Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

big-magic-coverI’ve been reading a book, shocking really. For some reason I really do not read that often, well these days, anyway. I’d rather be creative with my own imagination rather than someone else’s, it seems. Also, I usually only read Fiction, mostly magic, fantasy or sci-fi, this for want of a better word is a self help book.

I am not going to insult you by saying this is the greatest book ever written (although I thought it was quite well written), I also won’t insult you by saying it changed my life…….but it did transform some of my thinking – to a degree.It most definitely made me smile, laugh and feel good.

So how is it I ended up reading it? Well I have had a few crappy weeks lately, things not going my way artistically. No one particularly to blame, it was just my shit sandwich (seriously read the book) for the month. Karma crossed my path with some videos from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love fame), you know when you are watching something on YouTube and it links to something else, so you watch that and then it takes you somewhere else again? I ended up watching a reading by Ms Gilbert for Big Magic. Sure I have heard of her before, heard some quotes thrown around before before Kim Klassen, Sebastian Michaels and other wondrous teachers, but had never read her books. (I saw the movie Eat, Pray, Love many years ago, and I honestly can’t remember much apart from Julia Roberts was in it). Elizabeth is brutal in her honesty, slap you across the face and accept that to live a truly artistic and creative life……..you have to put up with a lot of crap, mostly from yourself!

In saying that, you do not need to spend your life beating yourself up, turning in a coke snorting, alcoholic, manic depressive who thinks the world owes him/her a better deal. In short, to lead a creative and artistic life, you need to love what you do and enjoy it. Do it because you WANT and NEED to; not because it might make you rich and famous.

I knew all that…honestly I did, but sometimes you push it down thinking that a few small victories here and there should have you rich and famous by now. I didn’t start photography to become a famous photographer, I didn’t become a graphic artist to sell thousands of paintings, and I didn’t start this blog to have millions of followers. I started all of it, because I wanted to; it caught my soul on fire.

I have a passion for photography, I enjoy portraits and newborns, I enjoy landscapes and the travel, I really enjoy the zen like meditation from my Still Life and I adore my conceptual portraits……..do I care if no-one understands them? Not really, hey don’t get me wrong it’s great when other people enjoy them; but the earth does not fall off it’s axis, babies don’t die and I am still breathing if someone doesn’t ‘get it’. In the end I created it for me and my Muse. My digital art, I throw myself on the mercy of my Muse and let her take me wherever she wishes to go, sometimes I have to work without her, but that is OK too. But if I keep working, a little bit every day; my Muse will show up……..it’s when I ignore her she goes off to sulk.

My passion and dedication doesn’t mean my art is the worlds greatest, but I should not live in fear of showing my art (I was at the start, but not now), I learned these lessons all by myself, and if I could pass this onto someone else, then I have done a good, no…..a great deed. Don’t hide yourself and your art away, if you are passionate and work at it, with persistence,  it will show. It may not make you rich and famous, but be honest; that’s not why we do it…is it? It does not matter whether you are a painter, a sculpture, a writer, a poet, photographer, a gardener, a whittler, a potter, a silver or blacksmith……….we do it because we love it….and THAT my friend is what is important.Besides no one really cares what you do (harsh but true) they are too busy with their own lives, occasionally someone will sit up, take notice and say hey that’s great, or hey that’s complete crap and then guess what? They go back to their own life.

Reading this book made me feel good about myself and my art, I can be happy in knowing that I enjoy doing it. I may never be rich or famous, I have my day job, so it doesn’t really matter. My passion costs little (well apart from the travel, but that’s my call, not my passion), I have friends and models who are happy to work with me for free (that still blows my mind, when people ask to model for me and not charge me!).If I am a good person, and my art hurts no-one then what does it matter? Maybe I am the only one who likes it? That is OK, it doesn’t matter if no-one else likes it, so it doesn’t matter if I put it out there and nothing happens; I won’t drop dead. No-one gets out of this life alive……so enjoy your time here, for however long or short it is; life is ultimately too short to be boring and unhappy. Being miserable and suffering for your ‘art’ won’t necessarily make you a better artist, but being happy and content in your work may – think about that.

