*New Aurora HDR Pro for Mac OS from @wearmacphun

AuroraHeader

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

*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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*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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*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.

***UPDATE See the new Topaz DeNoise 6 reviewed and compared to DeNoise 5 HERE***

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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