Lightroom CC 2015: Testing The New Dehaze Filter

One of the new features being touted in the new Lightroom CC 2015 (released yesterday) is the dehaze filter. This isn’t a version that looks appreciably different from Lightroom CC (Lightroom 6 in the non-CC world). All improvements are appreciated, however, so I thought I would take a spin with that newest of features, the dehaze filter. It is designed to reduce or remove the hazy atmosphere that sometimes shows up in our images. It supposedly does not just boost the contrast to do so (the first thought that came to many minds). I had some ideal images to use for a test, photos taken recently on North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain. Now that was a location with some most visible haze.

The photo below is an image from Grandfather Mountain taken at sunrise with a Nikon D810. It is a raw image imported into Lightroom CC 2015 as is. If you click on the photo it can be seen larger over on Smugmug (it’s image number 11).

Dehaze-1

This next image is the same raw file, processed with some very standard Lightroom edits. In this case I used the dehaze filter at a fairly strong level. The contrast slider was left in neutral (it’s number 12).

Dehaze-2

And on this final image the same settings as the one above were used, with one exception. On this last one the dehaze filter was set back on neutral while the contrast slider was boosted quite a bit (it’s number 13).

Dehaze-3

Dehaze obviously is working in a different manner than contrast. Adobe did add something new instead of tinkering with the old. The hazy atmosphere was removed in the second photo, while contrast left it in place. Contrast did its thing, which also is quite obvious when the first and third images are compared. Is one preferable over the other? It depends, of course. What look are you going after? What tool do you need to achieve that look? What is your goal? The dehaze filter works; Adobe has come up with something new. It’s not earth-shaking; I’m not sure it makes this new Lightroom version something special. But, all those little improvements and new features combine to eventually make for a pretty darned good piece of software. Thank you, Adobe.

Read More

Things Bill Fortney Taught Me: Put Away Your Camera

Car show-2
An example of when to put up your camera and just enjoy the event.

My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney is a master photographer (and an even more inspiring man). His Light workshops have brought me from rank newbie to at least somewhat knowing my way around in the field and in the classroom. One of the more important lessons he has taught me is just to put my camera away … when it truly is called for.

There simply are times when you are better off not shooting. That sounds like heresy to most photographers, beginners and old-timers alike. We should be ready for any and all conditions, we reason to ourselves; that is is entire reason for the expensive, do-it-all gear; the hours of study and practice; the time and money spent on workshops and travel. Well, we can reason all we want – it’s (unfortunately) not going to overcome some of the adverse conditions we find ourselves in on occasion. That’s were Bill’s expert instruction and advice comes in. There are times when you cannot make the picture you want to make. And rather than beating yourself up and coming home angry and frustrated, just put your camera back in the bag. You can’t win them all.

Bill teaches that to make a successful image you must have control over the elements of that photo. And one of those elements is the environment in which you find yourself. For example, let’s say you want to shoot wildflowers. You find lovely specimens in a beautiful location. You arrive during the golden sunset hours to take advantage of the light. You have the macro lens and the camera and tripod and all the various accessories you will need with you. And the wind at that time is blowing at 50 miles per hour! You are not going to take closeup photos of beautiful flowers that day, no matter how hard you try or how long you stay with it. In the photo at the top of this post I attended a pretty nice show of old cars here in Bloomington on Saturday. I wanted to show the classic beauty of those old vehicles, the graceful lines and the workmanship that went into them back in the day. And, as you can see from that same photo, it was a no-go.

The show didn’t begin until 9:30 am. I had no control over that starting time, and the vehicles weren’t there to shoot until then. it ended at four in the afternoon; all the waiting in the world for the golden sunset hours wasn’t going to do me any good. By sundown that day there wouldn’t be a car in sight. The show was held at a local car dealership … no shade, no lovely backdrops, no moving the vehicles around to where I wanted them. there was only so much space for the entries – they were parked back-to-back in tight rows with little space between individual cars. People were roaming around all over the place. The day was bright and sunny with the available clouds doing nothing to soften the shadow’s (as you can see plainly above). Each vehicle had reflections galore of all the other cars or surroundings, reflections I sure didn’t want in my individual car shots. In other words, all those elements I didn’t want in any of my photos were conditions over which I had absolutely no control. None!

