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,

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,

Have Some Plug-in Fun This Weekend - $ave a few bucks with my discount codes

Topaz Adjust/Portrait Smooth
Plug-ins expand the capabilities of Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, etc. They also expand your creative horizons.

Plug-ins are relatively inexpensive - and you can even save a few bucks by using my special codes below.

Here are my favorite plug-ins, favorite plug-in images, and favorite plug-in tips. 

For my picture, "Girl with a Pearl Earring," I applied Topaz Adjust/Portrait Smooth on the top layer (the original was on the bottom layer) and then I faded the Opacity to reduce the effect.

Topaz B&W Effects

The newest plug-in that I am using is Topaz B&W Effect. Click here to read about it.

Photomatix Plus Topaz Adjust

HDR Efex Pro

My latest, favorite plug-in: Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro. Save 15% if you use this code: RSAMMON upon check-out on the Nik web site. Actually, you can save 15% on all Nik plug-ins - including Color Efex Pro! Just use the same code. 

HDR Efex Pro tip: Use the Control Points and Curves to fine-tune your image – and to save time touching up your images in Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.

 Photomatix Plus Topaz Adjust
The image above was created with Photomatix - with a touch of Topaz Adjust. You can save 15% when you order Photomatix by using this code: ricksammon.

Photomatix tip: Adjust the White Point and Black Point sliders first. If your highlights are washed out with even with the White Point slider moved all the way to the left, you missed capturing the entire dynamic range of the scene with your original HDR sequence.

Topaz Adjust

Topaz Adjust is just too cool. Above I used the Spicify Effect. Below I used the same effect, but greatly reduced the noise. Click here to order Topaz Adjust. Hey, save a bundle when you order a Topaz bundle.

Topaz Adjust tip:  Press the Reset tab each time you work on an image - unless you want your previous effect applied to your current image.
Topaz InFocus

Topaz InFocus is a relatively new plug-in from Topaz Labs. Click here to read about InFocus.

InFocus tip: Don't over-sharpen your images. The more you sharpen, the more noise you'll get in your images.

Check this out. Want to turn a picture like the one on the left into a picture like the one on the right? 

It's fast and easy with Alien Skin's Bokeh 2. You can save 15% when you order any AlienSkin plug-in by using this code upon checkout: RSA0901.

Bokeh tip: Spend the time in Photoshop making a VERY careful selection.

 Aline Skin makes more cool plug-ins. Click here for info.

Nik Silver Efex Pro

A cool way to create a black and white digital images is with Nik Silver Efex Pro. Save 15% off if you use this code: RSAMMON upon check-out on the Nik web site.

Silver Efex Pro tip: Experiment with the different color filters to see how they can enhance the tones in your images.

Explore the light,

Photographers Need to Be "Nearsighted" and "Farsighted"

© Rick Sammon
Composition is the strongest way of seeing.

When we see and compose our pictures, we need to be both "nearsighted" and "farsighted" – paying close attention to the foreground and background elements in a scene (and, of course, everything in between).

In the above photograph, the near element adds to the sense of depth of the image. In the photograph below, the far element adds an extra sense of interest to the photograph.

© Rick Sammon
Both photographs illustrate careful and creative composition.

For more on composition, see my Kelby Training class: Composition - the strongest way of seeing.

You'll also notice the great depth of field in both images, taken with my Canon 24-105nm IS lens on my Canon 5D Mark III.

For max depth of field:
- use a wide-angle lens
- set a small aperture
- focus 1/3 into the scene.

I teach creative composition on all my workshops. I hope you can join the creative fun.

I also teach how to see the light - which I discuss in several of my apps.

Explore the light,

I created these black and white images in Nik Silver Efex Pro - one of the creative plug-ins I use.