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June 2009 Archives

June 3, 2009

Pro Review: Alien Skin Bokeh

By Betsy Finn

Bokeh is a Photoshop plug-in by Alien Skin Software that allows photographers to manipulate focus and depth of field. The plug-in simulates the feel of specific lenses, and allows photographers to apply a range of creative focus options, post capture. Prior to experimenting with my own images, I was skeptical about Bokeh's ability to realistically alter depth of field and render creamy highlights. Based on my evaluation of Bokeh, I can say, I'm officially impressed.


While the Bokeh interface is very intuitive, Alien Skin has provided a detailed series of tutorials on how to utilize the plug-in to its fullest potential. After exploring the video tutorials and case studies online, I had a good understanding of how to use Bokeh.

One of the nice things about the Bokeh plug-in is that you can preview the effect in the plug-in's interface before performing the final render. As I previewed a number of Bokeh's Factory Settings, I was impressed at the variety of choices. Some presets were special effect oriented (e.g. Hollow Heart, Lens of Love), and others are meant to approximate a specific lens (e.g. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, Nikkor 105mm f/2.5). In the example below, I chose the Diamond Delight setting, from the series Blur 20% - Bokeh With Highlight Boost.

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Pro Review: Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 and 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Lenses

By Stan Sholik

With all of the excitement surrounding Nikon's FX (full-frame) digital cameras and associated lenses, new lenses for Nikon's DX (APS-C size) digital cameras can get lost in the mania. That would be unfortunate, because two newly released DX Nikkors deserve attention, not only for their relative affordability, but also for the quality they deliver at their price.


The lenses are the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G and the AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED. Both are designated AF-S, signifying that they incorporate Nikon's Silent Wave Motor compatible with all Nikon digital cameras including the D40 and D60 series bodies. A focus mode switch is incorporated into both lenses, allowing you to touch up the focus manually using the rubberized ring at the front of the lens. The switch can also be set to 'M' for fully manual focusing.

Both are also G-series lenses, meaning they have no aperture ring and are intended for use on digital cameras where the aperture is controlled by the camera's command dial. They share the same type of nicely finished black plastic exterior and metal mount, both incorporate a rubber 'O' ring around the mount to aid in dust shielding, and both show China as their country of manufacture.

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Wedding Workflow with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro

By Kim Larson (Images ©Life Is Art Photography)


In April, Nik Software released an update to Silver Efex Pro, making it compatible with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.3 and higher. The update is available now as a free download to current owners of Silver Efex Pro. We asked photographer Kim Larson to incorporate Silver Efex Pro into her Lightroom workflow and share the details.

My wedding workflow starts the minute I arrive home from a wedding, when I start backing up all of the photographs. Usually backup will take an hour or two, but I cannot sleep peacefully until all the photos are safe! I immediately copy all photos to a drive on my computer that is set to automatically backup to an off-site location every morning at 7:00 a.m. I also burn DVDs of the photos and store them in a file.

As soon as I have all the photos copied, I open Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and begin importing the files. Usually I start this the night of the wedding as well, so the photos will import while I put away my equipment or get ready for bed. I have a default metadata profile set up in Lightroom that applies my copyright information to each imported photo, and I always make sure to apply the proper keywords with the bride and groom’s names and the location of the wedding.

Lightroom is my primary processing application. If I need to fix or enhance a photo, I will edit it in Photoshop while keeping a copy of the edited photo in Lightroom. Likewise, if I apply a black and white tone to the photo with the Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in, I will keep both copies of the photo in Lightroom. The photos that I show my clients are the finals exported from Lightroom.

When I’m ready to start working on the wedding photos, I open them in Lightroom and first go through all of them with a simple Keep or Trash mentality. I’d love to think I don’t have any “bad” photos to throw away, but it happens. So while making sure my caps lock is on, I quickly go through each photo in Lightroom’s Library module, pressing X to flag the photo as a reject and P to flag as a pick and keep it. Having the caps lock on will make Lightroom automatically advance the photos for you, making this process very quick! When finished I will go to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos and actually delete all my rejected photos. I still have all originals stored with the first backup.

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June 12, 2009

Tips for Greener Photography: Mulch Marketing 101

Resources for Greener Promotional Materials


By Thea Dodds and Dawn Tacker

The purpose of all promotional materials is to sell your services and products, and to build your brand. But the methods of marketing have changed drastically with the rising sophistication of electronic media. Are printed materials going the way of the dinosaur? Greening your promotional kit is an opportunity to make your business sell better with less waste and lower costs. Here are some ideas to green your marketing efforts.

