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More CS5 Teasers

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last week the Internet was ablaze with discussions and videos of potential new tools in the upcoming version of Adobe Photoshop CS5, due next week. There’s been a lot of attention given to the “content aware fill” tool, and rightly so—it’s pretty neat stuff that could have a whole lot of uses, and it makes for a mind-bending demo. Well now there’s another awesome sneak preview video from Adobe, and this one is also quite the mind blower. It’s called Puppet Warp, and it adds a whole new intuitive level of control to object distortions that were previously made with the Transform tool. With Puppet Warp photographers place markers throughout a scene to guide Photoshop how elements should move in relation to one another, or even to rotate a picture element around an axis. Russel Preston Brown does a much better job of showing this in a demo video than I could do by explaining it, so rush over to Rob Galbraith’s DPI blog and see for yourself. For outdoor and landscape photographers, the perspective and distortion-correcting power of this tool should make it a fast favorite Photoshop feature.


The other awesome “pad” for photographers.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The iPad is getting all the touch-screen love these days, but there's actually a much more powerful interactive display device newly available for photographers. It's the deluxe Wacom Cintiq 21-inch tablet-meets-LCD-display which allows you to handhold a stylus for photo editing directly on the surface of the screen—so it feels like you’re literally working directly on your images. With a $2000 price the Cintiq doesn’t come cheap, but for heavy Photoshop users or folks who, like me, have fallen in love with working with a pressure-sensitive pen stylus in lieu of a mouse for photo editing, the device is less a luxury and more of a necessity. Either way, it represents a huge leap forward in working with digital images. Read all about it, including technical specs and where to buy your own tablet/display, at Wacom’s web site.


Focal Range Reference

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tamron’s Angle of View blog has contained a few especially interesting items recently, my favorite of which is a simple piece by Ken Hubbard about hiking in Zion national park with an extreme zoom lens in tow. Ken takes his Tamron 18-270 out for a day hike to a scenic overlook, and then puts it through the paces to test it out across its range. This simple exercise makes it so easy to visualize what different focal lengths actually look like in pictures. That means if you’re considering this Tamron lens, or any other zoom lens in fact, you can see what a particular focal length really produces in your landscape photos. As Ken says himself, it’s really hard to visualize a 15X zoom range or the specific millimeter measurements, but seeing it at work really makes it easy to understand the power of the various focal lengths.


Customizing Your Identity With Lightroom's Identity Plate

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When I first started using Lightroom three years ago, I thought its identity plate was just a way to have a fancy way of displaying my name at the top of the Lightroom window, but once I got into using the powerful Print Module, it became clear that the identity plate was a really cool feature that lets you add your logo or fancy type to prints, cards, posters, even slide shows. The identity plate is accessed from the Edit menu by selecting Identity Plate Setup. This brings up a pop-up window where you can create either a styled text identity plate or use a graphical identity plate. Using text is straightforward - just choose your font and color like in any program. The font size is only important in regards to how it displays at the top of the Lightroom window - when printing you can resize to match your output. Once you've created the text you like, be sure to save it by clicking on the window next to "Enable Identity Plate" and choose "Save As." A great feature is that Lightroom lets you save as many identity plates as you need that can be accessed at any time directly from the Print, Slideshow and Web modules.

Rare Animals

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Joel Sartore photographs animals a lot. Frequently he does so for National Geographic. And lately those animals are photographed as much indoors as out. Sartore has made a name for himself photographing wildlife both in the “typical” way—i.e. finding animals in the wild—and in his own unique way in the studio on seamless paper. His latest project is called Rare, and it’s just been released in book form. In it, Sartore invited some of the country’s most endangered animals—from wolves to condors to grizzly bears—into the studio (technically a makeshift studio set up on location in the animals’ zoo homes) to be photographed simply, iconically, or minimal backgrounds. The result is powerful in its simplicity and allows us to look at animals in a different, hopefully more compassionate way. To view a few great videos about the project, visit A Photo Editor. For more on Sartore, his work and photographs from Rare, visit his web site.



