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August 2010 Archives

August 2, 2010

Review: Unified Color HDR Expose

By Stan Sholik

Photographers actively involved in high dynamic range (HDR) imaging often use different HDR programs for different images since each program has its own algorithm for tone mapping the multiple exposures into an image. Many of these programs are complex and non-intuitive and don’t accurately portray the final image until processing is complete.


HDR PhotoStudio from Unified Color Technologies, LLC, was different, offering a more intuitive and user-friendly approach. Unified Color has replaced that program with a much-improved one, HDR Expose, which is suitable for HDR beginners and advanced users alike.

The user interface in Expose has undergone major revisions from the PhotoStudio version, and all for the better. It now boasts the visual styling of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture and other imaging programs, although the keyboard shortcuts are generally different. HDR Expose allows the export of source images from Lightroom and Aperture directly to the program. And when you have completed your HDR composite, Expose exports the image back to whichever program you used to send them for processing.

But the biggest change and the greatest improvement lies in the addition of a Brightness Histogram at the top of the Tool Panel. The Brightness Histogram displays not only the tonal distribution of the entire 32-bit image, but also, with a lighter toned gray region, the section of the curve that will display in the final image.


This is the final result of combining five exposures in HDR Expose and going for a “natural” look. The exposures were bracketed one stop apart. No exposure even came close to having the balance of foreground and sky exposure that is present in this final image. ©Stan Sholik

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Review: "Inside Contemporary Children's Photography"

By Marianne Drenthe

Educational materials for children’s photographers are a common sight these days and with good reason … there seems to be big business in showcasing the in’s and out’s of this specialty in photography. With so many photographers opening up shop, an equal number of established pros are getting in on the teaching game. It can be tough to know where to turn for good, solid, usable information.

I’ve seen some good, some bad (ok, awful) and some overpriced educational materials. I have heard horror stories about poorly produced DVDs and instructional materials. I admit I may be particularly picky as I do some teaching as well, and I'm particular when it comes to my business and the art and skill involved with photographing children. When you adheres to stringent rules about your own work and what you produce, you tend to be equally hard on others.


“Inside Contemporary Children's Photography” with Tamara Lackey displays impressive quality. Once you begin, you are immediately sucked into Tamara’s world. Her speaking style is effervescent, friendly and instructional. This DVD is unique, in my opinion, because it’s filmed in an infomercial-like style; it’s the very why of how this DVD pulls you in and keeps you watching. Who can resist a good infomercial? Not me!

Though I was a bit leery to review a photo-education DVD because there’s so much out there that falls short, I’ve only heard good things about Tamara Lackey’s presentations, so I was excited to see what she had to share. Being confident in my own business and experience children’s photography, I was doubtful that I’d get anything new out of watching it. On this point, I was wrong because she gave some great tips.

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August 13, 2010

Review: Sigma APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG HSM Lens

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP 

The new Sigma APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens with its 10X zoom range is one impressive lens. Sigma pitches this lens as the “all-in-one” dream lens, especially for nature photographers. It’s also suitable for landscape photography and has enough zoom for photographing wildlife. I have to agree with Sigma.



This lens is designed for full-frame DSLRs, but also functions with cameras with APSC- size sensors. Using the 50mm setting (a 35mm focal-length equivalent to 80mm on my Canon 40D), I photographed a nuthatch in a tree (Figure 1). As you would expect, it’s tough to even find the bird in the image. Zooming to the telephoto end of the range, 500mm (the equivalent of 800mm on my Canon 40D), I was able to capture the nuthatch in great detail (Figure 2).

201009we_sigma_Don_8167.jpgFigure 1. ©Don Chick


Figure 2. ©Don Chick

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August 20, 2010

Top Safety Tips for Protecting Digital Image Files

By Chris Bross, Data Recovery Engineer for DriveSavers

With the advent of digital photography and flash memory, a whole new set of potential problems has evolved for photographers. DriveSavers Data Recovery Engineer, Chris Bross, has assembled the following list of tips for how to handle flash memory cards properly and help prevent potential loss of precious photographs.

BACK UP YOUR IMAGES! Protect yourself and your irreplaceable images by backing up onto CD/DVDs, tapes, online storage or an external hard drive. This will help guard against data loss when (not if) your hard drive crashes unexpectedly.

TRANSFER YOUR PHOTOS. Copy the image files from the camera’s flash memory to a computer’s hard drive a soon as you can. We recommend not deleting images or reformatting the memory card while it is still in the camera. Wait until all photos are transferred and verified.

FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. Take care when removing flash memory from the camera or card reader. Avoid deleting or corrupting images by using the eject command on the computer or moving the card icon from the desktop to the trash/recycle bin before physically removing the card.

VERIFY THE TRANSFER. Open the images on the hard drive before reformatting the card.

MAKE MORE THAN ONE COPY. Back up your backup media and keep a duplicate offsite in a secure location.

PROTECT YOUR FLASH MEMORY CARDS. Use the plastic holder when carrying them around. Simple static buildup can zap the card and make it unreadable. There are other dangers as well, such as breaking a card in our pocket or putting the card, along with your clothing, in the wash.

REPLACE YOUR FLASH MEMORY CARDS. Typically, flash memory cards can be used about 1,000 times before they start to wear out.

AVOID EXTREME TEMPERATURES. Heat, cold and humidity can wreak havoc with digital equipment, especially flash memory.




August 31, 2010

Our Favorite Workflow Websites (September Issue Supplement)

When you want to discover new shortcuts and ways to make your workflow solid and secure, these are some great online resources.

• dpbestflow.org

• thedambook.com/blog

• tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom

• blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal

• tv.adobe.com/channel/photography/photo-management

• ononesoftware.com/university/category/workflow

• photoshelter.com/learn

About August 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in August 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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