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January 2011 Archives

January 3, 2011

Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5

The following article includes additional content from Fay Sirkis that had to be edited for length in the January issue of Professional Photographer.

Fay Sirkis presents “The Art of Portrait Painting” at Imaging USA in San Antonio, January 16-18.

A picture's worth a thousand words, a painting is worth so much more!

There is no better way to capture the essence of a person than from photos of the subject, and there is no better way to portray a subject than through a beautiful painting.

From the beginning of art history, there has been a universal fascination with the representation of the human face. Many of the greatest and most endearing works of art ever created are portrait paintings!

When people refer to the history of art, they often mean the history of portrait painting. Many of the most famous paintings by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas and John Singer Sargent, were portraits.


Digital artists face two main challenges in trying to simulate traditional art.

1. Achieving the blending of different colors of paint so that in the fine shading it produces soft transitions between colors and tones.

2. Having the brushstrokes look as realistic and as close as possible to traditional brushstrokes, no matter the medium.

In CS5, Photoshop has overcome both of these challenges in a very big way. With the new Bristle brushes and Mixer Brush, backed up by a powerful new painting engine, photo painting has never been as much fun and as accessible as it is now.

What is Photo Painting?

Photo painting, is a simulation of the painting workflow, tools and brushes, based on the traditional painting styles of the Old Masters and the lessons that we learned from art history.

For centuries, artists have been using the photograph as a reference for their paintings, and the camera or some form of lens to capture their image. Photo art, referred to today as photo painting, was and always will be a sought after art form, only accomplished differently at different times, according to what was available at the specific time period. With the introduction of new painting tools in CS5, it is possible to transform photographs into many different styles of art!

Using Photoshop to transform your photos into paintings is similar to how the Old Masters used the camera obscura, or to Norman Rockwell's technique, hundreds of years later. He used the photograph as a painting reference that enabled him to paint with such amazing detail. Using a balopticon, Rockwell would project a photograph of his subject onto a large sheet of canvas, then trace it in great detail, after it was all sketched out, he would begin adding in his paints, and that is how he created his masterpieces!

If you look back and study the art history of the Old Masters, you will see that nothing has changed, and yet everything has. One thing is for sure, we have not reinvented the wheel! Art today is the same as it was hundreds of years ago … we just use the tools available to us today to create it.

Continue reading "Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5" »

Review: Nikon D7000's Video Capabilities

By Ron Dawson

In the fall of 2008, the world of professional photography was introduced to the world of professional video in a way that it never had been before. Nikon released the very first DSLR capable of shooting high definition video, the D90. It was a camera that had the potential to revolutionize the pro photo world. There was one problem: a pre-production camera in the works by another little Japanese company by the name of Canon. That camera was the EOS 5D Mark II. There was also this award-winning photojournalist by the name of Vincent Laforet who was in the right place at the right time and got access to the aforementioned pre-produciton camera. Vincent spent $5,000 of his own money to make a short film called “Reverie.” From that moment on, Canon was the hands down winner in the video DSLR world, a full six months before the camera would even be available for purchase. Today the 5D is synonymous with video DSLR filmmaking. So much so that there are video forums about DSLR filmmaking named after the 5D (e.g. Planet5D.com, cinema5D.com, and 5DFilmmaking.com).

So what went wrong? Why didn’t the D90 become the defacto winner despite the fact that it was out first, and had the backing and video work of another well-known, heavily followed photographer by the name of Chase Jarvis? I think the most commonly accepted answer is twofold. First, the D90 used an inferior video compression scheme (Motion JPEG vs. Apple’s h.264). Second, and perhaps even a bigger deal, it only shot 1,280x720p, as opposed to full sized HD at 1,920x1,080p.


Since the release of the 5D Mark II, Canon has come out with four more amazing video-capable DSLRs—the 1D Mark IV, the 7D, the 550D/T2i and now the 60D). People have wondered what Nikon would do to play catch-up. Nikon has finally answered that call and released the Nikon D7000: a mid-level prosumer camera that finally shoots 1080p and uses the h.264 codec. But is it enough to give the Canon line of video DSLRs a run for their money? Let’s see.

