Topaz Clarity

Topaz Labs make a whole bunch of awesome plug-ins, Topaz Adjust is my most often used one.  It can really make a photo pop; the downside with it is that it can generate a lot of noise.  (Noise is that grainy appearance you see sometimes in photos.)  This new plugin (Topaz Clarity) works with Photoshop Elements, Photoshop and Lightroom. I took this photo and enhanced with just a few clicks: I reckon the effects are best used with suble amounts of clarity.  If you want something less realistic, then stick with Topaz Adjust (or use in conjunction with Clarity). Topaz Clarity uses proprietary...

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Experience So Far

I’ve been using the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for the last month or so and thought I’d share some of my experiences so far. First a quick explanation what “mirrorless” cameras are all about; mostly they have no mirrors. Ok, that’s not very helpful! DSLR cameras have a mirror inside that reflect the image back up to the viewfinder. When you press the shutter button, the mirror flies-up and then the shutter opens, exposing your image. All of this happens in a fraction of a section. This idea has been around for decades, with the sensor replacing the film in modern cameras. Mirrorless...

New OnOne Perfect Photo Suite

OnOne Software have released an amazing new version of their “Perfect Photo Suite 8”.  I’ve been using their stuff for a few years and I love how you can quickly and easily get photo effects applied to any image. Being able to use presets and create your own is a sure fire way of working faster and smarter. Here is some details on the Suite: • Eight integrated modules – Effects, Enhance, B&W, Portrait, Mask, Layers, Resize, and Browse. Each module is designed to target a specific image-processing task. Together, they help photographers enhance, retouch, and stylize images in a...

Lensbaby Magic

Have you wondered how get some of those strange blurs and soft-focus on my photos?  Well, I will let you into a secret it isn’t through Photoshop magic; I use a lens system called “Lensbaby”.   Lensbaby is company that makes a series of creative lens – the Lensbaby system.   I call it a “system” as it a few lenses and attachments that you can mix together, depending on what kind of photography you are interested in.  The Lensbaby attaches to your camera like any other lens (they have mounts for Canon EF (EOS), Nikon F, Sony Alpha A / Minolta...

Setting your camera free

Have you ever been out with your camera, taken an awesome shot and the wished you could share it right then?  Of course, you could just use your phone camera all of the time but they don’t give the same kind of results as even a fairly in-expensive camera. This is where the Eye-Fi card comes in.  Basically it is a standard SD memory card with one additional feature; it has a built-in wireless transmitter.  All you do is insert into your camera in place of your standard SD card, “pair” with your phone (or tablet) and then as you shoot photos...

Lightroom 5 Top 5 New Features

Well, Adobe Lightroom 5 has been out for a couple of weeks now; have you managed to find time to download and try it out?   In keeping with the “5” theme I thought I’d share my personal favourite new features.  In no particular order… 1. Radial Filter We’ve always had the vignette feature (found under the Effects tab in the Develop module) and this was handy to create that classic vignette look (darkening around the corners).  It  was smart enough to still work nicely after you had cropped the image but that was about it in terms of “smarts”.  The thing...

The Olympus OM-D Camera

I love my Canon 5D DLSRs – the size of the sensor, the lens selection and the quality of the image it captures. For sure if you are shooting a wedding or the like, then using a full-frame, professional camera is a good idea. That being said a Canon 5D Mark 3 with a 70-200 f2.8 is not really a “walk-about” setup. Must be 3 kilos right there! The weight aside, the other thing I’ve noticed is how people look at you when walking around, taking street photographs. You “look” like a photographer plus that gear looks very tempting to would-be robbers. Have a...

Creating Light Magic with Topaz Star Effects

Here is something a little different to finish-out the week- Topaz Star Effects. Star Effects is a Photoshop Elements and Photoshop plugin that lets you add light effects to your photos. Using the Topaz Fusion tool you can also run this plug-in from within iPhoto or Apple Aperture. Like most plug-in effects type tools, Star Effects is best used in a subtle kind of manner; you don’t want to over do the effects. Star Effects works by picking-up highlights with your image and then using them as a basis to create fun effects. A good example of this is candles burning on a...

Photomatix Pro – Review

Use the coupon “stewartbaird” at the check-out and save 15% High-Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is the process where multiple exposures are combined into a single, composite image.  Creating HDR range images has been simplified greatly by the use software products such as HDRsoft’s Photomatix.  There are a number of similar products on the market-place but Photomatix is generally regarded as the best application around; it covers both Windows and Mac platforms as well. I tried most of the HDR applications and tools out there (including within Photoshop CS4) until finally settling on Photomatix.  Initially I was drawn to the ability to launch Photomatix...

OmniDiskSweeper – Review

I only review products and services if own and use them. OmniDiskSweeper is another great product from the team over at Omni Group.  This time it’s a simple utility for uncovering disk waste on your Mac. Have you ever wondered where your disk space has gone to?  That massive hard drive on your laptop; you know the one that you thought would never be too small.  After a truck-load of RAW images have been downloaded, you can find that your down to the free space “danger level”. Typical the space-hog culprits are media files, temporary files or cached content.  More to the...