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June 2011 Archives

June 6, 2011

Bigger Looks Better: OnOne Perfect Resize 7 Professional

By Curtis Walker

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Back in December, 2010, onOne Software released a new version of Genuine Fractals, now renamed Perfect Resize 7. The new name makes it much simpler for consumers to understand the purpose, focusing on the what more than the how.

Perfect Resize 7 is a long-lived super-sizing application that uses a complex re-sampling algorithm, enabling digital image enlargement without the undesirable effects of pixelization. Miraculous things  are possible, like pixel-free gallery art prints from a 10-megapixel Nikon D80. The fractal-based interpolating algorithm does not invent detail that never existed, and it performs upscaling far more elegantly than crude bicubic resampling.

For anyone who’s already familiar with the product, a few important new features make it a worthy upgrade: Apple Aperture- and Adobe Lightroom-native plug-in support, and gallery wrap features top the list. The native plug-in support is great because you don’t have to launch into Photoshop first, killing RAM. As part of a workflow, it’s great. Once the master edits are complete, the user simply sends the final image through Perfect Resize to generate a digital master for final proofing or delivery. If you edit primarily in Photoshop, there's a new onOne panel available to give you fast access to any of the applications in the Perfect Photo Suite. To bring up the panel, just go to Window > Extensions and select onOne. Then you can nest the panel wherever you'd like for your workflow. Watch this video from onOne for Lightroom, Aperture, and other application workflow information.

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The gallery wrap function is a nice bit of efficiency built into the new workflow as well. It gives you a fast, easy way to create side panels for a gallery wrap. You can choose a reflection of your image—a mirror of the portion of your image closest to the sides—or a stretch, which samples a section of pixels along the border and stretches them out to fill the side panels. 

Continue reading "Bigger Looks Better: OnOne Perfect Resize 7 Professional" »

June 7, 2011

More Than Just DAM: ACDSee Pro Finally Goes Mac

By Stan Sholik

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Professional photographers using Windows-based computers have a variety of imaging software applications at all price points available to them. Mac-based photographers have only a few options available from Adobe and Apple. The release of ACDSee Pro (Mac) provides a new and worthy option for Mac users.

After nearly two years in beta testing with professional photographers, ACDSee Pro (Mac) is now available in version 1.8. While not as feature rich as the Windows version, now in version 4, ACDSee Pro (Mac) is a solid offering with the potential of becoming an essential part of many Mac photographers’ workflows.

To categorize ACDSee Pro (Mac) as a digital asset management (DAM) application is to ignore many of its strengths. It isn’t simply an alternative to Adobe Bridge, although it performs many of the same functions. You can import images directly from your camera or camera card, browse images, videos and other assets anywhere on your computer or network without importing them, add IPTC and EXIF metadata and keywords, and perform file management functions. One of the greatest strengths of the Mac version, as well as the Windows versions that preceded it, is the speed with which it displays thumbnails.

It isn’t simply an alternative to Adobe Lightroom either, although ACDSee Pro (Mac) allows non-destructive global image editing and RAW file conversion, leaving only complex pixel-level editing, masking and layering tasks to Photoshop or similar software. ACDSee Pro (Mac) can view and process JPEG and TIFF files, and the RAW file formats supported by the Mac operating system.

In fact, it is difficult to fit ACDSee Pro (Mac) into any one category because it is capable of doing so much. It may be easiest to think of it as software that will do virtually anything that a professional photographer would need to do with a large image library, from importing digital captures to exporting final files to the lab or your client.

Continue reading "More Than Just DAM: ACDSee Pro Finally Goes Mac" »

6 Etsy Shops We Love

By Robyn L. Pollman

WARNING: This column can be dangerous to your wallet. For those who have not discovered Etsy, prepare to lose a great deal of your time (and money) by having a look around. Etsy’s motto is, “Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.” They combine the products of an outdoor market or craft fair with the ease of online purchasing. Etsy features several hundreds of thousands of sellers in over 150 countries. If you can think of it, chances are you can buy it there! 

