Friday, April 29, 2011

Part III: Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner Review – Conclusion

In Part I of my review of the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner, I talked a little bit about the Copy Utility and Epson Scan. In Part II I went more in-depth on SilverFast AI. From those two reviews you can easily see the path of converting your film based prints or negatives to digital using the built-in features and software of this scanner. The same philosophy applies to slides and medium format film based products.

Living Day to Day with the V750

I’ve had the V750-M a few months now and I’ve actually been surprised at how much I’ve actually used it. At first I thought I’d just do some basic stuff for the review and then it wouldn’t get much use. However, I’ve found that I really like the quality of the scans so I tend to prefer it over my scanner built-into my cheap office multi-purpose printer. The Copy Utility works well, but I actually find myself using it to scan to PDF more than to the printer itself.

I’ve been very pleased when I have a color image or document to scan at the results I get compared to what I had been used for quite some time. The Epson software is definitely very user-friendly and just works.

If you are considering this product for a business where low tech employees will be using it, I think with the correct default settings and a desktop shortcut it would be as easy to use as a copy machine.

Photo Restoration

Photoshop imaging experts can certainly make their V750 pay for itself by doing things like photo restoration – especially if you use the fluid mount on old black and white negatives. Photo restoration is time consuming work, but the ability to start off with a great image helps a ton. Surprisingly I found the Epson software to be superior at providing a great starting point from a color standpoint, but SilverFast AI was better at auto detecting and correct scratches. I still had to correct a few spots missed by SilverFast via the healing brush but it was no problem. Digital ICE was useless in both products, which is why I had no luck with the Epson software. Here’s some examples taken from a print made in 1971:


EPSON Scan – Digital ICE Standard Auto Exposure with Color Restoration Applied

Mouse over to see after Photoshop, mouse out to see how it came out of the scanner
SilverFast AI – with is proprietary scratch removal
Hover for a 1 minute Photoshop edited version

The original image has the same basic red hue to it so this is a technically accurate scan, but not a nicely color corrected version which I got from the Epson by simply clicking a checkbox. SilverFast AI is super difficult to use so it may be possible to get these results, but I found going into Photoshop much easier and faster. Hover rover the image above for a quick 1 minute edit.

Both photos show that the image is damaged and I didn’t try to tackle that as there seemed to be nothing in the software to help me there.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

This scanner comes with OCR software called ABBYY FineReader Sprint, unfortunately it doesn’t work with present day operating systems. When you visit Epson’s web site it redirects you to Abbyy’s web site. After a support request I was sent this letter:

Just to let you know, we do not sell nor distribute ABBYY FineReader Sprint. This software is provided by scanner manufacturers such as Epson, Lexmark, and Canon to their customers.

Please contact your scanner manufacturer directly to inquire about a replacement or updated copy.

Best Regards,
ABBYY USA Technical Support

The back and forth finger pointing between the two companies basically meant that I needed to find another solution, so I did not test this feature. Users of Adobe Acrobat (the real thing, not the free reader) have OCR software that could be used instead. Many companies these days offer solutions starting around $49.95, so I didn’t consider this to be significant show stopper for me.

Performance

Quality scanning is slow compared to the time it takes to make that copy on your typically office copier, so don’t expect instant gratification. There’s also lots of settings to dial in for what seems an endless number of scenarios that you could set before making your final scan. However, I think most people will have a dedicated purpose for using their scanners so once you have everything dialed in the results should be fairly quick. The scanner needs a moment to warm up if it has been sitting idle and the scan speed depends on the settings chosen. A casual observation is that it felt about as fast as saving an image with a few layers in Photoshop. Not painful, but not instant either.

Conclusion

If you are someone doing photo restoration or who wants control while converting your old film library to digital, this is an outstanding product. Scanning is a time consuming process, but like printing it can be very rewarding when you get the results you want. Third party services will give you about the same level results you’d get from a third party printer, so control freaks will appreciate what self-scanning brings to the table.

I found this to be a very enjoyable product to use both for my photography as well as my business needs. I highly recommend this scanner to anyone in the market for a high quality imaging product.

You may find other portions of this review by clicking the following hyperlinks:

Where to Buy

You can purchase a V750 at B&H, Amazon or Adorama. If you don’t need the fluid mount and some of the other benefits found in the V750 (see Epson’s website) then you can save some money by buying the similarly useful V700. It doesn’t offer everything the V750 does, but for some it may be close enough. You can purchase a V700 at B&H, Amazon, or Adorama.

Disclaimer

Epson USA provided me with a V750 scanner for the purpose of doing this review. If you purchase using the links provided in this article, I may get a commission. Thanks for supporting this blog by using my links when you are ready to make your photography related purchases!

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Picture of the Week – Bookshelves

Bookshelves

This shot was taken at the Suzzallo Library at University of Washington. I like it because it a great example of an HDR image that is effective and tastefully done. I’m a big fan of Trey Ratcliff (who has a cool HDR DVD Workshop to help you master HDR), but some feel his work is a bit too stylized so his success sometimes makes people think that HDR means the “Harry Potter” look. This is a great example that shows that it doesn’t (and the bright colors on the books could be dialed down if desired). 

This shot was taken with a Canon Rebel XSi (now replaced by the T3i) using its kit lens at 18mm with the camera set to f/16 for 16 seconds at ISO 100. It was processed on Photoshop CS5 for the Mac for its final editing, but most people these days use a product like Photomatix or HDR Efex Pro to do their HDR work before going into Photoshop. From what I see in the metadata, I suspect Photomatix may have been used here as well.

Anyway, congrats to Yatharth Gupta on a great shot!

Be sure to click this photo above and leave some feedback on Flickr so this reader can get your feedback both good and bad (be gentle) and feel the love from our readers here!

Learn more about how you can participate in the Photo of the Week contest by clicking here.

For articles about HDR on this blog, check out:

Learn more about HDR from the master himself, Trey Ratcliff, by attending his 9 hour webinar series!

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

PREVIEW: onOne Software Perfect Layers

If you read my new PhotoTools 2.6 review, then you know that I feel that this current wave of onOne Software products found in Perfect Photo Suite are some of the best and thankfully the most reliable products they have released thus far.

