Review

Quick Take On Perfect Photo Suite 6 From OnOne

Cows In A Fog

Some time ago I took the plunge and purchased OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 6.  I finally got time to try it out so I grabbed the image (original below) of some cows in pasture to try it out OnOne’s tools.  It was a very small jpg (only 344k) but it was conveniently sitting around on my desktop.  [Regarding the shot itself: I was traveling in east Texas recently and while heading out to work early one morning saw these cows and took the shot.  I liked the peaceful, foggy scene.].

Cows 70mm, f/2.8, 1/125s, ISO ?

I opened up this image in Perfect Photo Suite 6 in the software’s standalone mode (previous versions required opening from Photoshop I believe).  I first used the Effects panel and the Textures sub-panel to add several texture layers (there are layer and masking capabilities similar to Photoshop) , adjusting “strength”, masking out a few spots, and changing blending modes.  There are additional settings as well.  For instance, you can select “normal”, “subtle”, “lighter”, and “darker” options in a “Mode” drop down which change the initial effect.

I then went into the Frames panel and added the film border which included the decay effect along the edges.  There are roughly 1500 individual frames to choose from and a myriad of options which can be tweaked for each.  Of course you can combine effects as well…ENDLESS options.

My impression based on this 15-minute experimental session?  Good stuff.  There are some things which will take getting used to regarding the particulars of using the masks and such.  I’m not implying anything negative though — I’m just used to Photoshop and it will take a little practice to become proficient in the subtleties of OnOne’s tools.  There is clearly a lot of potential and I will definitely be digging into Perfect Photo Suite 6 more deeply.

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Raul Touzon’s Portable Sun Workshop

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4553465100/

Half Dead 10mm, f/11, 1/25s (no flash)

Today I’m putting in a plug for a Raul Touzon workshop being held at the Dragonfly Gallery in Austin, TX. This workshop is called “The Portable Sun” and focuses on creative flash techniques. I’ve attended a Raul Touzon workshop in the past (please read my review here) and highly recommend him as a teacher. The images you see above and below were taken while attending that workshop. We spent some time on “the portable sun” although that wasn’t the focus of the previous workshop.

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4557851260/

Young Lady 11mm, f/3.5, 1/40s

I’ve messed around with flash techniques (both on and off-camera) enough to know that you can get bogged down in the technical details in a hurry. That’s fine in some situations but there are times when you just need to know enough to make it work. I haven’t attended Raul’s portable sun workshop but based on my previous workshop experience I can say that he strikes a great balance between getting technical (he can go deep if you need to) and not missing “the moment” because you’re fiddling with dials and buttons on your camera and flash. There are times (especially in journalistic photography) when you just can’t get a flash meter out or fire off a series of test shots. The image of the lady in the bar (The Broken Spoke in Austin) was taken spur of the moment — no setup or test shots. You can see that I need some practice…but that’s why we attend workshops.

Go take this workshop. Registration info is here: http://www.dragonflygallerytx.com/workshopraulportable.htm

Here are links to my posts which have some reference to my Raul Touzon workshop experience:

https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/my-first-photo-workshop-experience/
https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/rauls-rules-for-capturing-motion/
https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/paris-was-wonderful/
https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/a-ranchers-face-of-wisdom/
https://michaeltuuk.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/zipping-by/


Gear Bag Review – Domke F-2

So — I finally found a camera bag that I like and am not going to return for a refund.  Mind you, it’s not the perfect bag for all situations (no such bag exists IMO), but it fits my immediate need for a bag to carry some gear in a manner I’m comfortable with.  Bags are such a personal thing but I thought this little review might give someone an idea of what to expect from the Domke F-2.

The type of bag I was searching for was something to carry on photowalks and also transport my camera and a lens or two in the trunk of my car (keep gear from rolling around and be available so I can just grab the bag if I decide to stop and take an impromtu photowalk).  I was also hoping to find a bag which would do double duty and serve as a half-camera/half-general-purpose bag on an upcoming trip to Europe.  Since I’m fortunate enough to live in a city which has a full-blown camera shop (Precision Camera in Austin, TX) I was able to take my gear into the store and try packing it in various bags — that helped eliminate many possibilities up front.  I also had a friend who allowed me to borrow a Kata sling for a month or two.

I ended up really liking the Domke in the store and when I first used it “for real” I just loved it.  The image below shows the bag along with the gear I’ve recently been carrying in it.  I could easily fit more if I chose to stuff every corner.  Please excuse the lousy product shot using on-camera flash and taken with no thought regarding setup or background.

https://michaeltuuk.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/domke_f2_bag.jpg

Domke F-2 Gear Bag

I had the following gear packed in the Domke F-2 with room to spare:

Canon 50D with Sigma 10-20mm and hood
Canon 24-70 f2.8 L with hood
Canon 70-200 f2.8 L with hood – sticks up into the top flap a bit but isn’t problematic
Canon 50 f1.4 with hood
Canon 580EXII in its case
Lens cleaning stuff
Hand strap (for the bag)
Black Rapid RS4 strap
50D manual
coiled flash sync cord
cable shutter release and a wireless remote
batteries, mem cards

Granted, the bag was heavy with those items but they easily fit and I still found the bag easy to work out of.  The shoulder strap is a couple inches wide and is quite comfortable.  Note that I wouldn’t normally carry all that gear but I wanted to put the Domke through its paces.

The bag itself is extremely lightweight and forms to your body.  There are removable inner compartments (velcro) but even when those are used, the outer shell of the bag remains flexible and allows the bag to effectively collapse and shrink into a smaller bag when you don’t stuff it full.  This is a big plus in my book — I don’t like the stiff, permanently-shaped bags.  A downside to this is that there’s no outer padding (just the internal compartments are padded).

The four outer pockets (two in front, one on each end) have no padding whatsoever.  Advantage: pockets collapse small when not used.  Disavantage: if you’re putting delicate items in those pockets you need to be extra careful with your bag.

Zippers…the only zipper on the bag closes the pocket on the inside of the top cover.  I wish there were zippers on a few other pockets because the loose flaps make me a bit nervous that something small might fall out or that someone with a small hand might be able to grab something out unnoticed when in a crowd.  The top cover includes two metal clips in addition to velcro to keep it securely closed.

I’ve tried shoulder/messenger bags, a sling, and backpacks.  Each has certain advantages and disavantages but I found none to my liking before I tried this Domke.  Of course, when it comes time to haul all the camera gear along with a laptop and other items, I’ll be shopping for a second bag and writing a second review…

The Domke is available in a regular canvas material or a waxed canvas.  I chose the wax for a little protection.

Great bag.

[Follow-up: Attended a photo workshop after posting this…both our instructor and another pro in the workshop were carrying this bag]

[Follow-up #2: Lugged this bag all over Paris and London.  Carried my 50D, 10-20mm Sigma, 18-200 Sigma, batteries, cards, etc. and still had plenty of room for maps, my jacket (had to stuff it when both the jacket and camera were in the bag at the same time), phone, water bottle…still love this bag.  I would have liked a shoulder pad for those days I carried the bag for 12+ hours, but the strap is wide enough that it wasn’t really a problem.]