Seriously if you do anything creative, or have ever wanted to, but were too scared, self conscious, too – whatever; pick up a copy of this book and read it, it will make your heart lighter and put a smile on your face, of that I am sure.

~ Julz

 

Tech Review – Camfi, Update

OK so a month or so again I wrote a review on the Camfi wi-fi adaptor my kids bought me for Christmas. Now in general I rated it pretty well, but I did note a few Cons against it….

  • A bit glitchy with my old Samsung Note 1.0 tablet…….possibly due to the older software on the tablet?
  • Occasionally freezes on Sony Smartphone as well, especially if trying to arrange a bracketed shot.
  • When freezes sometimes locks the whole camera up.
  • I found that sometimes my Home Wi-Fi kicked me off the Camfi…….but that could just be my system and not the camfi?

As it turns out this may not be the Camfi product in itself but a dud that I got. You see mine stopped working altogether a few weeks ago (only used it for a month) and it just died, would not connect via WI-FI to ANY device. I contacted the distributors who asked me try a few things (reset etc) and then to send it back……so it has been duly returned, replaced with another unit and posted back to me. I turned it all on and hooked it up, so far so good. Hopefully this one lasts a little more than one month and is glitch free from now on.

I’ll keep you updated…

~ Julz

 

Brooke Shaden 20 Day Portfolio Challenge….Week 2

So Last week I brought you my responses to Brook’s 20 day Portfolio challenge – week 2 brought a lot of soul searching, we don’t always like the comments we come up with ourselves, but sometimes it’s hard to hear it from others too.

Day#6 What is My Dream shoot; I have so many. I have already done some, and have more planned. However there are things I would love to try even if they are not a dream shoot so much. Under  water photography of course. I want to shoot with a model in the snow (can’t stand the cold), red dress billowing atop a sand dune. I have been working a lot with my own models so I can create shoots as I dream them 🙂

Day #7 Identifying Business Goals, what do I want to spend my days doing? Too easy right? Not so long ago I used to make all the excuses in the world, just like Brooke said. Now I am actively spending my time doing mostly what I want. I Create EVERY day and I am working towards my goals, they are real, they are tangible. I have my first gallery exhibit in a few weeks, I now run my own studio part time, I direct and run my own shoots using my own models. I have just produced my second book of art and I have been published in magazines and online galleries. 2016 I went places and now I am going to go even further in 2017. I hope by the end of this year to have a few more exhibits and I will also be running workshops and training sessions, create more licensed art for books and CDs, perhaps quite my 9-5 job and make an actual living off my art. So create, teach, sell……………that is my dream days.

Day #8 Inspiration This was something I used to struggle with until I watched a few of Brooke’s videos on finding inspiration, it was extremely helpful in unlocking my imagination. These days I find inspiration in so many things, a song, a TV show, a movie, a patch of sunlight/ or shadows, nature. I find and endless source of inspiration in looking at what others before me have created. I also find inspiration in books and magazines………honestly it is everywhere. I can sometimes pick up an object in a thrift store and my eyes will light up and the ideas flood through me. My problem is more in remembering all my ideas; I have a journal that I carry around with me, as well as notes on my phone. I see something and I have a spark, so I write it in my journal. Sometimes it is a one off image and others are a whole series, like my Dapper Rabbit. I write various notes and plan, props, colours, tones, models and other stuff as well. Most of my shoots are so pre planned they only take a few minutes to shoot, the setup can often take much longer than the actual shoot.

