Software How To

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Jack Neubart  |  Mar 19, 2012  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2012  |  3 comments

The merge to HDR process has for too long been a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. That cloak of mystery is one giant step closer to being removed thanks to HDR Express, from Unified Color Technologies (www.unifiedcolor.com). While this software greatly simplifies the process, successful HDR merges don’t just happen when you click a button. There is some planning involved.

John Brandon  |  Mar 12, 2012  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2012  |  2 comments

Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 caters to the entry-level crowd, but is imbued with several professional-level tools. Even when a feature is not really intended for serious photographers, there is a goldmine of functionality that could save countless hours. The app is celebrating 10 years on the market. Adobe has slowly revised the workflow, and it’s getting much better.

 

In this version, you’ll first see a start-up screen with two buttons, one for organizing photos and one for editing. It makes more sense to click the button to organize images first, especially if you’re not even sure which images need editing.

When you do, one of the first prompts you’ll see asks how you normally import photos. That’s handy, because even the most experienced pro has to get photos off the camera somehow. You might typically load images onto a network drive, or prefer loading directly off the camera. (An option to scan images seems woefully dated these days.) Whatever option you choose, you can always go back and select a different import default. For now, it just means, when you start Elements 10, the app will automatically look for that specific source.

George Schaub  |  Mar 08, 2012  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2012  |  0 comments

Operating as a plug-in for Lightroom, Aperture, or as a stand-alone workspace, Perfect Layers from onOne Software distills down and codifies the often-complex task of working in Layers to a fairly simple task, offering various Blend modes, composite shortcuts and tools that might otherwise pose a steep learning curve. You can use numerous source files, including Raw, TIFF, and JPEG formats, and scale and move the various layers as required. In short, Perfect Layers poses an effective tool for those who have wanted to work in Layers out of Aperture and Lightroom and opens up new doors to image creation.

 

The onOne workspace contains toolbars on the left and modifications and working options on the right, #1. Once you have selected an image or images from an organizer such as the Library in Lightroom, they load as separate Layers in the center screen. You choose the images to be used by selecting them from the Library or Browser, then going to File>Plug-In Extras>Perfect Layers. Here’s the selection process shown in Lightroom 3, #2.

Steve Bedell  |  Jan 13, 2012  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2011  |  4 comments

Like most professional portrait photographers, I use Photoshop every day. Yet, because Adobe Photoshop is such a powerful program with so many tools available, it also comes with a significant learning curve. And when it comes to facial retouching, there are several tasks involved that do not always make Photoshop the best choice for everyone, especially those who want to do the job and move on.

Joe Farace  |  Oct 28, 2011  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 is a major upgrade to an already great product and introduces many new features that offer you even more control over an image’s detail, contrast, and tonality, making it easy to transform color files into stunning black-and-white photographs. Silver Efex Pro 2 now includes controls for Dynamic Brightness, Amplify Blacks, Amplify Whites, Soft Contrast, Fine Structure, Image Borders, Selective Colorization, as well as a History Browser and many speed and quality improvements. All of Silver Efex Pro 2’s new features also play nice with Nik’s U Point technology, giving you selective control over an image instead of globally applying an effect, although that option is available, too.

Anthony L. Celeste  |  Oct 13, 2011  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2011  |  1 comments

Photo/Graphic Edges (PGE) from Auto FX Software has been with us for many years and the company recently released their latest version, 7.0, Platinum Edition ($249, stand-alone and plug-in; $129, upgrade for owners of Version 5 or 6). The interface is identical to that used by all Auto FX Photoshop plug-ins. If you already use another Auto FX plug-in, such as Mystical Lighting or Mystical Focus, learning to use PGE should be easy. Even if you’re not familiar with Auto FX products, you’ll likely find the interface to be very straightforward and uncluttered, with plenty of room to work on your images.

Howard Millard  |  Oct 11, 2011  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2011  |  1 comments

Whether you yearn for a subtle fine-tuning or an over-the-top effect, Exposure 3 lays out a fully stocked film vault for you. Do you yearn for the gritty look of pushed Tri-X, or the impressionistic color that is characteristic of a faded Polaroid? To add the organic look of specific film types to your photos, or transform them with a wide range of processing and darkroom effects, try one of the 500 presets available in the third generation of Alien Skin’s Photoshop plug-in, Exposure 3, up from 300 presets in Version 2.

