Review: Flixel Cinemagraph Pro–The Simple Way to Create Cinemagraphs

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When we first heard about cinemagraphs, we were quite excited about how they would change the industry despite how trippy the looks were. They can be attributed to Jamie Beck, who in collaboration with her husband created a sensation that made them the most in-demand creative team for a while. Their method took lots of work both technically and creatively. And now, Flixel lets you create cinemagraphs simply.

And to be quite honest, this is the program that we believe that more photographers should pick up and have in their standard kits along with Adobe Lightroom.

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Review: Chris Martin’s Fashion Presets (Adobe Lightroom)

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Chris Martin has released presets before for film lovers, but for the specialized fashion shooter you can never have too many presets to help speed up your workflow. With that said, shortly after we announced the recent Fashion preset package, we decided to give them a go. Since I’ve done fashion work before, I put myself into the mentality of needing to deliver images super fast to clients. But in this case, it was instead to give the models I work with another way to display images of themselves for their own portfolio. With that said, retouching wasn’t done to the images–but in these situations they didn’t really need them.

What I found is something that you’ll either scoff at or praise.

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How to Edit a Photo in VSCO Cam

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Image taken from Chris Gampat’s VSCO Grid.

With VSCO Cam recently opening its doors to the Android world, lots of new users have joined but not everyone (even iOS users) know how to use the app. There is a lot more that you can do than just apply some beautiful filters. Indeed, your images can be  massaged to become beautiful showcases.

In this post, we’re going to show you a quick guide to what all the terminology means.

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Review: Google Nik Analog Efex Pro

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When Google acquired Nik Software in late 2012, I was among those photographers who wondered what this would mean for the future of the software suite of plug-ins. Silver Efex Pro II, Color Efex Pro, Sharpener and the other plugins had become an integral part of my workflow. So, I not only wondered whether the plugins would continue to be updated but also would there be any new plug-ins in the future?

Well, it seems that both questions have been answered with the latest addition of Analog Efex Pro to the Google Nik Collection which gathers together 7 plugins  for$149.00.

The new plugin that simulates a variety of cameras, films and lenses is not a revolutionary introduction. There are other plugins on the market  that have covered similar territory. However, Analog Efex Pro provides a unique editing experience that complements the other apps found in the collection.

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Review: Imagenomic’s Real Grain 2

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In continuation of my theme of reviewing film-inspired plugins, we have one more to share with you all: Imagenomic’s Realgrain 2. Realgrain has been updated to perform faster with improved code to allow even more accurate reproduction of the emulated film stocks. So how is it in actual operation? Well that’s what I set out to to discover. Head on past the break to find out what we thought of Real Grain 2 by Imagenomic.

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Review: Cameleon (iOS)

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It’s not Instagram and it totally isn’t Hipstamatic’s Oogl, but Cameleon is an app that is designed to go after the more pro-minded mobile photographer. You won’t get all the classic cool named filters that either of the previously named apps offer but the cool thing about Cameleon is that it allows you to basically make your own with lots of control over how the final image is going to look. If you have the patience or the color theory knowledge, then this could become an app that will really appeal to you and your pro-set mind–providing the app starts to take itself more seriously.

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Review: Replichrome Plugin for Adobe Lightroom

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It would seem that our undying fascination, no, obsession with all things analog has led multiple software developers to set out and replicate the looks of favored film stocks from decades past. Totally Rad! (yes that is their name) has put a lot of effort into their plugin for Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw) and what they’ve created is something rather like VSCO Film. So is it worth your time to consider a plugin like this? Read on for our review of Replichrome by Totally Rad!

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Review: Topaz Labs Clarity

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Since the introduction of the Clarity slider, it’s become one of my favorite tools for controlling the finer contrast of my images. I’m not the only one as many photographers have discovered how this one control is capable of adding a nice “pop” to photographs. However, when this tool is used with a heavy hand, it not only begins to not unnatural, but it also creates unwanted halos and artifacting.

Enter Topaz Labs Clarity, a software that takes this tool and provides far greater control over clarity, while eliminating that common issues of haloing and artifacting that commonly occur when the control is applied aggressively.

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Review: Hipstamatic Oggl

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Hipstamatic never really caught on with the photo community the way that Instagram did. Sure, it was big. Sure, it was all the rage back in the day–but Instagram was simpler and significantly more widespread. As a reinvention of themselves, Hipstamatic released Oggl–which has more of an emphasis on the high end, or at least that’s what we feel. Every image that we’ve seen is either stunning or at least can be found to have value to someone. The environment isn’t infested with teenage girls doing selfies, awful food photos, or even short vine-like videos. Instead, it is a true place for a creative.

But this paradise comes with a couple of caveats.


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Review: Chris Martin 2013 Summer Preset Pack for Adobe Lightroom

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A little under a year ago, we reviewed Chris Martin’s Vintage Film Fades preset pack for Lightroom, and we loved the washed-out look of faded film they give to a digital image. For the summer of 2013, Chris updated his preset pack, and added a High Contrast as well as a Light Fade preset to the existing Faded Film preset. Additionally, the Summer 2013 Preset Pack contains variants of each preset that either convert the image to black & white, or give it a colored tint. Accordingly, the usability and the creative spectrum of the presets have improved greatly over the original preset pack. In this review, we take a closer look at Chris Martin’s 2013 Summer Preset Pack for Adobe Lightroom.