I’m happy to announce that onOne now has a cool product that fills a huge gap that exists in Lightroom today – the absence of layers support as you’d find in Photoshop. In fact, I’d argue that if Lightroom were to have proper layers support then most prosumers using Photoshop could probably get rid of it and do everything they need in Lightroom alone. I’m pretty sure Adobe agrees which is why we will probably never see layers in Lightroom as it would kill the cash cow that is Photoshop. Fortunately onOne Software has stepped up to the task of solving this problem by creating a product that not only allows you to create layers with blending modes, but it both saves and opens existing PSD files (with some limitations) so some Photoshop users may be able to finally bid farewell to Photoshop once and for all.

Demo

onOne already has some neat videos here that show you how this product works, but I thought I’d walk through an example of my own that I did on my MacBook Pro in about 5 minutes. I started by selecting an existing JPEG from Lightroom 3.3 at random. I went to the Plug Ins menu and chose Perfect Layers and this is what I got:

I clicked the Copy button and renamed the layer Multiply Layer as shown above, then I applied the Multiply Blending mode. I then used the brush tool to quickly mask out the grandmother and child as shown here:

Next I set the opacity of the layer to 60% to reduce the effect. Here’s the final result that I saved as a PSD (which ironically seemed to save much faster than Photoshop does):

Here’s the image opened up in Photoshop CS5 as a PSD file:

and here’s the layers it created:

Photoshop CS5 Layers

Aperture & Bridge Support

I’m thrilled to report that Perfect Layers not only supports Lightroom but Aperture and Bridge as well – woohoo! It also is a 64-bit compatible product that can run stand-alone as well.

Conclusion

I was pretty jazzed to see that there’s a tool that can allow me to create layers in Lightroom without the need of Photoshop. In fact, this product is so much lighter weight than Photoshop that I hope to find myself using it sometimes instead of Photoshop just because I hate waiting for Photoshop to start up! I’m pretty excited about that!

When you download the preview keep in mind that this product is still several months away from shipping. It is missing some key Photoshop features that are part of my regular workflow, but I’ve let onOne Software know and I’ve confirmed that some are simply still under development. 

You should also keep in mind that this app doesn’t replace Photoshop for advanced users, so I’ll still have Photoshop. This may be all I need for things like family photos and personal stuff that usually just gets edited in Lightroom only, so for Lightroom only users this is a big win.

Perfect Layers 1.0 will be a free download to all registered owners of Plug-In Suite 5 and Perfect Photo Suite 5.5.

More onOne Software Reviews

Click below to view more onOne Software reviews on this blog:

  • onOne Software's Photoframe 4.0 Professional
  • onOne PhotoTools 2.6 Professional
  • onOne PhotoTune 3.0

    Special Offer

    Visit my Discount Coupon Code page to see my latest special offer details for onOne Software.

    Disclosure

    I was given access to a pre-release of Perfect Layers for the Mac to preview, and I may get a commission if you make purchases using the links in this article.

    Press Release

    onOne Software Announces Availability of Perfect Layers Public Preview for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

    New product provides photographers with streamlined functionality for creating and working with layers, offering new creative possibilities.

    Portland, OR – April 20, 2011 - onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative, timesaving solutions for professional and advanced amateur photographers, today introduced the Perfect Layers Public Preview. Perfect Layers gives photographers the ability to easily create and work with layered files in their workflow application of choice. Perfect Layers supports the creation of layered files that can be opened and edited by Adobe Photoshop software and can be used directly from within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software, Adobe Bridge and, with the shipping version, Apple Aperture.

    “The impact Perfect Layers is going to have on photographers using Lightroom makes it a game changer!” said Scott Kelby, Editor-in-Chief of Photoshop User magazine. “This is the must-have plug-in for Lightroom.”

    “Through our partnership with the National Association of Photoshop Professionals and from invaluable insight gained from Scott Kelby, we’re excited to get the Perfect Layers Public Preview into the hands of digital photographers everywhere,” said Craig Keudell, president of onOne Software. “We hear from photographers every day, that more and more of their image enhancement is taking place in applications like Photoshop Lightroom and they tell us they need additional tools to let them do even more like easily create composite images, retouch portraits and get creative with blending modes. Perfect Layers will allow photographers to do all of these things. That’s why we’re happy to make this Perfect Layers Public Preview available to the photographic community now so they can start using it to enhance their images.”

    Top Features in Perfect Layers:

    Add Layered File Functionality to Lightroom: The ability to have multiple layers in a single file is a great benefit and provides unlimited creative options when enhancing an image. With the Perfect Layers Public Preview, from directly within Lightroom, photographers can create or open layered files. This means photographers can combine multiple images from Lightroom into a single image. They can also open existing Photoshop documents from within Lightroom. Uses of Perfect Layers include merging two or more exposures of the same scene into a single image and masking in the desired portion of each exposure.Compositing multiple images, such as action shots, becomes a simple task with Perfect Layers. Also with Perfect Layers, Lightroom users can now have access to the power of blending images together with blending modes. Blending layers together is a great way to stylize and enhance a photo as well as to retouch a portrait. Files created with Perfect Layers can be opened by Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements later for additional editing if desired.

    Masking Brushes: Control how much of each layer is visible by using the Masking Brush created originally for PhotoTools 2.6 and FocalPoint 2. Similar to using a layer mask, the Masking Brush can be used to reveal or hide selected areas of a layer. The Masking Brush is non-destructive and can even be re­edited with Photoshop.

    Blending Modes: Perfect Layers brings the power and creativity of blending modes to Lightroom!Blending modes determine how two layers interact with each other. For example, you can blend a black and white version of an image with a color version to get a very dramatic and stylized look. Perfect Layers includes the following blending modes: Normal; Lighten; Darken; Screen; Multiply; Overlay; Soft Light; Hard Light and Color.

    Adjust Layers: The streamlined interface in Perfect Layers contains all the controls needed to size, align and reorder layers. A number of useful blending modes offer the ability to dramatically alter images by changing the brightness, altering the color or even creating special effects. All the adjustments can be easily modified.