Shades of Green

Your promotional strategy should comprise a variety of marketing materials aimed at your target audience. It is rare that one promotional piece alone will be enough of a call to action to turn a window shopper into a client. You have to hit your target market from different angles through different types of media. This article will focus on electronic and printed promotional materials, and we’ll have future Greener Photography articles on other types of promotional materials. Each of the marketing methods here is an opportunity to choose greener marketing materials and brand yourself as an earth-friendly photographer.

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June 15, 2009

Pro Review: Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II

By Mark Levesque, CPP

Canon’s penchant for refining existing models rather than develop replacements from the ground up goes not only for their cameras, but also for their printers. The Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II is one of the latest examples. This wide-format printer builds on the original Pro9500’s success, with a 10 cartridge LUCIA pigment ink set, and the ability to print borderless 13 x 19 prints on a variety of media. The Mark II utilizes the Canon Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering (FINE) technology along with a sophisticated 7,680-nozzle print-head structure to output extraordinary detail and quality. New with the Mark II are features like the ability to print 16-bit files, and Ambient Light Correction featuring Kyuanos technology, which allows the user to specify the lighting situation a particular print will be subjected to prompting the printer to adjust colors accordingly to compensate.

The Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II is designed to fulfill photographers’ demands and uses a multiplicity of ink colors to achieve wide-gamut color printing as well as smooth tonal gradations on black-and-white printing on both matte and glossy papers. Impressively, there is no need to swap ink tanks as required with some competitive printers aimed at the same market segment. The superiority of this arrangement is obvious, but as a practical matter, it saves both time and ink, especially if you frequently alternate between printing on matte and photo papers.

This is a serious desktop printer, and it requires a significant space commitment (7.5" H 26" W 14" D with trays up; 14" H 26" W 36" D with trays extended). In addition to the size of the printer itself, consideration must be given to the space requirements both in front of and behind the printer to accommodate art papers, which are fed in through the front and pulled through the back of the printer before printing starts. The benefit of feeding the paper through this way is that it does not get bent at all, which preserves the coating, but a 13x19-inch Super B sheet extends significantly out the back of the printer to accomplish this, requiring some careful consideration about printer placement.



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June 16, 2009

Review: Hahnemuhle Gallerie Wrap System

By Theano Nikitas

Gallery wraps are gaining in popularity with the general public as evidenced by more than a few online sites offering wrap services for consumers. The do-it-yourself photo and canvas versions from Hahnemuhle were introduced last fall and offer a relatively simple and cost-effective method of wrapping photo canvas.

Hahnemuhle offers three options for gallery wraps: Gallerie Photo Wrap, a simple, all-in-one option, as well as Standard and Pro Gallerie Wrap systems. The former is available in two set sizes: 8 ½ x 11 and 13 x 19 inches, with finished sizes of 6 x 8 and 10 x 16, respectively. The latter two offer more versatility since wrap bars are available in boxes of 20 in lengths from 8-24 inches (Standard) and boxes of 8 at 8-60 inches (Pro). Each type requires corner positioners, corner braces, pins and archival glue. Center braces are available for the Pro versions.


As someone who always had problems stretching canvas for art class, I thought I would be the perfect test case to try out the Hahnemuhle Gallerie Wrap. Using the Standard sizes, I opted for an 8 x 12 set-up to wrap a vertical shot of a grey Heron printed on Hahnemuhle’s Monet canvas.

Click any image for larger view. Images ©Theano Nikitas

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June 19, 2009

Pro Review: onOne DSLR Camera Remote for iPhone and iPod Touch

By Jack Reznicki, Cr.Photog.Hon.M.Photog., API

Don’t you just love it when software does what you want it to do, even goes beyond your expectations, and is relatively inexpensive? The new remote DSLR app by onOne Software for the iPhone and the iPod Touch is just that. A $19.99 app that lets you not only fire and control the settings on your Canon EOS camera (and very soon your Nikon) remotely but is also simple and elegant, with some neat surprises. Like an easy to use intervalometer. 

If you don’t want the extras, you can even get a simple version that fires your camera and reviews the images, for $1.99. Yes folks, no typo, just under 2 bucks.

You do need to have your camera tethered to a WiFi enabled laptop or even a small net top computer via USB cable for it to work. Once that’s done, you are set up on a private network connection directly to your camera. You pay for and download the app from the iTunes App Store, load it to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Then download and install the free DSLR Camera Remote Server software from the onOne website onto your computer, and off you go. Just remember to turn off your camera connection software, Canon Utility in my case, or the app will read “busy” when you go to connect. I was amazed and pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to install and have it running. None of the usual hair pulling.


