Adobe Creative Cloud For Photographers

CC-For-Photographers

As you probably aware, a while ago Adobe went to a subscription model for their popular products so the Creative Suites are no longer and have been replaced with the Creative Cloud subscription model. In the photography world many people complained a lot about this, why pay $49.99/mo for the creative cloud when you only use Photoshop and Lightroom. Sure you can get a single app for $19.99/mo so this would get you Photoshop which is a pretty ok deal but nothing stellar. Yesterday at the Photoshop World Conference during the Morning Keynote speech Adobe announced a new program, Creative Cloud for Photographers. For $9.99/mo if you’re a CS3 or later owner you can now get Lightroom 5, Photoshop CC, 20 GB of cloud storage, and Behance Pro.. The new service will go live in a few weeks and this special introductory pricing of $9.99 will be offered until the end of the year.

To get the $9.99/mo price you need to have at least CS3 or later, existing Creative Cloud members can also take advantage of this new pricing. There is no word as of yet if this will be offered to non CS customer or if they will offer the $9.99/mo for this package to those who do not have CS3 or CC. But if they offer this at $19.99 which is what the single app pricing is, this could be a great offer for Photographers that want Photoshop and Lightroom.

The $9.99/mo deal should be live in a few weeks and is only expected to be offered until the end of the year, but no indication what the price will be after that.

So if your running on an old version of Photoshop and/or Lightroom and looking to upgrade and don’t need all the other applications offered in the full CC package, just hold on and wait a little longer. Once it’s released my personal opinion is jump on it. At $9.99/mo your yearly cost is less than $120, a new version of Lightroom offered at special discounts seen from time to time tends to run about the same, a new version of Photoshop CS6 (while you still can get hold of the boxed version) runs well over $600. If you get lucky and managed to find a boxed version of Photoshop CS6 upgrade it will set you back at least $200 and an upgrade of Lightroom will set you back $79 or all in all close to $300 (figure shipping for the boxed version of PS CS6 and electronic download of LR5) and you can get 2.5 years worth of Creative Cloud for Photographers for the same amount of money and in my experience we’ve seen a new version of Photoshop and Lightroom every 12-18 months and with the Creative Cloud service they are pushing out smaller updates much more rapidly, since I became a CC member Photoshop has gotten 2 minor updates and this in less than 9 months.

Worried that your files will be held hostage if you let your subscription lapse? Well that seems to be a bit of Myth and you are supposed to be able to open your psd files in PS and save them in a different format in expired PS CC, however you will not be able to edit the files.

Expect to see more interesting news both from Adobe and other companies coming out of Photoshop World this week. So stay tuned.

Lightroom 5 – Visualize Spots

Dust spots are the bane of photographers. It seems that no matter how much you clean the sensor in the camera and make sure the lens is clean or how careful you change lenses, or even if you don’t change lenses those pesky dust spots quickly come back.

If you shoot nice clear blue skies those dust spots will show like crazy. You clean them up with the spot removal tool in LightRoom and satisfied you publish the image, views/likes/favourites starts to come in and you look at the published image  again yourself and to your horror you discover another couple of dust spots that you didn’t catch the first time around. A new feature in Lightroom 5 called “Visual Spots” that is almost  hidden under the “spot removal” tool is absolutely amazing and can save you a lot of time. If we take a look at this image of a Helicopter against a fairly clear blue sky that I took during the Austin F1 Grand Prix last year. In this version I pushed the post processing a bit to make some of the dust spots strong and obvious. A quick look and we easily find at least 6 glaring dust spots, I have circled the ones I caught right of the bat and probably be the ones I would have fixed first. Then I would probably looked a little closer and found a few more before deciding it had to be it. However when you export your image and sharpen for screen and the social media websites and image compression has done its  part you will probably discover a few more spots…. In LR v5 they improved the spot removal tool and added the option to not only clone but also heal. Best of all you can now drag the tool brush and create no circular patches to repair. But you also have a option called “Visual Spots”, this feature is designed to help you find those pesky dust spots. 1) First click the “Spot removal” or hit the Q key. Dust spot removal 2)  Activate the checkbox in “Visualize Spots” 3) You can now play with the slider to increase the contrast detection for the spots. I pushed the slider up a bit and spots start to pop up all over the place. A small round white circle with a black center is a good indication that you have a dust spot. Don’t just push the slider all the way over to the right and removed the spots you see, start fairly neutral and remove  the strongest “circles” and most if not all of the medium strong ones, then push the slider over a bit and remove a few more. Dust spots and more dust spots... In this image I slid the slider ALL the way over and if you look between the landing gear there is a strong white blip that here looks like it’s probably a part of the helicopter. But it’s actually a very strong spot, when the slider was further left it was a nice circle but at the slider maximum to the right it’s glaring white like it might be a part of the helicopter. And yikes there were a lot of spots, way more than the 6 that I had initially spotted. Time to get busy and click away with the spot removal tool, in this photo I probably removed a good 60+ spots. A dusty race track is a really bad place to swap lenses at and the fact I hadn’t cleaned the sensor for a couple of months before this race didn’t help me any at all. Once all finished up we have got a cleaned up image that is ready to be published, cleared from pesky dust spots. Final image: Red Helicopter against blue sky Final image: Red Helicopter against blue sky – To bad it wasn’t sharper.