    The Perfect Layers Public Preview allows photographers to start experimenting now with a subset of the features that the complete, shipping version of Perfect Layers will provide. The complete shipping version of Perfect Layers will add more features including:

    • Support for Apple Aperture
    • The ability to adjust the image/canvas size
    • The Masking Bug control from PhotoTools 2.6 to create smooth gradient masks
    • Color fill layers and several other new features

    As a public preview release, similar to a beta release, the Perfect Layers Public Preview is not indicative of the final performance and quality of the forthcoming complete shipping version. Technical support is not available for the preview release. Users can submit their feedback on this public preview from within the application.

    Availability

    The Perfect Layers Public Preview release is available immediately at  http://www.ononesoftware.com/perfectlayers. The shipping version will be available, with additional features, by mid 2011 as a standalone product for $159.95 and as part of the Perfect Photo Suite 5.5.Owners of Plug-In Suite 5 can upgrade to Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, which will include Perfect Layers, at no additional cost. The Perfect Layers Public Preview is a time limited release and will expire on June 30, 2011.

    About onOne Software

    onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative software tools for photographers, develops timesaving software solutions for professional and advanced amateur photographers. onOne Software solutions have been created to help photographers spend more of their time behind the camera taking pictures instead of the computer workstation. The products include a wide range of easy-to-use applications and plug-in enhancements for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture applications and the iPhone and iPad. Founded in 2005, onOne Software is a privately held company located in Portland, Oregon. For additional information, visit http://www.ononesoftware.com or call 1-888-968-1468.

  • If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

    Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    REVIEW: Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers using Photoshop by Scott Kelby

    You only need to look at my Which Books Should I Read? article (for Digital Photography) and What Photoshop Books Should I Read? articles to see that I’m a huge fan of Scott Kelby books. Nobody does a better job of taking complex subjects and breaking it down into easy to understand steps that anyone can follow. What’s more is that his books are filled with color images and they just get to the point, so they really are the best resources possible for getting started with Photoshop and Digital Photography.

    I was pretty surprised a few weeks ago when I noticed that Scott was releasing a new book called Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers using Photoshop. This book covers the highly popular topic of portrait retouching at the depth in which resources do, and way better than any of his other books. In fact, I recently attended the Scott Kelby's Photoshop for Digital Photographers Kelby Training Seminar taught by Matt Kloskowski in Seattle and learned a lot, but I wished the hand out materials had more visual step by step instructions, so this book was exactly what I was looking for.

    I am very pleased to say that Scott Kelby, once again, has hit a home run with this book. If you are a photographer who does portrait retouching then you need this book – period. Even if you are like me and you think you have a solid portrait retouching workflow, I’m confident that you will still pick up lots of new tricks in this book. For some, just the eyelash brushes included with the book might be justification enough for the reasonable purchase price of this book.

    Proof That It Works

    Click for more info about this photo
    Do the techniques in this book help? Oh heck yeah!
    (Click photo for more info)

    The photo above was made entirely using a lighting setup suggested by Scott Kelby, followed by video tutorials on Kelby Training by Scott Kelby and Frank Doorhof and finally the processing techniques featured in this book along with Imagenomic Portraiture (for speed). You can scan my portfolio at http://portfolio.ronmartinsen.com/people and compare the results of this photo to others in my collection. In my mind this shot takes my work to a new level and it’s all thanks to Kelby Media Group related education I’ve received in 2011.

    Click for more editing info and a video
    Kelby Liquify Applied Here
    (Click photo for more info)

    I also used the used the liquify adjustments discussed in this book on the photo above. This article has more info about that process as well as a video of me using the liquify tool on this photo.

    Chapter-by-Chapter Walkthrough

    You only need to flip through this book at your local bookstore to know it’s worth every penny of the cover price, but here’s my 2 cents on the chapters of this book:

    1. Chapter 1 – Naked Eyes – The eyes are said to be the doorway to the soul, so when we look at a photo of a person our eyes are drawn to the subjects eyes. A shot with great eyes is mesmerizing but one with poorly lit and dull eyes is easily ignored. If you only did the techniques described in this chapter and used the healing brush on obvious skin flaws (i.e., acne) you’d probably have a great photo by most people’s standards. In this chapter, Scott gives you a ton of fantastic techniques to make the eyes look their best so that your photos will have that top notch pro photographer look.

      Some important and fresh concepts covered in this chapter include reducing dark circles, enhancing eyelashes (very cool), creating amazing eyebrows, and adding a little sparkle to the eyes.
    2. Chapter 2 – Under My Skin – After you have your subjects eyes looking glamorous, the next step to portrait perfection is to retouch the skin. What I really like about this chapter is that Scott teaches some great techniques that don’t require you to purchase any third party products and he shows how to apply his recommendations in a subtle way (especially for men) that keeps your subjects from looking like plastic corpses.

      Where these techniques will come in most handy are photos of family members and ordinary people who you want to make them look their best without making them look unreal.
    3. Chapter 3 – Face to Face – Here’s where Scott goes wild showing the cool things you can do with the liquify tool. He also shows the lesser known trick (to those who don’t come from the film days) of dodging and burning to make a great face look like pure perfection. This is fun stuff, and for those who haven’t seen these techniques before you’ll be shouting “oh wow” as you follow along and see what you can do.
    4. Chapter 4 – Hair – Now when I first saw this chapter title I thought – I know what I’m doing with hair, so I wondered if I needed to read it. I now realize I didn’t know Jack, as this chapter goes WAY beyond the obvious healing brush and stamp hair removal techniques found in other books. It also dives into enhancing or even replacing hair color; fixing gaps; fixing part lines & roots; and more. This was one of those “wow, I didn’t even think to do that” chapters that I know will help take my photos to the next level.


      Great lips really do make any shot sexy
      Copyright © Ron Martinsen – All Rights Reserved

    5. Chapter 5 – Lipps, Inc. – Ask anyone – male or female – to flip through a fashion magazine and point out the photos they think are hot, and you’ll almost always find that the common feature of all of those photos are a model with perfect full lips. Sadly, in real life lips aren’t always perfect so they need some help to get that way (like the shot above).

