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Archive for the ‘Photoshop’ Category

Photowalk October 14, 2017 – High Park

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

imageYesterday was a drizzly, foggy day with a heavy cloud cover over the city. But I was determined to have another photo-walk and I have long wanted to go to High Park.

So that’s what I did.

The Lambton bus route stops outside my apartment and goes to High Park Station. Very convenient! I packed up my tripod and gear (in my new Manfrotto camera bag) and set out into the misty weather.

High Park is certainly no Central Park; but it is big enough that you can get away from the sounds of the city. I stayed along the western edge of the park – the Wendigo Creek and Grenadier Pond that it feeds. So I have plenty more exploring of this place to do in the future.

I added these photos to my Toronto, Ontario Flickr album.

Please be aware that Flickr sorts album photos in ascending chronological order. You will have to scroll down to see the photos starting with “Waterfall 3.” Lack of photo order is one of the mild annoyances with Flickr.

Crosby 2I think this photo is one of my favourites. I met Crosby and her owner just after arriving at the park at Bloor and Quebec streets.

Although I am not a dog fan, Crosby was a beautiful and energetic beast who loved chasing her orange ball (or gnawing on a fallen tree branch). She is a 3-year old chocolate lab and is very friendly.

I spoke with her owner for a little while and he gave me permission to take some photos. Unfortunately, most of the shots of Crosby running with her ball did not turn out. I must have missed a setting and did not get an adequate shutter speed.

Next visit, I will go to Keele subway station and enter the park from the northeastern corner.

Wisconsin–September 2017 Flickr Album

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

I have uploaded the first 48 images to my Wisconsin – September 2017 Flickr album.

It is likely that I may upload a few more photos over the next few days. I took over 360 photos; so even after removing the wheat from the chaff I still have plenty more material to work with.

Betty Lou Boat Tour 03Just about every single image went through adjustments with Topaz Labs Adjust and/or Detail. I hope that I didn’t go over the top with the post-processing though.

I arrived in Madison on Wednesday morning. My friends Dan and Kevin were already in town, so we started wandering. I was able to spend nearly two days with them before the 40th National FFRF Convention got underway.

Madison is a cool city. There is so much to see and do there for its size. Spending more time on the UW campus and at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens would have been nice. I expect to be back there in 2019 for the 42nd National Convention; so I will aim to make time then.

Wisconsin Dells 02If you have never been to Wisconsin before, I very strongly recommend the Wisconsin Dells river tour! It is so uplifting to see and to know that so many have worked hard to preserve the region (although not far away from the river there is a gob-smacking display of commercialism).

This photo is one of my favourites from The Dells. The rock outcroppings are one of the narrowest parts of the river and surprisingly also one of the deepest.

I definitely wish that I had been able to bring my tripod along. So many photos could have turned out even better that way. The tour guides do keep each group moving fairly quickly; so unfortunately one cannot spend hours ashore taking photos of this jaw-droppingly beautiful part of Wisconsin.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens 13I will close out with the Thai Temple at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. This amazing structure is gilt with gold leaf and was built without using any nails.

Light Modifiers For The Lume Cubes

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

I should have written this yesterday. However, I visited my grandmother in Dundas and that ended up being very draining. Once I got home, I could barely deal with Facebook.

On Friday afternoon I zipped over to Henry’s to order some light modifiers for the Lume Cubes. I first bought the cubes, the store did not have any modifiers. Fortunately, this time they did! No waiting!

I picked up the Light-House cage housing. A Lume Cube fits inside this device and the light modifiers can be attached to it magnetically. It came with diffusion filters but I also bought the diffusion bulbs and the honeycomb filters. To top everything off, I added in a small tripod-like device with adjustable grip legs.

With that done, I’m adding in the latest Sevenstyles Photoshop Actions this afternoon. Lastly, I’ll pickup some of the bundles of HDR skies from HDR Maps.

Why throw around all this money? Well, it’s not that much really…but it is also my birthday gifts to myself!

Since this is a long-weekend, it is time to get back to some 3D modeling.

Flickr Versus…

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

I have been using Flickr Pro for over 10 years. Generally speaking, I really like it and the few quirkier bits of the service, I have either became used to or ignored completely. All in all, I am happy with it.

As my interest in photography grows, I would like to get more critical feedback from other photographers. This is where Flickr seems to be falling down for me. Aside from the family and friends that I share links with, I don’t think my images are getting many eyeballs on them. In order to write a comment, one must also have a Flickr/Yahoo account.

The best thing going for Flickr is the cost. It is only about $20 USD per year to get Pro access.

