Masking and Selection with onOne Software’s Perfect Mask

David Salahi Uncategorized 7 Comments

Making selections and masking are essential skills for photographers and it’s common to encounter images where it’s difficult to cleanly select just the desired subject from a busy background. In recent years software has become much smarter and innovations like Photoshop’s Quick Select and Refine Edge tools have greatly simplified the process. But even with recent advances the process can still be time-consuming. So any product that can improve the process has the potential to be a big time-saver. And if you don’t have Photoshop but still want to do some compositing or localized image adjustments you need an alternative such as onOne Software’s Perfect Mask. I recently got the version 5 of Perfect Mask as part of onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 6. I was eager to find out if the new version could help me save time in my masking and selection chores. Watch this in-depth video review of my experiences using Perfect Mask and find out if it could be a useful tool in your tookit.
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If you have problems viewing the video here you can also watch it on YouTube:
Masking and Selection with Perfect Mask 5, Part 1
Masking and Selection with Perfect Mask 5, Part 2

Perfect Photo Suite 6.0.2 Update is Usable

David Salahi Uncategorized 3 Comments

I previously posted about my problems installing and using onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 6 and now, I’m happy to report, that we’re mostly past those problems. The most serious of the problems I encountered, such as the inability to use the product from Photoshop, have been remedied. It’s now much more stable and, I feel, has reached a level that makes it usable.

That’s not to say that it’s now trouble-free. I continue to experience odd behaviors occasionally when zooming, for example. And I’ve seen some glitches in the Perfect Mask module. But these are relatively minor problems that can be ignored or worked around with little effort.

Check back in a few weeks for news about an upcoming review of the Perfect Mask module.

Trials & Tribulations with onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 6

David Salahi Uncategorized 6 Comments

UPDATE 1-7-12: See my post Perfect Photo Suite 6.0.2 Update is Usable for news of recent fixes.

I’ve been hoping to write a review of Perfect Photo Suite 6 since before its launch in October. I pre-ordered it in order to save a few bucks and had been watching the daily videos with eager anticipation of the cool new features to come. However, I’ve been disappointed with the product as delivered. I’ve had repeated problems with installation, licensing and use of the product. I’ve been working with onOne Software tech support, trying various things myself, including a clean reinstallation of Windows and all my software. Alas, the problems continue, with the result being a seriously degraded user experience. I’ve been holding off writing about these problems in the hope that all would eventually be fixed but, at this point, I feel like I owe it to you to let you know about these problems.Read More

Book Review: HDR Efex Pro After the Shoot

David Salahi Books, HDR Leave a Comment

HDR Efex Pro After the ShootHDR Efex Pro After the Shoot by Stan Sholik is the third book I’ve read about Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro and it’s the best of the bunch.It’s packed with great information on how to use this software. The in-depth coverage provided explains the various presets and controls better than anything else I’ve seen. Nik Software doesn’t really provide a user’s manual. They do have a brief getting started guide and a series of good videos. But you’d need to spend hours watching videos. You’d get a lot of repetition and I seriously doubt that you would find detailed coverage like that provided here. If you really want to get the most out of HDR Efex Pro you need a book like this. It’s also nice to have a book for reference since videos don’t work for that purpose.

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Fun and Frustration with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

David Salahi Lightroom, Photoshop 5 Comments

Adobe Lightroom 3

As a photographer not using Lightroom I’ve always felt just a little out of the loop. Last year I happened to end up with an extra copy of the book Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers so I gave it to an acquaintance who is a photographer. He thanked me for the book but also remarked, “I’m doing almost everything in Lightroom these days.” Having never used Lightroom I was surprised to learn that it was so powerful that you might not need Photoshop.

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HDR Efex Pro Review, Part 2

David Salahi HDR 7 Comments

Screen shot of HDR Efex Pro

After reading the outstanding ebook The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro by Jason P. Odell and Tony Sweet (see my book review) I decided to give HDR Efex Pro a second look. If you read my previous review of HDR Efex Pro you’ll know that I tried the product but had decided it was not for me. I had already purchased Photomatix Pro and had decided to stick with it. However, the fact that lots of well-known photographers prefer HDR Efex Pro left me scratching my head and wondering what I was missing. It was shortly after I published my review that I listened to a Nikonians podcast (#132) in which Jason Odell describes his ebook on HDR Efex Pro. From his description it sounded like the book contained exactly the kind of information I had been seeking.Read More

Book Review: The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro

David Salahi Books 6 Comments

The Photographer's Guide to HDR Efex Pro

I recently tried Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro and came away thinking that the product was not for me. In The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro authors Jason P. Odell and Tony Sweet say  that "with twenty different HDR Methods to choose from, you might feel overwhelmed as to which is best for your image." That was exactly the feeling I did have when I first tried HDR Efex Pro.  I wrote a blog post in which I detailed my frustrations with the product and the reasons why I reached the conclusion that HDR Efex Pro was not for me.

But after reading this ebook I decided to have a second look at the software.Read More

HDR Efex Pro Review, Part 1

David Salahi HDR 6 Comments

Update 10/8/11: I’ve taken a second, more comprehensive look at HDR Efex Pro and have posted a second review.

Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro

HDR Efex Pro is a favorite of RC Concepcion and other notables in the digital photography world and when I learned this I wondered if I had made a mistake by purchasing Photomatix Pro. But after testing HDR Efex Pro during a two-week free trial I came to the conclusion that I probably purchased the right software for my needs. I’ll be adding a review of Photomatix Pro soon so check back for that.

Attractive User Interface but with Annoyances

HDR Efex Pro has a more polished interface than Photomatix Pro and is more attractive and nicer to work with. Being able to hide the preset and adjustment panels is handy to give you more screen real estate. There is also an ability to choose single image, split preview, and side-by-side previews. Initially, I was puzzled about what the latter two display modes are actually comparing and the manual was no help. Read More

Photo Ethics

David Salahi Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I want to say a few words about retouching and photo ethics. I could probably write 10,000 words on the subject but that would be overkill because my philosophy is pretty simple. I’m making images for my own enjoyment and, hopefully, yours. I’m not trying to document the way Half Dome looked on September 18, 2011. I’m not a photojournalist. Those guys have a strict set of rules for a good reason—they are trying to document how something looked or what happened at a given point in time.

I’m’ not. So, for me, anything goes. Remove dust specks? Absolutely. Remove a power line or a tree branch? Sure (in Photoshop—not the actual power line or branch!). Change the sky? Yes, if it makes a better image. I’m trying to create interesting and pleasing images so whatever serves that goal is just another tool in my toolbox. I’ll use anything from the healing brush to Alien Skin SnapArt.

After all, it’s clear that all photography is interpretation starting with what to include in the frame and what to omit.Read More

Review: The HDR Book by Rafael “RC” Concepcion

David Salahi Books, HDR 5 Comments

a review of The HDR Book by Rafael "RC" Concepcion

Sadly, this is not the review I wanted to write. I heard RC Concepcion on the Typical Shutterbug podcast recently talking about HDR photography and his new book and got all excited and ran right out and bought the book. However, after spending some time with it I found it lacking and I will explain why below. But, first I have to say that I hesitated in writing a negative review of a book by RC because I’ve been reading his articles in Photoshop User for years and I know he’s a major contributor in the world of digital photography. Still, I have to call ’em the way I see ’em. Read More