      The funny thing about this chapter is that only the teeth whitening and lip coloring tips were familiar to me. All of the other tips were different from my lip enhancing workflow so it was neat to learn some new tricks that may come in handy in the future.
    6. Chapter 6 – Slim Shady – Real people don’t have bodies like the girl in blue shorts photo featured earlier in this article. Real people like the young Asian girl on the red blanket featured in this article have faces that can photograph wider than they appear in real life. This chapter isn’t about making everyone look like Barbie, but rather removing the 10 pounds the camera adds. It shows techniques for dealing with issues from annoying gathering in clothes when someone sits down to making small enhancements that make people look their best.

      This is a practical chapter that anyone doing photo processing of people – for any purpose – is going to appreciate. It’s also one your friends and family will thank you for applying to their photos.
    7. Chapter 7 – Taking Five – Scott says in the beginning of the book not to read this chapter until you’ve finished the book. Typically he doesn’t say things like this as his books are generally designed to skip around, but after reading this book I have to agree that you are much better off getting some practice by reading the other chapters before you read this one.

      This is a great chapter because Scott starts with a checklist of all the possible things you could do to a portrait, and then he goes on to show what he would do if he only had 5, 15, or 30 minutes to retouch a photo. While I feel my selection skills in Photoshop are still not perfect, for me it’s more like a 15, 60 and 90 minute list of things I could do to a photo.

    When you read through this book, I can’t emphasize enough how critically important it is for you to follow along with the sample images included. The reinforcement you get from doing is so much more than you’ll get from reading, and the personal satisfaction of making a “wow” portrait is one that will inspire you as a photographer.

    Conclusion

    I spend a lot of time enhancing portraits because I feel it’s the most satisfying type of photo editing. The look on your model’s face when they see how you’ve taken their normal appearance and turned them into a glamorous model always results in huge smiles and kind words. It’s the positive reinforcement that makes us love what we do.

    When you come across a book like this that teaches so many new tricks – all using the copy of Photoshop you already have – it can be very inspirational. You learn new techniques that you can apply to your existing portraits to take them to the next level. You learn how to fix flaws that were beyond your ability, and you learn how to make your subjects look their best.

    I can’t express how important it is for anyone who edits pictures of humans to read this book. The skills you will learn will raise the quality of your work to a whole new level, so I can’t recommend this book highly enough. In fact, I’m thinking I need a new category of book lists as this is one of those “you’ve just gotta read it” books that doesn’t fit nicely in to my other categories.

    This book is a great value for what you get and the variety of samples and techniques possible with included sample photos make this a must own book.

    CLICK HERE to support this blog and future articles like this by purchasing your copy at Amazon.com.

    If this book isn’t enough for you, there’s even more great stuff you can learn from Photoshop User Magazine (free with your membership to NAPP) and the great videos on KelbyTraining.com.

    More To Come

    This book will be sitting on my desk over the next few months as I process my fashion and glamour photos.  I’ll be publishing articles which reference the techniques I use from this book as I’ve done in my previous Photo Thoughts articles in upcoming articles. 

    Set this blog as one of your home pages to stay in touch with some cool images I’ll discuss in future Photo Thoughts articles that use the techniques I’ve learned from this book.

    Disclaimer

    The publisher was kind enough to send me a copy of this book to review hot off the press. I may get a commission if you make a purchase using the links in this article, so thanks for supporting my blog by using my links!

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

    Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    REVIEW: PPSOP’s The Art of Seeing online course by Chris Hurtt and Bryan Peterson (discount)


    Assignment 4 – #3
    Make a photo of someone jumping using
    the techniques learned during the course

    The Art of Seeing online course featured on The Picture Perfect School of Photography (PPSOP) is effectively Bryan Peterson’s Learning To See Creatively book in the form of an online class. For four weeks you are given lessons with videos (in some cases) to study at your leisure, and an assignment to complete. Each assignment features three photo submissions and is personally critiqued with comments by Chris Hurtt and occasionally Bryan chimes in with a group or photo comment.


    Assignment 4 – #1
    Make a photo that conveys the idea of Indifference
    (from a long list of word choices – you pick)

    The assignments are a bit challenging if you are like me and don’t have the gift of seeing. As a result of this fact, I struggled a bit at first when taking this class. However, I’m happy to report that I finally got the hang of it, I felt this class helped me grow as a photographer of environmental objects. I say this because the class isn’t about photographing people (until the final assignment), so if that is what you are looking for then you’ll want to look at the other course offerings.

    I feel that the techniques learned in this class can help you with any type of photography, but it is going to be most helpful for shots you take while traveling or of your environment.

    What Went Well


    Assignment #2 – Lines & Textures
    Light HDR Processing in Photomatix 

    At first I was a little underwhelmed by the class as the first lesson lesson felt very familiar after reading Learning to See Creatively, and I had seen the video featured once before. However, the assignment is where the rubber meets the road, and I found myself struggling to do the assignment as instructed. This was a different way of thinking for me so I was out of my comfort zone, and honestly I think that was a good sign of what was to come.


    Assignment #2 – Lines & Textures
    I started to get the hang of things during the second assignment
    This photo is unprocessed and straight out of the camera so it needs work

    The critique for lesson one was respectful and encouraging, but real (i.e., not fluffy flickr style praise). I was also fortunate enough to get feedback from Bryan on this one too as I had questioned the usefulness of the exercise for hopeless causes like myself. However, as the class progressed I would come to understand the value of where we were beginning. Each assignment builds on the previous so this foundation was necessary for what was to come.


    Assignment #2 – Lines & Textures
    As I began to see differently, I began to think differently.
    I laid down on a public sidewalk (to much attention from passers by) to get this shot

    I did a smart thing for the second assignment and went to a different city (Portland) so I could get excited and feel creative energy that I struggle with sometimes in my familiar Seattle. I ended up seeing things I hadn’t seen before and taking shots that were unlike any I’ve taken. This was a great sign that the class was working to help me see more creatively. The photos from this assignment were well received by Chris as he could tell I was starting to get it!

    Room for Improvement


    Assignment 1 – #1
    Things started off pretty bad with this textures and line assignment

    I’m probably more picky than average when it comes to forming opinions about online training because I have had a great experience with Kelby Training & NAPP. I review lots of books and training products on this blog which also shape my expectations. What’s more, I’m also a photography / lightroom teacher so I have high expectations about the volume of information covered and the take away from a class when so many photography related companies have their hands out for our hard earned money.

