A Dozen Free Lightroom Presets: Recommended By Imaging Resource

untitled-shoot-10126-Edit
Processed quickly with a Lightroom preset.

I don’t like re-posting articles for the sake of posting something. But if I run across something worthwhile that doesn’t get a lot of original publicity it can be useful to do a shout out. That’s the case for today.

Imaging Resource is a trusted, very useful site for information on many things photographic. I check in with them regularly. That’s where I saw the original post for a dozen free Lightroom presets. Now, as the article acknowledges, presets of all types are a dime a dozen anymore. But excellent presets are not nearly as common. So when Imaging Resource recommended the FreeLightroomPresets website I paid attention. Imaging Resources’s standards are pretty high; that means that these particular presets are worth your time.

Here is a link to the Imaging Resource website (and the article I referenced). Spend a bit of time today seeing if these presets fit your workflow and image style. If not, not much lost. If so, FREE always is good. Thank you, FreeLightroomPresets!

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Richard Small Slideshows: Amazing Car Photos And Classic Beauty

Richard
Click on the old coupe to see new slideshows from Richard Small.

My dear friend Richard Small is an extraordinary photographer of all things vehicular – trains, planes, autos, trucks. He has the eye, the touch, the skills to bring out the best in each of them. Especially the custom cars … they all seem to have their own individual personalities, a story that is begging to be told. And Richard is able to tell that story in a single shot. Now, what is special today is that he has taken those individual shots and combined them into several slideshows; we get to see a collection of stories all at once. Thank you, Richard!

If you have been a reader for any time at all you already know how talented Richard is. Over on Smugmug he has a series of galleries of individual shoots and locations, all worthy of your time. You can learn a great deal about shooting of all kinds from studying Richard’s work; I certainly have. Now we have the treat of seeing several of these galleries combined, with music to move the soul. I’m going to direct you to Richard’s site. Just scroll down in the galleries until you come to one labeled Slideshows (it’s brand new). Click on it and watch all that are up thus far (look especially for American Beauty, a classic throwback to the days when every mechanic’s bench featured a pinup calendar). You won’t be disappointed. And to make it even easier, you can just use this link to go directly to the slideshow list. I am excited to share Richard’s latest work. It’s that good.

If you like cars of any kind, if you like great photography of any kind, these shows are for you. Spend some time with Richard today. You’ll be glad you did.

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A Visit To Ferdinand’s Sisters Of St. Benedict: Photos

Nuns
Click on the monastery to see more images from Ferdinand.

Saturday was the day Sue announced I have been a great nurse and how grateful she was for my assistance with her broken wrist … right before she told me to give her some space. I took the hint and went shooting with some good friends from the Bloomington Photography Club. We headed south to Ferdinand and the monastery of the Sisters of St. Benedict. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day, and it always is fun to travel with this great group of friends. And it surely didn’t hurt that the monastery is a beautiful campus with lots of shooting opportunities. It is worth a visit, even if you go without a camera.

We had time for a short visit to Meinrad and the men’s monastery there, also. It is equally beautiful, with visitors and cameras always welcome. Just being there was a treat.

I put up a few of the images I captured, trying to give you a feel for some of the sights at both locations. If you ever are in our area it truly is worth your time to plan a trip to each monastery. I promise you a rewarding shooting experience. To see my shots from Saturday just click here. Or you can click on the image at the top of this post.

It’s Monday; welcome back to Indiana.

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Athentech’s Perfectly Clear … A Mere $89!

Rudolph
It’s not really Christmas, but it’s beginning to look like it with this great offer.

I use Perfectly Clear (version 2.0) all the time. It flat out does what it claims to do – give you one click corrections to your images. It saves time; it gets you to the neighborhood you want to live in quickly and without fuss. I admired this Photoshop plugin from afar for a couple of years, but I always held back because of the price (normally in the $300 range). I jumped last December when I found an incredible offer from Athentech to buy the program for a mere $89! I pulled the trigger then, and I have been well-pleased ever since.

Now, that offer was for a limited time around the holidays. It has since expired. But today I received an email from PhotoWhoa, a site that I have recommended several times in the past for the great deals it finds and passes on to the rest of us. Those good folks have resurrected the $89 deal for Perfectly Clear ($90 for the MAC version). All the details are over on the PhotoWhoa site; just click here to visit them and see all the details on this offer. And to see even more info, click here to visit the Athentech site. It really is worth your time to check out this offer.

