at the last couple months to see what I’ve been getting out of the new Sony a7II (which is currently on sale for $200 off right now at B&H HERE).  I tend to spend a lot of time looking at specific things in regard to a lens or camera for the blog here, and I figured I’d compile a few shots from the combination of lenses I’ve been using.  I have mostly used my Canon EF mount lenses via the Metabones adapter (review on that HERE), but have recently acquired the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 because I felt the camera deserved to also be shot with a high quality native mount lens, plus I was curious to see how it handled this new, crazy feature all the kids talk about in auto focus.

Click any image below to see a larger version, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Less talk, more rock as it were.  Without further ado…

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*Freebie Photography 101, the Exposure Trifecta Part 1 : Aperture

exposure trifecta aperture part 1

Welcome to a new series on the blog, FREEBIE PHOTOGRAPHY 101 where we will explore both technical and artistic aspects of photography and our cameras.  The aim with the Exposure Trifecta (the relationship between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO value) is to learn how to better understand and control our exposure manually through examples and exercises to gain a better grasp on some of the seemingly daunting exposure modes and tools involved.  I’ll add articles about metering, exposure compensation, white balance and other often automated, yet powerful to understand settings that our cameras provide us the ability to control as time goes on as well.  It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting with a phone camera or a fifty thousand dollar medium format machine, understanding how an exposure is created, how a camera works while perhaps overwhelming at first, is easy, it really is.  With just a little time and effort, you’ll be understanding the hows and whys of different photographic effects and how to apply them in different situations.

When starting this blog 5 years ago, I did it to help friends and family who were interested in photography, to share techniques, and help answer questions I’d field to better understand basic photographic principals.  The site has grown and evolved into what you see today, chalk full of camera, lens and software reviews, gear-centric comparison pieces, lighting explanations or post processing tutorials, travel ramblings and editorial articles for the design collective I work with.

As is the cyclical nature of life, I’ve recently been having more and more conversations lately with friends and friends of friends who have shown interest in better understanding these powerful image creation tools and I thought it would be a good opportunity to refresh my original Exposure Trifecta article, written over 5 years ago.  Getting back to the roots as it were, and perhaps act as an introduction to some new friends we’ve gathered along the way here on the site.  So, grab your camera and a cup of coffee, we’re gonna have some fun.

If you feel like you could use a refresher, would like to add your input, or know someone just starting out or looking to better understand the Exposure Trifecta of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO sensitivity, come one, come all.  Through my amazing ability to ramble on, and the community we’ve built through this site, we’ll get you sorted and knowing how, and when to adjust these exposure variables to understand how to completely control your photographic vision. C’mon in… Continue reading

*The Entire Topaz Collection on crazy sale! $249.99 for all 15 Topaz Plugins

 

topaz complete photography collection sale black friday cyber monday discount code

Topaz Labs is cutting the price of their complete collection, normally $430 to $250 for the next four days HERE!

Let it rain, let it pour.  Black Friday has become synonymous with hoards of shoppers jostling to get that $20 dvd player while normally ignoring that there may be another (or many) human beings between them and said dvd player.  Then came Cyber Monday (this next monday) where on line retailers and web based deals come out in force.  As those of us stateside crawl out of our food based comas, the inevitable deals begin to materialize.  For those outside of the states, you might be able to see this as a good opportunity to capitalize on our bizarre seasonal shopping traditions.

Personally, I’m kind of an opportunist shopper.  I store products away in my brain, a mental wish list as it were, and if I see those products go on sale at a deep enough gouge, I tend to jump.  If you’ve hung out on the fence regarding the Topaz plugins, this my friends, might just be one of those times.

Topaz is offering all 15 of their plugins for $249.99 HERE – Use code “BLACKFRIDAY2014 ” at checkout

Great news for those of us that already own one or more of the Topaz plugins.  Click the link above, and if you sign in before checking out (using the email that you’ve had your activation codes sent to for previous purchases, and would have any new ones sent to) you get further discounts as you won’t obviously need to purchase them again, unless you want to.  This sale runs through this Monday, December 1st, so the window is short, but oh so potentially sweet.

All plugins, if purchased individually would total $869.85!  The complete Topaz Collection normally discounts this down to $429.99, so cutting this down to $250 is pretty substantial.  Taking into consideration that Impression alone is $99.99, DeNoise is $79.99, ReMask is $69.99 and Clarity is $49.99 (which are all amazing plugins) the deal is killer.  Add to that, Black and White Effects, Adjust, Clean, Detail, and then 7 more products…  Well, you get the gist.

Come on in for links to my reviews on many of these amazing plugins, and more clarification on how much you save if you already own some of the Topaz programs.

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*MacPhun Black Friday has come early! 40% off the whole enchilada plus a $25 gift card.

IMG_1272 I’ve just recently come across the MacPhun software plugins, and have reviewed Tonality, their black and white conversion plugin.  It’s my go to for black and white image conversion now and I’ve been loving it.  Since my review, I’ve been in contact with the fine folks at MacPhun to do my user reviews on their other plugins here in the near future. If you’re a Mac user, I’d really suggest checking them out. MacPhun is offering their entire collection of plugins which include Tonality Pro, Snapheal Pro, Intensify Pro and Focus Pro for a whoppingly low $129 HERE. The collection at 40% off also includes a $25 gift card to either iTunes or Amazon as well!!! This promotion runs through December 25th, so I’ll do my best to write up some in depth reviews on the other plugins included in this deal, but if you’d like to see why I think Tonality Pro is the best black and white conversion plugin I’ve used, you can read more on that HERE. This also gives you plenty of time to download free trial versions HERE to test drive before buying. Stay tuned for more killer Black Friday software deals… Happy holidays and happy shooting, Tyson

*Olympus 45mm f/1.8 vs the Contax G Zeiss 45mm f/2

olympus m.zuiko 45mm f/1.8 vs contax zeiss 45mm f/2 planar

I held off for a long time on buying a portrait focal length for the Micro 4/3 system and despite the stellar reputation and modest pricing of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens, I’d found myself more or less happy with my adapted Contax 45mm.

The Contax G Zeiss 45mm f/2 lens has a pretty amazing reputation of its own.  In its day, it was touted as being one of the sharpest standard lenses available, even garnering praise over some more illustrious Leica lenses in the same focal length neighborhood.  While I wish I had some Leica glass with which to test and back up that claim, let’s just say that the little Zeiss lens has done okay for itself and still goes for a decent amount of money now that the weird proprietary focusing mechanism has been worked around and this lens can be adapted to most any mirrorless camera nowadays.

So, how do these two compare?  Let’s see…

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*Digital Silver Imaging, a unique digital silver gelatin printing process.

 

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I love photography.  I love the journey that photography has taken me on, and I continue to enjoy exploring the possibilities available to appreciate the fruits of my photographic labor.

Last month, I tested and reviewed MacPhun’s Tonality Pro black and white conversion software (click here to read more on that).  I really enjoyed talking with Alex and Kevin from MacPhun about their software, and getting some insight into both the software and the people behind it.  Long story short, I consider it the best black and white conversion software I’ve personally used.  Upon finishing my review, I was referred to one of their partners in Digital Silver Imaging, a unique print lab specializing in black and white printing.  DSI offers a variety of printing solutions, but one in particular was fascinating to me.  Using a laser enlarger, they convert and project your digital image file onto light sensitive, silver gelatin, black and white photo paper which is then processed in black and white photo chemistry.  Why, and what benefit might this have for those of us that have moved into the digital realm?  Come on in for more information about the process, and why I think it might be the best way to archive your favorite black and white, digital images.

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