    I’ll admit that my first impression with the class left me underwhelmed because I felt the videos were below today’s standards founds on YouTube and Kelby Training.  The lesson material also felt recycled from the book with no updates since 2003, so my honest first impression was – “that’s it”?

    As the class went on I realized the real value wasn’t the material as much as it was the assignments and the thoughtful critiques that followed. When I accepted this reality and worked hard on my assignments, I found that I got a lot more out of the class than the superficial things I initially focused on. 

    While I would have appreciated a little more open communication in the course and more unscripted appearances from Bryan, I found Chris did a good job of making this class worth my time and energy. Seeing how I improved over the four weeks I took this course, the price of the class seems like a real bargain. After all, how many resources do you know of are going to increase your composition skills significantly for less than $200? New gear and software can’t do that, and generally online training without homework isn’t going to stick like this one did. When reviewed from that perspective, it’s a great deal.

    I have shared my opinions with Chris and Bryan and they claim to be exploring ways to improve their classes in the future.

    More Assignment Photos

    I submitted a total of 12 photos over 4 assignments out of the 492 photos I took for this course (in four weeks). I dreaded the first two assignments, but while I was shooting for the second inspiration stuck and I was hooked. I enjoyed having an assignment to motivate me in the upcoming weeks, and I’m considering ways to keep motivating myself like this moving forward.

    I’ve shown a few of my submissions earlier in this article, and here’s a few more that I used in the class (some are naturally more successful than others <g>):


    Assignment #3 – Using Different Lenses at the same location

    Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for color so I loved the shot above for its color – however, I now feel strongly that it sucks compositionally. This is a growing point for me as sometimes it’s difficult for me to decouple my attraction to sharpness and color with something that is genuinely interesting as a photograph.

    Mouse over to see 50mm, mouse out to see 400mm
    Assignment #3 – Experimenting with Different Lenses
    Mouse over to see 50mm, mouse out to see 400mm

    For Assignment 3 we had to shoot in the same spot over three different outings for at least an hour using different lenses set to the same focal length each time. You didn’t have to shoot the same subject, but you did have to revisit the same location each time. I ended up spending about 30 – 45 minutes each time over two days, but it was three separate outings and I go the point of the assignment. As you can see from the two photos above (hover over to see the 2nd) and the one below, you can get drastically different results  - all of which have merit – but one will generally stand out as your personal favorite (i.e., the 400mm shot shown above was my preference).

    When I wasn’t running from mall security and dogging annoying planter boxes, I managed to capture the shot below which I really like. It’s flawed in some ways, but I like it so that is the most important thing as I shoot for me.


    Assignment #2 – Lines & Textures
    Yes, I wish I would have left more room up top too!
    Sadly there was nothing I could do about the planter box.
    No Photoshop and I got a visit from Mall Security after this!

    The funny thing about the shot above is that anyone will quickly see that I should have left more room at the top of the frame, but honestly I didn’t even see that blue line when I composed the shot!!! I was so laser focused on the fountain and forced to shoot at 24mm that it was just luck that I got as much of the blue line as a did. However, this taught me a lot about how much I don’t see so it helped me see differently for the rest of the shoot (even that day after the security guards sent me on my way).


    Assignment #4 – Disqualified but I liked it

    In assignment 4, we were strictly prohibited from having people or body parts in all but the jump shot so the above image was disqualified. I chose to include my feet and play with the lines in this shot in a whimsical play with my 16mm lens. I had strategically placed my feet on the lines in this shot that was designed to convey the point of Access (although it may have qualified for risk, safety or caution as well). While not perfect, it represented another step forward in my experimentation into a new area as a photographer, so I was pretty happy with this one as well.

    Conclusion

    I’m quick to admit that my technical skills as a photographer FAR outweigh my talent for composition. In fact, my own self assessment is that my compositional skills suck – at least they did before I took this class. If someone would have walked up to me and said for less than $200 I can improve your compositional skills more in 4 weeks than you’ve progressed in the last 3 years, or your money back I would have thought they were smoking crack. I didn’t think it was possible as I felt like I was an old dog not capable of new tricks, so that’s why Bryan insisted that I try this course.

    NONE of the shots featured in this article would have ever been taken had I not taken this course, because I just didn’t see the world that way. I looked for beauty, not lines and textures. I got stuck in the habit of almost always shooting with my lens wide open to the smallest f-stop number unless I was shooting a landscape or a flat surface, I never thought about trying different lenses for the same shot to see what different results I might get – despite reading suggestions many times to do this.

    The lessons in this class forced me to do things I just don’t do. Like most people, I have a super busy life so I always waited until the last second to do the assignments and was forced to complete them in a time period shorter than I was supposed to, but I still learned – a lot.

    I feel I am a better photographer because of this class and that’s something I couldn’t learn from reading or videos alone, so I highly recommend this course for those who feel frustrated that the composition of their photos are their weakest link in their current digital workflow.

    All PPSOP classes offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee (scroll to the bottom) and here’s a behind-the-scenes video that shows how things work.

    Special Offer – Save 10%

    PPSOP - Save 10% customer code

    Save 10% when you enter the customer code RONMARTBLOG in the shopping cart at PPSOP as shown above (don’t forget to click submit).

    If this code doesn’t work, please check out my discount coupon code page for details as it will be updated if the code or terms change.

    For a complete list of courses, click here and don’t forget to look at all four pages found by clicking the tabs above the first row of course offerings.

    Face to Face Training Opportunities with Bryan

    I will be teaching alongside Bryan as a technical assistant when he comes to Seattle for this June 8th – 11th class. These classes fill up super fast and we’ve got a few spots opened up just for readers of this blog article so sign up ASAP if you would like to attend.

    For a complete list of on-location workshops taught by Bryan, click here. While there is no special offer – at this time – please mention this blog when signing up so he knows how important this blog is and hopefully will consider a special offer in the future.

    Disclaimer

    I may get a commission if you sign up for the course or if you purchase using any third party links. I was also allowed to take the course at no charge to bring this review to you.