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Stash Bags 
Stash Bags makes stylish and useful camera bags for men and women in three sizes, including a large size suitable for professional use. The store also sells messenger bags for laptops, the MacBook Air, iPads, e-readers, iPods and iPhones. Bags are handmade and designed with vintage fabrics, using leather and metal elements as hardware with a modern function.

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Baby P Designs  
Baby P Designs offers cute, stylish made-to-order newborn hats and photography props including hand-knit baby cocoons, wraps, slings, blankets and diaper covers. Their Handspun Luxe Collection includes custom handspun spun wool. The store also features a "Ready to Ship" line which ships immediately with purchase, and custom designs are available.

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Hairbows Lady  
Don't let the name fool you - this Etsy shop is a packaging addict's dream. The Ribbon Center contains over 350 different varieties of ribbon in every color scheme, pattern, and size imaginable. They also sell holiday themed ribbon and package embellishments. 

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Shimrit'a Cupcakes 
These faux-cupcakes and treats are perfect for birthday sessions. They look amazingly real and good enough to eat, but eliminate the risk of icing and grease stains from tiny little fingers. They also guarantee that the icing will not melt and slide off the cake before you've had a chance to take the shot. Props are available in sizes from mini to regular and jumbo cupcakes, and the store sells full-size cakes as well.

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Fuzzy Lumpkin Crochet  
This Etsy store carries baby hats, headbands, baby wraps and cocoons, baby booties, photo props, jewelry, accessories, warm winter items, crocheted flowers, doilies, bags and more. If it can be crocheted, it is for sale here. Custom pieces available upon request. Their "Softest Ever Hat" (shown) is a parents-favorite for holiday and winter newborns.

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It's Written on the Wall  
It's Written on the Wall carries over 300 quote designs to decorate your office or studio. They will design custom quotes as well, and offer over 60 color choices and 9 quote categories. Application instructions are included to adhere vinyl lettering to walls. Removal is quick and easy.

See more from Robyn L. Pollman at paperieboutique.com and buttonsandbowsphotography.com

June 28, 2011

Video Tutorial: Learn How to Clone with Tracing Paper in Corel Painter 12

By Melissa Gallo

The tracing paper slider is one of the exciting new features of Corel Painter 12. That may seem like a small thing, but it packs a big punch. Now you can control the opacity of your tracing paper to the finest degree, allowing you to see the photo under your painting in varying degrees. This greatly increases your control over how colors and shapes are extracted from the photo underneath and applied to your canvas.

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Look for Melissa Gallo's review of Corel Painter 12 in the July issue of Professional Photographer.

Melissa Gallo is conducting digital painting workshops on Sept. 16-17 and 23-24, Oct. 7-8 and 21-22, and Nov. 4-5. Classe size is limited to four attendees for each workshop. Please visit Gallo's Digital Painting Workshops page for more information. 

June 29, 2011

Bay Photo CollageWall Delivers on Easy-Install Claims

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

The CollageWall by Bay Photo has a patent-pending hanging system that makes it easy to hang pictures in a grid system. I was intrigued to see how the system works, and to see if the installation was as easy and fool-proof as promoted. So, I downloaded Bay Photo’s ROES software, and experimented with different image combinations and layouts. This step of the process was easy. You simply choose the type of CollageWall you’d like—photographic prints or metal prints. I first designed a 16-image piece, but decided it looked a little busy. My final design included six images over a 2x3-foot wall space.

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My CollageWall order arrived in a timely manner, complete with hanging materials and printed instructions.

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The hanging materials included a set of silver push pins, painter’s tape (for hanging the template), and a drill bit for predrilling the pin holes if you have plaster walls.

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While installation seemed pretty self-explanatory—put the pins in the circles on the hanging template—I figured it couldn’t hurt to watch the instructional video before getting started. The video actually helped clarify a few things for me, like the fact that after placing the template on the wall, you should make pin prick marks at each of the hanging sites rather than pushing the hanging pin in all the way. That way you can save the template for later use if needed.

The video also explained how to separate my CollageWall elements, which arrived mounted to black cardboard as you’ll see below.