 

Day 9- Light Theory Believe it or not I most often use studio lights, frequently in strange set ups and configurations. I have continuous and strobe lights and love the fact that I can shoot in the studio any time of the day or night, any time of the year. The weather is irrelevant. But it took awhile, and I am still learning. I seldom shoot with natural light, this is something I wish to do more of, and in perhaps harsher conditions – summer in Australia, now THAT is harsh lighting. On the other hand My Still Life (which I can be sometimes obsessive about) is almost always in natural diffused light. Depending on WHAT I am shooting I tend to be either warm or cold, rarely ever neutral. I play A LOT with lighting in PS, I love to alter or enhance light with overlays, adjustments, Dodge & Burn, I also ‘paint’ in alot of lot in my images, especially when making a composite or image manipulations. These two images were shot same place, same day, same time. I altered them both in PS. I also do quite a bit of light painting (Strobes, steel wool etc) which taught me so much about light and capturing it. I would love to shoot more at dawn, just before or after…..getting my lazy butt out of bed and finding a willing model 🙂 ………..or maybe that’s just an excuse lol

Day #10 Colour Theory I have two slightly different types of art, and two slightly different colour palettes. I have my fantasy images; which are warm, slightly hazing with surreal highlights. I used a lot of purple and magenta in the shadows, with cyan and yellow/orange in the highlights. My Surreal/Dark stuff has the blacks and whites clipped off, darker desaturated colours with sat a pop of red to add interest and intensity. I love exploring the dark sides of human nature, without getting into blood and gore so much. I have done a series on Masks, even wrote a paper (somewhere) about social masking and why people do it, and then I have done other shoots like my Vintage Circus…….although was full of bright colours on set, I toned them all down and added grungy/dirty textures to feel dark and gloomy and slightly eerie.

Stay tuned for week 3…

~ Julz

 

Nikkor 16-85mm Lens Review

Another early Christmas present was another new lens………..now I know what you are thinking, really? another new bit of glass? But it was required. Moth got one for his Birthday/Christmas and we were so impressed I kept stealing it for my camera instead of my horrible 18-200mm lens which allows every bit of dust onto the sensor. I hate it with a passion. So after a few weeks of us fighting over it, I bit the bullet and ordered one for myself for Christmas.

AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Now this is not a new lens, it is an older model and took a bit to find it on Nikon’s website, but it did make it dirt cheap from DWI! Don’t get me wrong it is a fabulous bit of kit and my new go to lens. It is fantastic for low light even if the aperture only goes up to F/3.5 (down to F/22); beautiful for still life, portraits, landscapes, just about anything. I have used it for macro, light painting, sunsets, newborns and concept shoots. It is tack sharp every time!It has a lovely range on it……….ok it isn’t perfect; at the Zoo I wanted something more than 85mm for the zoom.

It is small, compact and lightweight (well when compared to the 18-200mm), it gives such a lovely clear, crisp image. It is 67mm diameter so it is a standard size for filters.

This lens really is my new workhorse, it is reliable (as most Nikon Lenses are) and so versatile. Apparently it also has a better performing VR and less distortion on the wide angle as opposed to the 18-200mm as well – Ken Rockwell

Oh and did I tell you I love this lens? seriously it really has become my favourite lens. If you are looking for a very versatile all rounder, and you can still find one, you just might be able to grab a bargain!

And remember old stock isn’t bad stock…….as long as it still comes with a warranty you are all good.

~ Julz

 

Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Review…

I was recently approached by the wonderful people at Sleek Lens whom asked if I would like to try and review their Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Collection. Now I spend a great deal of time in Photoshop and I frequently use actions to as a tool to speed up my workflow, they do not stifle creativity and if used well, can really make an artist life so much easier.

For starters they have a couple of great tutorials on how to use the actions to the best effect here and here. They were easy to understand and follow along and gave great tips on using the actions.

So what do you get? 56 actions in total; base colour, base tones, colour correction and enhancement and retouching, love the Candy Store actions for quick and speedy face edits. Nice, simple and easy to work with, also completely editable, go ahead and play with opacity and brushes……..the sky is the limit. As everything is done on a layer you can alter blend modes on some and of course change the opacity and fill. Each action usually comes with a pop with instructions or there is suggested opacity and such within the action name or layer name.

Even if you have never done retouching or frequency separation, these tutorials along with the built in tool can have you on the way to fabulous portraits.