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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    Photo of the Week – Aker Brygge in the evening

    Aker Brygge in the evening

    Congrats to Vegard Hamar for getting this colorful shot of Olso, Norway with is D7000 (one of my favorite cameras on the market today). With his lens set to 30mm at f/20 for 10, 20 and 30 seconds @ ISO 200, he managed to capture a nice reflection of the colorful lights in the water in this HDR image. Taking this photo right after sunset helps to create the beautiful blue sky found at twilight along with a splash of post processing saturation or vibrance adjustments.

    My recommendation for improvement on a shot like this is to crop some of the sky so that it doesn’t consume more than 1/3rd of the image. In fact, I think this shot could have benefited with swapping that extra space with the bottom of the frame to catch more of the reflections from the city.

    My grandfather is from Norway so I enjoy seeing photos like this of his home country, so this fact coupled with the rich colors made this an easy choice for my Photo of the Week!

    Be sure to click this photo above and leave some feedback on Flickr so this reader can get your feedback both good and bad (be gentle) and feel the love from our readers here!

    Learn more about how you can participate in the Photo of the Week contest by clicking here.

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    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Kindle Users – View this blog on your Kindle

    Got a Kindle and want to read this blog when you are on the go? For as little as 99 cents per month you can follow my Photography Notebook blog and for as little as $1.99 per month you can follow this blog.

    While I think the web browser is the best solution for viewing this blog, this is an option for those who prefer the kindle format.

    Thanks for supporting this blog!

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Death & Taxes


    Copyright © Ron Martinsen – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    I apologize to all of my readers and partners of this blog for not writing more this week, but like many of you I’m staying up late with a stiff drink, a calculator and a big headache called taxes.

    I’ll be back soon with some great announcements, so stay tuned – and wish me luck that I get this stuff done soon!

    Ron

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

    Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Photo of the Week – Big Cat Stare

    Daily Photo #136 – February 14th 2011 – Big Cat Stare

    This cool shot was taken using one of my favorite DSLR’s, the new Nikon D7000 (my review) at a whopping ISO 1600, proving my point that you can get fantastic results with this camera at higher ISO’s. Noise reduction can really cause texture to be lost in the fur on a shot like this, so having a great in-camera sensor that keeps the noise low is your best tool for a shot like this.

    It was taken at 200mm (300mm effective on this body) at an aperture of f/2.8 for 1/640 sec in Aperture Priority mode (which means that it probably would have been a lower ISO had auto ISO been on). It’s a great shot, especially given the fact that it was taken at a zoo because there’s no indication that it was in a zoo environment (beyond the fact that this tiger is super clean).

    Once again, great shot William – thanks for participating!

    Be sure to click this photo above and leave some feedback on Flickr so this reader can get your feedback both good and bad (be gentle) and feel the love from our readers here!

    Learn more about how you can participate in the Photo of the Week contest by clicking here.

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Epson Stylus® Pro 4900–First Impression Review


    Epson Stylus® Pro 4900
    Image Courtesy of Epson America, Inc

    Last October when Epson announced the all-new Stylus® Pro 4900, Epson printing enthusiasts rejoiced for a much anticipated update to the 4880 had finally arrived. In fact, the excitement was so great that it’s actually taken me this long to finally get one as nobody seemed to have them in stock until now.

    This sleek machine features Epson’s best inks (the UltraChrome HDR Ink set) and print head (the MicroPiezo TFP) that combine with its AccuPhoto™ HDR advanced screening technology to create the best tonal range and smoothest transitions my eyes have seen on a print. This is a special printer, no doubt.

    Now I’ve been very pleased with my Epson Stylus® Pro 3880 printer, but this printer uses a superior ink set and print head that results in prints with more vivid color and smoother tonal range than I’ve saw on the 3880. When I print two prints using the same file and everything is the same except for the paper profile and of course the printer, the 4900 images are always easy to spot – even from a distance – they are the ones with more visual pop.

    First Impressions


    Large Ink Cartridges are Easily Loaded in the Left and Right Bays
    Image Courtesy of Epson America, Inc

    I’ve only had my 4900 for about two weeks, so I haven’t put it through the exhaustive testing my other printers have gone through yet. However, my printing work flow and test images are all refined to get to put a printer to the ultimate test and so far this printer is passing with flying colors. Features that I’ve loved so far are:

    • Design – This is a sexy printer that is very well engineered for easy access to the Ink Cartridges, and features a cool window that allows you see your image being printed without having to expose the print job to dust. It also features a nice color control panel and more useful external buttons for features like switching black inks.
    • Roll Paper Support – While this isn’t new for this series, it’s new for me as my 3880 didn’t have this. I’ve become spoiled with using rolls on my other large format printer so I am jazzed to have support for rolls on an Epson printer. Unfortunately at this time I don’t actually own any rolls so I haven’t been able to test this feature yet, but I will in the future.
    • Large Capacity 200ml Ink Cartridges – While they might cost a bit more to replace than the 3880 cartridges, there’s always cost savings in larger ink cartridges so I’m happy to see such large ones on the 4900. Unfortunately the printer only comes with starter 80ml cartridges, but that’s what I’m used to on the 3880. Given the fact that it took me 6 months of  frequent printing before I even emptied the first cartridge on the 3880, I think I’ll be in good shape with in on this printer for quite a while.
    • Large Capacity Paper Tray – You can hold up to 250 sheets of plain paper or up to 100 sheets of photo paper in the bottom tray which makes this printer ideal for shared workgroup environments. It also allows you to sit on your ass more while your paper is ready to go and not exposed to dust as it would if you just left it in the manual feeder.
    • Quiet and Solid – If you’ve seen the bigger 7900 and 9900 printers you know that they are built like a tank, but when you watch them print you are shocked to see how quiet they are and how they just don’t move or shake when printing. Well the 4900 has them same attributes which make it a useable printer in a crowded work environment.
    • More Media Types and Paper Profiles Built-In – The 4900 comes with an improved printer driver that now features more media types and more built-in paper profiles for some of Epson’s best Signature Worthy papers.

    All these features would be meaningless if you couldn’t get good prints, and I’m here to tell you that I’ve yet to be disappointed with any print that has rolled out of this printer – it’s that good!

    image
    Woohooo – EFP and Hot and Cold Press Papers all now have built-in media types!

    Things I Wish Were Better

    This is a great printer, but I was still disappointed with a few things.