I’m not going to go into a long, complete review of Perfectly Clear. Just allow me to repeat that I use it all the time. It works. It does what it claims to do. It’s a time saver. It is truly 1-click usage. It is a valuable addition to your photo processing library. It just works.

Thank you, PhotoWhoa. You have done it again.

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Hail And Tulips: Safe At Home

Hail

We were going along yesterday with warm, most welcome weather. The sky was a bit cloudy, but the sun peeked in and out of the clouds on its own timetable. Then in the late afternoon the storm clouds rolled in. The skies darkened, and the rain let loose. Along with it was some fairly heavy hail for a short period of time. No damage, but you knew there was danger in the area as the tornado sirens sounded. The photo above is when the hail first began; we were downstairs as it worsened, along with the continuing sirens.

Short tulips

This photo is the tulips Sue received a few days ago from our minister, Clay Humphreys, as a get well gift. They were unharmed, blooming beautifully on the table. In fact, we cut the stems back two days ago and changed their water. They are opening even more since then, a reminder of how many good will wishes Sue has received since her broken wrist. Thank you to all of you, our dearest friends, who sent along those wishes and prayers. The storm couldn’t bother our tulips; they were lifted up by our care of them. A broken wrist isn’t getting Sue down; she has been lifted up by all of you.

Yesterday we went for her first rehabilitation appointment. And we received most encouraging news – her wrist and hand mobility was at the top of the charts. She went through a series of exercises designed to keep her fingers and thumb flexible and strong, along with another set to keep her elbow from stiffening. She did not experience any pain and will keep doing them here at home until her appointment with the same therapist next week. And the really good news is that they replaced the larger, heavier cast with a lighter splint device, one that freed up her fingers more. She was relieved of that burden and the accompanying sling for her arm (they didn’t want to restrict the movement of her arm and elbow so much). We are recuperating according to schedule, and that is good news indeed.

We still are getting used to doing things with one hand. It is amazing how much we take our good health for granted! She is learning new skills and some additional patience. I am brushing up on old skills (like more cooking) and some additional patience. Together we make a good team, lifted up and encouraged by all of you dear friends. Thank you, again. You are most loved.

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New Fuji X Shooters Website From Jack Graham And Bill Fortney

X-T1
Click on the Fuji X-T1 to visit this valuable new website.

I’m still a Nikon photographer, but I find myself more and more and more reaching for the lightweight camera bag with the Fuji X-T1 in it when it’s time to go shooting. My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney tells me he has more and more friends and colleagues who are ditching the big DLSRs and switching to a mirrorless Fuji camera (some of them very well-known names). He has heard story after story of really good photographers who pick up a little Fuji to play with or use as a backup camera, only to end up selling their Nikon or Canon systems. I keep telling myself to take the Nikon, take the Nikon … but the light weight and fun factor of the X-T1 repeatedly wins out. And I don’t find that the quality of my finished images is suffering at all.

Since there are more and more and more Fuji shooters out there, led by the Bill Fortneys and the Jack Grahams of this world, it was time for a website devoted to the X cameras from those two legends of the photo world. And Jack Graham has done so, putting together a website from Bill and himself devoted just to the Fuji X system. It is brand new, just beginning to fill up with content. But what is there already is reason to bookmark this site and check back regularly. There you will find galleries for each of these outstanding photographers and instructors, in addition to a look at their respective gear, workshop info, and contact information. Click here to take your first look, and be sure to save it for future use. Jack and Bill have plans for a series of Fuji X workshops, instruction time in great locations where enrollment will be limited to Fuji photographers. That means all of the instruction will be geared exactly to your equipment and its nuances, tips and tricks. Stay tuned as that information will be available soon.

Jack and Bill are expert shooters and instructors. More importantly, they are fine, upstanding men. This new website is a welcome addition to the photo world and the increasingly larger world of Fuji X systems.

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Memory Lane On Hold; Broken Bones The Reason

Hospital-1
Prior to surgery this past Saturday.

There is an opening for Bill Fortney and Jim Begley’s His Light workshop at Memory Lane in Rogersville, TN this week. My spot is available, most unfortunately. My lovely wife took a tumble last week, breaking her wrist as she reached out to catch herself. Any broken bone is a bad break (pun intended) in my book, but this one was in the really-not-so-good class. Our hand surgeon described the repair operation as ‘tricky’. Sue’s wrist went in a pretty pink cast when we first were seen at the hospital, prepping her for surgery this past Saturday. She currently is in a more substantial cast and an arm sling, with a set of strict guidelines for things-not-to-do. The recuperation promises to be a bit tricky, also.