Now there is also All in One Actions, which I played with but for my money I prefer to alter each image to my own taste as I go. Even with the Frequency Separation in Portrait Perfection I found there was no glow or halo (around the model) that seems to be present in some other actions, It handles that quite well. You can change the amount of blur you would like to use in the Low Frequency as well. There seems to not be anything for hair, I have asked,  hopefully they can point me in the right direction. Below is three before and after images, including a newborn which I have created a video for, visit my YouTube channel to view Part 1 & 2, as well as the actions I used

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Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions Collection is available from sleeklens.com

The cost is a reasonable US$49.00 for 56 Actions set, they have various other action collections as well as Lightroom Presets as well. There is also some freebies, so check them out too. I was quite impressed, how the LR Presets compare I am not sure, and I must admit to doing quite a bit of my portraits in Lightroom. These actions will make things quicker and easier in PS, once I am used to it all. I also recommend watching the videos a few times to get a feel for what the different actions do.

If nothing else the Portrait Retouch Actions are amazing I love how you can really make the eyes POP!, love love love the eyes.

P.S. In offering complete transparency I was not paid any money for this review, it is therefore unbiased.

 

For more info visit
https://sleeklens.com/product/portrait-perfection-photoshop-actions/
https://sleeklens.com/product/professional-photo-editing-service/
https://sleeklens.com/product-category/photoshop-actions/)

~ Julz

Brooke Shaden 20 Day Portfolio Challenge….Week 1

Late last year I had a portfolio review done by none other than Brooke Shaden herself, it was a wonderful experience and I came away from it, with a new found confidence and knowledge that I really did have something to offer. She sent a followup email about doing her 20 Day Portfolio Challenge, which I jumped on. It is basically a Private Facebook Group, she emails us a link daily with questions and exercises and we carry them through write stuff on the FB wall, post images, ask questions etc. Then every 5 days she recaps with a video and even more exercises. So far it has been challenging and soul searching, I realise that while I think I am getting somewhere I have a lot of room to grow, and that is a good thing!

Day 1 – What are my strengths and weaknesses? 

I really need to learn to ask for what I want, seriously I am such a chicken shit sometimes, I need to be braver……..that’s my word for this year, braver. If I want it, ask……take it a step further than I ever have before. I don’t do self portraits, I HATE having my photo taken, but I am moving beyond that slowly, I just had a portrait session with another photographer, one who I trust and knew would make me feel comfortable.  baby steps and all that

I am imaginative and creative, I am wild and free, I think outside the box and I can very good at what I do, my talents are beyond great in Photoshop and I think I can quite confidently call myself a Master.

Day 2 – Style Words

Warm, colourful, imaginative, fantasy, whimsical, surreal, fairy-tale……….these are words applied to most of my images, occasionally creepy, weird and nightmarish.

I love the surreal, fantasy, whimsical and fairy-tale, I would love to perhaps add, brooding, dramatic, story telling and cinematic in there as well. Something to work on for future edits.

Day 3 – Critiquing Yourself

  1. First, choose ten images to form your portfolio. Let these be the images you are most proud of. Other factors for selecting images could be: groupings from a series, color, location, popularity, etc. I have discovered that my favourite images all come from my own ideas and photos, perhaps as I have a more vested interest in them?
  2. Think about where you want your images to end up (magazines, book covers, galleries, etc.) and pretend that you are the director from one of those establishments (an editor, publisher, gallery owner, etc.). Putting yourself in their shoes, what do you think they would say about your portfolio? I don’t think most of my art is wall art……I would love to have it as CD/DVD covers or book covers. Even as images in e-books, now that would be cool. Some of my stuff, say the animal art might be nice hanging in a child’s bedroom.
  3. Portfolio reviews are often broken into several parts: strengths, weaknesses, and business. We have already looked at strengths and weaknesses and have discussed overall style. Look at your images in terms of sell-ability. Which images do you feel best fit into the genre you are looking to create? I feel that most of my images are eclectic, apart from my series most of my images are all over the place, the colouring and edit are similar and possible recognisable…….but my work is constantly evolving.

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My favourite shots from, 2016….Avalon which was one of the best shoots I did I wrote a blog post, but haven’t even got the images on my website, as you can see my images are very surreal and whimsical with a fantasy edge to them

Day 4 – Identifying Technical Problems

When looking at your portfolio of roughly 10 images, can you identify a recurring technical issue? For example, in my work, I frequently have trouble with cutting hair off of a background. Even if it isn’t obvious in the images, what techniques have tripped you up in the past?