    The first, and foremost is that it still has to switch between photo and matte black ink – rather than having both available with dedicated lines for all print jobs like my Canon iPF6300 does. The process is automated and can be done with a click of a button, but for an all new design I was really hoping this time and ink wasting shortcoming would have vanished.

    This printer features nozzle verification and cleaning  as well as automatic print head alignment, which is great. However, the downside to this feature is that when you fire up the printer to print after it’s been idle for a day you have to wait several minutes before it finishes this process. This pretty much rules out this printer being used as a replacement to a workgroup printer if speed is important.

    I was also very disappointed that I still can’t print on plain paper using the active black cartridge. Instead, only Matte Black is allowed so if I want to just do a simple print to plain paper while photo black is loaded, it has to switch ink tanks – grr!!!! While this may not be unique to this printer, I was really hoping this issue could somehow be resolved and it hasn’t.

    Some of the Epson consumer printers come with wireless network access, so I was hoping that feature would trickle up to the pro printers. Unfortunately that isn’t the case so you’ll still need a network cable.

    Another important issue is size, and again it’s not really unique to this printer as the 4880 was large too. However, at 115 lbs and 34” wide by 30” deep means that this big boy is going to need a lot of space. What is really surprising is that the 4900 has a 26 pound increase over its 4880 predecessor (some of which is larger ink cartridges and an improved print head).  Generally things get smaller and lighter as time goes on, but not in this case.

    Last, but not least, one of my most important features is to be able to get electronic print logs for data analysis, but I can’t do that with the 4900. It seams that feature was dropped from the Printer Watcher where you can do it on the 3880. Now I not only long for Canon’s Accounting Manager on Epson printers, I also long for any print job electronic data as well (logs are always available for printing via the control panel).

    Recommendation


    Image Courtesy of Epson America, Inc

    With excellent build quality, phenomenal print quality and a reasonable price for a product this well made (especially when you consider camera and lens prices these days), you’d be hard pressed to find a better value. I definitely recommend print enthusiasts with the budget to upgrade to give this printer a strong look, and for those looking to step up – your search is over.

    I’m still doing research for a larger review, but I wanted to address those in the market for a new printer now. I am fairly comfortable with my printing workflow and I know how to both get a great print using built-in Epson profiles as well as creating my own. Based on all that I learned during my printing series as well as my first impressions using the 4900 I can easily say – I highly recommend the Epson Stylus® Pro 4900 printer.

    3880 users - if you have the space and you are looking to upgrade to a professional printer that can do rolls – this is a fantastic choice.

    4880 users – I can honestly say that you’ll be very pleased with the improved results you’ll get out of the 4900. In short, if you' can afford it – get it!

    7900 & 9900 users will enjoy the ability to get the same great prints on a smaller form factor. This is still a printer that you could potentially keep at arms reach (if your workspace allows it), so high volume printers will no doubt appreciate this top not print quality in such a small size (relative to the big large format printers).

    More Information

    To read my full 4900 review click here.

    To get more information, about this printer as well as other printing topics consider the following:

    Purchasing Recommendations

    I’ve noticed that both Adorama and B&H both offer the Designer Edition which includes a RIP for the same price as the regular edition (thanks to a rebate). You can use this to get around some of the supply problems by just getting the Designer Edition for the same price.

    Seattle area shoppers should also consider JVH Tech for all of their printing needs and tell them that I sent you!

    Disclosure

    Epson has provided me with this 4900 as well as the 3880 and various papers featured in my printing seriesJVH helped me out once again by getting my printer from my driveway to my office – despite the fact that I didn’t buy the printer from them.

    I may get a commission if you purchase using the links in this article. Thanks for supporting this blog by using the links.

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

    Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Photo Thoughts: Jump for Joy

    Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after
    Jump!
    Copyright © Ron Martinsen – All Rights Reserved

    To see my camera settings for this shot, visit my Photography Notebook page for this image.

    Step-by-Step

    Photoshop Layers Palette

    1. I cropped the shot in Lightroom and then exported it to Photoshop CS5 on my MacBook Pro. I then used Portraiture to fix up the legs and then the healing brush on both the legs and the grass to remove debris from a wind storm. All this was done on the 2nd layer so I could undo later if I wanted to. After this I brought the file back to my PC where I’m comfortable and edited the rest in CS4.
    2. Next up I used Color Efex by Nik Software and its Sunshine filter to give it a little more sunny day oomph. The results were still a bit too strong so I used the Screen blending mode on the layer and set the opacity to 42% to cut down the effect.
    3. I was pretty happy with the shot except for the dull background so I used Viveza 2 to add blue to the sky. I chose Viveza so I could use a U-Point control to quickly add the blue without impacting the whole shot like the Photo Filter would do. Despite this there was a little bit of color contamination of the white areas of the shot (i.e. shoes, shorts, etc…) so rather than using a bunch of U-Point controls I just quickly did a sloppy mask in Photoshop on that layer.
    4. The tree was pretty black on the inner parts and the trunk was too dark so I just did a Shadows and Highlights adjustment on JUST the shadows using the advanced settings of 10, 25 and 36.
    5. In a rare instances for me, I accepted the default settings of the Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex as I thought it looked perfect for this shot. I did set the saturation to 0 as I thought this already had enough color and didn’t need more.
    6. Lastly I did Scott Kelby’s Lab Color trick from the 7 Point System. At that point I was happy and thanks to the Tonal Contrast I didn’t need any more sharpening – imaging done.

    Despite this shot being done at ISO 1000 I felt that the noise added more than it hurt so I didn’t bother using Noiseware on this one.

    Total time spent editing: About 25 minutes.

    Alternate Version

    Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after

    One thing I go back and forth on for this shot is the vignette I added in Lightroom. You can hover above to see the shot with and without. Despite what it does to the sky, I tend to prefer the one with the vignette to keep the viewers eye from drifting out of the frame. I suppose I could process it differently in the sky, but it just wasn’t worth it to me for this shot.

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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    Monday, April 4, 2011

    REVIEW: Rogue Grid — The “Must Have” On-Camera Flash Modifier


    The Rogue Grid Kit Installed – Flash Sold Separately

    I recently wrote about the Rogue Grid and said “the hottest flash modifier this year will be ExpoImaging’s new Rogue Grid”, and I meant it. In this article I hope to help you to understand why I said that and why I’m so excited about this new product.

