It’s Hot. It’s Muggy … It’s County Fair Time.

Holts

Indiana in late July … food at the Monroe County Fair.

Indiana in late July … it’s hot. It’s muggy. It’s county fair time here in Monroe County. Sue and I went out last night in the heat and humidity, enjoying all rural Indiana has to offer on a local level. We ate; we saw art and crafts from people we knew; we visited the commercial building and scored free snow cones (and popcorn and pens and refrigerator magnets and bubble gum and suckers). We talked with local vendors and signed up for drawings of all shapes and sizes (and values). There were animals galore, the pride of a gaggle of 4-H’ers. We passed on the Midway rides, but it was filled with families and kids of every age. There were elk burgers, tenderloins, corndogs and Polish sausage; there was corn on the cob, lemon shakeups, and ice cream to go. Music was coming from three separate venues, and we never even got to the antique tractors and farm implements. It’s fair time, folks … a great time to be a Hoosier.

The photo at the top of the post is from Holts Cafe, set up for the week at the fairgrounds. i don’t ordinarily take pictures of my food, but this is Indiana’s State Sandwich. And Holts makes one of the best tenderloins I have ever tasted (for the second year in a row). Now, some sandwiches may try to stake their claim to greatness on the sheer size of the sandwich … Holts’ effort is Herculean! But it’s not just huge; it is absolutely delicious! Tender, moist, juicy – with a batter golden-fried and crunchy on the edges. This is fair food at it’s best; this is Indiana-in-the-summer food. I really wish you had been here. If you live anywhere in the area, the fair runs all week. Join us.

Holts 2

And this photo is at the end of this delicious meal. I ate. And I ate. And I ate. And what is pictured is a full half of a half of that massive tenderloin. And the fried pickles were enough for a family of five, easily. They were equally as delicious (as were the fried green tomatoes that Sue tried). The sandwich was seven dollars; the sides were five dollars apiece. Sue brought the rest of the pickles and the tenderloin home – I already am looking forward to tomorrow’s supper. Thank you, Holts.

And congratulations go out to Bloomington Photography Club members for the great images and wonderful success they found at the fair. Eddie Relic had the Reserve Champion in one of the four classes of Photography. Curt White had both a Champion and a Reserve Champion photo, and Renee Rezvan had a Champion in one class, and that image went on to be the overall Reserve Champion of the entire show! Half of the possible Champion and Reserve Champion photos belonged to friends from the club. Congratulations are most deserved as the fair’s photography exhibit is growing by leaps and bounds each year, both in number of entries and in quality. If you are a photographer and if you live in our area, go see the show. It’s worth your time, I promise.

Now, if fair organizers could just do something about that humidity ….

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Sue Haverstock: Photos And Sales.

Checkers Sue
Checkers (from Story, In) … Sue’s latest sale.

Not much new to report when it comes to my photography lately. But, never fear. Sue has found some most deserved success in our area with her photos, making up for what I haven’t been able to do. She has received recognition on two separate fronts, including one that counts the most when it comes to real world compliments … sales.

At our recent Bloomington Photography Club’s annual juried show on the IU campus there were some 90 photos on display. There was a box near the entrance into which patrons could deposit their respective votes for the image they most liked. This was a really good show; the competition was stiff. Our reception was well-attended that night, and as I roamed the gallery I paid some amount of attention to listening what visitors were saying and observing which photos they seemed most attracted to. I could tell that Sue’s three were drawing a lot of attention, and the comments I overheard were enthusiastically positive. As it turns out, at the end of the evening all three of her photos were in a tie for the second-most popular of the entire show. All three! That says something most positive about her artistry and her ability to translate what she saw into images that touched many others. Congratulations, Sue!

No, my photo did not garner any votes for most popular. But thank you for inquiring.

Then Sue received an email Sunday night that the photo she had (I now emphasize ‘had’) hanging at local restaurant Lennie’s (another club show) was sold. We all appreciate the encouraging and glowing compliments we sometimes receive for our work. It’s nice to hear; no doubt about that. But the real compliment is when someone backs up that attraction to our work by purchasing it and taking it home with them. That speaks volumes about their true appreciation for what we have worked so hard at capturing. Plus, Lennie’s is a strong supporter of club activities and community art events in general. They ask for no commission or fees for hanging our works or managing the sales. So all of the sales price is waiting for Sue to drop by and pick up. Thank you, Lennie’s! And congratulations again, Sue!

No, my photo still is available at the restaurant if you would like to drop by to see it. Thank you again for your interest in what I have been up to lately.