Now, I could have wanted to just captured some snapshots to say there was a show that day and that I had attended. Or I might have had a friend with an entry who would be content with a snapshot that most of us would have rejected out of hand. Or I even could have been shooting for a publication like a newspaper who sent me there to come home with some photos … no matter what kind of photos they were (and that was the case here. I saw pictures of the car show in yesterday’s paper. They documented the show; you wouldn’t have shown them to anyone had they been your own). In that case, shoot away. Take what you can get and make the best of it. In fact, I realized at the time that i wanted to do this post for today; I took the photo above just to illustrate my point.

But if you are a true photographer, if you are attending or out in the field to capture photos you are proud of, to contend for a spot in your portfolio? Forget about it! Bill’s expert advice is to put your camera away and spare yourself the frustration of trying to make a photo that just can’t be made under those conditions. That’s what I did Saturday. I put my gear up and wandered around at the show, taking time to admire some absolutely beautiful cars and trucks. I had quite a nice time once I decided to spare myself the futile exercise of trying to overcome those things that I could not control. But, you argue, I have come such a long way or invested so much money and time to get to this once-in-a-lifetime location! The hard fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter. Those conditions are what they are while you are there, not what they are at other times (even if you just are there on a really rare bad day). It sounds so trite … but you can’t change the things that you can’t change.

Let me give you another example. I spoke with Bill last week. He was out in the Palouse with Jack Graham and a group of great shooters, shooters dying to capture that unique part of our wonderful country. Bill said the light had been terrible … harsh, bald skies in all but the very first and last shooting hours. He said he and Jack spent a lot of time teaching – teaching why the conditions were bad for shooting and what makes up good conditions. What they couldn’t do was change the conditions themselves. Now, in this case no one put up their cameras because they weren’t getting back to the Palouse anytime soon. But they also didn’t fool themselves that they were shooting portfolio shots. There are times you just can’t get the shot you want. Either realize that and keep shooting (not complaining later about image quality), or you put your camera up and just enjoy being where you are for the sake of getting out and being there.

So, on Saturday I packed it in early at the car show and went back into Bloomington to wander around and look for shots. Same conditions; same results. I spent little time there; no sense in fighting what I couldn’t control. On the way home I went by a smallish reservoir that is surrounded by woods and trails. i hadn’t been there in a while, so I stopped to check it out. This second image of the bench was shot back in the woods. It’s not really a keeper, but I include it to drive home Bill’s teaching point. I found shade which got me out of the sun and harsh shadows. I had room to move around my subject and find a vantage point from which I wanted to shoot. I even was able to compose a shot by moving a nearby, colorful leaf onto the bench (and, yes, I replaced it when I finished shooting). I had control of the shooting conditions, instead of vice-versa. If I had a beautiful location or subject I could have possibly have made a great photo (I would have given myself the opportunity, at least). It was worth shooting, instead of just walking away.

Leaf bench

A photo made under conditions I could control that same day.

Beginning photographers hope to learn to be able to make portfolio photographs in any set of conditions. The truth of the matter is that we can’t. The wisdom that comes with experience and expert instruction such as Bill’s is to know the difference between possible and impossible when out in the field. And then to gracefully accept when things are beyond our control. Sort of like life in general.

Read More

Bloomington Photography Club Grunwald Gallery Show 2015

Chair

‘No Longer Waiting’ is one of my images selected for the show.

Last night was the jurying for the Bloomington Photography Club’s 2015 Grunwald Gallery show on the Indiana University campus. It was spirited; it was intense. I had a chance to see most of the images submitted to the three judges, browsing the assembled photos as we checked ours in. I say without hesitation that this is going to be one heckuva show.

Close to 200 photos were submitted for a show that only holds 90 at the museum-quality gallery. The judges had their work cut out for themselves. I saw an exhibit more varied in techniques, subjects and presentation styles than ever before. Frankly, this annual exhibit and sale had grown a bit stale a couple of years ago. Forget those years … 2015 is going to special. Image after image caught the eye and held my attention. This is going to be a show to study and spend time with. There are many, many outstanding photos.