    What the heck do you use a grid for?

    I had this question at one point in time so I’m going to assume some of you do as well. The answer is simple – grids are used to control light into a more narrow beam (determined by the degree number) so that it doesn’t spread all over the place. This could be for putting a spotlight on a subject or used on an off-camera flash to create an interesting background effect.

    Why do you need more than one and what the heck are all those numbers?

    I’ll admit that I have never studied the science of grids, but in plain English I can tell you that grids are sold in different sizes based on the degree that the light spreads. The larger the degree number, the wider the spread and (typically) the thinner the grid device will be. This means if you want a wider spread use a wider number and reach in your bag for the thinnest one (e.g., 45­­­­° in this case), but if you want a narrow beam grab the thickest one with the smallest degree number.

    In the case of the Rogue Grid they have an ingenious design that allows you to stack the widest spread (thinnest - 45°) with the medium spread (25°) to create a thick and tight 16° beam. What’s more, you get all three sizes (2 disc that can be combined for 3 results) for one price, versus the competition from Honl which only has two sizes and will set you back $70 after you add the speed strap.

    Demonstration Images

    To demonstrate the grid I decided to mount my 580EX II flash on my 5D Mark II and test it the same way for every shot. To make this happen I’d use a tripod and manual camera settings. I did use ETTL as that is how I would typically shoot, but I also tested using a manual flash and got similar results.

    I shot on my white seamless background during the daytime using a 70-200mm lens at 70mm for 1/40 sec at f/9.0 and ISO 160. I wanted to underexpose the ambient daylight so you could see the effect of the grid. I chose the equipment mentioned here because that is what I’d most likely be shooting with, and I put the tripod at the edge of the seamless where I’d most often be standing during a shoot. This means I don’t get perfect circles on the larger spread as that’s not what I’d really see in most cases given how I shoot in my studio.


    Everything you need is included along with a carrying case

    Here’s the results using the Rogue Grid with the supplied mini- FlashBender above:


    Rogue Grid FlashBender – NO Grid

    Rogue Grid FlashBender – 45° Grid

    Rogue Grid FlashBender – 24° Grid

    Rogue Grid FlashBender – 16° Grid

    As you can see the falloff of light happens much quicker with less of a feather the larger your grid is (and the smaller the degree number, so 16° in this case).

    How does this compare to the Honl?

    I don’t own both Honl’s as I wasn’t terribly impressed with the one I purchased. For starters grids are supposed to produce a circular effect and its rectangular design just didn’t seem to give me the results I wanted. Here’s an example of the Honl taken at the same times using the same methodology as above:

    As you can see you don’t get a nice circle like you do with the 16° Rogue and that the surface area is much smaller which might be good in some cases but I found it to be too limiting in my studio so I stopped using mine a long time ago.

    How does it work with my existing FlashBenders?

    I already use and love the Rogue FlashBenders and I use my medium and large ones as snoots sometimes. When I got my grid I wondered what would happen if I put the grid in my snoots to see how it would impact the light output. To test this theory I just used the 16° for both tests because A. I’m lazy, and B. I wanted the tightest beam to see the result easily. Here’s what happened:


    Medium FlashBender as a Snoot & 16° Grid

     


    Large FlashBender as a Snoot & 16° Grid

    Now I should make the disclaimer that because the FlashBenders can bend I didn’t line them up perfectly when taking my test shots, but you can get the idea. Using the medium as a snoot with the 16° grid you get a similar size circle but the light falloff happens much quicker (i.e., you have a darker area outside of the circle). The result is even more pronounced with the large FlashBender.

    The net result is that I  now have 5 grid effects I can accomplish which is awesome.

    Video

    While the Rogue Grid has a neat design, I’ll admit that I was a little confused at first on how to use it. Here’s a quick and dirty crappy video I did that shows how to attach it to your camera as well as change grid sizes:


    Play in HD

    Conclusion

    This is a great little product that solves a problem in a nice compact package for a very reasonable price. That price gets even more reasonable with my discount below, so if you enjoy using grids then I can’t recommend this product high enough — ‘nuff said!

    NOTE: These items are hot so they may be out of stock from time to time, so if you can’t wait for the offer below then check with B&H as they may have it in stock.

    Special Offer

    ExpoImaging Store - Redeem Discount Coupon
    NOTE: You MUST provide your credit card info before the Redeem button will work!

    My blog already has a discount coupon code in place for existing ExpoImaging products like the Rogue Flashbenders (review coming soon), ExpoDisc, and RayFlash, but I’m pleased to announce now that you can also save 15% when you use the coupon code ronmart09 to order your Rogue Grid.

    Codes change so check the discount coupon code page for the latest code if this code doesn’t work.

    Other Interesting Articles

    If you liked this article, you may also like:

    See the right panel and read me first tab for more great articles!

    Disclaimer

    Like most of my reviews, I was provided a copy of the Rogue Grid to test at no obligation from ExpoImaging. While I may get a commission if you purchase using the discount from this blog or at one of my partners like B&H, it would take a hell of a lot of grid sales to pay for my son’s diapers <g>. I won’t be getting rich off you using the links, but every little bit helps to support this blog so I appreciate when you do use the links!

    If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

    Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

    Photo of the Week - Sunset at English Bay

    Sunset at English Bay

    Talha Tariq has some cool images on his flickr site, but I chose this one because it is a textbook example of catching a perfect sunset that our eyes sometimes enjoy but many fail to capture on camera.

    The EXIF data has been blocked so we can’t see how it was captured or with what camera, but to my readers the trick for getting a shot like this is to under expose as your camera meter will want to blow all of that gorgeous detail out of the sky.

    My only recommendation for this shot is to cut out the bottom 10 – 15% of the beach as it doesn’t need to occupy more than 1/3rd of the frame. It’s a good job of keeping texture in the foreground and a perfect exposure overall. Well done!

    Be sure to click this photo above and leave some feedback on Flickr so this reader can get your feedback both good and bad (be gentle) and feel the love from our readers here!

    Learn more about how you can participate in the Photo of the Week contest by clicking here.

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