What Will Your Next Camera Be like?

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Screenshot (32)

If you have a problem free camera that gets the job done what’s it going to take in order for you to part with your money and buy the next camera model?

For most folks I know there will be no new camera in the near future. Why? because the one they have does the job just fine in their eyes plus they have gotten used to using their phone or tablet which they will be upgrading but not their compact cameras or camcorders. Sales are decreasing for Compact P&S cameras. For Nikon which is mostly a camera only manufacture (no video either) this is not good news for the long term. Canon is better poised to survive the next 10yrs as sales dwindle down to a trickle for P&S cameras which was and is a big part of camera company profits. Canon / Nikon need to diverse more and get their brands into mobile devices now not later or it will be too late. Almost everyone I know is using their phones to take photos, they rarely bring their cameras with them except sometimes for a vacation or something. Camera manufactures are very worried about this trend and they should be. As Apple, Samsung and others continue to make better cameras in their phones the rift will just get bigger. Phones still have a long way to go and  they will not give us more than they have to in order to keep the upgrade path going.

If you want to keep up on things Nikon and Canon visit the rumors sites.



Tom Hogan: reviews and commentary on Nikon related subjects. He gives a lot of insight into the company and their politics / marketing for camera equipment.


Is newer better? usually in the digital world newer is better in some way but not always. Sometimes its better to wait for the next generation to get a big enough upgrade.

What features are next for marketing new camera models? You can also bet there will be some issues with any of the new tech that comes our way.

1. 4K video. It’s here but when will it be main stream? Not for a long time. I just can’t see folks selling all their HD tvs and players to get 4K. It will happen but over a period of many years.

Why area people excited about 4K video? who can use it? We are a long ways from making use of 4K (except for Hollywood). You will need a new 4K monitor, new 4K TV, probably a faster computer, new 4K HD player and even then only you will be able to view the files not your clients, friends or family unless they have upgraded also. Most high speed internet can’t handle that as well. I can just imaging the time it would take to edit 4K video and render those huge high quality files. Lets get full HD right in DSLRs before bumping up the resolution. Even at 4K we will still have the same limitations and issues in our current consumer / pro stills cameras but the files will be bigger.

I can understand that some folks will benefit from the higher FPS that some cameras will have with the 4K video and be able to extract a better quality still from the footage which would be a welcome feature at times. This is the feature that will be usable for many photographers, the ability to shoot 60-80 fps at full resolution (with the current & new Aptina 14mp  sensors) then extract the exact frame you want out of it.

2. AF built into the sensor, this will probably be slower than Phase Detect in some models but faster than Phase Detect in others and way faster than current live view focusing. This will be more accurate and consistent than phase detect and will probably be the focus of choice for scenes that don’t require super fast action 3D type of tracking ( although the new tech may just be good enough). P&S cameras already use a form of contrast detect as does live view in DSLRs. This will also increase the PFS possible. The Nikon 1 series is the first to employ this type of tech in a larger sensor.

Update: Canon just announced just such  a sensor is it’s new 70D. Sony is supposed to be working on one too which means Nikon and other Sony sensor users will also get this tech. See this blog for more info on how this will affefct the industry. http://falklumo.blogspot.de/2013/07/comment-why-new-dual-pixel-af-will.html

3. More WiFi features built-in (that actually work well) that allow tethering and viewing shots just made in your iPad etc. so clients can see the results instantly, along with the current features but improved. Remember LR can be configured to apply presets to you images as they pop up from the camera.

4. Addition of touch screen features in DSLRs in addition to the current dedicated buttons. Don’t you find yourself wanting to swipe the screen sometimes.

5. A better screen technology that allows us to see the display much better in bright light. Trying to see your results or use live view in sunlight is almost impossible now.

6. Anti theft features that prevent stolen cameras to function without the owners password or fingerprint scan. This will be important for expensive high-end bodies and lenses.

7. Full Frame DSLR and FF Compacts will continue to come down in price and give better performance just like computers have over the years.

8. Better performing lenses that are sharper across the frame the with the new generation of high MP cameras will come out to entice upgrading. Some will be reasonably priced as well, even new consumer zooms will fare better with the high mp cameras they are bundled with.

9. Sensors that are easier on wide-angle lenses and don’t show as much softness in the edges and corners. This is related to current sensor design (as well as the lenses) that has a hard time filling the light wells with incoming light from an angle. Micro lenses on the sensor attempt to overcome this limitation. Future sensor tech may not require this and therefore perform much better with current and older lens designs in the corners and edges.

10. Cameras will get more compact within any given format. Pros will still get larger models because that is what they want and the cameras will fit their hands better for all day usage.