I am quite proud to report that my lovely and most talented wife, Sue, had three of the four images she submitted accepted for the show. And on top of that one of them was selected for exhibition in a room set aside for the best-of-the-best images. There are only a maximum of six thus selected each year; it is quite an honor for her to have one judged so worthy. I had two of the three I submitted selected, for which I was grateful. But I am admitting today that I am the second-best photographer in the family (which doesn’t sound so bad until you realize there only are two of us to begin with). Congratulations. Sue!

The opening of the exhibit is Friday, July 17, in the Grunwald Gallery on the beautiful IU campus (the gallery in located inside the Fine Arts building). Refreshments will be provided by club members, and beverages of all types will be available. The reception runs from 6-8 p.m. and I would allot a good portion of those hours to being there. These images will be worth studying and learning from (and the food is always quite good, also). The show runs through July 30th this year; if you can’t make the opening reception, be sure to reserve some time at a later date to attend.

Congratulations to all BPC members who submitted photos this year. We all learn by having our work judged and compared to others in a friendly atmosphere of study and continuing effort. And to all of you anywhere close to the Bloomington area, make plans now to attend this special show. You will be most glad you did. That I promise.

Read More

Doing Business With Great Companies: Really Right Stuff And Singh-Ray Filters

RRS-tripod

A really great product from a really great company.

I have posted recently about my unintended swimming session while shooting in North Carolina with Bill Fortney and Jim Begley. And how satisfied (and gratified) I was with the actions of Selective Insurance, the company that holds the Inland Marine policy for our photo gear. Let me add another couple of great companies that have combined to make what could have been a most unpleasant experience one to remember with gratitude.

I sent my Really Right Stuff tripod off for examination and repair last Monday (when we arrived home). They received it out in California on this past Monday. Tuesday night I received an email and tracking number saying my tripod was on its way back to Indiana, with an arrival time via UPS of this coming Monday. I called RRS yesterday to see what had been done to it and what the cost would be. The tripod had been cleaned and a part replaced to fix the jammed section of one leg. Now, keep in mind that they received it one day and the next day it was ready to go out the door, back to me. The charge? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. The most polite rep at RRS said they were glad to do it and assured me he would pass on my profuse thanks to everyone who had worked so quickly to do all they did. Wow! That is customer service that goes beyond anything expected! That is service that we all appreciate in any part of our respective lives. Thank you, Really Right Stuff!

On the same Monday I had sent my Singh-Ray Variable ND filter off for examination, hoping it could be repaired. So yesterday I called, knowing it had been received down in Florida last Friday. My rep, Howard, actually recognized my name when I gave it to him. He said he was planning to call me later yesterday afternoon. My filter had been disassembled and cleaned, put back together in working order, and it was on the way out the door to me. Later that night I received a tracking number from them. My filter will be delivered this Saturday via FedEx. The charge for this most appreciated news and service? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Howard advised they were pleased to have been able to assist me. Wow! Again! I was feeling most blessed and most appreciated right about then, feelings we seldom receive when dealing with far-off companies anymore. I knew Singh-Ray made great products. I knew Bob Singh has a wonderful reputation for service and caring (from friends who know him personally), but I never expected to be a recipient of that generosity. Thank you, Singh-Ray!

So yesterday I called the insurance rep from Selective. i left a message telling her about the great service I had received and how great Really Right Stuff and Singh-Ray are. I gently reminded her that I had told her I was sending these items off for repair during our first telephone conversation, and that she had in turn told me that my policy paid the full amount for damaged or lost equipment (not just any repair cost). I told her we possibly could save some money for her company if the repairs were possible, but their policy is to pay the agreed upon value for damage or loss. Period. And a check for the full amount is on its way to me. But I don’t feel right about this, so I asked again what I could do to reduce her cost (given that the items have been repaired). I’ll let you know what I find out – whether they will take part of the money they are sending me back … or whether they will want me to keep it in its entirety. Her word is going to be the final word on this subject this time around. Stay tuned.

