*Moving onward and upward! A new recurring retouching project for the blog w/ @alienskin software.

IMG_7323As many of you have figured out, we stopped our monthly flicker photo blog challenge, much to my dismay.  Flickr’s desire to dumb itself down, into little more than a mobile app proved to be the death rattle for our monthly project which was going really well, bringing in hundreds of submissions for our monthly contests.  C’est la vie.

Well, with these lemons, I’d like to make lemonade because lemonade is awesome, especially if you only use half the recommended sugar and watch your unsuspecting friends, and young children drink it.  

I’ve been in conversation with my friends at Alien Skin Software, and have had the great fortune to be both a contributor to their blog, and a beta tester for many of their programs over the years, the newest of which is the yet to be released, Exposure update.  As a long time fan of Exposure, I’m excited to see the final version.  With this new project, I’d like to gauge interest in having a retouching tutorial, where by I process and retouch submitted images using Exposure, which may then be shared with many, many thousands of viewers here and through the Alien Skin blog.  Come on in for more details, and my hope for this collaboration…

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*Brand new, TRP Vector strap available, and giveaway winners!


TRP Vector Straps available now

The brand new, hand built Vector straps are now available via the TRP Camera Straps Page HERE for $27 delivered ($33 outside of the US).  They’re light weight, low profile and comfortable wrist straps for any camera.  Utilizing very high end materials, I’ve chosen to build these with both comfort and function in mind.  They’re great when wanting to keep weight and bulk down, comfort up all while maintaining a casual, modern look.

The Vector Straps are now available along with the Garda and Cascade Straps.  Come on in to see who won free straps from our social media giveaway…

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*Shooting Portland’s newest, whiskey-centric bar, the Bit House Saloon for the @ELKcollective


There is always an emotional transition when one longstanding bar transforms into another.  The Eastbank Tavern was a stalwart on the industrial east side in Portland, at least for as long as I can remember.  One of those bars along Grand that you’d pop into after heading back across the river from a show downtown for a nightcap.  The smell of smoke and fried food, lingering in the air engrained into the DNA of the establishment, like a good, working class bar should.  Times though, they are a changing.  The neighborhood is now looking to appeal not just to the growing group of more astute imbibers, but to the younger, newer Portland crowd.  A population that values aesthetic over quirk perhaps, and sees the quality of their surroundings as important as the quality of their drinks.  A trend happening not only in that MLK/Grand corridor, but all over the city.  Evolve or get left behind as it were.  While there are many venues I’ve visited in town, I feel too many of them aim for a wine bar feel for those with a champagne budget, too easily classified as gentrificated snobbery which is totally out of place to many who have watched Portland transform over the last twenty years or so.

The beauty of this new iteration is that is still holds much of the Eastbank’s character, but has helped move this saloon into the new age of more discerning quaffers.  This newer, hipper, fancier version of Portland that has followed in the wake of the boom over the last decade has asked these venues to offer up a bit more ambiance.  What I love about the Bit House Saloon, is that it has taken the rough, grimy portland, and like many of its longstanding residents, gone from damp carpet, PBR and flannel, to wood, whiskey and leather, and well, $1 High Life Ponies for those of us looking for a back, or no frills option.  I’d always seen Portland as a working class town even if Fred and Carrie have shown us that retirement can be achieved early as long as we’re willing to not do much of anything, and it’s good to see that there can exist a bridge between this new era of craft cocktails and earlier, perhaps simpler times.  Change doesn’t have to happen entirely overnight…

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*A weekend with the Canon EF 200-400 f/4 L IS USM zoom lens.

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM lens

What a weekend.  Sore arms and shoulders and my eyes are still recovering from the sun glare off the water, this weekend found a large, North American regatta fall into our backyard.  As a sponsor of the regatta (representing two sponsoring companies) I was able to talk my way onto a customer and friend’s chase boat.  Of course, it provided me an opportunity to rent one of Canon’s super tele monster lenses, so that’s what I did.

C’mon in to see some shots and read my thoughts on the EF 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM lens…

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*Sony 5 axis IBIS vs EF Lens Based IS vs Panasonic 2 axis IBIS Comparison



ibis vs ois

Stabilization.  A term that, before a handful of years ago meant “tripod,” or physical bracing technique, has grown to provide various hardware solutions within our camera system of choice.  We as consumers have been lucky to have stabilization options within most all digital camera systems, and while image stabilization isn’t going to remedy all problems, it is certainly a nice feature to have.  

I’m awaiting a new Panasonic GX8 to arrive within the next couple weeks which will boast a new, dual IS system incorporating both an on sensor IS and lens based IS solution, but before that time, I wanted to really see how the first full frame, 5 axis on sensor/in body image stabilization (IBIS) system from Sony compares to a very good lens based image stabilization (IS) system in the Canon EF lenses, and a better than often credited 2 axis IBIS system from Panasonic’s first foray into on sensor stabilization, in the GX7.

Come on in to see my three different comparisons between these three different offerings, and see if there is a clear winner.

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*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!



*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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