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March 2011 Archives

March 2, 2011

Pro Review: Kubota Creative Tools Lensbaby Pak

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

The Kubota Creative Tools Lensbaby Pak, a set of Actions for Photoshop offered by Kubota Image Tools, offers photographers an easy way to enhance images created with the Lensbaby lens system. The effects were designed by Kevin Kubota specifically to complement the soft focus effects captured by various Lensbaby Optics.

The Lensbaby Pak comes with 15 different actions, or effects, that you can apply to your images. You’ll also get Kubota Dashboard 3, a floating toolbar palette that makes it extremely simple to select and apply various action effects. The palette features a search bar that allows you to quickly find your actions (particularly helpful if you own more than one Kubota Action Pak).

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The Kubota Action Paks make adding and removing filters very simple. Rather than running the action on your base layer in Photoshop, it creates a new layer (usually an adjustment layer) for each action or filter that you choose to apply. Then you can fade out the opacity at will, or even remove a particular effect from the image entirely, just by deleting the layer. I appreciated this design feature, as I am all for non-destructive image editing.

While not a Lensbaby lens owner myself, I was able to get my hands on a few lenses long enough to create some test images for this review. I started out by creating a few images using the soft focus lens, and then with the fisheye lens.

For this first image, I just applied one action: Fisheye Lens - Spectacle. In the before/after comparison, you’ll see that the action added nice contrast, and the image gained overall sharpness, but it does not do any favors for close-up skin tones and texture.

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Continue reading "Pro Review: Kubota Creative Tools Lensbaby Pak" »

March 7, 2011

Pro Review: Rogue FlashBenders

By Allison Earnest

I’m a huge fan of small speedlights. Used properly with the right light modifier, speedlights rival most traditional studio lights. I spent almost two years testing virtually every small hot shoe flash modifier on the market for my second book, “Light Modifiers: A Digital Guide to Sculpting with Light” (Amherst Media), so I looked forward to testing the new ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBenders, which promised to be a groundbreaking innovation.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find the Rogue kit comes with three FlashBender modifiers, small, medium and large. I typically use at least three Nikon Speedlights for location portraits, so that’s a big plus for me. These little gems have several unique features:

• A convenient built-in strap that fits around the hot shoe flash eliminates the need for auxiliary Velcro. That’s a benefit: Like many photographers, I’ve been living with permanently affixed Velcro on my flashes and other modifiers won’t fit over it.
• The repositionable internal rods allow you to shape the modifier to create the desired lighting pattern.
• The modifiers are both durable and flexible, and lie flat for easy storage. The Velcro strap won’t stick to the side of your camera case, either. 

I put the Rogue FlashBenders to the test in three separate location shoots. You can see the results in the images here, which I captured with a Nikon D300 or D700 with professional Nikkor lenses and Nikon SB800 and SB900 Speedlights. I’m old-school, so I use Photoshop only minimally—the light should speak for itself.

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Shooting headshots for an aspiring Los Angeles model, Vance Garcia, proved to be an ideal test for the Rogue. The setting was a shaded area next to a graffiti-covered metal wall, with little reflective light or contrast. The main illumination, placed camera right, was an off-camera Nikon Speedlight with the small FlashBender. I shaped the large FlashBender modifier to mimic a snoot, and placed it behind the model, creating nice texture on the wall and separating the subject from the background. I used the sparse reflective ambient light as edge light on the model’s right cheek, and controlled it with my shutter speed. The FlashBender modification of the speedlights produced a bright light quality and with great color rendition (above).

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March 8, 2011

Pro Review: Capture One PRO 6

By Stan Sholik

With the release of Capture One 6, Phase One continues to add value to the software for commercial, portrait and wedding photographers, while adding a new feature for architectural photographers.

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Like earlier releases, Capture One 6 (C1-6) comes in three versions: Capture One Express 6, DB 6 and PRO 6. Express 6 is the basic version, with only the essential raw processing and image adjustment tools. DB 6 is for digital camera backs from Phase One, Mamiya and Leaf. The PRO 6 version integrates a full-featured raw file converter with image editing, browsing and output features.

Besides the wealth of new features, all of these new versions share several operational upgrades. The software is now a native 64-bit application for both Mac and Windows computers, and 32-bit Windows operating systems as well. The OpenCL/GPU acceleration feature transfers some of the image processing from the CPU to a compatible graphics card, allowing additional features such as a new full-screen mode. These upgrades result in a noticeable boost of speed, plus access to additional RAM to process large image files.