Tips for shooting from your airline seat

I love to travel, and I think travel and photography just go hand in hand. When I travel by myself, or without the kids, I always try to make sure I get a window seat (when the kids are coming with I let them have that window seat because I’m nice like that). I like that window seat so I can take aerial photos; I just cannot help myself.

In this article, I will share some tips for improving in-flight photos to help taking pictures out of that airplane window.

Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

First, try to get a window seat near the front of the plane or in front of the wings for a unobstructed view. Seatguru.com is a superb resource to discover the seat locations on the plane so can be a valuable tool in getting your best chance for good shoots. Try to avoid the seats behind the wing, the engine exhaust can distort and create blur.

The most fascinating views, happen right after take off and shortly before landing, so make sure you have your camera out before the plane leaves the gate or risk missing at least one of these interesting views. Make sure to have the lens hood attached to the lens this will help in dealing with reflections on the window. It is extremely tempting to press the hood right up against the window, but resist this urge as it will transmit vibrations to the camera. Get as close to the window as you can without touching it. Turn off your overhead lights in your row of seats to minimize reflections and then use your hand to block off as much light as possible, avoid touching the lens hood with your hand if your hand is resting up against the window, and try to make some overlap between your hand and the lens hood. Do not use a polarizer, as these more than likely will produce color banding in the windows.

If the window got a lot of scratches or smudges, be prepared to change into auto focus, especially if the camera autofocus has difficulty focusing. A neat little trick to avoid getting the scratches and smudges visible in your image is to use a high aperture value, and in the worst case all that will show is a small spot that will resemble a dust spot against bright backgrounds like the sky, but nothing that the spot removal tool cannot easily take care.

Keep your camera to your eye and be prepared for when the plane banks, this will provide a marvellous view of the ground. If your taking off before sunset and land well after sunset, try to figure out at what time sunset is and keep an eye on the sunset. A sunset from 30,000 feet can be truly spectacular and looks nothing like a sunset seen from the ground. It is an extraordinary opportunity to make a sunset photo that will stand out from all the rest.

The above image titled “Leaving Las Vegas”As my flight took off from McCarran International airport in Las Vegas, NV was taken using these tips. I used a Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 lens zoomed in to 44mm to get a bit closer to the Vegas Strip. The exposure made with a Nikon D80, was 1/125 sec, at f/8, ISO 100, since I got lucky and the plan was decidedly new, so the window had almost no scratches I could use a relatively low aperture setting.

New Nikon dSLR firmwares

Last week Nikon released a slew of new firmwares. The Nikon D7000, D600, D800 and the D800E all had new firmware released.

Both the D600, which is Nikon’s newest Full Frame camera, and the D800 received numerous bug fixes and had improvements made to AF-C (continuous-servo autofocus) modes. The latter is a fairly weighty and welcome improvement to anyone that use the D600 that might use the camera for sport or active wildlife photography.

A few months ago the Nikon D4 had similar AF-C mode improvement. This makes me wondering if we soon will see a similar firmware update to the newly released D7100. The D7100 is a DX (crop body) that feature a 1.2x crop mode as well fast shutter release. This makes it an ideal body for sport photography and wildlife where perfect AF-C is crucial.

D600 firmware – C: 1.01

  • Support for the AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR has been added.
  • Subject tracking performance in AF-C (continuous-servo autofocus) autofocus mode with framing using the viewfinder has been improved.
  • Frame output size has been changed from 95% to 100% when movie live view display is changed to “Information off” and an HDMI-compatible device is connected.
  • An issue that caused the right edges of images to be somewhat white when captured at an Image area setting of DX (24×16) 1.5x withActive D-Lighting set to Off has been resolved.
  • When the camera’s shutter-release button was pressed repeatedly for uninterrupted shooting with the “Record to:” option in Camera Control Pro 2’s Storage tab set to “PC+CARD”, the camera would stop responding with displaying “Err” in its control panel.  This issue has been resolved.
  • In some very rare cases, colors would change with shooting when white balance was set to a specific color temperature, as with Preset manual or Choose color temp.  This issue has been resolve

D7000 firmware A: 1.03 / B:1.04

  • Support for the AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR has been added.

D800 firmware A: 1.01 / B:1.02

D800E firmware A: 1.01 / B:1.02

  • Support for the AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR has been added.
  • Subject tracking performance in AF-C (continuous-servo autofocus) autofocus mode with framing using the viewfinder has been improved.
  • Gamut for Adobe RGB images displayed in the camera’s monitor has been changed. This enables more vivid display of images.
  • With live view photography in [M] (Manual) exposure mode, exposure preview was always on.  This issue has been resolved.
  • In some very rare cases when certain memory cards were used, movie recording would stop, even when the time remaining display indicated remaining recording time.  This issue has been resolved.
  • With shooting at an image quality setting of TIFF (RGB) and an image size setting of Small, the right edge of images contained a purple line.  This issue has been resolved.
  • In some rare cases, images recorded in JPEG format could not be opened by some software applications.  This issue has been resolved.
  • In some very rare cases, colors would change with shooting when white balance was set to a specific color temperature, as with Preset manual or Choose color temp.  This issue has been resolved.