Life is good. It is so enjoyable to see the success Sue is having and watch her at work. Friendly rivalry here at home between dueling photographers, you ask? Not really. She has turned out to be the true photographer in the family … and I can happily live with that.

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Photo Pro Expo 2016: Plan To Attend. Plan To Save.

Photo Pro

Join us in Kentucky this coming February … at a very special price.

I have attended David Ziser’s Photo Pro Expo in Covington, Kentucky for the past three years. Each year has been instructive and fun and most enjoyable. Each year we also have picked up more members from the Bloomington Photography Club to attend, word-of-mouth and customer satisfaction being the best advertising. There are nationally-known speakers onstage morning to might each day, speakers who know their stuff and are eager to share with the rest of us. The expo comes at the beginning of the year (February 4-8 in 2016), a time when we all are emerging from our long winter’s hibernation and looking forward to getting back out there with a camera in hand. David and his lovely wife, Dawn, and a most talented staff never have failed to put on an almost-flawless show for the ever-growing number of photographers who attend. There also are free prizes, parties, refreshments and all kinds of other goodies available all that week. And don’t overlook the largest vendor floor in the Midwest for show specials and the latest in gear. Seriously, folks – if you are looking for an outstanding event early in the photo year, give a lot of thought to joining us in Covington this coming February.

Now, why mention this show, as good as it is, so early? After all, it is still only July, isn’t it? Yes, it is. But here’s the exciting deal I have for you (and it goes away on July 31st, just days from now). The regular price for the entire set of events is $279. The advance registration is only $179, a bargain for what you get. But the advance advance registration is merely $109! And that is a bargain, indeed! There are some truly great speakers and topics to be presented during those four days in February, with some real learning taking place. I think I counted 24 speakers, three free parties (complete with refreshments), and the chance for some quite valuable prizes for 2016. All for $109 if you sign up this week. Thank you, David Ziser!

Here is a link to sign up (use the product code save170 when registering for the special price). And here is a link to the schedule for all four days, including the topics you can choose from when deciding on who you want to hear and what you want to see. Don’t take my word for it; see for yourself. This is a most worthwhile event for any photographer; it is an especial bargain at this reduced rate.

I already have signed up. I will be attending with a bunch of fellow photographers from the Bloomington Photography Club. And we will be joined by others from all over the Midwest and the rest of the country (this is far from being strictly a Midwest show). Check out the schedule and the presenters. Consider that special price. Sign up this week before the rate increase.

See you for sure this next February!

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Maui Potpourri: Some Photos

Bamboo
Click on the bamboo forest to see a few more images from Maui.

A potpourri of photos today, just things we saw and enjoyed and sometimes marveled at on our Maui visit with Raymond and Devi Jabola. To be honest, we spent a great deal of time relaxing and resting and eating and just enjoying the island and its lifestyle. The shooting came in second (or third). So today some photos that just sort of point out some of the island. Click on the image at the top of the post or just click here to see them.

It was a great trip.

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Going Shooting On Maui? Some Advice.

Haleakala waterfall
Click on the waterfall to see a few more images from Maui.

Today I posted just a couple more images from Maui. They are typical roadside scenes, scenes just not seen while driving Indiana’s backroads. And then there is Haleakala, Maui’s formative (and thankfully dormant) volcano. It is spectacular, inside and out. Sue and I came home with memories of a trip that inspired and amazed. Maui is a destination worth saving and planning for. Click here or on the photo of the waterfall to see the rest.

If you have a trip to this island paradise on your list of things-to-do and places-to-visit I would offer a few points of advice. I am not a seasoned traveller or expert photographer, but I learned a few things by trial and error on our recent trip.

Pack light. The island is a wonderful and exciting place to visit. And, of course, to shoot. But lugging a full backpack loaded down with full frame cameras and lenses of every focal length will wear you out in the heat and humidity (to say nothing of some of the climbs you will find yourself making). I took a Nikon D810, telling myself I wanted the nth degree of quality to capture this exotic locale. It was really heavy on those climbs I referred to; I found myself wishing I had taken the Fuji X-T1 instead. The quality of that smaller camera would have been plenty for everything I did. I was smart enough to limit myself to two lenses: the do-everything 28-300 and a 16-35 wide angle. I probably could have made do with just the longer zoom, but the wide angle is good insurance. Don’t weigh yourself down with any more than that in any circumstance. You will think you need all that gear you have collected for so long -it’a a trap. Travel light.

