Thursday, November 29, 2007

NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0

While relatively new to the whole full-blown Photoshop scene, I have been enjoying learning how to better use it and how to spice up my pictures with proper developing techniques and also the use of different actions and plugins. I have been trialing Nik Software's Color Efex Pro filters, first version 2.0 and the last few days, version 3.0. There are some very useful filters that give pictures some pop and different effects.

Version 3 is mostly an interface improvement that is very nice. Plus, the U point technology is a great feature for turning on or off the filter effect on different parts of the picture. It is quicker and easier to use than brushing or erasing the effect and, to my still untrained eye, seems to work quite effectively.

It is good enough that I have been seriously thinking about buying it. However, I have been experiencing some crashes while in the interface that needs a ctrl-alt-delete to bring up the task manager and shut down Photoshop. It has happened frequently enough that I'm a little hesitant to buy it. It could be that I am taxing my computer too much and I'll have to experiment a bit more.

Also of interest is onOne Software's PhotoTools 1 Professional Edition. I have downloaded the trial version and will install it shortly to provide a comparison. However, I am beginning to wonder if there is any end to spending money in the hobby/profession.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reworked Picture

I bit the bullet today and purchased Photoshop CS3. I kind of feel like I've graduated out of kindergarten and moved into 1st grade.

Here's the big thing I like about taking pictures and playing with them in my sandbox, I mean Photoshop. No politics, no arguments, no disagreements like what I seem to experience in too many other areas of my life. (Gee, maybe it's me and not everybody else!)

Anyway, I posted an earlier version of this picture here. I was never quite completely satisfied with it so I just spent some time working it again and came up with what you see here. I used the brand new NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0. My 15 day trial of version 2.0 just ran out yesterday and I checked the site and the new one had just been released so I get another 15 day trial. I like it too much and it's another $300 program so I'd better get with it and start shooting some portraits for money or something.

UPDATE: I just kind of looked at both pictures and I still like the first one better so I better go back to the drawing table on the one above. Lots of fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Revisited Photo

I have taken over 4900 images on my camera since I purchased it in June of this year. Most of them are probably throw aways. Many are still waiting to get developed from the RAW format I shoot in. Plus, I've learned a lot about developing them in Adobe Camera Raw and then playing with them a bit in Photoshop. Tonight I went back and looked at some of the first shots I made. This one was taken when I was in Campbell River in June. It is shot number 288. I'm not a boater but the shot appeals to me tonight, probably because it is gloomy and cold outside and this looks much more inviting.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NAPP Portfolio

One of the benefits of NAPP is a small online portfolio for posting pictures. It is not a replacement for my Phanfare account, but it is one more place to post pictures. You can view my pictures and others by clicking on the link in the sidebar.

I also have links to a couple of Phanfare albums, one and two, where I am posting full res pictures, sometimes with a bit more explanation on what I've done with them.

Check them out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I joined NAPP, The National Association of Photoshop Professionals. I had been thinking about it and when I read that you got a 15% discount at Adobe's store, I figured it would just about pay for itself when I purchase Photoshop CS3 in a few days. (Just haven't bit the bullet yet.) The fees were $129 US ( I think I got $10 off because of a David Ziser DVD I bought a few months ago) and it will save me around $97 when I buy Photoshop. Plus, I will get their magazine, a very interesting looking one that I have seen in Chapters for $15.95 or thereabouts. Let's see, 8 or 9 issues at $16 each plus tax equals more than the membership itself. Cool!

So does this make me a Photoshop Pro? Nah! Not yet anyway. But there are lots of tutorials and videos and stuff on their site accessible to members only.

I think it's a great deal. I'll let you know if I change my mind.

Next purchase. CS3 when the 30 day trial runs out or the Canadian dollar climbs higher again.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Still Playing with PS

I played around a bit more with a picture posted previously. I just did a vivid overlay and then added a border.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Photoshop Fun (While Learning)

I posted a couple of pictures of my wife, Rena, and I a couple of days ago. We took the pics on our recent trip to Saskatchewan. I have been playing around in the 30 day demo version of Photoshop CS3, trying to learn different and new things that will be useful if I actually ever do this as a business. I gave the extract filter a try on the picture of my wife and pulled her out of the picture and put her in with me. A little bit of scaling and it almost looks like we were both in the picture at the same time. A uselful tool to say the least.

I know for many these things are second nature in Photoshop, but it's all new for me and, even though a ripe old age of 53, it is invigorating learning all this new stuff. Now all I have to do is figure out how to retain it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


In finally got around to installing the 30 day trial version of Photoshop CS3. Whew! Quite the program. I had started to get to know some of the features of Elements 3 (an ancient program since they just released version 6) and some things are a bit different in terms of menus and toolbar buttons. Of course, the major difference is in all the additional, pro features that you don't get in Elements. Like masks and smart filters and many others I haven't even begun to explore.

I did a couple of cool things and I've posted some pictures below. Following Scott Kelby's Photoshop CS3 book, I double processed a picture. I had a picture from my recent trip to Saskatchewan of the sun shining through some clouds that looked quite neat. However, the picture was exposed for the bright sky and the foreground was deep in shadows. Basically, you open two copies of the raw file in Photoshop, one corrected for the sky and one brightened for the dark foreground, put them together, with the bright copy on top and then make a mask and just paint the dark sky back into the picture. Very cool and gives you a picture that you probably can't capture in camera.

So here was the best I could do using just regular processing. You can see that the bottom is very dark and I was not at all happy with how it turned out.

But using the double processing I mentioned above, I was able to get this picture, which, though not perfect, is a far better picture than above, although I'm sure there are those who would consider it overprocessed in Photoshop. I kind of like it a lot, though and that's the main thing for now.

**UPDATE** On closer inspection I see that the horizon line is not level. I will be fixing that later on and reposting the picture below.

**UPDATE 2** This has now been fixed.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Scenic Portraits

This was one of the stops my wife Rena and I made on our recent holiday. I believe this was on the way to Vernon from Banff. It was pretty enough that I pulled out the tripod and set it up. So we took some pictures of ourselves.