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The mounting bracket is made out of this cardboard, as are little foldable easel stands. Should you choose to swap out a new picture in your CollageWall, simply attach the folded easel stand to the back mounting bracket, and you have a self-standing display piece. This is a great feature to point out to clients to let them know they can keep their CollageWall updated with recent images and still display the earlier photos however they would like.

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Continue reading "Bay Photo CollageWall Delivers on Easy-Install Claims" »

June 30, 2011

Just Right Light: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight

Top-of-the-line technology and a bit less brawn makes the Nikon SB-700 an excellent flash in its class.

By Ellis Vener

The Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight is the newest addition to Nikon’s family of iTTL battery powered electronic flashes. It’s smaller and less powerful than the slightly older SB-900 AF, yet it’s more capable than the SB-600 AF Speedlight it replaces. It has the same electronic “brains” as the SB-900, with a better GUI and communication with Nikon DSLR cameras and other accessories, and some of the same mechanics. The SB-700 has a set of hard plastic color filters rather than the gelatin type, and the refined Thermal Cut-Out Protection System to slow recycling when the flash tube needs protection from high heat.

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The SB-700 retails for about $325, the SB-900 for about $495. Is this product worth the $170 savings? Depends on how you use small flash. If you constantly use an SB-900 at maximum output or if you need the ultra-short recycle time and increased capacity of an external high-voltage battery like a Quantum Turbo, the SB-700 is not for you. But if you’re in the market for a second flash to use on or off camera, or if you dislike the bulk and weight of the SB-900, rarely use an SB-900 or 800 at full output—in other words, you rarely see the recycle light blink —then by all means, look at the SB-700.

With small lights, I follow a more-is-more philosophy; it’s easier to get a flash to produce much less light than its full capacity than it is to get a low-energy flash to exceed its capability. Even with the ever-improving ratio of noise to high ISO of digital cameras, real-world measurement of maximum energy is a useful baseline for measuring performance.

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To compare an SB-700 to a 900, I set up a simple test in a dark-walled studio. I measured output at the various zoom settings with a Sekonic L-758DR meter that was mounted on a stand 10 feet from the stand-mounted Speedlights. I shot five frames at each of the flashes’ zoom settings to evaluate consistency. Both flashes were powered by freshly charged Sanyo Eneloop batteries. To calculate the guide numbers, I used the formula, GN=distance X ƒ-number at ISO 100.

The results were a little surprising, in a good way: The SB-700 is more powerful than Nikon’s published numbers, but not evenly across the settings. When both flashes were set up for wide-angle coverage of 14-35mm, the SB-900 was only 4/10-steps brighter than the SB-700; at the 50-70mm zoom settings, the difference widened to 6/10-steps; and at 85-120mm the gap again widened slightly to 7/10-steps.

Continue reading "Just Right Light: Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight" »

Taking the Second Step to Becoming Certified

By Marianne Drenthe

In Part I of this series I touched upon my rationale for taking the steps towards becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP). In the comments section was a statement that hit home:

“After all these years, getting a certification only because there is much more competition doesn't really make you all that different than the competition, does it? I think certification has a valuable meaning, but doesn't necessarily mean those without it aren't worthy professional photographers either. Despite that sticker in your window, you still have to prove yourself to your clients and really, only to yourself.”

The reasons for getting certified extend far beyond being above the competition. While you really do have only yourself and your client to answer to, getting certified is simply a goal that you have to set for yourself. While I may think my work is solid, and I have a great base of repeat (as well as new) clients, I still have goals: certification is just one of them.

The added benefit of getting certified is that I will be able to market that added benefit to potential clients. With the influx of new, often technically lacking photographers coming in, becoming certified is having a stamp of approval from a professional commission. Really it’s not much different than other professions. There are board-certified heart surgeons, board-certified pediatric oncologists—though of course I’m not professing that photography is akin to performing brain surgery. Because we’re involved in an industry that doesn’t have licensing or schooling requirements, we do not have that built-in stature that schooling and licensure give.