Don’t spoil your trip shooting. That sounds heretical coming from a fellow photographer, doesn’t it? And ignore that advice, of course, if you are there on a photo tour or workshop. But if you are going to see the island and explore all it has to offer? Thinking you have to shoot, shoot, shoot and not miss anything under any circumstances will leave you worn out and unable to experience what Maui truly is like. Island time is a bit different from what most of us are used to. You get things done … you just don’t rush to do it all at once. And if the small things actually don’t get done? Well, there is all that other good stuff to do to make up for it. Think seafood fresh from the sea; tropical breezes under beautiful skies next to incredibly blue waters; leisurely drives to get most anywhere (you will want to see what you are driving by and some of the mountain roads are conducive to 15 mph speeds). My point is that you will come home without the great memories inside your heart if you don’t slow down and let the island entertain you. It is that kind of a place – don’t spoil it rushing around thinking you have to shoot every possible thing you run across.

Shooting isn’t as easy as you might think. Great subjects? You bet. Lots of them? Yes. But shooting in Maui is like shooting anywhere else, only more so than many places. The sun and the light are intense other than in those golden hours. And I mean really intense. If you are determined to come home with documentary snapshots of everything you see … well, okay then. Shoot away in that harsh light and capture it all. But if you want to come home with some truly outstanding images you are going to frustrate yourself trying to shoot all day in that sun and its harsh shadows. That’s where you just sit back and enjoy the view. Go with the flow. Enjoy being there and not trying to do the impossible all the time. Plan your shooting for when the shooting is good, just like you do at home. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because the location is exotic that the shooting will suddenly take care of itself. You may be able to handle those harsh conditions much better than I. Just don’t ignore all the wonderful sights around you in a panic over what you are capturing.

You have to drive to see everything. The island isn’t especially big, but the places you will want to shoot are not all next to one another, either. When we went shooting we tried to cover sections of the island one day at a time. We would leave early and get home late, tired and needing time the next day to recuperate. We drove a lot of miles to see the sights we wanted to see. You have to go with the flow of traffic. For example, the must-do drive to Hana is something like 67 hairpin curves and 51 one-lane bridges. There is a lot of traffic all the time and it moves at the posted speed limit (15-20 mph) or slower. Out of necessity. There are hikes and climbs to get to waterfalls and secret beaches. That takes time (and energy). Going back to my main point – you will wear yourself out and give up enjoying a lot of what Maui has to offer with its laid back lifestyle if you always are rushing and driving to get somewhere. Plan days where you really don’t shoot and don’t do much of anything else so you can enjoy yourself.

These aren’t earth-shaking tips, I know. But you really can spoil a wonderful trip if you are not careful. The photos may be important to you. I get that; they are important to me, also. But I was surprised with how few images I came home with after two weeks there. And that it didn’t bother me to know that while we were there and now that we are home. Sue and I have memories of that trip that are locked in our hearts, better than any photo I ever have taken. What’s that saying you hear all the time? It’s the journey, not the destination? If you are planning a trip to Maui take my advice and make both your priority.Take you camera by all means. But don’t make it the focal point of all you do while you are there. Maui has a lot more to offer than that.

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Home From Maui … The Island Paradise

Raymond Olivina-1

Click on the photo of Raymond to see a few more images from Maui.

Sue and I are home from a glorious and most relaxing two weeks on the island paradise of Maui. The island’s beauty and attractions were exceeded only by the friendship and generosity of our hosts, Raymond and Devi Jabola. They made us feel welcome from the moment we arrived at the (open air) airport to the time we reluctantly had to leave. They are more than friends, as warm and generous as they are – Raymond and Devi are family. Both went out of their way for the entire period to make sure we enjoyed every moment of our stay. And that we did … fully and completely. We cannot thank them enough – or tell you adequately what wonderful friends they are. Thank you, Raymond and Devi!

Maui is an incredible island. It is made for enjoyment. The people are warm and generous, welcoming and friendly. Tropical in nature and climate and appearance, Maui is made up of at least half a dozen separate geo-climates. We went from a 10,000 foot volcano to secret beaches washed by blue seas. There was a bamboo forest unlike anything we ever had seen growing above farms and pasture lands Indiana farmers would be most envious of. Maui is a constant stream of attractions, beauty at every turn. It is a marvelous place in which to travel and to vacation. And we saw it all from an insider’s view – Raymond and Devi know the island as well as anyone who lives there. Our trip was a joy.

I had planned to shoot and shoot and shoot. And there was plenty to photograph. The island has a pace and style of its own, however. Raymond and Devi advised right off that there is a relaxation and ease that can lull visitors and locals alike. It can, and it did. We relaxed and we slept and we swam and we shopped and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We shot a few times and in a few places, but we mostly enjoyed Raymond and Devi and Maui’s attractions. We came home refreshed and revived. And with a few images to process and to share. I will be posting some as we get caught up here at home with everyday chores.

