I recently read a couple of terrific books on creativity and would like to share them here. These books illustrate that we are all creative but that creativity manifests in a wide variety of ways. But the message is definitely that creativity is not just a talent but a skill which can be learned. And there are lessons here for anyone who is striving to become more creative.
Photoshop CS6, now in public beta, has three new blur filters including:
- Tilt-Shift Blur which simulates the kind of depth-of-field effects you get by adjusting a camera’s aperture and focal length
- Iris blur in which focus is maintained on a specified point and increasing blur is applied radially outward from that point
- Field blur which blurs the entire image
Each of these effects includes the option to add bokeh effects including the ability to change the amount of light and its color.
In this post, I’m going to compare the new Photoshop tilt-shift blur with onOne Software’s FocalPoint 2 which provides a similar blur effect.
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.
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.
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
HDR 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.
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.
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
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
Update 10/8/11: I’ve taken a second, more comprehensive look at HDR Efex Pro and have posted a second review.
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