My advice for today based on this experience? Do business with great companies. Really Right Stuff and Singh-Ray have sterling reputations. They deserve all the praise we can give them. And there are other such companies out there. Many times it pays not to cut corners – pay a bit more for the top-flight products these companies produce and for the caring service they provide. If you pay a bit more than is absolutely necessary, all you are out is a little bit of money. If you ever need their assistance, you will be paid back many times over for that expenditure. I was. I can’t tell you enough how appreciative I am to Really Right Stuff and to Bob Singh at Singh-Ray filters. I can tell you that I am a customer of theirs for life.

All’s well that ends well goes the old saying. In my case, life is so good should be the saying. Thank you, really Right Stuff! Thank you, Singh-Ray filters.

Read More

North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain: A Few More Images

Saw sign
Click on the old sign to see a few more North Carolina photos.

Just a few more images from our recent trip to North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain. There was beauty and color all around; it was easy to just sit back and enjoy it. Not every photo was a keeper (by any stretch of the imagination), but there were those that caught the eye and captured the imagination.,

Click here to view those other photos. Or you always can just click on the image at the top of this post.

Read More

Grandfather Mountain 2015: Photos

Matney

Shopping in rural North Carolina. Click on the Matney Mall to see more photos.

I have been catching up on all there is to do here in Bloomington since we arrived home from our North Carolina trip with Bill Fortney and so many of the His Light family. I have processed some of my photos, trying to select those that caught my eye both there and here at home. I can’t tell you how beautiful the Grandfather Mountain area is. I’ll try to show you with a few images from there.

Click here to see those photos I have finished thus far. Or you always can click on the image at the top of the post.

It’s Monday; welcome back.

Read More

Don’t Overlook This Reason To Attend A Photo Workshop

Shadows

The image at the top of this post is one of the main reasons my wife and I attend as many photo workshops as we can. Sure, we need the instruction that comes with signing up. And we need the practice shooting in all sorts of conditions. And we enjoy learning the differences and nuances that each instructor brings to the photographic table. But, take a look at the photo posted today one more time. What you see is a group of sometimes strangers that come together to end up as friends. That is a very special feeling and a special reason to attend a workshop.

We all were standing up on Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina well before dawn. It was brisk, with the wind blowing pretty good that high up (think one mile high). But as we stood there the light began to break over in the east, signaling the start of another new day. We had already set up for the most part, so we could relax and share the beauty of the place and the time together. We could joke and laugh and share, getting to truly know one another. We were privileged to see all the wonder that God has provided us … not alone, but in the company of others who shared the awe locations like that inspire. I would have enjoyed being there with my camera alone, but sharing the sheer beauty of Grandfather Mountain with new friends and old was very special. It really is the main reason we get out to these types of events.

I have repeatedly urged you to sign up for a workshop. And there are plenty of photographic reasons to do so. But don’t overlook one of the most enjoyable reasons … the chance to spend time in the company of others who love this country and world of ours as much as we do. I may or may not come home with images that will stand the test of time. I never have come home without memories that will last a lifetime. If you haven’t been to a workshop for a while (or ever), make a resolution to do so when you can. You won’t regret it.

Read More

All’s Well That Ends Well: Thank you, Selective Insurance. The Snake Tips Are Back. The Hoodie Lens Cap By Lens Coat.

hoodie3
Check out this this great new accessory from LensCoat.

A happy followup to my post about an unexpected bath while shooting in North Carolina: it turned out to be quite easy to make a report to the insurance company … and for them to settle my loss in record time. Monday afternoon I spoke with a senior claims adjuster with Selective Insurance, the company writing my Inland Marine policy. Amber emailed me a claim number and asked me to respond with the items damaged (I earlier had told her what happened over the telephone). She didn’t need any information on who I was shooting with, although I volunteered it. She didn’t need photos or any other kind of report. Yesterday afternoon she emailed me to say she was cutting a check for the full amount of all the equipment, and it was a figure for more than I had added up in my mind. It was a surprise and a delight! I recommend Selective Insurance (out of London, Kentucky) most highly. And I want to emphasize again – if you do not have such a policy on your photo equipment today, get one tomorrow. You never will regret doing so.