The photo at the top of this post is of our dear friend Raymond. He had taken us along the coastal highway to a beautiful location named Olivina Point. It was stark and beautiful at the same time. It was a joy just to sit and listen to the sea rushing ashore, to see the bluest water we ever had been around. It was a bit of a trek from top to bottom; you forget how quickly Maui changes in elevation until you begin climbing about. Sue stayed up near the top to shoot some of the scene from a higher point; that’s her on the cliff above Raymond. It will give you some idea of what much of Maui’s coastline looks like. Click on that image to see a couple more from Olivina Point. Or you always can just click here.

It is nice to be home. But Maui is fresh in our minds, and it remains in our hearts. It will stay safely there for time to come, right alongside the friendship of Raymond and Devi. That we always will treasure.

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Stretch Your Wings: Enter A Photo Contest

ViewBug
Check out ViewBug for a wide variety of free photo contests.

I purchased the photo bundle that good friend Richard Small put me on to last week (and that I posted about afterward). One of the fun-type products included was premium access to ViewBug, home to a great number (and variety) of photo contests. You can join for free, which is nice because you have a chance to see if this site is for you without encumbering strings of any kind. Even with a free membership you can upload photos and enter contests from day one. Your images are seen by all kinds of photographers, and it is nice to receive some feedback now and then from others. it’s a bit of fun, a bit different.

The number of contests going on at any given time is quite impressive. The variety of subjects is equally so. And this isn’t just a vanity exercise; some of the prizes awarded to contest winners certainly are ones worth vying for. And there are peer awards and likes and all kinds of nice little awards that you can receive from those reviewing your photos. Like I said, it’s nice to get a bit of positive feedback now and then. ViewBug can provide that feedback.

Use this link to check out the website and the contests that are current. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to sign up and to participate on the site. I have added a few images to my page; I have received some welcome feedback. See what you think and if ViewBug is right for you. For a site I had not heard of until a few days ago I was impressed. You may find you are, also.

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His Light Brown County Part Of National Ad

Haverstock_Jim-1
An idea of what is waiting for you in Story during a His Light workshop.

I received some exciting news yesterday from my good friend and mentor Bill Fortney. One of his photos taken during last fall’s His Light workshop in Indiana’s beautiful Brown County has been selected as part of an upcoming national ad campaign. We all know Bill as an amazing photographer, a true national treasure. So it is always a pleasure to see that ability rewarded with something like this. It is even more rewarding to having been present while the image selected for the campaign was shot during our workshop together last year. Brown County is a most beautiful part of southern Indiana, and the locations we visit are chosen to reflect that beauty and the charm of this area. To know that others see and recognize what we believe is just pretty darned nice (as Midwesterners would say) is most gratifying. Congratulations, Bill!

One of the locations we visit during the workshop is rustic Story. Not only is there plenty to shoot, but the people there are most warm and welcoming (and the food is delicious). One of my friends, Chris Easton, brought his 1931 Ford Model A (a beautiful car!) over to lend even more ambiance to the old inn and general store. It made for a memorable shoot, one now capped off with Bill’s photo featured in this upcoming national ad. To say we are excited and happy for Bill and for Chris and his outstanding car is an understatement. When I talked to Chris today he was thrilled. And ready to do it all over again.

Next October His Light is putting on another workshop in Brown County (for details and to sign up contact Jim Begley at wowphotoshdr@yahoo.com). We visit spots that provide the opportunity for some great shots of a wooded and rustic county. Chris is already at work arranging for some absolutely beautiful cars to shoot while to visit Story. Next year we hope to populate Story with several cars of that age, recreating a typical morning gathering at the old store from years ago. I promise you an exceptional opportunity for great shooting. We also will be shooting old log cabins and buildings in a wooded site filled with artifacts that will catch the eye and your camera. It’s a time of year for fall foliage and beautiful landscapes. The news of Bill’s image used for a national advertising campaign is more evidence that Brown County could be just the place you are looking for next October.

Join us next year for this His Light workshop. I promise you … the shooting is great. The fellowship and friendship you will experience is even greater.

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That Fuji Firmware Update? It Works.

X-T1

Fuji warning for non-Fuji shooters (and those not interested in things Fuji). Today’s post concerns yesterday’s Fuji firmware upgrade from version 3.0 to 4.0. It works. I’m not sure it rises to the level of making the X-T1 a brand new camera, but it is a substantial upgrade that makes the camera more responsive and more effective. It works.