11. Third party lens manufactures will finally get there IQ in order and produce lenses that rival or surpass the big names for much lower prices. This will require all new lenses from most of them to accommodate the higher mp cameras. Sigma  is the first to stat a new series that looks to be a big step up in quality and performance in their ART line of lenses. Their new 35mm ART lens is the highest rated of any manufactures 35mm focal length lens. DXO Mark gives it the highest resolution rating. And all reviews point to an excellent lens. A real accomplishment for Sigma and will most likely bring many new lens sales their way in the new ART series of lenses. Nikon and Canon are usually at the top but cost way more. I can’t believe its taken this long for someone to really challenge the big names. Quality control also needs to be improved with the third parties (or at least change the public perception). There are so many things that could be done to increase buyers confidence in their products but I just don’t see them doing much of anything about it.

12. More support thru firmware updates. What about making the firm / software open source so programmers can make new features available. For example Nikon’s pro cameras in the past limited bracketing to just 1 stop per shot, why not allow 2-3 stops per shot with an update for those that need it. What about being able to connect the camera to your computer and customize the menu to your needs and get rid of all the other stuff you don’t need. 90% of my cameras menu never gets accessed. I could always restore it later if I sell it or want to change it. I’m just thinking here but the possibilities are endless and people like to customize things don’t they?

13. Sorry but looks are important in marketing. It’s time to make gear look more sexy. I often can’t believe how ugly some gear is or accessories  that come out for cameras. Unimaginative square black box’s. Looking cool is important in so many other products why not camera gear. Some gear does look good but a lot of others just does not stand out at all.

14. Give us what we want not what you think we should want. The Nikon 1 series is a prime example of that. When I first heard about the camera and its new tech I though it sounded pretty good but when the camera finally was announced I just couldn’t believe Nikon did what they did. I told myself this was a huge mistake on Nikon’s part. We got two overpriced camera bodies with slow shutter syncs one didn’t even have a built-in flash and the other didn’t have  a hot shoe. The one that did have a hot shoe does not take current flash units and requires buying new flash units. The IQ of the camera’s sensor was not ahead of the game in any way except for on sensor AF which was a really nice feature. The two cameras where heavily discounted a year later due to poor sales(although it did well in Japan). Nikon lost their chance to get the 1 series taken seriously early on. You can get a great deal on refurbished J & V1 now.

Watch out camera companies, the phone manufactures just might beat you to it.


Opening your own photo video website

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Picking and setting up a website can be a big decision to make as a lot of time can go into getting all setup. I have about 5,000 images at mine so moving would be a big job.

You have basically 4 choices.

1. Free sites that usually have limited control over your photos and bandwidth  limits. www.flickr.com is the biggest of them all. There is a pro account which is $25 yr.

2. Paid custom site with yearly maintenance fees and limits to alterations unless you pay for the web masters time. Initial cost plus yearly fees which vary from site to site. Plus you need you own domain name.

3. All in one sites like SmugMug, Zenfolio, PhotoShelter, Photobucket etc. From $30 to $200 yr. You have full control over these sites and can customize them yourself for free or pay someone else to do it for you. You don’t need a domain name but have the option.

3. Blog sites can be free or paid. The one your reading now is free for me. These are fine for posting a few photos at a time and commenting on them.  You can also set it up so others can comment too. Domain or not its up to you.

With Zenfolio It’s very easy to do (some features will require a bit of study) and can cost as little as $30 a year.  Zenfolio  is the company I have been using. I find it to be the easiest to use of the bigger full feature sites. your site can be for any product not just photos and video. Don’t like the name Zenfolio just add you own domain name and no body will see anything except you domain name.

As some of you know, I have been using the Zenfolio hosting service for organizing and presenting my photos and videos  for about 5 yrs. It works great as a way to deliver images to clients as you can have a password for downloading or for the accessing the gallery itself. Prints or digital files can be ordered with your set prices. Each gallery can be customized including free music for slideshows (50 songs for choose from).

I think Zenfolio is a really good website service,  I recommend  it. The controls and features are logically setup so it’s not too hard to figure out the more advanced features. I had a hard time with SmugMug.

Some of the features Zenfolio offers.

• Unlimited storage for your photos and videos.    (36-64 mb per image uploaded. Tiffs as well. The free version is 4g + 2 gig for each new year.)

• Elegant pages with a variety of layouts and designs including creating your own completely custom designs that you can edit without any knowledge of coding (upload you own 1080 x 1920 custom backgrounds like I did).

• Beautiful presentation of your photos and videos

• A very easy to use and intuitive interface

• Full screen Slideshows with music (50 free songs are included)

• Ability to link to many image sizes and share your photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter directly from your account. This way, you can upload files only once and share them any way you like.

Please  use my referral code K1E-JAU-MEZ during sign up to save 10% off your own subscription if you decide to go with Zen. it’s better than nothing and it helps me out a little.

Zenfolio offers a free Trial account for two weeks so you can see if you like it or compare to the other sites both paid and free. Check out all the features at this link.


Home page here:


Want your own domain name? I use Go-Daddy. About $10 yr to have your own name with a .com. Setting up is not the easiest to configure but its doable for most people. Zenfolio tries to make it as easy as possible with tutorials.

