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May 24, 2015
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What Software I Use Instead Of Photoshop

When Adobe created their rental program (Creative Cloud) it really rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t like the idea of making a monthly payment, I just wanted to pay for it once and forget it.

What really bothered me was that if I missed one payment, or couldn’t get online for a month, I wouldn’t be able to access my Photoshopped images. I don’t want to worry about not being able to use my images.

For that reason, I started looking for alternatives to Photoshop. I quickly found out that many others were looking for alternatives too, based on the popularity of my article, “10 Alternatives To Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom And Adobe‚Äôs Creative Cloud.”

There are a lot of programs out there, so you should have no problem finding programs to meet your requirements. After looking into many options, I selected several programs to meet my needs.

My main tool is Lightroom, which I purchase and don’t use from the Creative Cloud. I do most of my image adjustments in it, and because of the tools they keep adding with each upgrade, Lightroom becomes more and more powerful as time goes on. However, don’t run out and buy version 6 just yet. It has some serious problems, wait for version 6.1 or 6.2 instead.

Besides doing landscapes and nature photography, I’ve been getting into fantasy work. I’ll combine several photographs, some artwork and even draw directly onto the image. For this I found a great program, Manga Studio from Smith Micro.

This software works in layers, lets you import and export many file formats, including layered PSD files and has great flexibility. It won’t open large PSD files though.

This photograph was created in Manga Studio, with the star-burst created in Gimp. I created the doors behind the head (8 layers), and the door frame in the forehead (4 layers) in Manga as their own images. Then I combined these with all the other photos in a 10-layer image in Manga. One of these layers was used to draw stray hairs coming out of the edge of her hair to get rid of the sharp, cut-out edge look.

Doorway To Enlightenment-1

Doorway To Enlightenment

As mentioned above, I also use Gimp to do some manipulation and to create certain special effects. This is a free program.

The only other program I use is IrfanView. This free little program makes adjusting the PPI, size of an image, and cropping, very easy.

There are a lot of options out there to replace Photoshop, and most are inexpensive or free. Most of them offer free trials, so play around to see which program(s) work best for you.

Have Fun,
Jeff

April 4, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on Arizona Renaissance Festival

Arizona Renaissance Festival

Hi All,

Last month we made our annual trek to the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Yes, we go in costume. While there we get to catch up with friends who work at the Faire and see our favorite performers. We had a great time, and took lots of photographs.

I hope you enjoy these photos.

Have Fun,
Jeff

(Click on a picture to make it larger.)

Adam Crack and his fire whip.

Adam Crack and his fire whip.

Vulture from the Birds of Prey show.

Vulture from the Birds of Prey show.

Twig the Fairy with a fairy in training.

Twig the Fairy with a fairy in training.

Twig the Fairy.

Twig the Fairy.

Zinnia, a fairy that works with Twig.

Zinnia, a fairy that works with Twig.

Vulture from the Birds of Prey show.

Vulture from the Birds of Prey show.

Dancer from The Jamila Lotus Dance Carnivale.

Dancer from The Jamila Lotus Dance Carnivale.

Miguel of Don Juan and Miguel Show. Lots of whips and swords.

Miguel of The Don Juan and Miguel Show. Lots of whips and swords.

With that much smoke, he must be part dragon.

With that much smoke, he must be part dragon.

This young lady walked around with this mug on her head all day. Amazing balance.

This young lady walked around with this mug on her head all day. Amazing balance.

Linda-Ann getting down at the drumming just before the Faire closes for the day.

Linda-Ann getting down at the drumming just before the Faire closes for the day.

March 19, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on The Lightning Bug – Lightning Trigger

The Lightning Bug – Lightning Trigger

LightningBug

About six months ago I bought a Lightning Bug lightning trigger and I love it. I wanted one to make my lightning photography easier and safer. No more leaving the shutter open for countless 30-second exposures to hopefully get something. No going out and taking 100 shots to get 3 photographs of lightning. It’s great.

The Lightning Bug attaches to a camera’s hot shoe, and then it watches not for lighting, but the burst of infrared that precedes a lightning bolt. Point it towards a storm, choose your settings and just wait for the shutter to fire. Your camera will capture the bolt almost every time.

The only time it doesn’t is when the Lightning Bug sees a bolt that’s out of the viewing area of your camera lens. The Lightning Bug covers an area of about 45 degrees side-to-side and 5 degrees up and down. If you’re getting a lot of shots from lightning outside the range of your lens, you can lower the sensitivity of the Lightning Bug, and reduce these shots.

Lightning0169

There are some nice perks to using a lightning trigger.

  • You can sit in the car during a storm, reducing your chance of being hit by lightning. I’ve almost been hit twice. Not fun. If it’s windy, remember this rule, never be more than an arm’s length away from your tripod.
  • You can get out of the rain.
  • In the Southwest, you can keep checking around your feet for snakes, scorpions and tarantulas, without missing any lightning shots.
  • You can scan the skies, and your surroundings, instead of focusing on your camera. I watch to see where the storm is moving, if another storm is coming my direction or if a coyote or javelina is sneaking up behind me.