This coming week we will have our first appointment to begin some rehab, and possibly to replace this current cast with something designed to assist in the healing process. We will know more later on this week. In any event, trying to take care of all the chores we take for granted in our daily lives with one hand (unfortunately, it was Sue’s dominate hand that was injured) is a struggle. We have been a team for a long time; we are learning even more about teamwork in just the past couple of days. There is quite a bit of discomfort (to put it mildly) involved in this procedure; I will be needed here at home this week.

The good news is that we have received an outpouring of concern and well wishes and prayers from a wonderful family of friends. That has been most heart-warming. The other good news is that my loss (missing Memory Lane is more than a disappointment for shooting; it also is a chance to spend time with great friends) can be your gain. Call my dear friend Bill Fortney right now at (606) 344-0455 and tell him you want to take my slot. I promise you, absolutely guarantee you, a wonderful experience shooting at a location that otherwise is rarely open to the public. And the friendships you will make and the fellowship you will experience is beyond the marvelous shooting you can expect. For a small idea of what will be in store for you click here to visit Bill’s website and scroll down to Memory Lane. You won’t be disappointed.

Hospital-2
On the road to recovery with good wishes like these tulips from dear friend Clay Humphreys.

Thank you for all the warm wishes for Sue’s recovery. With all that support and your prayers for her, a return to shooting form is just around the corner.

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RSW: A Photoshop Workflow For Detailed Images With A Glow From The NIK Collection

Crystal
This glowing cave image still packs an incredible amount of detail.

I have extolled the photographic talents of my good friend Richard Small for years. He is a true master, especially when it comes to vehicles of any kind. He has the touch, I like to say. Richard also knows how to process his photos to get a special look, a look that draws in and holds the eye. It is a style that is his, but one that is uncomplicated and easy-to-understand. And Richard is as generous as he is talented, willing to share his techniques with the rest of us.

First off today, click here to see the images Richard brought home recently from Nelson Ghost Town in Nevada (on an outing with jack Graham and Bill Fortney). They are beautiful! Spend some time examining his compositions, his eye for line and form. Then look a bit closer and see how that sort of beautiful glow surrounds detail upon detail. It really is a different, exceptional look. It is a special one, but one you can apply to your own photos … compliments of Richard Small.

I’m going to share what Richard has passed on to so many of us (I told you he was most generous). It is easy-to-follow, step-by-step. So, here goes:

First, take your raw image into whatever initial processor you prefer. Do the foundation corrections – straighten, crop, take out unwanted objects, etc. Make the photo look good, as you usually would.

Next, take your image into Photoshop (if you are not already there). Go into your NIK collection (if you don’t have this outstanding collection of plugins for Photoshop, go get it. Now. It’s that good). Open Dfine2 and run it at its default settings. Your images may not have much noise, or any noise at all. No matter; running Dfine2 won’t hurt; it only can help. Click enter.

Open Detail Extractor in Color Efex Pro 4 and run the strength slider up to 50-60. Leave it there, whether you think it looks good or not. Click on the Add Filter tab at the bottom of that panel.

Open Duplex. Increase the strength to 40. Now on a PC there is a default color attached to this panel. I click on the color swatch and choose something much lighter or even different. Find something that complements your image (or go to an off white color that gets rid of any cast). Next move the Diffusion slider up (I go to 70 or even higher to begin). Get a diffused look that gives a real glow to your photo. Then go back to the strength slider and move it up and down. Find a look that gives you a pleasing image, something that catches your eye (you even can go back to the color swatches if you like). Click OK.

Now go to NIK and Viveza 2. Go to the right side and adjust the global contrast with that slider. Move it up and find a spot you like (Richard starts out between 40-50; that is a bit high for my taste). Next adjust the global brightness with that slider, finding the spot that suits you. Click OK.

Finally, back to your NIK collection. Open Sharpener Pro 3 (output). In the Output Sharpening panel click on the tab that defaults to Display. Change that in the dropdown menu to Continuous Tone. Change the printer resolution to 300 dpi. Click OK. Now, back in Photoshop, view your photo at 100%. Adjust the opacity up and down a bit, making sure you don’t oversharpen (see haloes or crunchiness). Merge your image.

At the end I always look my image over carefully, seeing if there is anything else I think it needs as a localized tweak (just one portion). Most of the time Richard’s technique is complete in and of itself. Sometimes I add a little texture or change of color or some other tweak. It is your photo; make it look the way you want it to.

