A Few Favs from My Coney Island Photo Walk

We're just back from my Coney Island Photo Walk. Great light. Great fun! Great photographers.

The idea is to use Nik plug-ins and Snapseed to awaken the artist within, and to create perhaps more artistic images. Check out my workshops photo page tomorrow (and from time to time) to see the work of the participants.

New to Nik? You can get a 15% discount on all Nik products by using this code - RSAMMON - on the Nik web site.

Here are a few of my favorite images (all Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm IS lens).

But first, I want to thank my friend and Photoshop/Lightroom Guru (and a heck of a cool dude)  Tim Grey for helping out on the photo walk. Thanks Tim. You helped to make it fun.

About the images.

Nik Color Efex Pro
Nik Bi-Color User Defined
Detail Extractor
Image Borders

Nik Snapeed
Center Focus

Color Efex Pro
Bi-Color User Defined.

I hope to see you on one of my photo walks or workshops.

Wow! What a fun group!

Explore the light,

Next App and e-book: Hey Rick! What's Your F-stop?

I'm working on my next app and e-book: Hey Rick! What's Your F-stop?

The idea, generated by the question I get asked most on my workshops, is to offer photographers in the field and at home quick and easy access to camera settings that will help them make great images.

For now, I plan to include info like this for the photograph above:

Situation: Backlight subject (posed) at sunrise or sunset.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4
ISO: 500
Exposure: f/32 @ 1/320th sec.
Exposure Compensation: - 0.33
Flash: No
Tripod: No
Photoshop/Lightroom Tip: Use gradual filters to add or to intensify colors.

Is there anything else that you think would be helpful? Post a comment here.

Shoot us an email to get on the info list.

If you can't wait for the app, see my apps on my Apps page. Lots of how-to info.

Explore the light,

From Flat to Fab with Perfectly Clear

Let me be perfectly clear: I'm lovin' Perfectly Clear, a Photoshop and Lightroom plug-in, as well as an iPhone and iPad app, that lets you quickly and easily turn a flat shot into a fab shot, or a snapshot (dull in color and contrast) into a great shot (one with more details and color).

Of course, I am not talking about changing the content or the mood or the feeling of photograph - the most important elements in a photograph. I've spoken about that and written about that many times. Here is one of my posts (from last year) on that all-important topic.

FYI: I added this paragraph after my original post because some folks thought that a plug-in, any plug-in, could magically transform a photograph with no meaning into a purposeful image. How silly!

Photoshop plug-in used here.

If you are totally hyper, as I am, quick fixes are just a click away. Or, if you want to fine-tune an image - adjusting white balance, tone, color, clarity and noise - fast moving sliders area there for your corrective enhancement pleasure.

I say "corrective" because Perfectly Clear does 12 corrective corrections (I know that sounds redundant) in one click, not creative image enhancements such as those offered in Nik Software's Snapseed and Color Efex Pro, and onOne Software's Perfect Photo Suite.

Above you can see how a quick one-click turned a flat shot, taken on a very overcast day, into a sharper image that pops with color and sharpness.

When I take a photograph, I often want it to look the same as the scene looks to my eyes. That's not as easy as it may sound. You see, we can see a dynamic range of about 13 f-stops, whereas our digital cameras see only about five or six f-stops. That's where digital image editing comes in. In very high-contrast situations, of course, HDR is a must. But in lower contrast situations, we can bring out shadow and highlight detail, adjust color and contrast . . . but that may take some time and some Photoshop or Lightroom know-how.

With Perfectly Clear, what you see is often what you get, again, if the contrast range is not great.

Above you can see how my flat image was transformed into a fab image with a simple click. Kinda cool, no?

I could go on and on about Perfectly Clear, but the plug-in is so simple to use that it's really all about quick clicks.

Hey! You can save 25% (Until January 1) on Perfectly Clear by going to my page on the Perfectly Clear web site. If you following that link, the 25% discount code is automatically added. If you land on that page by chance, use this code to get your discount: RICKSAMMON.

Look for me at the Athentech Imaging/Perfectly Clear booth at Photo Plus Expo in NYC later this month.

Explore the light,

Have Some Plug-in Fun This Weekend

Want to have some photo fun this weekend? Play with plug-ins. They help you awaken the artist within.

Check out all the plug-ins I use on my Save on Creative Plug-ins Page.

Spend some time checking out the links below. Good info and good plug-in fun.

Here's a link to my post: HDR Must Know Info.

Learn about Photomatix Pro.

Learn about Nik HDR Efex Pro.

You'll find more plug-in examples in this post from last year.

Explore the light,

What Are Your Favorite Photoshop CS6 Beta Features?

Composite, drop shadow, canvas size and type created in Photoshop CS6 Beta.
If you are a serious photographer, you should download the Beta version of Photoshop CS6. Hey, it's free, fun and fantastic.

There are lots of new features (more than 20), including my favorites, which are listed below.

Create a spotlight effect with Lighting Effects for a more dramatic portrait.
- Dark and cool-looking interface;
- Updated icons, buttons and dialogs;
- New Camera Raw 7;
- Re Camera Raw... they don't call me Rick "Raw Rules" Sammon for nothing:
- New Crop Tool (more on that toward the end of this post);
- New Content-Aware Move, Extend and Patch tools;
- New and improved Lighting Effects (see end-result above on the right, which is just one of many lighting effects effects);
- New Blur Gallery (see title-shif effect below).

Tilt-Shift blur effect can create miniature-looking images. Selective blur is also possible.
Tilt-shift effet in Photoshop CS6 Beta. 
Like my friend Dave Cross, I use Photoshop more than Lightroom, although I teach both application on my workshops - as well as plug-ins for both programs.

Another one of my favorite features in Photoshop (CS6 Beta and CS5) is Shadows/Highlights.

Check out the before-and-after set of images below. With a quick adjustment using the S/H sliders, I was able to see more details in the birds without blowing out the sky. You might want to try this feature on your high-contrast images before going to HDR.

After Shadows/Highlights.
Before Shadows/Highlights.
You probably noticed that the above picture is cropped from the standard format. Photoshop CS6 Beta also has a new Crop Tool - which offers non-destructive cropping.

Hey, if you are into shooting HD video, Photoshop CS6 Beta also supports video. If you want to get into HD video with your SLR, check out the DVD that Juan Pons and I produced.

I'd love to hear from you. What are your favorite PS6 Beta features? Please leave your comment in the Comment section here on my blog.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you want to spend less time in Photoshop and Lightroom (that is getting the best possible in-camear exposure), check out my apps. They are packed with how-to info.