I guess my biggest Technical issue I have is when it comes to printing, I have lots of art by have not really printed much, actually if I was to be honest apart from a few small 12″x12″ and one canvas, I have not printed anything. Should I even print on paper and frame it or stick to canvas. What does everyone else do? I do not really exhibit my art in galleries other than online.

Day 5 -Outside Perspective

I actually had a few people critique my website, picked up a few new fan (always a good thing), but they also felt perhaps my website is a bit eclectic and hard to focus on any one given thing. The upshot is perhaps I need to either specialise a bit more of start splitting things up, Photography on one website and Digital Art on another…..but then I have photography which is fine art……blurred lines.

So a lot of thinking going on already and it’s only day 5. This is just a snap shot and we are all on a slightly different journey of discovery. Next week I’ll cover the next 5 days.

~ Julz

 

Tech Review – CamFi

I asked for some very specific gifts for Christmas, and I was lucky enough to get most of them 🙂

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The first cab off the rank is Camfi, it is essentially a Wi-Fi adaptor for your camera, but is is so much more. I first saw it on a Studio session with Kim Klassen and it allows you to take complete control over your camera, remotely. You can adjust the EV, aperture, shutter speed, bracketing, focus point, ISO……..etc, etc, etc. It is quick and easy to set up and use.

PROS

  • It small and light weight, not much bigger than a smartphone (but it is a little thicker)
  • Quick to connect and set up
  • not much more in cost than a traditional wi-fi adapter for say Nikon D7100 (AUD$135.00)
  • works with lots of different brands and models
  • connects via you tether cable (the one to connect to PC to grab photos)
  • you can see live view on larger screen
  • focus is far superior (especially for macro) as you can zoom right in and focus and see better on larger screen
  • once set up there is no need to touch your camera, therefore NO Camera shake
  • allows you to put your camera in really awkward spaces and not yourself
  • Works with great App IOS and Android…….nice interface and easy to use
  • Look, share and work on images directly from the camera

CONS

  • due to being lightweight and small, occasionally blows around and the hot shoe does not fit the D7100, so I hang it from my tripod; it comes with a lanyard.
  • EV took a bit to figure out, you still need to eyeball it
  • A bit glitchy with my old Samsung Note 1.0 tablet…….possibly due to the older software on the tablet?
  • Occasionally freezes on Sony Smartphone as well, especially if trying to arrange a bracketed shot.
  • When freezes sometimes locks the whole camera up.
  • I found that sometimes my Home Wi-Fi kicked me off the Camfi…….but that could just be my system and not the camfi
  • User manual pretty useless
  • Not much technical help available if required
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Camfi dangling from tripod, interface on tablet to the right, me sitting BTS taking it easy 🙂

It is possible that the glitches are App based and may be fixed in time, but in general they are a small annoyance outweighed by the sheer freedom this device allows you, not just in the studio. I can’t wait to really get out and about with it. This below Sunset shot was taken with Camfi as well. No more aching back for me 🙂

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CONCLUSION

So is it worth the AUD$135.00? I say yes. I have used other apps, like the Nikon but it was clunking and glitched ALL the time and didn’t do half the stuff the Camfi can do. Sure it can be a little annoying, but in general it is a valuable tool, for someone with mobility problems, like me. I cannot sit or lay on the ground, but I can put the camera on the ground and use either my tablet or smartphone for my live view, and change all the settings without using my camera.

You can view photos on your tablet etc too and send, share and receive as well, all via the App.

Cheers, til next time happy snapping…

~ Julz

Bowens Gemini 400RX Strobe Kit – Review

I wrote a few weeks back about how I finally made the move to a more professional quality lighting system in the studio. In some cases long overdue, but such an added expense. Seriously I spend more money than I actually make out in the studio, but I AM having LOTS of FUN! I ended up buying the Bowens Gemini 400 Strobe Kit

This was a little bit of a learning curve moving from continuous lights to strobe lights (more like flashes than normal lights) and only work once triggered by the camera. Bearing that in mind they have what is called a modelling light, which is actually more powerful than my continuous lights!