Now, not every image looks its best with this workflow. I like it on texture-laden photos, landscapes, Americana, etc. Portraits? Maybe not quite as much. Just give this new workflow a chance; experiment a bit to get it down pat. It really does give your images a most pleasing look. And if you ever forget that, go back to Richard’s website and re-examine his Nelson photos. That will be all you need to get started all over again.

I’ll wish you good luck … but with Richard’s workflow you won’t need it. Thank you, Richard Small!

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Fuji Firmware Updates: Body And Lens. And Today Is April 2nd.

X-T1

Many of you dear friends and loyal readers now are Fuji shooters (Bill Fortney has cast a wide net, scooping up Nikon and Canon fans, alike). Just in case you haven’t seen it elsewhere, Fuji has just released firmware updates for the X-T1 and for a series of X lenses (the 10-24, the 18-55, the 18-135, and the 55-200). My very good friend Raymond Jabola can’t bring himself to break away from Nikon (yet), but he told me last night how much he admires Fuji because they listen to their customers and consistently provide what we ask for. These latest updates to existing products are most appreciated, designed to make the Fuji experience even more rewarding. We always should update our equipment with the latest in firmware, even when the perceived benefits aren’t that great; this one is no exception. Click here for the Fujifilm website, which has all the details (including step-by-step instructions for upgrading). Thank you, Fuji!

And … thank you to my friends who called and emailed to share their concern about my announcement yesterday to give up photography (at least temporarily). Your friendships have been (and are) one of the true highlights of my life. Thank you. And to anyone who tried to contact me using the email at the end of that post, jhaverst@aprilfirst.com? No, it didn’t go through. They all ended up in the April Fool’s basket, wherever that my be maintained. But thank you for you kind interest.

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Camera Gear For Sale: Nikon D810, Fuji X-T1

X-T1

My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney arrived home yesterday from an extended (almost three weeks) photo and workshop trip. We had a chance to talk for a long time, catching up on what we have been doing and thinking. Bill is someone I can share any thought, any feeling with. He is one of my very best friends, a man who doesn’t hesitate to give me honest, thoughtful advice (even when it sometimes is not what I want to hear). Yesterday was one of those times.

I have been thinking for some number of months now that as much as I have enjoyed photography perhaps it has not been the best thing for me (or my family). I started off as a really bad photographer; I then got a bit better (much of that due to Bill Fortney and Jim Begley). Then I felt I had progressed to a certain level of proficiency, one at which I had some decent photos. There’s where the problem began: I started to obsess about those images, about being the best. I kept comparing myself to other photographers and either feeling dejected because I wasn’t as good as they are or being secretly prideful because I thought I was better than they are. Not healthy; not productive; not the kind of person I want to be.

I also spent a great deal of time, way too much time, in the pursuit of that photographic fame and fortune. It took time and attention away from my family and my church. As I wondered these past few months about priorities I knew in my heart that I was drifting (sometimes running) away from what I should be devoted to … and it wasn’t Nikon or Fuji.

I spoke at length with Bill yesterday about those feelings and what was really important in this world (and to the next). He was honest with me, as always. He encouraged me to listen to my heart and to take the necessary steps to make sure I was being true to those around me. Thank you, Bill!

I am selling my camera gear and taking a needed break from photography (and where it was leading me). I may come back to it in the future, albeit in a simpler, less obsessive way. I need to do this to be the person I want to be, the person I should be. And the good news is that this could be your lucky day! I have a Nikon D810 in excellent condition, along with a batch of excellent lenses (a 24-120, 70-200, 16-35, 105 f/2.8, and an 80-400). Also going is my Fuji X-T1 in excellent condition. Those Fuji lenses include the 10-24, the 18-55, and the 55-200, all in great condition. I am offering this gear at reduced prices, prices designed to be fair to both you and me. It’s simply time.

If you are interested in any of this gear (and I have all the usual accessories that go with this type of camera equipment), just email me for a price list (or to make an offer). Everything goes to the first person who makes contact and shakes an internet hand. I have bittersweet feelings about this decision, but I don’t think there is any looking backward at this point. It’s been a lot of fun with a lot of wonderful friends (new and old), but family and faith come first.

If you are interested contact me at jhaverst@aprilfirst.com. I would love to hear from you.

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Visit Marengo Cave: In Photos From 2015

Cave
Click on the Marengo Cave formation to see more photos.

