Monthly Archives: April 2011

Topaz Labs, Lens Effects – First Impressions

So I shot this wonderful photo but the depth of field is not quite what I wanted or envisioned; Now what? You could always go into Photoshop, apply various blurs and hope that you can attain what you initially were looking for; Or you can use the Topaz Labs’ Lens Effects Plug-in.

With Topaz Lens Effects you can:
• Simulate realistic lens, filter & specialty camera effects
• Emphasize focal point and minimize distracting elements
• Enjoy having the flexibility to add in-camera effects after the shot
• Achieve a diverse range of effects without additional equipment

When I opened the plug in, I started with a 450 MB Tif in Photoshop. After much time and work on the part of my laptop, I was finally presented with a beautiful C++ error and no image. Perhaps I was getting a bit ahead of myself here. That being said, I tried a file that was much smaller, about 3.25 MB, and every thing worked just fine. Once the plugin opened the file I got the interface that I have come to expect from Topaz.

On the left, you will see a small preview of the effect from the list effects that you have select from the list below. Once you have selected an effect that you want to work with you can go below that menu and browse the presets available for the chosen lens effect.

In the center of the screen is your work area. You can manipulate the image with two primary options for viewing; The effected image and side by side with the original. As with nearly all the Topaz plug-ins, you can simply left click and hold the mouse button on the image in the work area to see the before and after. I find the side by side option to be difficult to deal with as I am working with even less viewable space and image size; That being said, I prefer work with the full sized, effected image.

On the right hand side of the screen, you will find all the control variables for the given effects that you have selected from the left side of the screen. At a glance, some of these controls do not seem intuitive. For example, the Tilt Shift effect seems a little cumbersome to tweak. Perhaps this is because I am used to adjusting the cams on my lens and seeing the focal plane in comparison to my subject as I am shooting.

While TopazLabs boasts being able to replicate the Diana/Holga lens effect, I have not found a specific preset for this; However I was able to achieve this using 2 different  effects. The snap shot below is my music studio Before and after (just a quick snappy, nothing special). Using the Center Bokeh in combination with a Dark Vingette, I was able to achieve an approximation of the lens distortion that is evident in the plastic lenses of the Diana or Holga cameras.

As with the rest of the plug-ins that are available from Topaz, I think that this is a powerful resource that can assist the photographer in post production. I am thoroughly impressed with this tool and will be using it more often in the not so distant future. Again, May 5th is the expected release date. As a side note. I am in communication with Topaz in regards to hosting a contest; More news to come on that tidbit.

In the mean time, visit TopazLabs and check out their collection of plug-ins.



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Happy Easter People

Oh,.. and the Easter Bunny Hates You!


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Inspiration to shoot.

There are a great many things out there that either inspire us or shut us down, as photographers. I actually keep a wish list of shoots that accompanies by the inspiration for that shoot.

If a song lyric is the source for my inspiration, I will start by writing the lyric at the top of the page along with the song title and band. I do this so that I can recall that moment simply by seeking out that song and having a listen. Once I have got the inspirational source down, I will develop the idea further. I will include lighting diagrams wardrobe shoot locations and what not.  I will also close my eyes and try to imagine a model and write down any traits that would be helpful in finding a model that would fit the overall concept.

By the time I have done this, I may not have a fully planned shoot, but I have enough to go on with out having to scratch my head at crunch time and wonder what to shoot or were to start.

What is your creative work flow?

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Urban Disguise 70 PRO V20 Review

Think Tank Urban-Disguise-70-Pro-V20-1Think Tank Urban Disguise 70 PRO V20:

This bag was sent to me last month and while it seems small, it holds a lot of gear.

While this will never replace my Tamrac for day/week  trips, it is excellent for event and stobist photography or even street photography.

The below noted kit will get me through a day of walking around town looking for trouble. Depending on what I am doing, I may pair down the items in the bag. As an example, for an event, I will not need my IR Modified camera  and two additional lenses; So I will spare my back and cut down on the weight in the bag.

Here is what I have in my Urban Disguise.

  • Canon 500d with battery grip
  • Canon 400d (IR Modified)
  • 24mm Tilt Shift Lens
  • 50mm kit lens
  • 15 mm Fish Eye lens
  • Two Canon 580ex Speedlites
  • Aperture Remote Camera and Flash Trigger system
  • Memory cards and Batteries
  • Note Pad
  • Pens
  • Business cards
  • Model and Property Releases
  • Water Bottle and Energy Bars
  • Three Mini Tripods Camera and strobes

So far, the only thing I don’t like about this bag, thus far, is having to stop and pull out the rain bonnet to cover my bag when and if it begins to rain. The bright side to that is that I am rarely out in severe weather.

All in all I am pretty impressed by this camera bag. For its size, it holds quite a bit of gear and even carries cameras with extended/battery grips (seemingly hard to find feature). The bag seems built well and has good re-enforcement, as well as plenty of padding. So, if you are in need of a good and compact camera bag, I have no problems recommending this one. Adorama has them in stock at a decent price.

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