Then a reminder that good friend John “Snake” Barrett still runs a great website, The Snake Tips. Snake does gentle, but to-the-point critiques on his site on images sent in by readers. There haven’t been too many photos sent in lately, but that is about to change. There were some really great photographers with us out in North Carolina, and they are preparing to send in shots from there as we speak. It should make for some very interesting viewing in the coming days. And you don’t have to be a workshop participant to join in; just send your images to Snake and receive valuable advice on making the photo better … free of charge. I check in with Snake regularly. Even if you don’t send in a photo of your own, there is a lot to be gained by seeing those of other photographers and how they can be improved. Check out Snake’s site by using this link.

And finally for today, a new product that most of us could find most useful (also discovered and recommended by Snake Barrett). My wife uses a step up ring to mount her Variable ND filter and circular polarizer on her Fuji lenses. Those rings mean not having to shell out big bucks for a different size filter for each lens. But she also likes to protect those filters, and she can’t use her regular lens caps to do so when the filters are attached. Constantly taking the filter on and off was tiresome, so she resorted to wrapping a cleaning cloth around the lens and keeping it in place with a rubber band (hardly high-tech or convenient). But Snake showed us the perfect product to cover the lens and filter in those situations. It is the Hoodie Lens Cap by Lens Coat. Soft, elastic for a snug yet easy fit, equipped with a substantial cap at the end … the Hoodie Lens Cap is a reasonably-priced accessory that solved her problem. Easy on; easy off. Soft, but durable. It even comes in various colors … and of course in various sizes to exactly fit your lens of choice. Sue received hers yesterday from Amazon; I am ordering my own today. Check out this valuable new accessory by using this link. I think you’ll like it.

Have a great Thursday. And don’t forget about that insurance policy.

Read More

Insure Your Camera And Photo Gear: A Lesson Learned

Jim GF

Minutes before I disappeared from this scene, as shot by my buddy Jim Begley.

I shared in yesterday’s post that Sue and I are back home from a wonderful workshop with Bill Fortney and many friends (old and new) in the Grandfather Mountain area of North Carolina. The photo in that post (taken by good friend Lynn Rogers) showed some of the beauty of the mountain itself … and me trying to very carefully work myself into position to capture part of it. The photo at the top of today’s post was taken by my very good friend Jim Begley, not long before I and my gear disappeared briefly from view. It was an intense few minutes.

Allow me to first state the lesson of the day: insure your camera gear! With a good policy other than your regular homeowner’s policy. With one that offers full replacement cost for your precious equipment. Preferably with no or a low deductible. What I am referring to is commonly referred to as an Inland Marine policy, and it could be the annual investment that saves your photographic life one day. This is a policy in which you list all your gear that you figure it would be expensive to replace should it be lost or significantly damaged (I leave off the littler stuff like third party batteries, cleaning stuff, and inexpensive bags. Remember, the policy will cost you based on what you list; no need to sweat the really small stuff). Then you make sure you keep original receipts and you make sure you keep the list of gear current and in the hands of your insurance company. Hopefully, you are buying peace of mind. At it’s worst you are replacing gear that you spent a whole lot of money on, equipment that is either still expensive or even more expensive. You wouldn’t think of not insuring your home for that possible catastrophe, even if it hopefully never occurs. Treat your expensive camera gear the same way.

I knew all the above because good friends advised me long ago to make sure I had a separate policy for my equipment. And I purchased a complete replacement policy for loss or damage, making sure I kept it current. Fortunately! On our second day of the workshop a small group of us went to a park area in Banner Elk (our workshop headquarters) to shoot rushing water and rapids. Sue and I had visited the area a couple of days earlier, and I knew it had potential for some nice blurred water effects. We were there for a while in the late morning and were getting ready to head out. I had worked my way downstream across some boulders and smaller rocks to attempt a shot more toward the middle of the stream. Some of the rocks were wet and a bit slippery, so I was taking my time and being careful. As you can see from Jim’s shot above I made it out to a small rock and crouched down to set up my shot. I actually took a series before I began to stand up (the old knees couldn’t stay in that crouching position forever). And as soon as I began to stand I slipped backward and was instantly in water over my head. There was something like a hole in the more still water behind me, and it was deep! I got back to the surface and was able to hang onto the nearby rocks to haul myself back up to dry land. And that’s when I looked where my tripod and camera had been … emphasis on ‘had been’. Because they no longer were anywhere to be seen.