Here, we’ll concentrate on the other major changes in the PRO version that relate to professional photographers. Some of them are unavailable in the other versions; for a comparison of the features in the Pro and Express programs, go to phaseone.com/comparison.

Architectural photographers are a principal beneficiary of the new keystone correction feature (below). You can make the processing semi-automatic by selecting the keystone correction icon from the Tools menu and adjusting the overlay lines. You can also access the tool for semi-automatic or manual correction in the Crop tab.

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In semi-automatic mode, the verticals are taken 80 percent of the way to perfectly vertical; Phase One finds that this slight under-correction is more natural than a full 100-percent correction. The results look good to me. You can correct vertical keystoning, horizontal convergence or both by selecting the appropriate keystone correction tool.

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Keystone correction is a simple matter of aligning guides with the principal lines of the subject then clicking the Apply button in the center of the screen. The resulting image refreshes with a suggested crop. The correction is available for horizontal as well as vertical keystoning and for a combination of both. ©Stan Sholik

All users will benefit from other new features, including non-destructive local adjustments, black-and-white conversion plus toning, sophisticated token-based image naming, the Capture Pilot iPod/iPad app, and more.

Continue reading "Pro Review: Capture One PRO 6" »

March 9, 2011

Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop April 4-10

World Class Sports Illustrated Photographer and headliner at the 2011 SEPCON Peter Read Miller will conduct his annual Sports Photography Workshop in Denver, Colorado on April 4-10, 2011. The workshop, now in its 7th year and limited to only 25 attendees, will provide a personal and hands-on approach to teaching a variety of shooting and lighting techniques that have helped Miller’s photos grace more than 100 Sport Illustrated covers. Workshop participants will have an opportunity to apply their new skills to live sporting events throughout the weeklong workshop. Photographers interested in learning more about the workshop or registering to attend can visit Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop.

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Attendees will receive additional instruction from other industry notables including Steve Fine, Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated, Grant Leighton, advertising / portrait photographer and instructor at U. of Colorado (Denver), photographer / videographer Max Morse, and Shawn Cullen, lighting technician at Sports Illustrated. Attendees will learn how to properly light subjects using strobes—in the studio and on location—arena lighting and how to set up and use remote cameras.

“It’s very rewarding for me to see the quality of work students are producing toward the end of the workshop and their enthusiasm and passion for photography makes the entire experience both educational and a lot of fun,” explains Peter Read Miller. “Everyone leaves the workshop a better sports photographer and some have gone on to find work with professional sports teams, Getty Images and other newswires.”

Tuition for the workshop is $1,495 and includes all instruction, one-on-one portfolio review with Peter Read Miller, and all model / location fees. Workshop attendees are responsible for their own travel arrangements including air and hotel. Special hotel rates have been made with the Marriott in Denver.

 

Continue reading "Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop April 4-10" »

March 10, 2011

Pro Review: iPad Mediapad Pro 1.2

By Curtis Joe Walker

Creating a digital portfolio on the iPad should be on the front burner of any studio’s marketing plan. Mediapad Pro (Version 1.2, $11.99) aims to streamline that process while balancing it between clean and flashy to remain appealing as possible today’s discerning clients.

The design comes from Craig Orsini who wanted the app to be the ultimate portfolio tool. Setup appears as a screen full of pre-designated slots within a template to fill in. Backgrounds can be customized, existing brand logos can be used and there’s even a spot for a scanned business card.

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The galleries can support video, photos, audio and external web content through the built-in browser, giving photographers the most flexibility in the presentation of their work. Unfortunately, music is not yet incorporated as a soundtrack to the portfolio, but this feature will come soon. In the meantime, it’s possible to play music through the iPod app.

The app works best with specific image sizes and formats, working from within this template should not add too much time to one’s workflow and allows for additional page design through manually composited images (diptychs, triptychs and so forth). For photographers who have already designed printed books, importing the pages as JPGs becomes an easy option. This is similarly useful with tearsheets, often a cumbersome media to present.

Continue reading "Pro Review: iPad Mediapad Pro 1.2" »

About March 2011

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

February 2011 is the previous archive.

April 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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