The question boils down to: As a photographer, how do you show your clients verification of your own excellence? There are many ways, and getting CPP certified is just one of them. Good work is another. Both together? Double whammy.

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A selection of Marianne Drenthe’s image submissions for CPP certification. ©Marianne Drenthe 

Continue reading "Taking the Second Step to Becoming Certified" »

A Look at Square, the Credit Card App for iOS and Android

By Curtis Walker

Square first launched their service a year ago, since then they’ve grown into a valuable credit card processing resource for individuals and small businesses. Invented by Jack Dorsey after a friend lost a $2,000 art sale due to a cash-only operation. Dorsey (@jack) is also the guy who invented Twitter.

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Unlike every other credit card solution, Square charges no upfront costs and skims a mere 2.75% off transactions. Unlike PayPal, which is also inexpensive, Square requires no setup on the part of the customer.

Available now for Apple iOS and Google Android, the Square app is free. It works in conjunction with a free credit card reader that plugs into the plain old headphone slot. The best experience comes from using the iPad app. Users can enter individual prices or use set up items in advance. Sales tax and tips can also be collected.

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Once items have been added to the cart, swiping the card takes the user to a confirmation page where they sign and confirm the purchase. Receipts are delivered via SMS or e-mail and include all sorts of useful information for the customer. An internet connection is required in order to make any purchases.

The only restriction on charges is a limit of $1,000 per week to be deposited for new users. Transactions above that amount are held for 30 days.

Square is ideal for any business that wants to accept credit cards while avoiding the majority of fees involved.

New users can sign up for Square online or at any Apple Store.

Raw Gets Better in ACDSee Pro 4; Map View Makes Use of GPS

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By Stan Sholik

Since I was first introduced to ACDSee Pro when it was in version 2.5, I have recommended the program to casual users who didn’t want to learn, or didn’t need, the complexities of Adobe Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom. These users included friends, advanced amateurs and my wife. With the introduction of version ACDSee Pro version 3, I began using it to manage my own casual photography.

Version 3 impressed me with its speed on our not-so-advanced Windows machine at home, and the fact that it combined the digital asset management functions of Bridge with the global adjustment abilities of Lightroom, all in one program. Version 3 cleaned up the look of the interface and introduced the concept of modes, allowing users to easily move between browsing, viewing, processing their images, and then uploading them to ACDSee Online for sharing with others. The raw file processor of version 2.5 became the Develop sub-mode of the Process mode in version 3, with the capability to make non-destructive edits to RAW, TIFF, JPEG and other file formats. Version 2.5’s Edit mode for non-destructive pixel-level edits became the Edit sub-menu in version 3.

The shortcomings in version 3 were few, but some would be important to me if I wanted to migrate to the program for my commercial work. While version 3 included raw processing, it lacked chromatic aberration and color fringing correction tools, and the results were too contrasty for my taste. I’m also in the habit of applying full IPTC metadata to my images, and support for IPTC wasn’t quite there in version 3.

With the release of ACDSee Pro 4 for Windows, these shortcomings are eliminated and a few new features are added. I’m not convinced there are enough new and upgraded features to warrant a new version number or the $167.99 upgrade price, but version 4 does offer incremental and useful improvements in areas that interest me.

Raw file processing is one of these areas. ACDSee now includes both color aberration and color fringing correction tools. But perhaps more significantly, processing raw files is now accomplished in the ProPhoto RGB color space rather than Adobe RGB color space. This allows for adjustments to be done using a larger color gamut and therefore greater precision. ACDSee writes their own raw file processing algorithms, and the algorithms are revised in the latest version to provide smoother and more accurate adjustments to color, contrast, and exposure. The differences between the same image processed in the two versions are obvious with version 4 being the clear winner. One downside continues to exist as a result of ACDSee writing the raw processing algorithms—it takes a while for support for new cameras to become available. My Nikon P7000 is still not supported.

Continue reading "Raw Gets Better in ACDSee Pro 4; Map View Makes Use of GPS " »

About June 2011

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

May 2011 is the previous archive.

July 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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