Continue reading "Review: Nikon D7000's Video Capabilities" »

January 4, 2011

Two Paths to Retouching

By Stan Sholik

Is portrait retouching software worth the investment or should you stick with what you have? We compared the process, advantages and limitations, comparing Anthropics Portrait Professional and Adobe Photoshop CS5 (and a subsequent comparison using Craig's Actions).

Portrait retouching is far more art than science. Even with a firm intent in your mind for the final form of a project, there are many paths to that end. This article will explore two popular portrait retouching paths, Anthropics Portrait Professional v9 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. I hope when we are finished that you will see the advantages and disadvantages of each technique and maybe learn a few tricks along the way.

The image I have chosen is a capture I made in the studio of a high school student. She’s a California girl with freckles and skin issues that will make the retouching interesting. My intent is not to produce a poreless high-fashion portrait, but rather one that is faithful to reality while minimizing any skin issues. Admittedly, once I was into it, I did take liberties to tweak reality. My goal was to complete the retouching using Portrait Professional and Photoshop in the same amount of time, though I doubted it could be done. I’ll start with Portrait Professional.


But before we get started I want to have the original image correctly color balanced. I had the model hold an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for one of the captures (above, click image for large view). After importing the RAW files into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I used the eyedropper to select a neutral balance with one of the gray patches. Then using the exposure slider I adjusted the lightest patch (red circle) to 95%/95%/95% and the darkest patch (blue circle) to 10%/10%/10%. But neutral color balance is always too cool for a portrait in my opinion, so I selected the eyedropper again and clicked on one of the warming patches (orange circle) for my final color balance. I then processed the portrait to an 8-bit RGB TIFF.



Continue reading "Two Paths to Retouching" »

Review: Eye-Fi Pro X2

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

Wireless downloading from your digital camera to computer for under $150 sounds unimaginable, right? Then you haven’t seen the Eye-Fi Pro X2 (SDHC) card. This card, which has the transmitter device built in will enable you to connect to your wireless network and do just that—download from your digital camera directly to your computer! There are limitations, however, as the card will not work using a CF adaptor in a camera that has only CompactFlash (CF) slots.




I recently had the opportunity to check out the Eye-Fi Pro X2 card in a Canon G11 and was quite impressed with the speed and ease of use. After following a few simple directions for installing the software on my laptop, I was ready to connect to my wireless network. When prompted during the installation, I provided the network information and password and it connected. I then inserted the card into the G11 and began taking pictures. As long as the camera was on and within range of the laptop it would automatically download the images to a user-specified directory. I did have to lengthen the standby time setting on the camera so that the camera wouldn’t go to “sleep” before completing a download. It was simply amazing that the transfer occurred whenever there were images on the camera that hadn’t been downloaded and the camera was on!

Eye-Fi has several models of media cards that are compatible with many makes and models of compact cameras. The best thing to do is check their website for compatibility. If you don't capture raw files, or you can use the card in a second media slot to which you save only jpg files, then you may be able to use a model other than the Pro X2 version and save some money. If, however, you want to transfer raw files, then you’ll need the Pro X2 as it is the only card that will transfer raw files.You may also want to keep a spare charged battery on hand because extended use may affect the battery life. While I didn’t test the range limit of the card, the company publishes that indoors the card should have range of approximately 45 feet, with a 90 foot range outside.

If your camera has an SD slot, check out the Eye-Fi website for compatibility. It’s possible that you could be shooting and downloading wirelessly in the very near future!

Editor's note: Eye-Fi announced their new Direct Mode on Jan. 4, which enables users to send their digital images directly to a smart phone or tablet using the card and a free Eye-Fi app. Look for a review of this new technology in an upcoming post here in Web Exclusives.

Taking Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)

By Marianne Drenthe

Part I

You probably already know what the current state of affairs in professional photography is today. The pioneers of the most recent “natural light” revolution are coming to realize that we’ve made it look too easy, too effortless, too fun. If I look, it takes me less than a quick two minute Google search to discover one, 10 or 20 new local pro photographers I didn’t know existed just a few months ago.

That slew of new pros is a mixed bag filled with the good, bad and ugly. On their websites there’s a range of lackluster to good photos mixed with content “borrowed” from other photographers, all presented using relatively easy-to-build and cheap-to-obtain template sites. The result is that in any local area, the bulk of photographers look interchangeable with price being the differentiating factor. A relatively low cost of entry to the profession coupled with the delusion that it’s easy to be a professional photographer has resulted in an industry-wide “it’s easy” sort of mentality. Established pros know that business of photography is in fact, not easy. Balancing the effort behind being an artist, technician, business owner and marketing strategist to make a profit and stay afloat is a tightrope walk without a net.