Sharpest lenses for the new generation of High MP Cameras

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One of the problems with buying a new high mp camera body is the fact that many consumer zoom lenses only resolve about 5-8 mp according to DXO’s Optical score and a few points higher on the DXO Mark Score. Primes are far superior as are the expensive pro level zooms. With a 24mp DX or Full Frame camera you will see significant sharpness differences between a good prime (fixed focal length) lens and your kit zoom lens that came with your camera. Why?  Zooms have many more elements of glass and are built to a price point (pro zooms usually have better quality glass). Also your magnifying the capture more and every little defect in the lens as well as motion blur will be more evident. Even the glass itself has to work harder to pass more information per area compared to a bigger sensor with the same mp rating.  Most of us don’t need more than 10-12mp except for those times we need to crop an image or print very large. The advantage though is in resizing from 24 to 12mp or so, when you do this apparent sharpness goes up and noise becomes  finer and less visible. If you work with LR you won’t notice too much difference because your  not actually working on the file, it’s done virtually when working with a raw file. Once you export outside of LR you can just make a preset to downsize to your needs or you can just export back into the same folder with smaller files to work with  from the start. A new computer is not really needed if you work this way. Larger files will ultimately slow you down in some way, at the very least in your import and exporting.
If you don’t want more MP to deal with but want to upgrade your DSLR you have limited choices as all the new camera are now high MP. Your best bet is the Nikon D7000 or the last generation of Full Frame cameras like the Nikon D3/3S/700 or the Canon 5D or 1 series.  We are now at the point where higher MP sensors  are superior only when down sized although they may give similar noise and sharpness at 100%. Other spec are mostly only visible in measurements, that still so me progress though but just not very much. The 36mp D800e has the best IQ of any DSLR ever, it’s still noisy at high ISO unless downsized. I don’t expect any major advances until a new technology comes along in sensors. Sensors are now mature with current Bayer technology, only a bit of tweaking is left and that will probably come with even higher mp sensors.  Around 24mp seems to be the norm now for DX and FF. FF will probably still go a bit higher. Computers also need to get faster so we won’t notice the slow down with these larger files. Put a 6mp file in a modern i7 processor and it just flies.
  Here is a list of the best lenses that can be purchased new. From DXO Mark ( I have Nikon selected but you can set any brand you want). Points basically mean resolution in MP to some degree. You can do you own research as well. Zooms score much lower.  A low scoring lens will still benefit some from a higher MP camera but not much. The larger files will still look better than an uprezed low MP file but nether will have the true sharpness and detail that comes from increased resolution in the system. Croping is only beneficial if the files look sharp and clean enough to begin with. The better sharpness per pixel the better it uprezes as well when you need those larger prints.
One thing to note: The wider the lens the worse the score and the higher the price for quality. What does this mean? If your a landscape photographer high mp DX may seem like a bargain but FF will most likely deliver better IQ with wide angle from corner to corner at base ISO.  The best resolution will be stitching with a longer better scoring lens or a shifting lens. The best wide angle for ultimate resolution is still to come. There is no high scoring (36mp) ultra wide angle for DX & FF yet. The Nikon 24mm G  is about as wide as you can go and get good scores on DXO Mark with Nikon. I expect higher spec ultra wides in the near future but  they won’t be cheap,  Probably $2,000 + I hope I’m wrong on the price.
 Which one is the accurate number to use? I don’t know as its complex and not defined exactly. but at least we have a way to compare one lens against another.
This page explains how to understand the 2 scores. There are 4 categories to select from.
    The ratings vary depending on what camera you choose to be the tester. Nikon D800e gives the highest ratings due to its 36mp. The reason is that a higher resolution sensor will tend to extract more resolution from a lens even though it not up the the sensors full  demands.
  This is the DXOMark  scorewhich will be a higher averaged number then the DXO Optical Score.
DxOMark Score
Best at
Add to selection
f=85mm & f/1.4
f=85mm & f/1.8
f=35mm & f/1.4
f=100mm & f/2
f=85mm & f/1.4
f=85mm & f/1.8
f=85mm & f/2
f=35mm & f/2
f=35mm & f/1.4
f=35mm & f/2
f=85mm & f/1.4
f=24mm & f/1.4
Sony Cyber shot DSC RX1 lens Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
f=35mm & f/2
f=35mm & f/2
f=28mm & f/1.8
f=35mm & f/1.4
f=85mm & f/1.8
f=85mm & f/1.4
f=85mm & f/1.4
f=50mm & f/1.4
f=105mm & f/2.8
f=50mm & f/1.4
f=50mm & f/1.4
f=35mm & f/1.4
f=85mm & f/2.8
f=50mm & f/2.8
f=50mm & f/1.8

Editing Video in Lightroom 4.