There are all kinds of reviews and technical pages and explanations out there regarding the upgrade. I won’t go into all the minutia. My test was a field test, a hands-on-by-an-ordinary-user test. I upgraded the X-T1 and put Fuji’s macro 60mm lens on (90mm equivalent). This is a very sharp lens, but one that almost every reviewer complained that was rather slow to focus. They all admitted that once it locked on, it truly was locked on. It was just kind of slow. Not so much now, Fuji shooters. There is a noticeable improvement in how quickly the lens locks on to its target; I don’t know what would cause that other than yesterday’s upgrade. I’m not a pixel peeper nor a technical writer or professional photographer. I could see the difference. I didn’t try the 35mm, but other Fuji users who had the beta copy of version 4.0 had used it with the X-T1 and that lens. They reported results similar to what I saw with the 60 … the 35 didn’t hunt for focus; it just locked on and hung on. Thank you, Fuji.

Now, I don’t think Fuji users will see this sort of improvement with all lenses. I also put the 18-135 on the X-T1 and did some quick focus tests. I couldn’t see any difference from what it did with version 3.0. And I don’t know about any of the other Fuji lenses in their rather extensive inventory. But if these two were improved, I can only guess that others were, also. This was a much-anticipated and much-appreciated upgrade.

There are other improvements to the X-T1 that are going to be very popular, especially the improved focus tracking. I am watching closely the experiences of others until I can do my own (which I will pass on at that time). Until then, thank you, Fuji. Your commitment to customer satisfaction is appreciated. Your efforts to improve existing products is appreciated even more.

Onward and upward, fellow Fuji shooters. To the moon and beyond!

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Find Your Special Birthday Song. Buying Name Brands.

Air-rocket
The Giotto Rocket Blaster, an industry standard.

I don’t know how he finds them, but my good friend Richard Small often sends me internet items that amuse, inform and astound. They are not life-and-death articles; many times they simply add a bit of fun to an otherwise ordinary day. The end of last week was one of those times. Richard sent me a link to a website that doesn’t do much but entertain (but entertain it did – and does). You enter your birth date and the site tells you the #1 song for that particular day. Then it will play it for you. Yes, I am not sure of the need for such a site, but, face it, it’s kind of fun. What I found most interesting for my birthday (and those of family members I looked up) was the number of performers I had never heard of (let alone the songs they were doing). I mean, how many of you are familiar with Vaughn Monroe? And his hit song, Ballerina? Sure wasn’t me!

It’s a fun start to a rainy (here) Monday. Use this link to see your own birthday song, your own personal song. And, Happy belated Birthday!

Then a more useful bit of information (or advice), I hope. Based on Bill Fortney’s love of the Fuji 18-135 zoom lens and his magnificent use of it, I picked one up. Fuji’s lens lineup is first-class; they are producing lenses that are sharp, sharp, sharp. This particular lens is more than a good convenience, walking around lens; it is capable of producing consistently outstanding images. I am most impressed and most pleased with Bill’s recommendation and with the lens. And when I received the lens I was sent a nice little bundle of extras from Adorama (at no additional charge). There was a lens cleaning pen, a small blower brush, a set of three filters to fit the new lens, and some lens cleaning supplies (including a small lipstick brush). It was thoughtful of Adorama to send these items to me; they are a very good company with which to do business. But, what’s that old saying? Many times you get what you pay for.

I have an original LensPen, given to me by dear friend Richard Small. It is quality throughout – a solid, well-put-together, quality item. The free one? No markings, lightweight, cheap. The business end of it feels so rough that I would be afraid to use it on my sensor or my lens. The filters are the right size for the lens – a UV, a circular polarizer, and an ND filter. They are manufactured by Vivitar, a name not unknown in the photo world. They also are very lightweight, flimsy almost when compared to the Singh-Ray filters I own. That’s not to be snobbish … the Singh Ray filters are substantial, solid, without any discernible color cast. The Vivitars look on close examination to have a cast to them (one probably correctable in Photoshop, but a cast, nonetheless). And the little blower? OMG, as the kids would write! I can puff out more air than this thing can! The Giotto Rocket Blaster is still the industry standard to me. For a reason. Oh, and that lipstick brush? The bristles are so rough that I would hesitate to use it on the lens. The design is good; the execution left a lot to be desired. Thank you, Adorama …but you really shouldn’t have.

We should be wary of becoming equipment snobs; there has to be something behind that brand name for it to mean something. But so often, there is! The companies that are considered industry standards got that way by producing a product that worked, one that worked better than the rest. Those companies that compete strictly on price have to cut corners somewhere. Now, every so often we find one that does so successfully; they have discovered a new method or technique or something that gives them an advantage over everyone else. That way they can compete both on quality and on price. When they do it is possible to become the new industry leader, in fact. That news travels fast among photographers; when something works we all want to share the news. But way too often the cut-rate product suffers in function or quality when corners are cut – it simply is the nature of business.