As a member of KelbyOne, I was able to get a discount on Pro access for 500px. Even with the discount, this came to $81 USD. While that won’t put me on the street corner begging for change, it certainly is a steep difference. I am willing to spend a bit more coin if it boosts my exposure to more viewers.

So now I need to explore what 500px offers. I’ll likely use both Flickr and 500px together; maybe one will win out over the other?

Adobe offers Behance as part of their Creative Cloud services. I am still trying to wrap my head around this service. Since I have a Creative Cloud membership, I will definitely explore what it offers.

I will have to write another blog post once I have a good idea of how these three services compare. So stay tuned!

New Toys!

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

I’ve been on quite the Lego kick lately. After finishing the Chicago Skyline model I only waited a few days to buy the re-designed Burj Khalifa model and the Buckingham Palace model.

I have the first Burj Khalifa model. It is rather tiny and uses the 1×1 cylinder pieces primarily. It captures the essence of the structure – which is what I love about the Lego Architecture series. This new model is the tallest Lego Architecture and uses pieces that more accurately reflect the look of the real building.

After work today, I rushed over to Henry’s to see if they had any Lume Cubes. They had the lights but none of the accessories. So I bought a two-pack – they are charging up now.

I’ll have to get a proper hot-shoe flash kit for the camera eventually. I hope these Lume Cubes tide me over in the mean time and let me get a little more creative with lighting.

Photowalk August 7, 2017–Toronto Sunrise

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

After an extended – and stressfully busier than usual – on-call rotation; I was extremely grateful for yesterday being a provincial holiday. Yay socialism!

There was not much walking involved here. I woke up at 4:20am and caught the Islington bus to the end of the line at Lake Shore Boulevard. From there, I walked a few blocks to The Prince Of Wales park.

imageI doubt that there will be any details visible in the screen scrap to the left. The red arrow is pointing to Prince Of Wales park.

I found a decent spot that let me shoot across Humber Bay toward downtown Toronto. I reached the park at about 5:30am and quickly setup my tripod and cable release.

This photowalk was to be a series of firsts for me. This was the first serious use of the cable release – I know, that’s not very exciting. It was also my first attempt at capturing a sunrise and a decent cityscape. Even though the sun was not due to rise for another 45 minutes, I was surprised at how much light there was. The camera was still kicking up the ISO to 6400.

I took a lot of photos. Maybe it is just me, but it felt like the cable release made me want to take more pictures. In spite of that, only a few shots were really worth sharing out on Flickr since so many were near duplicates or me experimenting with settings.

First Photo Of The MorningThe very first photo turned out surprisingly well. More firsts for this photowalk is how much I used the Topaz Labs tools during my post-processing. Because of the high ISO noise, Topaz DeNoise was essential – I used it on every single photo. Topaz Clarity was also heavily used to sharpen details.

I really wanted to show off the pre-dawn pink in the sky and the city lights reflecting off the water. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the other edits that I made to this image.

One thing that I want to point out is the larger-than-life starburst to the left of the CN Tower. That is not enhanced – it came off the camera that way. It is the green “TD” light on the Toronto-Dominion bank building. The f/22 aperture created the starburst effect.

SeagullsThe last photo that I took once the sun was fully risen also turned out rather nicely. Straight off the camera; it was rather a meh shot of seagulls starting their day.

I used the Nik Collection Silver Efex on this photo to give it a grungy black & white pop. Topaz Labs also produce a black & white tool but I have not used it yet.

 

To the see the other photos – including the sunrise – please visit my Toronto, Ontario album on Flickr. The newer photos in an album are towards the bottom.

Dad And Delys Are Visiting!

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

It has been about seven years since I’ve seen my dad and his awesome wife, Delys.

Dad and DelysDue to health issues, this is very likely dad’s last trip back to North America. Fortunately, I am planning a trip back Down Under for 2018.

They are primarily here since dad’s mom is already 100 years old. I try to visit my grandmother on weekends when I am not working.

I took two photos of them on my balcony. These are in my Family Photos Flickr album. I played around with the Topaz tools and came up with some painterly versions of the images. I put those into my Photoshop album (along with a painted version of Mimico Creek).

Dad and Delys will be in Ontario until the end of August. So I will have the chance for more photos of them.

Dundas Street West Photowalk

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Last week I managed to spend a few hours in the neighbourhood with my new 50mm f/1.8 prime lens attached to the camera. But I screwed up!

Sadly, my brain became locked on the idea that the lens would always be at f/1.8. I have no idea how that notion formed in my brain. So all the photos that I took were at about f/22 and had the deep field depth it produces.