I caught my breath and looked up and down stream; then all around the other large rocks. Nothing to be seen. Then I looked behind me again, downstream about ten yards or so. And barely sticking up above the white water, maybe a foot or so, was one section of black Really Right Stuff tripod leg. It was sheer luck, because otherwise the gear would have just vanished, never to be seen again by me on this trip! I tested the water and found it was about waist deep at that point and that I could get close enough in the moving water to grab that leg with one hand. Lynn Rogers was nearby, and she had seen me emerge from the water. She called for help and Miles Smith and Snake Barrett and Jim Begley helped me get the equipment out of the water (and get me out, also). I was safe; my equipment wasn’t nearly as fortunate.

The Nikon D810 had water pouring out of every nook and cranny. We got the battery and card out right away, hoping to salvage something. The new 80-400 zoom was filled inside with water; you could look in the business end and actually see water sloshing around inside (as a footnote: it still is in there as of this morning). The camera had a couple of small chunks taken out of it around the eyepiece, and the RRS L plate is aa bit nicked up, also. I had a Singh-Ray variable ND filter (the 8 stop one) on the lens, and it had water between the two rings (the water has disappeared, but it left spots inside on the glass that I can’t get to). The camera had a battery grip attached, and it is dead, also. Really Right Stuff is aptly named; the ballhead appears unharmed (although I am doing some more testing on it). The tripod looks good, except for one section of one leg that won’t release. But given the water and the current and all the rocks, it is a tripod that is very well made indeed.

So, yesterday the filter was sent off to Singh-Ray for examination. They told me via phone to send it in; sometimes they can fix them and sometimes they can’t. The tripod is on its was to RRS for re-conditioning; I’m sure it will be fine. The camera? Bill was a Nikon rep for a lot of years and a Nikon shooter for a lot more. His verdict was to forget it. Same with the lens … dead on arrival. I contacted my insurance agent yesterday morning, and she was quite understanding. She started an event and notified the Inland Marine adjuster. I will have to fill out a detailed report and furnish them with receipts (if possible) and the age of everything. They will guide me through the rest. But I have no deductible, and the gear gets replaced with either the same piece or whatever is current (both of these are still the current versions). So, long story short: it can happen. I would be looking at a loss of about $6,500 dollars or more if i hadn’t had insurance. And I wasn’t being crazy reckless or wild when I went into the water. Accidents (and thefts and fires and floods) can happen. My advice is the same that all my friends told me long ago: buy a good policy and keep it current. If you never need it, consider yourself lucky and be content with he peace of mind afforded you. If you do ever need it, consider it money much better than well spent. Consider it a wise investment in your photographic journey. I know. First hand.

Safe and sound and home and filled with great memories of a beautiful location and fellowship with wonderful friends. The excitement of the time spent in the water is long forgotten; the loss of the camera gear will be but momentary. Insurance companies often get a bad rap, but trust me on this one. They are your best friend when photo disasters take place. Call your agent today if you haven’t already.

Read More

Grandfather Mountain Workshop: We’re Back!

GF Lynn
A photo of me on Grandfather Mountain taken by my dear friend, Lynn Rogers.

The image at the top of the post was taken and sent to me by a dear friend, Lynn Rogers of Dallas, Texas. Lynn was one of several very close friends who spent last week on North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain with Sue and me … and Bill Fortney and a whole bunch of other great photographers. Sue and I drove there from Bloomington last Tuesday, and we arrived home yesterday late in the afternoon. The iPhone shot Lynn sent was me very carefully working my way down part of the mountain for a shot I wanted to take. And I emphasize ‘carefully’ because I had an experience earlier in the week that heightened my sense of vulnerability in some of the shooting situations we find ourselves in (more on that later this week, after we get settled in here at home). But we are now safely home, filled with good memories of our time in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I have yet to download most of the photos I took on our trip. And there are all kinds of chores to attend to today and this week here in Bloomington. But let me just say that Bill Fortney did it again with his warm and generous spirit and his teaching skills. This was a small workshop, but our group bonded together immediately and completely. The fellowship was outstanding, with new friends melding in with old to make one cohesive group. I know I repeat myself … but Bill Fortney and Jim Begley’s His Light workshops are an experience you will enjoy and remember and cherish for a long time. Give some thought to attending one yourself. And stay tuned for news on what happened to me (and some of my equipment) last week.