Remember my earlier posts on dealing with really Right Stuff and Singh Ray after my unintended bath during the Grandfather Mountain workshop? I couldn’t be happier with the way I was treated; it was way above what I expected (or probably deserved). That’s the brand name thing at work. I bought quality, top-of-the-line products from great companies; when I needed their assistance, they were there without hesitation. I can’t say the same thing would have been true if I had been dealing with companies who were cutting corners or selling less worthy items. I do know that I have in my possession items from industry leaders and some from much lesser quality companies. And there is no comparison.

Do your homework. Research purchases. Ask for advice or recommendations from other photographers you trust and admire. Consider the long-range use of those purchases, not just the initial cost involved. Make sure the whatever you buy will actually do the job for which it is intended … and for the time in which you hope to use it. A great thinker once wrote that it is unwise to pay too little for an object because it often fails to accomplish the task for which it was intended. If you pay too much for the object all you lose is a bit of money; if the items fails at its job, then you have lost your entire investment. The brand names that we have come to depend on have earned their reputation. It doesn’t hurt to look for others; it doesn’t hurt to research others. It does hurt to buy products that won’t stand the test of time.

Adorama was most generous to send along those extra items. I’m sure I can find a good home for them. Just not this one.

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His Light Workshops: The Really Great Things You Discover

Breyers
If we a cheeseburger pickle scale for ice cream, this one would be at the top!

A small and quick post for today – but one I am willing to bet will stick with a great many of you for a long time to come. It’s about the truly exciting things you discover and take home with you from photo workshops, especially His Light workshops.

Now, the one that comes to mind first (and the one we talk about often) is the wonderful friendships to be made, the fellowship of His Light. Sue and I have so many dear friends now that we never would have met if it wasn’t for His Light (and Bill Fortney and Jim Begley). We truly give thanks for that and for those friends.

We also have had some truly great cheeseburgers as we have traveled with Bill and the His Light gang. Bill is a connoisseur and true master when it comes to cheeseburgers, a cheeseburger expert and purist. He has taken us to some real holes-in-the-wall that we never would have found on our own, places with the very best cheeseburgers in America. That never was something we would have anticipated when we signed up for a photo workshop; call it an unexpected (and most appreciated) bonus. The search for the best best cheeseburger goes on with every new location and every new session … and we all are so very happy that it does.

And today I would like to add another serendipitous discovery that came about from a recent shooting event with Bill and Jim. We were in North Carolina, shooting in the Grandfather Mountain area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During conversation with the great new friends we made there the talk turned to those cheeseburgers and food in general. And Kroger’s premium lineup of ice cream came up, specifically their Denali Moose Tracks (miniature peanut butter cups in vanilla ice cream , all swirled with Moose Tracks fudge). Bill turned us on to this treat, and he first discovered it from a workshop participant some time back. And, trust me … the stuff is tantalizingly delicious, even addictive. It has become a regular in our household (even though we try desperately to hold down the consumption). But, thanks to Tom Roper on our Grandfather Mountain outing, there is a new ice cream sheriff in town.

Tom advised us we had to try Breyers’ Waffle Cone and Chocolate Chip ice cream; he swore we never would go back. What? And abandon our Moose Tracks? Never! Well, yesterday Sue brought home a carton of the Breyers that Tom had raved about. Move over, Moose Tracks; there’s a new sheriff in town! Rich and creamy and way too easy to sit down with as a treat. This stuff could definitely be dangerous to one’s diet. Take from me today … you gotta try this one. Mark it down as stuff you learned from a photo workshop, stuff that makes the workshop doubly enjoyable.

So here’s the plan for this weekend. Check out Bill’s cheeseburger diary over on his website. Find the best burger available from that list that is close to wherever you are (or can reasonably drive to). Order up a cheeseburger and fries, just the way Bill likes them, then drive like crazy to get home for a bowl of the Breyers ice cream that you picked up at the local grocery beforehand. Oh, yeah … if you throw in a camera and some shots of whatever along the way, so much the better. But the cheeseburger and the ice cream? That’s the for-sure thing – about this weekend and about a good photo workshop.

Enjoy the weekend … ice cream in hand.

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Short Notice: Buy This Bundle.

I received notice from several well-known persons I follow about a bundle of photography-related products. The senders included favorites Lindsay Adler and David Ziser, among others. There person I paid most attention to, however, was my good friend and master photographer, Richard Small. You have seen his work many times here, and I have urged you to examine his works repeatedly to see for yourself what makes a great photo. Richard purchased this bundle, and he assured me there are individual parts alone that are worth more than the combined asking price of $99.00. And when Richard speaks, i pay attention. And I am not going out on even a short limb to suggest that you should, also.