So what is it that sets me apart from everyone else? Is it my client testimonials? Is it my look? Is it (insert any number of things here)? I know that I am more than the sum of my location, my style, my website, my ideas for posing and clothing choices. I know it’s none of those things; what sets me apart, in many ways, are a number of things that are not quantifiable. Logo, location, shooting style—all are fairly easy for others to imitate and not the key to elevating me and my business.

So how can you take it up a notch, to take your experience, education and knowledge and translate it into something tangible? How do I take those things that make me better and more qualified than the rest and turn them into something that a potential client can understand? The answer is much easier than I thought it would be.

Continue reading "Taking Steps to Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)" »

IUSA: San Antonio Restaurant Recommendations

Professional Photographer used our Facebook page to ask photographers to share a favorite restaurant and tell us what city it's in. We collected all the San Antonio restaurant recommendations for our Imaging USA attendees, and here are the results!

Erik Almquist: I love the Brazillian steakhouses, so I recommend Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse.

Teri Quance: Rosario's

Michael Kent: When in San Antonio check out the Fig Tree Restaurant. It’s on the Riverwalk everything is wonderful!

Mike Rom: Tower of the Americas, Chart House

Crystal Maldonado: Well I'm not from San Antonio, however I go every year. My parents used to take us as kids to Casa Rio. It was just beautiful and delicious. Eating Mexican Food is a must when we go to San Antonio. You can find great authentic Mexican Cuisine at the smaller places as well.

Evangeline Dean: Godai Sushi ;)

Christy Martin Tsiantos: Boudro’s -- Great restaurant in San Antonio!!!! Yum and great location!

Gina Acord Davison: I live in San Antonio. We are blessed with a bounty of yummy restaurants, not just along the riverwalk, LOL! There is Rosario's and Mad Hatter's in Southtown, several new restaurants in the Pearl Brewery complex, Coco's, Wildfish, Big'z Burger Joint in the Stone Oak area. Just the tip of the iceberg!

Jenny and Tony Blair: Boudro's on the Riverwalk!

Dave Wilkinson: Mi Tierra

Cheryl Williams: The County Line (on the Riverwalk)

Karl D. Schubert: Rita’s on the River is a favorite of mine there.

Marianne Sedacki-Drenthe: My San Antonio favorite, which we discovered a few years back while at Imaging is Rio Rio Cantina.

Kristy Isaacson: My husband and I call San Antonio our second home, we love to eat at Landry’s Seafood on the canal. Such great food and a great atmosphere.

Jan Dickson: Casa Rio Restaurant — The best view on the Riverwalk

Jodie Cowan: Alamo Cafe is our all time favorite! They are known for their chicken fried steak, but we usually go for shrimp fajitas. Ooh and the best tortillas!  

Randy Barker: When I get to San Antonio, I never miss going to Mi Tierra Cafe.  

Daniel White: Rocky's Taco House, just off Lackland AFB in San Antonio. The food is really good. They really know how to take care of EMS disaster response teams who are part of a Hurricane response.

Dan Smith: Taco Cabana for cheap, fast breakfast tacos. Also Bill Miller BBQ in for fast, cheap but good bbq brisket. Both are a must if you’re visiting SA and just want an inexpensive, fast meal. (Neither is culinary excellence, but a good Texas-only fast food experience.)

Jake Jaggears: Have to suggest Bill Miller BBQ!

Deanna Ridgway: Dick’s Last Resort on the Riverwalk! I even have pictures having the napkin tied around my neck and a glass from there. :)

Virginia Parker: Koreana Restaurant

Thank you to all the photographers who shared their favorite spots! To brows the rest of the more than 500 recommendations, look through the comments on this post.



January 31, 2011

Setting Up a Color-managed Workflow with the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Printer

By David Saffir

You’ll get the best image quality from your inkjet printer using a color-managed workflow. This includes a calibrated and profiled display, correct software setup, and image-editing software that can handle application-managed color when printing. (In this article I’m referring to color, RGB-oriented workflow.)

