APA Contest Winner / BlinkBid Giveaway

Wading Giraffes

I was excited to hear that my giraffe image picked up 2nd place in the Fine Art/Personal category of APA’s 2013 photo contest! There were some great winners in the various categories, and you should check them all out here. While I don’t really enter contests, I do enter and support ones from the big names like APA, PDN, etc. I love seeing the amazing work coming out of those contests.

One of the prizes for my category was a copy of the software BlinkBid. If you are not familiar with it, it’s sort of the de facto tool for estimating commercial shoots. I use it for all of my estimates and it has support for almost anything you could imagine needing to include. Need to have a line item for striking a set? Do you shoot film and want to make sure to bill for developing your B&W 8×10? Blinkbid has you covered. The estimates you print out are great too – you can customize them to fit your studio’s look.

Since I already use Blinkbid, I have this extra license sitting around. I asked the Blinkbid crew and they ok’ed me giving it away. So, let’s do it! If you are interested in a chance to win the software (a $229 value), leave a comment below. I’ll randomly pick a winner on Monday, November 18th using some sort of fancy web-based random number generator thingy.

 

the dogblog turns 7

It’s hard to believe that I launched this blog in June of 2006. Actually, I think it was before then, as I had some third party blogging software around 2005 which published its own pages (I don’t remember the name of it, but it started with an ‘i’).

Now it’s 7 years later, and today I’ve just launched the 7th iteration of this blog. I decided to go super-clean with this one, reflecting the colors and feel of the main site while avoiding some of the fluff (who needs to see the headshots of the people on Facebook that like my page anyways?).

For a little reminiscing, here are some of the horrid header images I created in the past (to be fair, they were not horrid when I created them. They were cutting-edge cool):

the elusive show/hide layer shortcut

Photoshop Hide Show Layer Keyboard ShortcutHeads up – it’s geek-out time now.

One of the things that’s always bugged me about Photoshop is that there is no keyboard shortcut for showing/hiding the current layer. A lot of times, I like to quickly do some before/after checks to see if the adjustment layer I just added is working. Usually I’m clicking on the show/hide eye icon to do this.

The most recent version of CS6 supports conditional actions. So now you can do something akin to “if this, do that, otherwise do that”. This is perfect for creating a show/hide layer option. Here’s how to do it:

First, create 2 actions. One is called Show Layer, and the other is called Hide Layer. For the Hide Layer action, have a new layer selected (anything other than the locked background layer), start recording the action, and then go to the Layer menu and select Hide Layers. Stop recording. For the Show Layer action, do the same thing, except make sure the layer is not visible when you start recording the action.

Now that those actions are created, create a new action called Layer Toggle (or whatever) and start recording. For the first step, click the arrow at the upper right of the action palette and select “Insert Conditional”. The conditional action window will pop up. Make it look just like this:

Photoshop Hide Show Layer Keyboard Shortcut Image 2

Stop recording and give that action a keyboard shortcut. You should now have 3 actions like this:

Photoshop Hide Show Layer Keyboard Shortcut Image 3

And you’re done! From now on, when you hit that shortcut, Photoshop will look to see if the current layer is visible. If it is, it will make it hidden (and vice versa). I’ve got this assigned to a button on my Wacom tablet and it’s working great.

Create with Adonit

I’m happy to share some work I’ve done for Adonit‘s new “Create” campaign. Adonit is a tech company that makes incredible styluses and keyboards for iPads and iPhones. Their top product, the Jot Touch, connects via Bluetooth, meaning that it gives you pressure sensitivity on the stylus. I got my hands on one and enjoy using it.

The idea with the new campaign is that we are all creators at heart. The imagery is designed to showcase how people are using Adonit’s products in their own creations, regardless of their age/occupation/etc.

Here are some of the images we produced:

By |November 16th, 2012|Photography|0 Comments

My Nik has been Google-ized

Google purchased plug-in company Nik Software today. It looks like they are already rolling out changes in Color Efex Pro 4 (click for the larger version).

A few days with the Fuji X-Pro1

About a week ago, I decided to rent the brand-new Fuji X-Pro 1 for a few days. It was on a whim; I had not played with a Fuji X100 before, and so I didn’t know really what to expect. My professional cameras to this point have been the Canon 5d and 5d mark 2, plus a stint with a 20d several years ago.

Photographers have talked about the retro feel of the body, and there’s no denying it. It has a definite Leica sensibility. Large, metal dials on top of a tank-grade metal body. APS-C sized sensor. About 18 megapixels. Having not spent a lot of time with either Leicas or retro-ish cameras (before they were considered retro), the feel of the X-Pro 1 was new to me. But I quickly got used to it as the benefit of a smaller-than-a-5d-body mentality kicked in.

One of the biggest benefits of the X-Pro 1 (other than its new, interchangeable lens mount), is its hybrid viewfinder. When you are looking through it, you can either see a LCD version of your scene (the EVF, or electronic viewfinder), or an optical version with some informational overlays (the OVF, or, wait for it, optical viewfinder). They both have good and bad points. The EVF mode definitely shows more information, but it seemed more difficult to focus for me. In low light, however, it excels. The OVF is interesting because you are not seeing directly what the lens sees – you are looking through a viewfinder that’s a little bit off axis. So, you have to learn to adjust for that (but it wasn’t that difficult).

Both viewfinder modes suffer from some sort of polarization issue. Meaning, when I use the camera with my polarized sunglasses on, I can’t see either the EVF or the information overlays in the OVF. I’m sure there’s a fancy name for this issue. It goes away when you rotate your camera vertically, but I thought it was weird to have this issue in a camera that has a rubber protection piece specifically for eyeglasses. All you ‘togs that sport those self-shading glasses may want to take note.

And let’s talk about that focus. Zack Arias originally thought this camera would be his DSLR killer. It’s not, at least not completely. Overall, the image quality is awesome and I could see using it as an additional camera for a lot of jobs. Just not any involving motion, because the focus is too slow. One way around this I found is to pre-focus on an area and wait for the moving subject to pass through. With enough light and a tight-enough aperture, I was able to get some good results. In fact, the X-Pro 1 beats my 5d2 in fps by at least a full frame. But there were several times I thought I had achieved focus, only to discover later that I was way off:

What tha? I have 5 other images exactly like this, just from this spot.

Over the few days that I had the camera, I got better and learned to give the camera the time it needs. I even brought it along on a portrait session:

Manual focus is near impossible in a motion shoot, as it’s a focus-by-wire system. Turning the focus wheel doesn’t actually rotate the lens elements. The super-smart Fuji computer does that, just slowly. This might be something fixed in a future firmware update.

When the 7-year-old tells you to work it, you work it.

The built-in picture style modes are cool – I found myself shooting black and white and film simulation images in-camera a lot. You can also have the camera record multiple simulations at the same time (say, a RAW and a black and white.) Those are fun. Speaking of RAW, I couldn’t test that as there was no RAW support for the files in PS or Lightroom, and you can’t download the Fuji software from their site (update: a recent Adobe update has appeared to fix this.)

So, after 4 days with it, I was sad to see it go. It does have a personality to it that you immediately feel when you hold it. It’s hard to describe. You find yourself wanting to make the camera work despite all of its idiosyncrasies. It has charm. Or it’s dope. Or tight. Or whatever you kids want to call it. It’s the camera I would take on a trip when I want great quality without the size of my 5d. Quiet and not intimidating.

Here are some samples, processed with VSCO via LR 4 (thanks a lot, Ben).