Here is a link to check out the bundle and place an order. i waited until now to make my purchase. But I did … and I am glad I did. Hurry to at least see what is available at this most reasonable price before it is too late.

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Gotta Mac? Have Some Macphun

Macphun

My lovely wife has been touting Macphun’s lineup of software for some time now, almost since she began processing with her MacBook Pro. I was Windows, and I already had the Nik suite (plus onOne’s software and Perfectly Clear). I figured I had everything I needed to do the processing I wanted; another set of tools was just overkill. She was turning out some really nice images, and I became a bit more interested. But I still was a PC guy, and the Macphun products are Mac only. So I lived without it. Then I became so fed up with the whole Windows experience that I made the big switch. And there was Macphun.

Sue had the software already, and it was installed just on her laptop. Her license allowed it to be on two machines, and she kept urging me to add it to mine. I resisted, still thinking I had all the processing tools I needed. Then we took Adobe’s Creative Suite off the PC (it is out of commission now), and installed the new CC 2015 products on her machine. And while doing all the downloads and copying I thought I might as well take just a peek at the Macphun software. Friends, please remind me that when she tells me something I should pay it a lot of attention. This Macphun thing is pretty cool.

We have Snapheal Pro, the program that fixes imperfections and removes undated objects, along with Intensify Pro (the Nik Color Efex competitor). We also have Tonality Pro, the black and white convertor. I have been wringing out all three, and I like what I see. The programs are geared for Mac, and Mac only. I don’t know if that makes them more attuned to the nuances of Apple machines and therefore able to better take advantage of what they have to offer. But they are fast and smooth and give some most impressive results. The presets get you into the neighborhood every time; the finer adjustment sliders are many and varied. These are instinctive, easy-to-use programs … beginners should have no qualms about jumping right in. The results I am getting are most pleasing to me. I find myself opening the Macphun products rather than the others I own almost every time now. Macphun goes together with the Mac like a hand in a glove. It’s a great fit.

I won’t go into a technical review of Macphun; there are lots of them out there already. But I will offer these user thoughts: the programs aren’t cheap, but neither are they prohibitively expensive for the results you get. If you have an Apple system I strongly urge you to check out the website for yourself (use this link). And if you are interested, keep checking their site and their Facebook page for sales and discounts. If you are careful you can usually find a coupon good for something off; just keep your eyes peeled. Now, if I had a PC would I be interested in anything Macphun? Ha! Trick question; Macphun still is Apple products only. No PCs need apply. And what if I already have the Nik suite? And/or the onOne suite? Or the Topaz lineup of products? Tougher question. But … I would give some serious thought to adding this to my arsenal.

If you do a lot of processing (and we all do anymore), give some serious thought to these Mac products. Some really serious thoughts, as they are that good. If I did a lot of processing and had the spare cash I definitely would make a purchase. If I didn’t have the cash available? If I was happy with the results I was getting with my current tools? I wouldn’t rush out to buy the Macphun programs. Nik still is really good, as are the others I mentioned. Many times software at a high level can be like cameras at a high level: the skill and creativity of the user becomes more important than the tools used. It still makes sense to learn whatever you are using thoroughly and to exercise your artistic eye with it. But, that said, learning a couple of programs really well and going with the one you need at any given time for any given project makes a lot of sense, also. And that’s where Macphun can come in and really shine.

I am impressed with these programs. Sue was right (again). If you haven’t checked out the Macphun lineup I urge you to do so. They have free trials for everything, which always is a good idea (as long as you really use the product during that time period). Give Macphun a whirl and let me know what you think. I promise it’s worth your time.

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Installing Photoshop CC 2015: Those Pesky Plugins

Today is an update to the post on installing your plugins on Photoshop CC 2015. I took the copy-and-paste route (moving the plugins from Photoshop CC 2014 into the corresponding folder in the new version) instead of installing everything from scratch (as Adobe counsels). I have been using and testing how this method is holding up, given the misgivings some have about using the copy method. No problems on my machine, I am happy to report. I saved a bunch of time; if you are on the fence give the easy way some serious consideration.