This might sound like a lot of work, but once you get your color locked down and you’ve had a chance to practice a bit, you’ll find that color managed workflow requires little time in execution. And the results are worth it!

I have been working with a demo unit of the new Epson Stylus Pro 4900 printer at the Santa Clarita Valley Center for Photography near Los Angeles, and so far it has been a positive experience.


Out of the box, setup is logical and relatively easy. Image quality on photographic-style and fine-art media, in color and black and white, has been very good. Paper handling has improved from earlier models; the roll paper feeder, paper tray, the upper single sheet feeder, and the lower single sheet feeder all work well. The roll feeder accepts both 2- and 3-inch cores. The Stylus Pro 4900 can handle cut sheet media up to 17x22, and 1.5mm thickness.

The Stylus Pro 4900 has eleven 200ml ink cartridges using the Epson UltraChrome HDR Ink; this includes both photo and matte black. A switch from photo black to matte black ink requires the operator to push a button on the printer control panel. Switching takes a couple of minutes, and seems to use a small amount of ink.

The instructions regarding the hands-on operation of the printer are straightforward and clearly illustrated. Overall, a flexible, pro-level machine.

Continue reading "Setting Up a Color-managed Workflow with the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Printer" »

Review: Superfocus, One Pair of Glasses for All Prescriptions

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

Images ©Don Chick

Imagine one pair of glasses that enabled you to eliminate every other pair of glasses you own! One pair that lets you see through the entire lens, not just a slice on the bottom or a slice in the middle, but the entire lens in the prescription you need at that moment. Enter Superfocus, the glasses that have a revolutionary lens design incorporating every prescription you need into one adjustable lens. With the Superfocus design the entire lens is clear, not just a portion of it.

The magic behind this amazing lens design is accomplished via a liquid sandwiched inside the lens. The wearer makes adjustments with a tiny slider built into the connecting piece over the bridge of the nose (below). By moving this slider to one side or the other, you adjust the lenses to match your prescription to whatever you need at that moment. For example, when I need to focus up close to read, I adjust the slider to the right until my subject is in perfect focus. If I then want to see something in the distance, I adjust the slider to the left and I have perfect focus for subjects far away.


The Superfocus lenses can incorporate a range of prescriptions because the lens is actually made up of several key components. Your distance prescription is in a removable lens on the front, held on with a set of powerful magnets. Removing this front lens exposes a transparent distensible membrane that, along with the rear lens, actually holds an optically clear liquid inside the chamber. The adjustment of the slider serves to compress the back lens into the liquid which changes the magnification and enables you to see clearly at different distances.

In a conversation with company CEO Adrian Koppes, I was told that idea of using a flexible membrane and a liquid to achieve a range of prescriptions from a single pair of glasses is actually over one hundred years old. The current Superfocus glasses are actually the 14th generation in the making and 20 years in development. It has taken a lot of research and prototypes to make this design commercially available.

Continue reading "Review: Superfocus, One Pair of Glasses for All Prescriptions" »

Review: Photodex ProShow Web

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

Photodex, the creator of ProShow Gold and Proshow Producer, has released a new option for photographers wanting to create custom slideshows—ProShow Web. A subscription-based service, ProShow Web allows you to pick a slideshow theme, upload your content (both photo and video), choose music (or upload your own), and even watermark your slideshow.


In order to use ProShow Web, the first thing you have to do is create an account. There are free and paid user options. In brief, the free account allows you to create mini-slideshows, while the paid options offer more features, flexibility, and download options. Once you have an account, it’s really easy to make your first slideshow. Clicking on the Create button will take you to the slideshow creation interface. There are five tabs: Theme, Imagery, Music, Details, and Watch.

In the Theme tab, you’ll get to select the style of slideshow you’d like to create. There are almost 40 different themes to choose from, and they range from classic and simple to wedding and baby themed designs.


The next step is at the Imagery tab, where you’ll upload your images and even videos. You can also add text frames if you'd like. Once your content has been uploaded, you can drag and drop to rearrange, shuffle all slides, or even create duplicate slides. During this step, you can add optional special effects to various images in your show. Just click on the Creative Palette to display a variety of effects you can drag and drop on a particular slide.


Continue reading "Review: Photodex ProShow Web" »

About January 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in January 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2010 is the previous archive.

February 2011 is the next archive.

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

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