I posted last week after our visit to historic Marengo Cave that I am no cave photographer. That decision on my part hasn’t changed; I plan on keeping my camera above ground from here on out. But I did find a few images that show a landscape that is incredibly different from the one in which we usually live. It’s not for me … but it does have a haunting look (if not beauty) that can catch and hold the eye. And if you are a cave person, I hope these photos encourage you to plan your own visit to this fascinating environment.

Click on the shot at the top of this post to see more photos. Or just click here.

It’s Monday, a week leading up to the glorious encouragement and message of Easter. Spend some time reflecting on the miracle of that day.

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Clay County Road Trip: More Photos

Oil cans
Click on the Standard Oil cans to see more Clay County photos.

Today is a chance to share time with Stu and John Moore of Clay County, two generous and friendly men that we were privileged to spend time with last Saturday. While checking out an old car Curt knew about we were directed just down the road to meet Stu and his son John. They are Standard Oil men, through and through. They have a few beautiful old vehicles that they have fixed up, real beauties. And they were most generous with their time, giving up the lunch they were about to enjoy to give us a tour. It was a really good couple of hours.

John even was kind enough to pose for a portrait, something most people just won’t do anymore. He showed me a pristine Standard Oil globe, the ones that sat on top of the old gas pumps. This one was green, a real rarity. Stu explained that it was designed to sit atop the diesel pumps (the red globes went on the gas pumps). This one was just beautiful, and when I spotted an old rocker nearby … well, all three subjects went together perfectly. John, thank you!

We all shot photos of the cars and the various old items scattered about. It was a most fun afternoon, made better by new friends. It won’t be all that long before we head back to Clay County to drop off some images for the Moores and to check out the old schoolhouse again. I look forward to it.

Click on the Standard Oil cans to see a few more images. Or you always can just click here.

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BPC Road Trip: Marengo Cave Photo

Cave steps
Click on the cave steps to see closer into historic Marengo Cave.

Yesterday members of the Bloomington Photography Club made the journey down to Marengo in Crawford County to shoot historic Marengo Cave. We hadn’t been there in five years, and it was time for a return trip. We had a very nice turnout of 22 members, great considering we had to leave Bloomington in the early afternoon to arrive at 5 PM. It was a day filled with friends … and very challenging shooting conditions.

I had forgotten what it was like to shoot in an environment that was exceedingly difficult to expose properly (think lots of pitch dark with bright, bright artificial light of varying sources and intensities). There wasn’t a lot of color to work with except for a few spots. Composing was difficult given the lack of light in most places, and even though we had two hours with the cave all to ourselves, we had to keep moving. I was reminded quite early on how bad I am at cave photography.

We arrived home late, and I had time to download my card and process exactly one image. It is the one at the top of this post. Click on it to see it larger, or just click here. I’m trying to enjoy it as a good memory; it may end up being my only keeper from the entire shoot. Cave shooting is joining large events and weddings on my list of Things-I-Don’t-Enjoy-Shooting.

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Clay City Roads: Photos From Indiana

Tower
Click on the school tower to see more Clay County photos.

I processed a few photos from Saturday’s road trip over to Clay County with good friends from our photo club. Curt did his usual exceptional job of finding things to shoot, and we worked around the sunny conditions to bring home a bit of Indiana that is fast disappearing. I have more to show, including a couple of incredibly friendly and gracious men we met, Stu and John Moore. But they will have to wait a bit as Tuesday’s chores take precedence.

Saturday was a really good day, spent with good friends. Click on the school at the top of the post to see more images. Or you can just click here. And, I added these images to a gallery of road shots already in progress. I think I will limit that gallery to a total of 20 images. As soon as that many are uploaded, the next one chosen will bump an existing one. My hope is that by the end of the year the process will produce a gallery of shots worth seeing. And visiting here in Indiana.

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County Roads: More Miles, More Photos

Brummetts silo
Click on the old silo see more photos from our recent Brown County trip.

Saturday we joined friends from the Bloomington Photo Club for a day trip to nearby Clay County, part of the 2015 County Roads Tour. Our good friend Curt has an uncanny knack for ferreting out old structures in interesting, out-of-the-way places. We had a great time, and we came home with a few fine images. I am working on those shots, even while finishing the photos from last week’s trip to Brown County.

Todays images are those from last week, from our search for the rumored Field-of-Cars. We stopped whenever something caught our eyes; we tried to capture a feeling for some of the parts of our region that are fast disappearing. I hope you enjoy a few more of these images as much as we enjoyed finding them.

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