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Did you know you can edit video in LR 4? yes you can and I’m not talking about the trim feature or the Capture Frame or Set Poster Frame built into the player. You can of course make multiple trims using virtual copies. What I’m talking about is capturing a frame than editing the extracted Jpeg then syncing that with the video. You  can do that and the edits will be applied to the video. To see what tools you can edit with and that will transfer just do a test sync and take note of the tools that are not grayed out and only use those tools to get the look you want. Works great and easy to do. This takes very little time and helps prepare the clips for you video editing software. Also this method makes it easier to match your photos to the video for those delivering a video with wedding photos for example.

Tools you can use include.

white Balance
White clipping
Tone curves (don’t forget to use the RGB function as well).
split tone

that’s enough to make a lot of changes to a video file.

Want more? you will have to wait until we have the video module in LR 5.

Update: We didn’t get the video module in LR5, in fact I don’t see 5 as much of an update and for the first time I have not updated and will wait for 6 or some extra offerings with 5…… or maybe a special offer to update for less money. For my needs 5 is nothing to get excited about.

Windows 8 and Photogaphy

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windows-8-box    You’ve probably seen the OS on new computers at the local big box store. You also may have read all the negative talk about Windows 8 Metro and lack of a start button. I too was put off by my experience in the store and all the negative chatter on the net but I also read about  a work around to get the  OS more like Windows 7, so I decided to give it a try since Microsoft offered  Windows 8 Pro for only $39. I made a clone of my HD on a matching external drive so I wouldn’t  have to reinstall everything in case I didn’t like it, all I would have to do is swap drives. I was anxious about it at first because I have a lot of software and plug-ins which means a lot of work getting everything setup again. So here’s what happened. See links at the bottom too.

1. Installation went very smooth, no problems what so ever.  I did do a clean install though, not an upgrade over the previous OS. See the link below for a tutorial on doing a clean install (you need to read this first or you may not be getting a clean install). The only problems I had was with getting my older versions of software and unlock codes, that’s not W8s fault. All is well though.

2. Going from Vista 64 that was running well and still giving me the same Geek Bench score from 3yrs ago to Window 8 was a very noticeable increase in speed (not CPU but actual usage with software), the computer is much more responsive, almost like a CPU upgrade. I upgraded because a lot of photo editing software does not function correctly or is no longer supporting Vista (such as Adobe Photoshop ). I was tired of unstable software issues plus Vista came with some bugs that never got fixed for me. Even so I still liked it better than XP.

3. What about Metro and the missing start button? I don’t go to the start page(Metro section) very often so I have no problem with it. As far as the missing start button, No Big Deal, you just hit the upper RT corner with your mouse and click on the button on the Charms bar, plus on more click, what’s the big deal?. Getting deeper in the system such as the start-up list is in the Task Manager. Control panel, Music, Videos, Pictures, Clean up etc. is all in the folder on the left of the task bar. The “Run” app is in the All Apps section, you may be able to access this from the folder on the task bar as well I just have not spent enough time with W8 yet. W8 I really like much better than Vista. Once you get used to this new OS I think you will like it better too. I absolutely don’t need the software to add back the start button. At start-up you are sent to the start screen which you can customize, there you click on the desktop Icon which you move to where you want and change it size and you back to familiar territory. There are key board short cuts for many functions as well. It took me just one day to get used to things now it’s as if I have been using it all along. You don’t have to even see the start screen except when you first turn it on so don’t worry about it. Coming back out of sleep mode you can set it up so you don’t have to enter a PW, it’s just like W7 except no start button but you don’t need it because of the folder on the left of the task bar. If you want to see all your programs to open or pin to the desktop or task bar you go to the start screen  and right-click on the icon and select from the list on the bottom left of the task bar or just double-click it to start it up. To see more like control panel etc. right-click the bottom of the screen and select All Apps to see everything in case you can’t remember how to find it in the desktop folder. Everything seems faster including the internet with the new Explorer. What about the Apps? I don’t really have much use for too many APPs, we have tablets for that but as time goes by I might make more use of them and that is what Microsoft is banking on. Don’t forget you have keyboard short cuts like accessing the Run function just hit the Windows key + R or X. There are many more. Not reason to complain it’s too hard to find those things we accessed in XP thru Windows 7, you just need to learn a few new things that’s all.

4. Everything is not perfect though. Windows Media is still problematic as it has always been for me. It found and cataloged all my music and videos okay but many music albums it fragmented the first track as a separate album forcing me to retype info so it could be absorbed by the main album. Also volume levels vary quite a bit between music, something I hadn’t noticed before. SRS and the Equalizer are gone, you now have to buy a $30 app to replace it. You should also know that in order to play DVD from you player you will need to purchase the Codecs which run about $10.  Windows was offering these for free when I brought W8 Pro, so far like many others I have not received the unlock code for them yet and probably never will. as far as Apps go Make sure when you first start up the weather app you don’t let it use location services. Pick your city manually or you might get stuck with the city your connection service chooses otherwise you will have to uninstall the app and reinstall it to get the city correctly. This happened to me with 2 weather apps, I was unable to change home to be the one that showed up in the tile.  As time goes on and new improved features and apps come out I may end up using the Start/Metro menu more.

