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Friday, August 1, 2008

In Focus: August 2008

books n such

Face to Face: Rick Sammon’s Complete Guide to Photographing People by Rick Sammon (O’Reilly, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-596-51574-4). The travel and adventure photographer shares his stories from behind the scenes to teach you how to photograph people in low light, bright light, with or without flash and more. Filled with images showing people around the world, the book has advice for shooters of all levels.

Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Ted Floyd (Collins, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-06-112040-4). Learn about more than 750 species of birds, with descriptions of habits and ecology, age-related and seasonal differences, and other characteristics. More than 2,000 color photographs illustrate the book.

Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 for Photographers by Ken McMahon (Focal Press, 2007; ISBN: 978-0-240-52089-6). This instructional guide is packed with a variety of workflow projects, eye-catching images, and several tips and tricks on how to use the software. Learn how to enhance your workflow, organize files and easily share photos.

Botanical Dreaming: Using Photoshop, Your Camera, and Your Heart to Create Inspiring Images by Mark S. Johnson (White Light Publishers, 2007; 978-0-9792551-0-6). Through more than 100 unique flower photographs and useful advice, Johnson shows readers how to use macro photography and Photoshop to create beautiful floral imagery.

The Nature of Britain: A Celebration of our Landscape and Wildlife by Alan Titchmarsh (BBC Books, 2007; ISBN: 0-563-49398-4). Explore eight different British natural habitats, discovering their unique flora and fauna. Each chapter covers a specific area, with photos, descriptions and field notes of the animals and plants living there.

Save time separating complex objects from their backgrounds, such as tree branches with tricky edges, with Fluid Mask 3 from Vertus Tech, a plug-in that helps you produce natural-looking cutouts. Through localized edge detection and blending, the program better isolates a difficult area and applies alternative edge-finding and -blending techniques. A new Save Settings option allows you to easily recall edge detection, blending and resolution options from previous sessions. Processing times also are 40 percent faster. The company’s website offers useful video tutorials and free, live webcast training with a Fluid Mask expert. List Price: $239. Contact: Vertus Tech, (877) 55-VERTUS, www.vertustech.com.

Having a polarizer is essential for great landscape photography. The Hoya HD circular polarizer uses polarizing film with 25-percent higher light transmission than the standard film found in photographic filters. Testing also showed the glass to have four times the breaking strength. With multiple coatings, the number of reflections off the glass surface has been greatly reduced, allowing you to capture more light. The coatings are waterproof, and scratch- and stain-resistant. List Price: TBA. Contact: THK Photo Products, (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.com.

The redesigned Nova AW shoulder bags from Lowepro now come with the company’s trademark All Weather Cover, keeping your gear protected when the weather turns. The bag is available in six sizes to meet the needs of shooters of all levels. The largest model can hold two SLRs with attached lens, plus four to five extra lenses or flash units. A padded top handle, shoulder strap and built-in belt give you plenty of carrying options. Estimated Street Price: $32 to $110. Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.

Back up and synchronize your images quickly and across your entire system with GoodSync. The software automatically syncs data between desktops, laptops and external drives. The program is based on an innovative synchronization algorithm that prevents file deletion and data loss, and eliminates duplicate files. With a variety of automated settings to choose from, you only need to set up your preferences once. The pro version allows an unlimited number of files. List Price: Free (standard); $29 (pro). Contact: Siber Systems, (877) 762-6367, www.goodsync.com.

Especially useful for macro photography, the Ray Flash from ExpoImaging is a portable, lightweight adapter for a hot-shoe flash unit. It replicates the unique lighting effect created by heavy, tethered and powered studio ring-flash units by relying on the hot-shoe flash to generate light and automatically takes advantage of the camera’s TTL metering capabilities. The adapter easily slides over the front of the camera’s flash unit and locks into place for easy, secure use. Weighing just 16 ounces, it contains no electronics, batteries or flash tubes and doesn’t require cables. List Price: $299. Contact: ExpoImaging, (800) 446-5086, www.expoimaging.net.

With a scratch-resistant aluminum shell and shock-resistant rubber bumper, the LaCie Rugged Hard Disk drive can handle the bumps and knocks of life on the road. This is a nice way to store image files while in the field or back at your hotel. Capacity has been boosted to 500 GB, but the drive’s physical size is nearly the same as previous versions, thanks to a state-of-the-art Hitachi Travelstar 5K500, 2.5-inch internal hard disk. It’s available with USB 2.0 connectivity only or with USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 for faster data transfers. List Price: Starts at $299. Contact: LaCie, (503) 844-4500, www.lacie.com.

FotoAlbum Pro 6 offers a great selection of tools to help you manage, edit and share your work. Aside from standard import and organizing functions, you can geotag photos using Google Maps; make manual adjustments to color, contrast and brightness; and create slideshows with custom transitions and background music. Importing is easier with a wizard that speeds up the process, and Quick Edit panels deliver instant access for viewing or changing image properties without wasting screen space. List Price: $39. Contact: FotoTime, (888) 705-0389, www.fototime.com.

Regardless of lighting conditions, the ClearWhite white-balance filter helps you get clean, color-balanced images from the moment of capture. The handcrafted filters are individually dyed and calibrated for use even in tricky indoor lighting. Made from durable, impact-resistant, satin-surface acrylic, the 4x4-inch-square filters are held in front of the lens and pointed at the
main light source when setting your camera’s custom white balance. This is designed to limit the time spent color-correcting later. List Price: $49. Contact: Digital Photography Kits, www.digitalphotographykits.com.


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