More Reasons for Tripods

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Steve Berardi at Photo Naturalist just published a great little tip on his blog about why you should use a tripod. Everybody knows, or at least they should, that tripods help you take better pictures for a number of great technical reasons. First and foremost, they hold your camera steady so that you can make long exposures without motion blur from camera shake. Secondly, they hold your camera steady so that even at faster shutter speeds pictures are sharper and more precise. Third, tripods help you shape your compositions precisely to keep horizons level and the overall composition more precise. There are lots of other things that tripods do for your photographs, but perhaps the most important and most powerful argument for using a tripod isn’t really even a technical reason at all. It’s this reason that Berardi, citing iconic mountain photographer Galen Rowell, says that tripods can do more for your photography than you’d ever imagine. Tripds make you slow down. That’s right: it’s all about speed, and why you don’t want it. It’s the same reason so many landscape greats still swear by large format cameras—because they are forced to take their time with each and every composition, making it just exactly right. Read more at Berardi’s blog, and then get out and go shooting—but be sure to bring a tripod even if you don’t “need” it.


Learn from the best

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I think one of the neatest things about photography is the relative accessibility of the giants of the medium. Think of your favorite world-class outdoor photographers, from Steve McCurry to Frans Lanting to Art Wolfe and many more. All of them have one thing in common (besides, of course, being phenomenal photographers): they each teach classes, seminars and workshops on a regular basis. Those opportunities are geared directly toward you, whoever you are and whatever your photographic skill level may be. Imagine if you were a golfer and could take weekend lessons from Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Or maybe baseball’s your thing and you could study hitting with Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. Well that’s exactly the type of benefit you’ve got as a photographer; you really can learn directly from the best of the best.

Art Wolfe just published a new North American seminar schedule for this spring and summer, where you can learn “The Art of Composition” from a master. Frans Lanting also has several workshops schedules later this year at his Northern California studio, and Steve McCurry has his New York weekend workshop scheduled next for May 27-30th. All of these photographers—and just about every other one of your favorites—publish workshop schedules on their web sites, so don’t hesitate to seek out your favorites and see if they make it easy to learn from them too. Even better, visit the OP Travel and Workshops page to find a robust listing of workshops in one place.





The Next Photoshop

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Internet is ablaze these days with everybody blogging about the newly released preview of Adobe Creative Suite 5. What’s the big deal? It’s all about Photoshop CS 5, and that’s so highly anticipated because of the possible inclusion of one key feature: content-aware fill. This major update on the healing brush should make it possible to select an area of an image—say, a tree in a landscape—and remove it with basically one click. What replaces it? Why, it’s appropriate content from the area around the selection of course. Basically it’s an amped up spot healing brush—but the spot can be huge, and as the Adobe product manager in the sneak peak video explains, they’re making a “much better guess” as to what should fill in the area based on the content of the scene. It’s pretty darn cool and it represents another leap forward in the software. The key is to see for yourself by getting the product in your hands, testing it and playing with it to understand just how powerful it can be. Photoshop CS 5 will be out on April 12th, and while Adobe hasn’t promised this feature will be included, the implication is there.


DIY Rain Protection

Friday, March 26, 2010

I like to think of myself as a bit of a do-it-yourselfer. Normally that manifests itself around the house with painting and fixing and remodeling my home. But that same love for DIY also sneaks into my photo gear from time to time. When I can find a makeshift fix that works almost as well as the store-bought solution, whatever the challenge may be, I’m all about seizing the DIY opportunity and having some fun, while likely saving a few bucks in the process. Such is the case with this tip from DIYPhotography.net—how to turn an old pair of rain pants into weatherproof rain protection for your expensive D-SLR. It’s a fairly straightforward solution that doesn’t even require you to swing a hammer or wield a paint brush. (You might have to sew, though.) It may not offer the 100% protection of a store-bought rain cover, but it’s a good way to save some money and enjoy a do-it-yourself project.


Gigapixel Panorama

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I could spend hours interacting with gigapixel images. You’ve seen them before, I’m sure; they’re the uber-high-res images that can be found online which allow you to pan around a scene (often a densely packed European city from a lofty vantage point) and zoom in to reveal an unbelievable level of detail. (A gigapixel image of Barack Obama’s January 2009 inauguration garnered modest Internet fame, you may recall.) I recently discovered a new one, this time a view of Paris from high atop the tower of Saint Sulpice. Comprised of 2346 individual still images, this 26-gigapixel image is said to be the largest image ever stitched—at least for now. The full-size composited image is almost 80,000 pixels tall and a whopping 355,000 pixels wide. That means from across the city you can zoom in to the distant Eiffel Tower and make out individual people standing on its uppermost deck. I hope soon to see established outdoor photographers utilizing this same technology to create interactive images of our continent’s most iconic landscapes. The grand canyon is calling out for this treatment!


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