One more thing about the Plug-ins for Media player, you basically have two to choose from. The SRS version  and DFX. I brought DFX because the free version worked on my system and I don’t have a sound card installed. the sound is better overall with better bass. I don’t care for the 3D effect or the fidelity effect, I turned that off, there is a bit of annoying treble brighness to the sound but I can live with it for now. SRS effects  I liked in the old Media players and had planned on buying the new version didn’t work on my rig most likely because I don’t have a card. Maybe some day when it’s on sale I will get a sound card and give it a chance and compare. If you like bass you will want one of these. I’m using some older Polk Audio home speakers and a 40 watt external amp in my office for sound which is waaaaay better than any computer speaker setups  I have seen (except for some high-end ones over $500).  By the way DFX does not give you an Equalizer just those sliders. SRS used to but I don’t think the new version does.  I’m sensitive to the upper midrange and lower treble so the EQ is something that I make use of in my system I miss that feature because I can tune the sound just the way I like it. With DFX you can’t really do that. Seems kind of pricy to be paying $30 for these basic apps, if you don’t need it than don’t pay those high prices wait for a deal or another third-party to make one that is reasonable. The DFX version will work for most people I think depending on the sound system in use, the sound is a bit more forward in the upper mids. One more thing is that IMO the headphone option sounds awful with my Grado SR125 headphones, it destroys the high frequencies 100% the head phone mode is a complete joke fidelity wise at least on my computer. It makes me mad that you can’t get a fully functional free trail of these to see which one works best for you. That’s probably because there is no competition right now but that will change soon. So the bottom line is that unless you have a dedicated sound card you only have one choice right now and DFX is it at a regular price of $39. IMO these apps are worth about $10 tops. Having better bass might be important to you if like me you listen to music a lot on your computer.

There’s good news here regarding Windows Media Player, you don’t have to use it. iTunes works well and gives you a sound equalizer too. You could also use it for videos.  You also have the option of VLC Media Player which will play just about anything and is free. I have not used it in a long time so I can’t comment on the latest versions but I am confident that it is better now then a few years back. It also has an EQ built-in. Check it out:   http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html

What about browsers? IE is working very well for me but FireFox and Chrome are unusable for critical photo viewing because they give harsh shadow and oversaturation in many photos. IE is fine this is only with the latest versions of Chrome and FireFox so these browsers still need updating to work right with W8 pro. Yes my images online are in sRGB, I also see this with other  peoples photos online.

Update: I fixed Fire Fox by turning off color management which shouldn’t make any difference but it does, there must be a bug with W8 or FF & Chrome. The new version of Chrome does not have an adjustable Color Management dialog to work with. keep this in mind when you get W8 and do some testing with your images to see if its still an issue.

Bottom line, don’t be put off by what you have read or your experience in the store. If you’re using W7 you should probably just stay with that unless you buy a new computer. XP and Vista I would say yes for photographers due to software issues alone, and you still get a faster more responsive interface. I’m glad I took a chance for $39. Now I just need to make a clone of the current drive and keep up my backups. IMO best OS yet and it likely to get better with updates and upgrades. My understanding is that MS will not be bringing out a major release every 3 yrs like in the past but instead will build on this platform and have yearly upgrades for a price, the first upgrade to Window 8 (Blue) will most likely be free for existing users because that upgrade will have some major changes in the Core programming  After that it will cost everyone. So the $39 upgrade in December – January is a big money saver for users of an older OS. Yes Windows 8 is a very good OS for photographers.

http://www.extremetech.com/tag/windows-8-tips    Tips for Windows 8

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/windows-8/ss/windows-8-clean-install-part-1.htm     Clean install how to.

The internet is full of tips and tricks for Windows 8.

The only way right now to change the start screen background  without hacking is to purchase the $5  Stardock Decor8 software app. The is just plain weird that Microsoft does not allow folks to change the BG.

All these little issues will get working out over time and is not reason to not use the product. Every OS had issues some that never got addressed. No OS satisfies everyone, there will always be the complainers out there just like with everything else. Apple has their issues too, namely right now it’s  their closed system which users have to find work arounds to do what they want (mostly applies to the ipads and phones). That too will change over time. I like Apple products but just can’t afford most of them (I do have an iPad). I remember when anything that worked with Apple/Mac costed twice as much, that used to really irritate me back in the day and I refused to be ripped off buying a printer that cost twice as much just because it worked with a Mac which already cost much more than a PC. These days it really does not matter what system you use anymore. The playing field is much more even. One thing though is that  Apples use IPS screens in pretty much all their product now which is really important to photographers using portable devices such as laptops etc. This is probably why so many pros use Apple laptops and iPad (most tablets now use IPS type displays now).