It’s good to be home. But I’m already thinking about that next photo trip ………

Read More

Cuba Through The Eyes (And Heart) Of Vincent Versace: Photos

Some of you may have seen this Vincent Versace slideshow already. If so, no apologies. It is a beautiful presentation, worth seeing again. Vincent captured the beauty of Cuba, many of the emotions of Cuba, at least part of the soul of Cuba. He always has been a very fine photographer; in this slideshow he showcases a bit of himself, also, I believe. He gives us a glimpse at how he sees, what he loves and appreciates. Vincent also always has been a master at processing. These images are an amalgam of styles and techniques, captivating both visually and technically. I’ve seen quite a bit of his work in the past. This production outdoes all the rest.

Now, Vincent always has had a bit of a different streak in him. Sort of a weirdness, as in a Weird Al Yankovich kind of personality. I’ve tried to follow all that he says in some interviews and books and articles … and every time he goes off in some direction that I can’t follow. He explains and demonstrates and I am lost, lost until we get to the beautiful final result, anyway. He is good. He knows photography. He knows processing. He just is a bit different, if you will. But I mean that as a compliment, not as a negative. And that difference, that way of seeing and thinking, comes through in this slideshow. It is a tour de force, touching and beautiful. It is a chance for the rest of us to see Cuba, a real part of Cuba.

Watch the slideshow and be prepared to be swept away with Vincent’s skills and artistry. If you have seen it already, watch it again and concentrate on how he uses light and gesture, form and texture, color and line. Spend time deconstructing what he saw and how he captured it. We all can learn from this one. Thank you, Vincent Versace!

Read More

Casey Says It Just Right … But We Do Have a Fountain.

Fountain
The new fountain … a reminder of the good life we are blessed with.

Apologies to my good friends who have not heard from me the past two days. Sometimes this world closes in and takes up all the time and effort there is to muster up. I won’t give you all the details … just know the past two days haven’t gone well. That happens to each and everyone of us; we are guaranteed trials in this life. Our faith is designed and intended to get us through those trials, not to make them go away or to guarantee that they never may return. It also helps to be reminded that we are not alone in the days that aren’t the ones we look forward to, the ones we wouldn’t choose if we had a choice. My good friend Casey Malone posted over on his blog yesterday that he, too, can have a day like that. And he wrote beautifully about it (and added beautiful illustrations, also). His sentiments and his writing and his faith helped cheer me up. I want to give you a link and urge you to take a look at what he wrote, also. If not everything is going smoothly for you, perhaps Casey’s words will remind that all is not lost. In fact, with the right attitude, we always have so much to gain.

Casey’s post can be seen here. Thank you, good friend.

And yesterday also was punctuated with a great deal of work in the yard. We purchased a new fountain to grace a sitting area in the backyard. Sue found a very nice one, but one that required “some assembly.” And refitting the old one that was being replaced. Let’s just say it was a real relief to be able to say that we have a fountain … still. The iPhone photo at the top of the post shows the new one, almost done. Sue is going to add a final layer of contrasting decorative stone around the base to add some more eye appeal. And then we shall just sit a bit and thank the Lord for all His grace and goodness. Something I need to remember on those not-so-good days.

Read More

Free Lightroom Presets: Matt Kloskowski And More

Matt-NE
It’s free preset day, including some from Mattie Matt Kloskowski.

Today some FREE Lightroom presets for you to peruse and download. They are offered via the good folks over at onOne Software (where Matt currently resides), but they were developed by a variety of artists. There are presets for black-and-white, for vintage looks, for several different effects. The collections say they were made for Lightroom 5, but I tried them out in Lightroom CC (Lightroom 6) and they work just fine.