That said, the method didn’t work quite as well on Sue’s laptop (also a MacBook Pro). She never had switched over to the subscription versions of the Creative Cloud. I had a version on my Windows machine, and then I added them to the new laptop when I decided to go the Apple route. So we used up our two copies, and Sue stayed with the versions of Photoshop and Lightroom that we owned outright. Yesterday I decided that the Apple experiment is a success and that it was time to pull the plug on the old PC. As a side note, I went back to deactivate the Adobe products on the PC and was put off on how unwieldy it seemed. I can’t tell you exactly why; I just like the feel and operation of the MacBook Pro much more. It was just a short time ago that I feared getting the hang of the Mac; I wouldn’t go back now. The Mac has a fun feel to it (and the power to back it up) a bit like the Fuji has when compared to the Nikon DLSR. So once I deactivated the Creative Cloud on the PC I was free to install it on the other laptop. That was easy, and it went off with no hitches. Except for some of the plugins.

Maybe I became a bit too complacent. I copied the plugins folder from my machine and transferred it over to the other laptop (the same method I used last week). The Nik software went off like a charm. Rad Lab copied just fine. Perfectly Clear had all the parts, but the first time I gave it a whirl it suspected I was using a trial version (it wanted activating). I had the serial number and was able to go dig it up (what I was seeking to bypass). But when I opened Perfectly Clear the second time it worked just fine; I didn’t need the number after all. The real hang up came with our noise reduction program, Imagenomic’s Noiseware. It didn’t show up at all in the filters list. I made sure it was there and looked right, but it just wouldn’t work. I deleted it and tried going the fresh install route. No luck (which really had me puzzled). I tried three times to download it and have it find the new version of Photoshop. It kept wanting to install it into CC 2014 (where it already was residing). Then I received an error message indicating some internal problem. I deleted all the efforts and re-boooted the Mac. I tried once more (after having gone through the trouble of digging out the serial number for our original purchase). This time it installed okay, but it still couldn’t find CC 2015 on its own. So, in a last ditch effort, I copied the plugin from the CC 2014 folder one more time into the 2015 one. No luck … or so I thought. Noiseware didn’t show up two separate times when I opened Photoshop; but, lo and behold, the third time was the charm! I opened PS and there it was! Don’t ask me how or why, but it worked.

I don’t think copying and pasting was the problem with Noiseware. It seems it hasn’t yet caught up with Adobe when it comes to installation (it can’t find 2015). So, actually, pasting appeared to be the only way to get it working. In any event, we are up and running. I recommend trying the cut-and-paste method first, before all that other work. You don’t have a lot to lose by trying, and you do have a lot of time to gain. And a final bit of advice – stick with the process. My good friend Richard Small advised me not to overthink the Mac, to just try putting things where they seem to belong on the face of it. And he is right! The Mac works more intuitively (to me now) than did the PC. The switch is complete; the PC is no more.

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Photoshop CC 2015: Fresh Install Of Your Plugins … Or Just Copy ‘Em?

adobe1

It’s nice that Adobe gives us updates of their programs. We just received Photoshop CC 2015, and it is appreciated. But … boy do I ever dislike the task of setting it up from scratch, including reinstalling my plugins. Actions transfer over automatically; plugins require us to do the heavy (and manual) lifting. I put it off yesterday, figuring I had to get at it today to do some processing. Then I found myself wondering if I could take a most tempting shortcut … just copying my Photoshop CC 2014 plugin folder over to the new version. That would save a ton of time, including finding any necessary serial numbers. Adobe advises not to do it that way. Their recommendation is a fresh install for all plugins. What to do? What to do?

My good His Light friend Kent Ervin suggested over on Facebook that it is best to go the fresh install route (he quoted Adobe). Good friend Jim Begley replied with a post that said it was too late for him to take that advice – he already had copied his plugin folder from the 2014 version over to the new one. Jim said his Photoshop was working fine, that he would advise if he suffered a crash down the line. Both men are expert photographers with lots and lots of experience. Both produce beautiful work; both know processing inside and out. So, which route should I take?

Convenience won out over the safe and sure. I copied my plugins from one folder to another, fast and easy. I have done it the other way before; I just wanted to get the whole thing over this time. I had the Nik collection, onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite, some Topaz programs, and a few other odds and ends to move over. Then I opened the new version of Photoshop and tested all of them. Only one hiccup! The Perfectly Clear plugin wouldn’t open. I had that downloader still on the computer from the last time I did this, so I installed it from scratch. It worked perfectly that time. I have opened and closed Photoshop a bunch of times and played with a half dozen photos using all the plugins since moving them. No problems.

I’m willing to see if I have problems down the road with some esoteric part of one of the plugins. Odds are it’s not gonna happen, and I am loving how quick and easy doing it that way was. So, if you haven’t begun setting up your new version of Photoshop yet, my advice is to take the copy-and-paste route. You really have little to lose by trying. And a lot of time to gain.

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