Update: It turns out W8 has some issues with PSCS6 which causes the work space to flash and change background colors (transparent – gray – black etc). You can go to preferences and either turn off the Graphics card under performance or select basic and see if that helps. I also got flashing making selections and zooming. I changed some settings in the Catalyst control center which  fixed only that. Also until I made those changes I had really bed jaggies when zooming in and out to any zoom level that was not an even number like 50% etc. The latest updates don’t fix it yet as of March 5th 2013. Adobe said they are working with vendors and MS to try and get it resolved. Not all video cards cause this.

Update 6/7/13:  You can remove the start up password if you like by typing netplwiz in the run dialog box (Hit the Window and R keys to get the run dialog box to show up). Once you do this you may have to change what happens once you computer comes out of sleep mode (laptops particularly). To do that go to your power settings in control center (hit window button and c then select settings and control panel) and select the advanced settings for sleep mode and uncheck the box for requiring a password on wakeup. My Windows 8 Pro has a different dialog box than a friends laptop so your options may be a bit different.  My computer is off by default but the laptop was not. If your option to uncheck the box is grayed out you need to select the change settings that are currently not available.    video for start up  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgP7oSWukb0    Video for sleep mode. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zJ17pYHI0U

Another way to get to control panel is thru your file cabinet at the bottom left of your desk top screen. click on that then click on the right arrow next to the word Libraries, than select control panel.  then select  category – large icons. Now you have a familiar layout.

A third way to get to control panel is to go to your metro screen that you see at start up and then put you mouse towards the bottom of the screen and right click then select ALL APPs then scroll to the right and you will find control panel.

A fourth way is to just start typing control panel while in the metro screen and vola it appears on the upper right of the screen. This is the simplest way to find anything in W8.

A fifth way to get to Control Panel is something you do every time you log out. when ever you are selecting shut down just look up and you will see the control panel option on the log out dialog box.

As you can see there are a lot of ways to find things in W8 and we all just tend to do things the same way each time, but first you need to know what is where.

Adobe Offers PhotoShop CS2 For Free?

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adobe-photoshop-cs2What probably was a link for older versions to be re-downloaded seems to have turned into a free offering. It’s been available since the 7th of January. As of March 5th it’s still there.

Update: Adobe just posted the following after almost 2 weeks of allowing folks to download with no message= “Adobe has disabled the activation server for CS2 products, including Acrobat 7, because of a technical issue. These products were released more than seven years ago, do not run on many modern operating systems, and are no longer supported.  Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software. The serial numbers below should only be used by customers who legitimately purchased CS2 or Acrobat 7 and need to maintain their current use of these products”.

Funny how Adobe knowingly allowed this to go on for 2 weeks before posting that message (actually it seems that the message was first posted on the first day than quickly removed for some unknown reason) and you still don’t need to log in to an account to access that page. This is just plain weird and makes no sense. How many hundreds of thousands of downloads have already been done by folks who have not seen that post. Again makes no sense what so ever. IMO that message came too late. Many folks who would not have ever used the expensive PS are now learning to use it and will most likely buy into the system one day when the current version goes on sale. I see it as  a trial that lasts longer than the 30 days for CS6 and as long as you plan to buy into PS as a result Adobe should have no issues with using it. It you don’t plan on buying into it for what every reason you might want to uninstall it. On the other hand you could view it this way, it was free with no notice at the time you downloaded it and Adobe had made the decision not to block downloads or have any notice at the time, that in itself seems to implied that you could use it.

The fact that there has been no official announcement after all this time to the masses who already downloaded it tells me Adobe is not worried about it. Most folks who downloaded the software have no idea about the above message.
So it’s up to you. The downloads are now on an Honor System, I have never seen that before. Adobe obviously does not really care at this point and probably reposted that message because their lawyers recommended it.

At almost 8yrs old the software is not going to appeal to everyone but it’s still very capable for doing layer work and such. You won’t be able to work with raw files unless your camera is the same age. If your currently using raw then you already have a converter, if not I highly recommend you start learning to process raw files.

download link from Adobe.


Dishonest folks won’t be using CS2 anyway when they can just download the free trail of CS6 Extended and jail break the registration,  there’s even YouTube videos on how to do it. Free software of any kind is easy as pie for dishonest people to get and use, this is a big problem in the software industry as well as the music and video industry. If you ever buy PS from an unauthorized dealer like on Ebay make sure you can get your money back if the software can’t be registered because it’s not a legal copy. If your going to do that you might as well get it for free instead of making the pirates rich. Its stealing  either way. You can buy and transfer a used copy but only if the original owner brought  and registered a legal copy, if it was not brought from Adobe than a valid receipt will be required as well. Transferring takes a little  time. Make sure to do your research before paying good money for a used copy. Nothing wrong with buying used just make sure you know what to do first. Here is a link to info on the subject as you can see it is more involved than you would expect. http://helpx.adobe.com/x-productkb/policy-pricing/transfer-product-license.html

You don’t have to be a PS guru to make good use of PS you just need to know what you need to do the work that you do. Many very well-known photographers are not post processing gurus they just know what they need to do the job.