Now, none of uses the same preset (or any preset at all) on each of our photos. But it is nice to have at your fingertips an arsenal of looks and effects when you are searching for that just-right finishing touch. Or, you can start out with a preset to instantly get you into the neighborhood you wish to visit, and then finish it off to your individual taste. In wither case, these collections are free; what harm can it do to see if one or more suit your tastes?

Click here to visit onOne and their FREE Lightroom presets. Download instructions are included, and one of these looks could be the cheery-on-top of your masterpiece!

It’s Monday; welcome back.

Read More

And We Are Live With The MacBook Pro. And Still Running Windows.

Hollywood-1
Go ahead; make my day and switch to Apple.

This post was brought to you entirely and completely with the new MacBook Pro. We are up and running and live as an official part of the Apple family (well, as official as it gets around here). And, yes, we also still are a part of the Windows family; sort of a blended family, if you will. For the time being.

In addition to making the switch to a MacBook Pro for several reasons, I wanted to keep using my larger NEC monitor. I received great advice from several friends (thank you, Raymond!), and I also got in touch with the good folks at NEC. I was double-checking what I wanted to do, and they turned me on to a feature I was not aware of (reminder to self: read the user’s guide for the products I buy). NEC said I could easily attach the Mac to my monitor. And I could leave the PC attached, also (if I was tentative in making sure I had every file transferred and every T crossed). All I had to do was cycle through the Input button on my monitor and it would switch between each system automatically. Cool beans! I had the luxury of keeping the old system running as a safety net while I used the Mac exclusively. Who knew!!!

I hooked up the monitor and the Mac screen showed up just as promised. I hit the Input button and I could instantly switch between systems. Now I can use the Mac, making sure I have access to all my old files and programs and emails if I ever discover I need one and didn’t transfer it over. Sort of like the guy who wears a belt with his suspenders, i guess. Think of it as a good, solid Midwest sort of thing. Think of it as a peace of mind thing.

The MacBook Pro so far is what I hoped it would be. All my friends and my lovely wife said to give the switch two weeks. And that is just about right. I am comfortable with the new system, able to do most things I want rather reflexively now. When I run into something I need or want to do that I haven’t figured out I just look for it on the internet. And it still is amazing what you can find there … absolutely amazing! I still have one book I checked out from our local library, and I use it at times when I need a specific answer to one little process. But mostly I just try doing something and mostly it just works. And I truly am looking forward to taking this thing on the road and being able to do the processing i want to do in the field. Sue had been telling me for about two years to make the switch. Another note to self: keep listening to her.

For any of you out there who are considering the switch from a PC … don’t be afraid to do so. The toughest part of the entire process is making sure you have all your files transferred over. The learning part? Turns out to be pretty simple. As my good friend Richard Small repeatedly advised me: don’t overthink things. It was spot on advice. I was a PC guy forever. I am no technical kind of person by and stretch of the imagination. If I can do this and be happy, you certainly can, also. I would just advise you: don’t wait as long as I did if you want to switch. Come on in; the water is fine.

Read More

If You Love Action Photos, Watch This Slideshow! Richard Small Highlights,

53 Plymouth
Not a race car, but a photo Richard Small taught me how to make.

I’m sure that 99.999% of this site’s readers love photography (the other .001% is just lost and got here by accident). So, do I have a treat for all of us photographers – a new slideshow from my dear friend Richard Small. But not just any slideshow. It’s a collection of action shots of vehicles of all kinds … exotic vehicles, beautiful vehicles, smoking vehicles, racing vehicles, speeding vehicles, vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The common denominator is that they all are moving; they all are in action of some kind. Now, they are fascinating if you have only a passing interest in cars. But when you love great photography like we all do … then, wow! This is photography at its best. And you will appreciate the skill that went into capturing these shots – the panning, the exposures, the timing. It is a tour de force of techniques and skill and artistry. I guarantee it will capture your eye and captivate your imagination.

Richard knows cars of all kinds. He knows photography. Put those two together and you get the slideshow featured today. Find a bit of relaxation time today to sit back and be transported to the racetracks and raceways of our great country. I promise you will enjoy the visit.

Click here to visit Richard’s Smugmug site and get in on the action. And thank you, Richard!

Read More