Two main reasons I chose the Lightning bug is that the buttons on the top of the unit are sealed, so there’s no chance of water leaking in around a button and frying the electronics. And the unit is powered by a standard 9V battery. I like electronics that run off of inexpensive and easy to find batteries.

The Lightning Bug lets you adjust the sensitivity of the unit, depending on how far away the storm is. I keep the sensitivity pretty high. This lets me catch distant storms and smaller bolts of lightning.

Lightning0164

I have used this unit several times, both at night and daytime, and it works great. It catches more lighting than I did before I had it, and it lets me enjoy watching the storm while my camera takes pictures by itself.

I would suggest playing around with the unit at home to get familiar with how to set your camera and Lightning Bug. One thing to know, when you want to change the setting on the Lightning Bug, you must turn off your camera. Practicing all of this ahead of time will prevent you from wasting time in the field.

Simplify your lightning photography, and get yourself a Lightning Bug.

(For tips on lightning safety, check out my article How To Photograph Lightning, And Live To Tell About It)

Have Fun,

Jeff

 

Lightning photographs taken with the Lightning Bug.

January 3, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on How to select a commercial photographer for your business

How to select a commercial photographer for your business

Every business needs photographs to properly promote itself. They are used in print and online advertising, social media, audio/visual presentations and much more. Photographs convey ideas and illustrate products and services like no other medium can. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

But when your business needs photographs, how do you get them? You can take them yourself, or have a friend or coworker do it, but I wouldn’t advise it. Thinking that you can take professional photographs because you have a nice camera is like thinking you could create a Mozart level symphony because you own a piano.

For professional photographs, which is what your business needs, you need to hire a professional photographer.

First, know what you want. This includes what photographs you need and how they will be used. For more detailed information on this, see my article “Do you need photographs for your business? Then you need to know this.” at http://jeffcolburn.com/article-Do-You-Need-Photographs-For-Your-Business-Then-You-Need-To-Know-This.html

Besides knowing how you will use the photographs, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • What is your deadline?
  • What rights do you need?

Finding a photographer

  • If you’re a small to medium size business, look for a local photographer. Find one who specializes in the type of photography you need. In a small town, the local photographer is probably a jack-of-all-trades and can meet your needs.
  • Talk to other businesses that have used a photographer. Who did they use? Where they easy to work with? Did the photographs look great? Did they stay on budget and schedule? Would they hire them again?
  • Go online and search for photographers. See their website to see their photographs, bio and other information.
  • You can also find photographers here:

Interviewing the photographer

  • If possible, see a print portfolio for the photographer(s) you are considering. It’s always good to see what their photographs look like in print. When you’re looking at the portfolio, and the photographer is explaining every photograph, be careful. A photograph in a portfolio should stand on its own merit and not need explanation.
  • What guarantee do they offer? How much experience do they have? Do they respond quickly to emails and phone calls? If my client didn’t like the photographs I took, I wouldn’t charge them. This only happened once in my career.
  • Who have their recent clients been and who is the contact there? Call several of them to see how well the photographer performed.
  • Ask what problems they have solved for clients.

A few last tips

  • If your photographs have models in them, get a copy of the model release from the photographer. That way, if you need them in the future, you don’t have to hunt down the photographer or the model.
  • Do you need photographs of someplace that’s a distance away from you? Consider hiring a photographer from that area. This will save on fees for transportation, food, lodging, etc.
  • Always have a contract that covers what will be done, what it will cost, when it’s due and what rights you will have.
  • Focus on the photographs the photographer produces and not what equipment he uses.
  • Photographs need to make the customer do what you want them to (buy, try or change) and they must look professional. Cheap photos will make you and your business look cheap.
  • In your contract, state that the photographs are to be exclusive to your company for the time you will be using them. Many photographers place the photographs they take on stock sites, and your competitor may wind up using your photographs. At least, make them exclusive to your industry.
  • If the photographer is too expensive, don’t expect them to drop their prices. No good photographer would, but they may offer more services for the same price. You may receive additional rights, more photographs or maybe a few short video clips.

Give yourself time to find the right photographer to meet your needs. A good photographer will meet your needs, solve problems that arise during a shoot and give you photographs that will help your business to grow and thrive.

Have Fun,
Jeff

December 7, 2014
by admin
Comments Off on My New and Exciting Photography

My New and Exciting Photography

There’s something new and exciting with my photography. While I’ll continue to do all the nature and landscape photography that you’re familiar with, I’ve been wanting to do more. I want to create images from my imagination, using both my photography and drawing skills.

I’ve spent the last several months coming up with 4 self-assignment “topics” and roughed out several pieces in each one. These pieces of art will explore some interesting areas, and they will all be limited editions of 10.

Here’s my first creation from my Door series, called “Doorway To Enlightenment-1.” I hope you like it.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Doorway To Enlightenment-1