Here is a $15 tutorial that will get you started (current sale price). I used this to help me transition from Paint Shop Pro, it made things a lot easier.


Lots of free tutorials on this site as well so donating $15 is well worth what is on offer there.   http://phlearn.com/2012/page/6    Don’t forget most of what you see in the tutorials can be done with PSPX5 as well.

The latest CS6 is a much more refined software and is my favorite version (although I can’t afford it at this time). PSPX5 (Paint Shop Pro) is all most would need but you don’t get a full 16 bit work flow. I like PSP but am not happy with how Corel is just adding fluff and is not really developing the software which had so much potential. There’s a reason most pros use the latest version of PS. It’s really too bad Corel is not interested in doing more with PSP or at least offering a higher end version of it to compete with PS. There too much of a price gap between the two offerings with no real competition in between that I have seen. As soon as CS6 goes on sale I’m in.

On march 2nd a week long event ended of free PS & LR classes by 13 of the best photographers in the business, 44 classes all day long for 6 days straight and all free. Individual classes could be purchased if desired for later viewing as well as the whole event for $299 (That’s only $6 per class) . This was a live event. I don’t think anything like this has every happened before. The quality of instruction was excellent. This was not advertising but real useful instruction. Each class was about 1.5 hrs long. Two classes ran at the same time, what I  did was switch between the two depending on the material being taught.

Once again DPreview.com (the largest camera equipment forum in the world) didn’t want any postings on the subject and my new account (the last one was banned) was once again Permanently banned for posting any info on” Photoshop Week” after the moderator deleted the posts 3 times . DPreview has some real issues about certain types of info when its posted (politics). And no they did not warn me or explain why the info is not allowed. I even wrote a letter from another account asking why the posts were deleted and that account was also shut down rather than explain what’s going on, they aren’t messing around with this type of information, DP is really serious about not posting info about Photoshop week just like they were about the free downloads from Adobe. Maybe because Adobe is sponsoring the event DPreivew is not allowed to advertise it in anyway (some kind of agreement). Anyway this was something that really deserved to be made known to other photographers. After all these years with DPreview and no problems I am now permanently banned from posting  there as a result of the above and I still don’t know what’s so bad about the information, just plain weird when you consider all the garbage that gets posted there everyday not to mention all the jerks that make the forums a place you probably don’t want to be most of the time. Maybe one of you can post something there about it and get an answer from them. I won’t open another account, I am done posting at DPreview.

I recommend signing up for news emails from Creative live so you don’t miss the next event.

Making Composite Images

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The image above is a composite from 5 photos, one of me in the studio and one of the house across the street and of lightning from the same spot but on a different night, plus a sunset and one of the bird. All blended together in layers using Paint Sho Pro X5. Akvis Smart Mask version 3,  Nik Color Efex Pro 3 for some color enhancement.

The trick to good extractions is to have the whole subject or area you want to extract in good focus and the background out of focus or at least a smooth surface that is a different color. Large aperture does not work here. I use Akvis Smart Mask for the extractions. In fact I use the older version 3 as I like it better, my testing shows that the older version gives more accurate hair extractions with my images. All the masking software (including PS) works about the same overall and none of them can perform miracles. If you have fuzzy edges the software will make a mess of things most of the time. The same thing goes if the background is in focus too. You must have good differentiation between the two for the software to do its job without artifacts showing up or having to do a tedious selection process. You need a difference in color or sharpness. Shooting older DX camera sensors at higher ISOs with its fuzzy edge definition  can cause problems as well. The cleaner the image and the sharper the pixels the better (but not grain). In my small garage studio I try to use as long a focal length as I can and use F8-11.  With a seamless background you could use a shorter focal lenght and F8 would be good too. I almost never use any of the clean up tools in Akvis Smart Mask because theres very little to clean up and what needs doing I can do later in layers. The clean up tools I use are the Erasure, Various selection tools, and the Change to Target tool (PSP X5, Photo Shop may call it something else). Often no clean up is needed. The clean up tools that most plug-ins have is about dropping and keeping colors with a magic brush, I find these tools need to be improved, I have tried all the latest masking SW and I don’t find those tool work too good most of the time and certainly not like their videos show. On some images yes but most of the time no. Photoshops Refine Edge seem to do a better job sometimes.  Joel Grimes is a master at this, check out his videos and website. Removing a tree with leaves etc from a background is a whole different job for the software and your mileage may vary. Hair is often the hardest thing to get right unless you have just the right conditions then any of the SW will do a great job.