I put the worthy photos into my Toronto, Ontario Flickr album. Here are some of the better shots.

2017-06-25 Photowalk

This footbridge crosses Mimico Creek. I had my first photowalk with the 80D here after some excessive rain. So this time the water levels were much closer to their normal levels.

Timer Priority Test

I have long wanted to try some longer exposure photos with running water. This one came out alright considering that it was darn close to being hand-held. In the large version you can see that the rocks are not tack-sharp. Next time I will use the tripod and the cable-release.

Dundas Street West

I walked down Dundas Street West almost all the way to Royal York before turning around. This shot was a fast, hand-held shot while the street was uncharacteristically void of cars. I did edit out one car and a couple of compost bags by the nearby trees. This probably would look better with the shallower depth of field that the lens can produce.

Random Garden Along Dundas Street 02

This one was an off-the-hip shot of a small garden in front of a house that I was walking past. It was while looking at this photo afterward that I realized the f-stop had been set incorrectly.

As always, this is a learning experience.

Photoshop World 2017 On Flickr

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Here is the album for Photoshop World 2017 on my Flickr site.

These are the live and still-life models that were available to photograph. I have more of the “princess” (I couldn’t think of a better description for her) and a WWII vet to work on still. I hope to get those uploaded to the album tonight.

Unfortunately, most of the spy photos were very blurry – if I had been more careful, I could have gotten some cool shots of him.

Still Life - wine & flowers 02Some of these have been processed with the Topaz Labs tools that I bought – usually adding a vignette. Some vignettes I made myself; you can tell, they look like crap! Sarcastic smile

This is my favourite still-life shot. The star flares were added in Topaz Star Effects. Normally flares are over-done and cliché; but I think these turned out alright.

So, I’ve added to my ever-growing list of things to learn. But it will be worth it.

Photoshop World 2017

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Alright, today is not Sunday as originally promised. I arrived home at about 1 AM Sunday morning and spent that day in a daze. Then it was back to work.

However, Photoshop World 2017 was absolutely awesome! I cannot wait for the next one! Photoshop World and the FFRF National Conventions are going to be my annual rituals from now on.

I met some wonderful fellow Canadians as well as some of my Photoshop heroes (Corey Barker, Glyn Dewis, Scott Kelby). Most of the talks were spectacular and I learned a lot. I tried to balance between photography talks and Photoshop talks – there was so much though and often it was tough to pick between talks when they were being held at the same time.

KelbyOne opened PSW with a hilarious TV show spoof, “Photoshop Cops.” Be sure to watch the blooper reel afterward. That link also includes the keynote address by Adobe’s Julieanne Kost.

Canon is at every single PSW and offers free camera cleaning and minor repairs. There were professional models posing – for hours! – so that people can walk up and take photos. I still have to edit my photos; however, I will write another post once I have them on Flickr.

Stacy Pearsall’s talk would tear your heart out – this was definitely a show highlight and worth the price of admission. The photos and videos that she shared were just incredible. I had to keep checking myself that this stuff is not Hollywood and that it really happened. Really powerful.

Stacy made jokes throughout her talk but we rarely laughed – not because they were bad jokes; but rather the emotional weight of her story kept us silent. She had to remind the audience that it was okay to laugh!

Stacy is now working on the Veterans Portrait Project – she started taking photos of vets while waiting in the VA hospitals. That turned into emotional/psychological therapy for her own healing.

Bibliophile that I am, I bought a bunch of books. Glyn Dewis signed his new book Photograph Like A Thief for me. I also picked up Scott Kelby’s newest Photoshop CC For Photographers and Corey Barker’s How To Create Bad-Ass Effects In Photoshop.

Since they offered a great deal, I bought all of Topaz Labs’ software.

Phew! My AmEx card is still twitching from all of that. But so very worth it!

Time For Photoshop World!

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

It is finally here!

At 10 AM, I leave for Orlando, Florida to attend my first Photoshop World conference.

On Sunday, I’ll blog about the experience.

March 25th Photowalk – Mimico Creek

Monday, March 27th, 2017

I created a Flickr album for Toronto images. The shots from Saturday’s photowalk are in there.

Line Two TrainThe very first set of photos turned out one of my favourites.

Close to the park entrance off Bloor Street is the TTC Line Two subway. Islington Station is a few hundred meters to the left. I wanted to capture a train leaving and this did not disappoint.

The black & white conversion was done inside Adobe Camera Raw.

I think this really captured the essence of the walk; even better than the pictures of Mimico Creek itself.

The other black & white shots were done with the Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro. As I mentioned in my last post, the drizzling rain and overcast clouds really helped with creating black & white shots.