On a recent shoot for the Toys R Us Special Needs Catalog, I set up a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at the ceiling of my studio to capture a bird’s eye view of my shoot. While the camera was tethered, I was not. I could go anywhere and either take a photo and see it come up on my handheld iPod Touch, or I could set it quickly to Live View and get a real time motion view of what the camera saw. I could watch from my office, which assistant was working and which was napping. At any point, I could hit the “fire” button and take a photo. Too dark? Wrong white balance setting? Well, at a touch on my iPod Touch I could change the exposure, the white balance, the shooting mode from manual to automatic, change the EV, the ISO, even the color space. No need to pull out a ladder and contort my head to look at the camera settings. Or worry about how it might look later, as I can see it as it captures. Think of the great possibilities of shooting from remote. Like photographing from a bird blind, self-portraits, interacting with a child on set or shooting from hard to be at places, like behind a basketball backboard.

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June 24, 2009

Review: Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM

The “all you can eat” lens!


By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

What kind of genie would you need to call if you wanted a lens that is reasonably priced, has fantastic zoom range, and is super fast? We’ll let you know when we find one, but in the meantime, if you’ll settle for two out of three, Sigma offers the new 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens for an MSRP of $800.

On my Canon DSLR (with a 1.6X lens factor) its 13.8X zoom ratio translates to a 29-400mm equivalent! Combine that zoom ratio with optical stabilization, macro capability, an MSRP of $800, and you have a lot of lens for the money.

I must admit that when first asked to do this review I was skeptical about a lens in which the manufacturer was trying to do so much in one package. There have to be compromises to balance zoom range, speed and cost, but Sigma has done a great job combining features in the 18-250mm.

The first thing that I noticed was the weight, which, at around 22 ounces, has a substantial feel and heft of quality to it. Even though the lens has that feel, the overall size is not that big. When set at 18mm, the overall size is 3.1x 4 inches long (excluding lens hood). When zoomed to 250mm, the overall length increases to about 7 inches. The markings are white against a black body, so they stand out and are easy to read. Sigma eliminates an additional expense for the user by including a lens hood designed specifically for this lens.

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June 25, 2009

Video: Lightroom with Silver Efex Pro Workflow Demo

Earlier this month, Kim Larson wrote about her wedding workflow and how she uses Nik Silver Efex Pro with Adobe Lightroom. Here she provides a screencast to demonstrate how the two applications work together.

Thumbnail image for 200906we_larsonsilverfx.jpg

Pro Review: Alien Skin Snap Art 2

By Betsy Finn


Alien Skin’s Snap Art 2 is a natural artistic plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that allows you to choose from different media and to perform limitless combinations and adjustments.

My college art training regimen included painting, drawing, and art history, so I was excited to see how closely Snap Art 2 could approximate different visual media techniques. Snap Art 2 offers a number of basic starting points: color pencil, comics, impasto, oil paint, pastel, pen + ink, pencil sketch, pointillism, stylize, and watercolor.

The Snap Art 2 interface includes options containing a variety of Abstract (low realism), Landscape (moderate realism), and Portrait (most realism) settings. I selected the “Color Comics – Large Feature Size” and added a focus region to retain detail in the cat’s face. Before applying the filter, I made sure to save my modifications as a new custom setting.


The comparison below shows several of my favorite media selections. I’ve enlarged the comic version so you can see the shading detail. The watercolor media setting, when set to abstract (with a focus region), was one of my favorites in the series (also see detail comparisons).


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June 29, 2009

Supplement: Noise-reduction Software Image Examples

By Diane Berkenfeld

Sometimes though, you have to push the ISO capability of the camera or shoot with less light than you’d like. That’s where noise reduction software comes in. Adobe Photoshop has a noise reduction feature, but it's not as robust as the plug-ins and standalone applications whose primary function is to reduce noise. Most raw conversion software also incorporates noise reduction, which works well for raw file shooters.


These comparison examples from Nik Software Dfine 2.0, Imagenomic Noiseware 4.0, and Picture Code Noise Ninja supplement that article from the July issue of Professional Photographer magazine. All images ©Diane Berkenfeld.

This original (left) was captured with an Olympus E-20 at ISO 160. Click for larger view.

Click through for 100% detail image comparisons.

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About June 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in June 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2009 is the previous archive.

July 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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