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Review: VSCO Film Pack 04 for Lightroom

vscofilm_04_LR_45-pid29Visual Supply Co. is a brand that’s really making a name for itself in the image editing arena lately. Between their fantastic plugins for Lightroom, Aperture and Adobe Camera Raw, and their VSCO Cam app for iOS (and soon Android devices), they have a pretty substantial audience of amateur and professional photographers alike. Visual Supply Co.’s latest release is the VSCO Film Pack 04, which emulates popular slide (transparency) films from decades since past. However, they have chosen fairly “modern” film stocks from Agfa, Fujifilm, and Kodak for this pack, which leaves room for some classic stocks such as the famed Kodachrome line in the future. I had a chance to spend some time with VSCO 04 (already being a big fan of 01, 02, 03, and VSCO Cam), and I wanted to share my findings with you all. Continue reading…

Review: Topaz Labs B&W Effects 2

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Over the last few years, software manufacturers have been creating stand-alone applications and Photoshop-compatible plug-ins, which are designed to achieve beautiful black and white conversions, while providing as little or as much control as photographers might want.

Topaz Lab B&W Effects 2 is the company’s second generation black and white conversion application, which provides a big step up from simply desaturating a color digital file or using the tools found in most photo-editing applications.

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Review: Sequence a Mac Time Lapse Compiler

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A few months ago I found myself looking for an easy way to compile all the images I took into a timelapse. I browsed the web and found ways to compile using an older version of Quicktime which I no longer had. I knew I wanted an app that would “deflicker” my footage so into the Mac App Store I went hunting around until I found Sequence. The app stood out as the premium app to transform images into a timelapse.

Trusting brief user reviews in the store was tough for me so I headed over to the Sequence’s homepage to download a trial. Sure enough this turned out to be the one stop app for getting my timelapses ready for editing.

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Review: Adobe Lightroom 5 (Mac version)

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Adobe has today announced Lightroom 5–the latest version of their software that has become the bread and butter of many photographers. We’ve been testing both the Beta software and the full release for a while now and putting it through its paces in both the normal workflow for our standard testing for this site and professional work. The new Lightroom 5 incorporates some interesting changes such as an advanced healing brush to help users accomplish minor retouching for portraits or object removal, a radial gradient filter that helps to emphasize some areas of an image more than others, and the upright tool to help landscape and wide angle photographers. There are more changes, but for the sake of what this site’s audience might mostly do, we didn’t really spend too much in-depth time with them.

So is Lightroom 5 worth the upgrade for you?

Editor’s Note: Adobe Lightroom 5 can be (pre)ordered now

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Review: Unified Color HDR Expose 2

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It’s been a while since HDR Expose 2 was first released, and we took a first look at the software a while back. HDR Expose 2 is a relatively affordable and easy to use HDR software which still leaves you a lot of options for fine tuning the HDR effect. Anything from a slight dynamic range improvement to over-the-top HDRs with insane colors and local contrast can be achieved with the software. In this review, we take a closer look at its functionality and assess what and who it is suited for.

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First Impressions: Helmut Film Scanning App (Beta)

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Today, Helmut launched as a free download in the Android store in its Beta production phase. Helmut is a new app that is touted as being a great way to scan your old film images and has already won an award. To take the best advantage of this app, it is highly recommended that one uses a lightbox. However, there have been DIY hacks involving Macro lenses and flashes before. For this quick test, we used an iPad Mini and a MacBook Pro Retina display.


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First Impressions: Adobe Lightroom 5 Beta

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Today, Adobe is announcing the Lightroom 5 Beta–which is obviously hinting at a newer version of the highly loved program. The new version incorporates a bunch of changes but the biggest ones are the addition of a spot heal/clone brush (no longer just a tool), radial gradients, smart previews that will sync with an external hard drive when hooked up later, a new tool called upright which dramatically fixes perspectives, and much more.

We’ve been testing the program for a couple of days now, and here are our first impressions.

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Review: Adobe Premiere Elements 11

We’ve been testing Adobe Premiere Elements 11 for a couple of months now and it’s been an interesting and sometimes frustrating experience. The program in general, however, is really quite straight forward and we believe that it will make editing easier for all those that only need to do the very basics with a little bit of extra power. Premiere Elements has changed drastically from earlier versions, and I still believe that 8 may have been the best one. Unfortunately, it can’t  handle all of the more powerful codecs that today’s cameras can output.

Here’s a quick summation of our findings over the past couple of months.

 

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First Impressions: Spyder Print

You have all kinds of pretty pictures on your computer but what happens when you want to print them? Some opt for services like Snapfish or Costco. Otherwise hand off the file to a professional lab like BayPhoto and pay a little more for better service.

Others still endeavor to print their own images. For those so willing, color calibration is a key factor to WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) results. I’ve struggled with it in the past and was thus excited to try a demo copy of the Spyder Print device.

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