Mimico Creek 06Last week’s snow is melting and combined with the rain, really had the creek deep and flowing fast. It’s not as impressive as the flooded canals around Irving – I don’t think it will ever get that bad except in the most extreme circumstances.

This photo was close to the end of the walk, by the Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club. Not much further ahead is the Islington Avenue and Dundas Street intersection.

I am definitely looking forward to nicer Spring weather now. My photowalks will extend beyond the Islington neighbourhood – High Park and the Lake Ontario beach areas will be good starts.

Heading To Photoshop World!

Monday, January 30th, 2017

I guess the post title says it all. I’ll be going to Photoshop World in April.

I don’t know what to expect because I have never been before. Hopefully there will be plenty to learn.

A short and to the point post.

A Bit Of 3D News…

Monday, January 30th, 2017

It will be good to get another post in before January ends. I have been playing around a lot with 3D this month but none of it was really worth blogging about.

After a long hiatus, I bought several more Photoshop Actions from Sevenstyles. They include:

I definitely need to acquire images – either my own photos, stock or renders – that I can use these Actions on. There are even more Actions that have been created since I last purchased. Sevenstyles is quite prolific.

Sandstone RidgeMost of my work this past month has been with World Machine and GeoGlyph. I just bought the upgrade license to GeoGlyph Professional v2; this brings some very large changes from the Indie v1 license.

This area is where most of my experimenting has not been worth showing off. But this past weekend, I came up with the following. It is still a work-in-progress but at least it is worth sharing.

I bought an HDRI sky image from CGSkies. They are fairly expensive at about $30 USD per sky; but they do add a lot of realism to the lighting. Most HDRI sites include a ground with the image, but CG-Skies removes that and has just the sky. I’d like to buy more skies, but we’ll see…

My biggest complaint with this image is that it is too smooth. I have not been able to pop out details with a normal or bump map. Hopefully I can get that bit figured out and start producing landscape renders that are really nice.

Getting Caught Up On Stuff

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Screaming up again on a month without a post here. Let’s fix that.

I hinted at a sore throat and that sumbitch only just went away in the last couple of days. It was about two weeks of an actual cold and then two weeks of a dry, scratching throat. It kept me coughing and making ahem sounds.

Black Friday and all the days leading up to Christmas Eve are super-busy for work. As a payment processing company, you expect that. The entire team is essentially on-call right now. Officially, I’m on-call next Friday. Fun!

I have finally re-installed all my SevenStyles Photoshop Actions into PS 2017. Brad has been busy creating even more Actions, so I’ll have to buy more in the near future.

In spite of the sore throat, I have recorded more videos about using Headus UV Layout on my YouTube channel. I was asked to do videos about unwrapping a human model; so I undertook the challenge. I used the free MakeHuman tool to get a female model and then set out to create 3 UV Maps rather than the single UV map produced by MakeHuman.

In the very near future, I am also going to take the plunge into the world of ZBrush. There is definitely a lot to learn there.

I am hoping that all of this will take my mind off of the looming disaster of President Trumpycakes.

Adobe Creative Cloud At Last

Monday, October 31st, 2016

I was still at Microsoft when they announced plans to dominate the cloud. The chosen mantra was “We’re all in!”

Ugh! I refused to say it. I found it vaguely dirty minded (yes, that borders on hypocritical but I am not a multi-national world-renowned company).

Well, my opinions of the cloud be damned. Years later, it seems that everybody is doing it. I was disappointed when Adobe announced the Creative Cloud and that they would not ship another physical product beyond CS6.

I’ve put it off for years and I am now several versions behind the latest and greatest versions.

So I’m taking the plunge but it wasn’t as easy as it should have been. A little history is in order, please bear with me.

A long time ago, there was a company called Macromedia. They made a web-based piece of software you might have heard of – Flash. They also made a program for creating websites called Dreamweaver. I bought their suite of tools way back in 2001. Then one day, Adobe bought Macromedia.

That wasn’t a bad thing really. It was a good match and brought some incredible tools to Adobe’s other incredible tools.

Then I moved to Texas. When I upgraded to the new Adobe Creative Suite series, I had to prove my registration of the former-Macromedia suite. But the Adobe ID account did not accept my Texas address. It was linked to Canada and could not be changed. For tax reasons is the official excuse.

So I made a new Adobe ID account and used that happily for several Creative Suite upgrades.

Now I am going through that process all over again but in reverse. Adobe support has apparently changed the country on my account (so much for being impossible).

Hopefully I will have the new applications installed before I finally have to get to bed for work tomorrow…

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