* Nikon, Nikon D4, Nikon D600, Nikon D7000, Nikon D7100, Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E are trademarks or registered trademarks of Nikon Corporation

* Products , brand names and service names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

10 Must See Stargazing Events in 2013

Geminids Meteor

Geminids Meteor – Dec 14, 2012 – By Eje Gustafsson

Many of us enjoy going out at night and look up at the night sky and dream for a while looking at the stars.

If you are, like me, you probably will be bringing your camera, and tripod to capture the beautiful night skies. Not all night skies are the same for one reason or another. I’m not just talking about light pollution in different areas, cloudy or clear skies nor am I referring to skies with different phases of the moon.

No, I’m talking about more rare events. Some happens just once each year, every few years or just once in a lift time. Events such as comets, meteor showers, eclipse of the moon, eclipse of the sun or occasions where stars are in perfect alignment for excellent viewing opportunities.

10 Must See Stargazing Events in 2013

April 25 – Partial Lunar Eclipse
May 9 – Annular Eclipse of the Sun (“Ring of Fire” Eclipse)
May 24-30 – Dance of the Planets
June 23 – “Supermoon” The biggest Full Moon of 2013
August 12 – Perseid meteor shower
October 18 – Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon
November 3Hybrid Eclipse of the Sun
Mid November through DecemberComet ISON
All of December – Dazzling Venus
December 13-14 – Geminids meteor shower

Eclipse of the Moon or Sun

Eclipses happen each year, and 2013 is no different with three lunar and two solar eclipses. Unfortunately, due to the nature of an Eclipse where the moon, your location on earth and the sun line up in a perfect line these phenomena tend to be highly local and short-lived, but if you are lucky and in the right area or close to such an area, so it is worth researching further on these dates a head of time.

Located in North America, than write down “total solar eclipse” on Aug. 21, 2017, in your calendar, on this date a total solar eclipse will be visible across North America.

Dance of the Planets

Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury all fit within a 5° circle, the tightest three-planet grouping that will be visible without binoculars until 2026 On may 26 they will be within a 2.5° circle.

Super moon

A “Super moon” as it has become coined in the media in recent years, is when a full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth, this will happen in the morning of June 23, 2013. The precise time when the moon is at its fullest and at it is proximity is closest to Earth differs by merely 30 minutes. This happens not long after sunrise. The moon will be close to its largest size on the evening of the 22nd, so to get a super moon picture without having to get up at the crack of dawn this would be the time to head out. The super moon this year will be 30% brighter than a normal moon.

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid meteor shower should peak on 12th of August. A waxing crescent moon should help to keep the sky dark, so the meteor shower can be seen clearly. This will likely be your best opportunity to spot meteors this year. In 2011 and 2012 the estimation was that 100 meteors fell per hour during peak, which was down from 2009 and 2010 with 173 and 142 respectively.

Comet ISON

As recently as in September 2012 a pair of Russian amateur astronomers discover the Comet ISON. Comet ISON should be visible in late November.

Dazzling Venus

Although Venus is always one of the brightest stars in the night sky, in December, Venus will be at its brightest for 2013.

Geminids Meteor Shower

The Geminids’ meteor shower produced the most meteors in recent years, last year 117 meteors per hour  at the peak and an astonishing 198 meteors per hour in 2011. Unfortunately in 2013 the Geminids’ are not expected to match even the 2012′s show due to a near-full moon all night. Early riser could get a treat as the moon sets a few hours before sunrise and will be the best viewing opportunity to catch a lot of meteors.

Playing with shadows

Playing with shadows

Playing with shadows

Shadows are all around, the harsher the light the more well defined the shadows will be harsh light tends to produce far more compelling photos. Just look around they are everywhere.

Look for shadows that interplay with each other or something that creates a striking contrast. Shadows are ideal subjects for black and white processing, but can create truly compelling pictures even in color.

The tricky part to photograph shadows is to determine the exposure. Using any auto exposure mode will often lead to an overexposed image, this because the cameras light-meter will try to compensate for the dark areas and brighten up the picture and bring out details in the shadows. This is not necessarily desirable, but could not it just be fix in post processing? Sure, but why not expose it correctly in the camera from the start, and reduce the time in the digital dark room. To control the correct exposure, in shadow photography it is best to stick with manual exposure mode or otherwise utilize negative EV exposure, for best result, the histogram should be pushed far to the left.

Personally, I prefer to use negative EV exposure. I believe it is quicker and easier for me to change EV exposure, then switch between different camera modes. This allows me to be ready for the next photo whatever it might be.

Happy Snapping my friends!