Don’t be fooled by all the cool demo videos at the various software websites, those image are selected because they work well with their product. When you get home you will find it is not as easy as they promote unless your image is very close to theirs. Although they do work very well in many cases and can be faster and simpler for those non PS gurus.. Once you get the hang of it they all work and have the same tools for the most part. Some will perform better on one image then another then the next one will favor a different software. PS can can sometimes give the best redition but still it’s not perfect with difficult images. I have gotten results from PS that blew away the plug-ins in some areas of the image while the plug-ins did much better on other areas. In  these cases I will just blend the best from both if I have to. On One brand Masking software comes with Perfect layers built into it so if you don’t have Photoshop or Paint Shop you might find that is the best choice for you. There are some good tutorials out there that cover photoshop hair extractions. Joel Grimes covers it in depth in one of his paid videos. At least one of the Pro tutorials at Phlearn.com also covers that in more detail than the free ones. Most of the time my Akvis Smart Mask works just fine with only minimal clean up needed. With images that have a lot of wild hairs sticking out your going to lose some detail except under optimum conditions. A gray background  without any color in it can be a bit harder to do extractions than colored backgrounds with plug-ins. I use gray most of the time. Since I have very few situations where I need to extract a lot of wild hair I don’t usually have any issues. If you know ahead of time that you will be doing exactions than expose the BG so that there is a good tonal difference from the hair. As long as your going to put in a BG with similar tonality as the original you won’t have as many problems. Going to a white BG is probably the hardest as even a tiny bit of extra left over pixels from the old BG will show through. In most situations your subject probably wants you to clean up the wild hairs anyway so that makes things easier when cleaning up the extraction.



Part 2 of his interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nIv4lNrEDI&feature=plcp

Be sure to watch both interviews with Joel Grimes.

Here are his very informative Lit Up series.


If you look carefully at Mr. Grimes backgrounds on many of his sport shots for example you will see that they were often shot during the day as an HDR then processed to look like evening or night. Stadium lights are sometimes added as well as light rays emulating from the lights. He then sometimes brightens up the center area around the subject. Shooting during midday or afternoon opens up more shotting opportunities when processed this way. This mood is not done with HDR software but with blend modes in the layer pallete in PS. HDR software is just used to give a full tonal range to start with. Although Joel doesn’t always brighten up the center area it is a hallmark of this syle. I have yet to process a composite in that way.

Here is a link to a couple of photographers photostreams on Flickr  who do composites work .



There are also Composite groups to check out. Here is just one of them.


Processing. If you can visualize what you want before shooting you will fare better. Try to take background images with the intention of using it for a composite. The above example looks far different then the out of camera originals. The background was an HDR from inside a mechanics garage and the subject was taken out in the sun with an AB800 opposite the sun. Normally the subject would be shot in my studio using 3-5 lights , one gridded softbox over head and two  goboed speedlights or diffuesed 51″ PLM umbrellas from Paul Buff for the side lighting. One on camera for a light fill or reflector if needed. Nothing wrong with hard lighting if an edgy look is what your after. This type of lighting also helps with extractions because there is good contrast along the edges. Most lenses perform the same at samller apertures so even a cheap lens will do the job just fine. High MP cameras(24-36mp) may need to be shot at F5.6 -8 max for sharpest results. You will have to experiment to see what you can get away with and still get all the hair sharp. Most photographers don’t use a tripod in the studio when using flash but your results will be sharper and more consistant. I personally don’t like using a Tripod in the studio very often but I know I’m better off doing so.

Once you have your extraction done all you have to do is paste different images into your layers palette and see which one you want to use. Don’t forget to save you extraction in case at a later time you want to redo it or your software locks up on you and you lose all that time you put into it, seems more likely to happen when your working with a lot of layers. You may have to process the two images separately until they start to look right in your eyes. Again, it really is best to plan your shots ahead of time. If you go out with taking backgrounds in mind you will find that your captures  will be different than when you were just finding interesting things to shoot. Bring a note book with you to write down ideas for the captures or get  ideas from other photographers composites. Some  things to consider are making sure your perspective is the same for both the background and subject, I’m not  talking about the angle of view but your height and how level your camera is compared to your subject ,there is some leeway here but keep  that in mind. I have lots of ideas but very few models that match what I want to do. Having access to the venues you want to photograph helps too.

Action. If you want to capture action using flash your going to be limited to either speedlights or something like Paul Buff’s new Einstein studio lights as they have much shorter durations that lend very well to capturing movement. The Einsteins are by far the best action studio lights for the money. You should experiment before the shoot to make sure your equipment is up to the task, make sure which power settings give short enough flash duration to catch fast moving action at close range. Otherwise you might be surprized just how blurry the details are in the image. Your average studio flash is not up to the task of giving sharp images of things like water flying off your subject while moving.

Just a note to you real estate photographers who have been vistiing my blog the last few years, I recently deleted all my real estate related posts & pages. sorry but I am no longer involved in real estate or real estate photography.