 

Exposure 3 gives you access to effects from many stages of the photographic process: blur from cheap plastic lenses, color shifts from cross processing, grain and contrast from push processing, and warped vignettes from low-end cameras or from the printing process. Exposure 3 renders looks that span the entire experience of film back to the earliest days of photography.

Jon Canfield  |  Aug 09, 2011  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2011  |  1 comments

Mention digital image editing and it’s likely that the first word you’ll hear is Photoshop. It’s become a general term, like Xerox. For many, the full-blown version of Photoshop (currently at CS5) is either overkill, with features that you’ll never need or use, or just too expensive. Adobe realizes this and has produced a more streamlined version for years. This “entry-level” version of Photoshop, named Elements, is priced like a basic editing program, but filled with features you’d expect to pay quite a bit more for. The latest version, Elements 9 has added several new features that photographers have been requesting for years, making this release an even more attractive option, and further blurring the line between CS and Elements features.

What’s New
There are normally a couple of new features in each release that make upgrading an attractive option for current users, and in this regard Elements 9 adds some interesting items in the sharing area, and a major feature that has been requested for years. Let’s take a look at what is new in Version 9.

John Brandon  |  Jun 28, 2011  |  First Published: May 01, 2011  |  1 comments

For years, anyone serious about photography has viewed Corel Paint Shop Pro (PSP) as the low cost alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Originally developed by a tiny company in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Paint Shop has grown up into a full-featured photo workflow tool with a built-in photo organizer that includes tagging options and fast previewing, an advanced image editor, and handy integration with Flickr and Facebook.

 

For $70, PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Ultimate is a smart addition to a virtual photo toolbox. A few performance problems and some slightly questionable editing capabilities puts PSP in the uncomfortable position of still being in the tall shadow of Adobe. That said, if you want to skip the $700 purchase price, PSP is on the right track.

John Brandon  |  Jun 20, 2011  |  First Published: May 01, 2011  |  1 comments

For serious photographers, the software you choose for a photographic workflow falls into good, better, and best buckets. The “good” bucket includes fairly mundane tools for basic image management, while “better” goes the extra step of providing image correction options and filters. The “best” tools provide tethered-shot features and robust metadata editing functions. At these upper ranks, the best software seems to predict your every move, mostly because the software developers are photo enthusiasts and understand real photographic needs.

 

Phase One’s Capture One Pro 6 falls into this “best” category. In many ways, it even beats out Adobe Photoshop CS5 in that there seems to be a professional-grade feature under every drop-down menu and in every dialog box. The editing functions pale in comparison to Photoshop, but as we’ve all learned, if you set up the shot perfectly on location you might not need to do a lot of editing later.

Jack Neubart  |  Jun 07, 2011  |  First Published: May 01, 2011  |  0 comments

We’re all familiar with image-editing software, but we may be a stranger to asset management, that is, organizing and managing your stock photo library so that image files are readily accessible. Bibble 5 Pro’s asset management begins with pooling data from all the images you’ve shot on any given day, occasion, event, trip, or job into individual databases that Bibble defines as “catalogs.” The process also entails assigning keywords and labels, which along with other criteria, can be used to search through all of Bibble’s catalogs, whether the images or the catalogs are stored on your computer’s hard drive or on external drives.

John Brandon  |  Apr 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Exceptional photographic software reveals its true nature over time. In the case of Photo Mechanic—which is a pro-level image organizing tool from Camera Bits—there are seemingly insignificant features that provide a smooth workflow, especially for photo journalists working with IPTC data.

Howard Millard  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Whether you’re starting with a portrait, a landscape, a wedding photo, or a still life, it’s easy to use the hundreds of effects in onOne Software’s new PhotoFrame 4.5 (PF 4.5) to enliven your images and give them a distinctive look and unique appeal.

Joe Farace  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Everybody knows the basic concept and conceit of High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging but first let’s get rid of yet another unnecessary acronym. What does HDRI—High Dynamic Range Imaging—add to the discussion other than just another letter?

George Schaub  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  0 comments

At first glance you might think that Alien Skin’s Exposure 3 ($249 at www.alienskin.com/store or $99 upgrade from Exposure 1 or 2; a free trial is available on their website as well) is a push-button solution to image manipulation.

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