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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Focus: March 2010

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Extracting objects out of an image can be one of the more time-consuming tasks to take on in Photoshop. To make the process faster, Digital Film Tools EZ Mask v2 plug-in estimates the transparency value of every pixel in the image based on small samples of the foreground and background, and marks simple strokes on the image. Once the mask is extracted, you can place the foreground object on a new background from within Photoshop. Along with speed and memory upgrades, the app includes a new interactive Refine mode that automatically updates the mask or composite for quick editing. Estimated Street Price: $195. Contact: Digital Film Tools, www.digitalfilmtools.com.
The new UPstrap SG Super Grip series now includes a pad for midweight cameras within a range of 1 to 4 pounds. UPstrap’s nonslip shoulder pad prevents the camera from slipping off your shoulder, relieving you of any neck, back and shoulder stress problems and allowing you to concentrate on shooting. Estimated Street Price: $29 to $49. Contact: UPstrap, Inc., (877) 872-7639, www.upstrap-pro.com.
Archive your photographs with Swiss Picture Bank, a data storage system that allows you to keep images online with unlimited access. Each photo is archived at full resolution in four separate locations for redundancy, where they can be accessed online at any time and downloaded in full resolution. Improved features include a redesigned interface, sharing capabilities and a Desktop Uploader application that lets you drag and drop large volumes of pictures into your account at once. Estimated Street Price: $20 (1 GB); $90 (5 GB); $340 (20 GB); $1,600 (100 GB). Contact: Swiss Picture Bank, (877) 762-6292, www.swisspicturebank.com.
Download your images while still out in the field using the Flashpoint Databank portable hard drive. With capacities of 320 GB and 500 GB, the drive has a transfer rate of up to 5 MB/s and can safely copy 1 GB of data in about 31⁄2 minutes. It’s compatible with all popular memory card formats and supports RAW files. The backlit screen displays remaining drive capacity and battery-charge and data-transfer status. When tethered to your computer, the 500 GB Flashpoint Databank doubles as a memory card reader and backup drive. It’s compatible with Mac and PC computers. Estimated Street Price: $160 (320 GB); $220 (500 GB). Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.

Earth on Fire by Bernhard Edmaier (Phaidon Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-7148-5700-8). This collection of photographs showcases the world’s most dramatic and beautiful volcanic landscapes. Famous volcanoes such as Mount St. Helens, Etna, Kilimanjaro and Krakatoa are just a few of the highlighted sites. The photos are accompanied by concise explanations of key details and events.

Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, Revised Edition
by Brenda Tharp (Amphoto Books, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-8174-3961-3). This popular guide to capturing stronger, more compelling nature photographs has been updated for today’s digital world. With more than 150 new color photographs, Tharp covers basic design principles, creative techniques and tips on creating images with their own personal mark.

The Photographer’s Eye Field Guide: The Essential Handbook for Traveling with Your Digital SLR Camera by Michael Freeman (Focal Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-240-81248-9). This guide takes a hands-on approach to travel photography, offering comprehensive advice on choosing what to photograph and how to do it, coping with challenging lighting conditions, and negotiating customs and security issues.

Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection by Dr. John J. Berger (University of Chicago Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-930-06652-6). With photography taken by Gary Braasch, Daniel Dancer, Bob Herger and Larry Ulrich, this book describes how forest ecosystems operate and why they’re important for biodiversity. Berger argues that preserving forests means managing them according to ecological principles, not short-term economic needs.

Photographing Oregon: A Guide to the Natural Landmarks of Oregon by Greg Vaughn (Graphie Intl., 2009; ISBN: 978-0-916-18918-1). From the rugged coastline to the lush Willamette Valley, through the Columbia River Gorge and over the Cascade Mountains, this book showcases the most photogenic natural locations in Oregon.


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