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With both the modelling light and the strobe light these can be dialled up or down to create a huge amount of light or next to nothing. I fell in love with my lights on day one, even though they were decidedly frustrating to set up.

The manual is next to useless, shows where everything is, but not what it does or how it works. Next the guy at the store was not overly knowledgeable (as I found out later) as he seemed to be. The sync cable that came with this kit does NOT fit my Nikon D7100, even though he said it would. No much of a problem I can get an adaptor from eBay that allows me to do this, but I don’t really need it.

Next he said that the TTL & Commander modes on my camera would not fire the strobes, like my speedlight………….WRONG! So he gave me a trigger (for free) that would…..clumsy little system that was not fabulous. My next problem was this trigger system only plugged into one strobe, how do I set of the 2nd one? Google had no answers on this one, either!!!!! Apparently us folk in Australia who do not use the word cell phone, don’t get the link with the idea of a cell being used as a word for networking or syncing things. It took a few phone calls, but finally someone who actually KNEW the  products explained the whole set up to me. As I said the manual is useless. There is a little button named CELL on the back of the lights, that the whole trick.

BOTH lights will work if the Cell button is switched on and I use the Commander mode for Flash on my camera or the TTL mode on the old D5300. I can adjust the strobes up or down independently, use one or both at the same time and trigger from my camera. WARNING – it does seem to use a lot of power from the camera battery.

My kit came with the two strobe lights, two very sturdy stands, one sync cable, one light cover/hood and a modelling light (for each light), each light came with umbrella, with silver and white diffuser……both came pre-fitted on the same stand and took quite a awhile to figure out HOW to pull them apart. Apparently the next model up comes with soft boxes and no modelling light…….I’ll keep the modelling light thanks; so useful already.

So just how brilliantly do they work? Well I am still playing with them, like the speed light they take a bit of trial and error, with continuous lights, what you see is exactly what you get, with strobes you don’t know until you take the picture. I know more higher end models allow you to set the aperture on the actual light to match your camera and such……mine are a little more basic and so take a bit more work. I have not as yet done a full portrait set up, but will do. I have also ordered a soft box and a snoot as well, so it will be interesting once I get them to play with as well. I would also love a strip light and beauty dish………but alas more money. Need more jobs to make more money to buy new toys, but isn’t that always the way with 1st world problems? But so far, the shots that I have are truly amazing, especially on Dark and Moody and great for soft even light for macro & close up.

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~ Julz

 

Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 – Lens Review

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A few weeks back I got a new Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 lens for my Birthday, there are several reasons why I bought it, even though I did put it off for quite a while trying to decide if it was a good buy and ‘right’ for me.

I already have a 50mm Prime lens that I adore, so do I really need a 35mm? The answer in short is Yes. I predominantly use my 50mm for still life & portraits, or I would use more often for portraits, but on a cropped sensor frame I just can’t get back far enough in the studio to get full body shots with the 50mm, or even much more than a head shot. So I invariably have to switch to another lens, mainly my 18-55mm. Now 18mm is too wide, but I have noticed that 95% of my shots in the studio sit at around 35mm. I adore the sharp focus of my 50mm and the F/1.8 aperture, so logic dictates I would love the 35mm……….and I do.

So why this lens? I could get the Upmarket Nikon 35mm F/1.4 or the Sigma Art 35mm lens, which I have actually tried and thought was quite good too, but they are both over AUD$2,000.00. I cannot justify that kind or money. If the specs of my 50mm AF-S lens are fabulous for me, again logic dictates the 35mm would be good too…..and it is.

Now fixed or prime lenses are not for everyone, I can truly understand the lure of a zoom, and a dedicated wide angle, I have a 18-200mm and a 10-24mm I use when travelling, but they are big, bulky and heavy. They are not the same as using a Prime lens, I knew that from the first time I used one…….but it does take a bit of getting used to, as you need to move yourself and not just the lens. You can be limited but at the same time it is strangely liberating. I truly ‘feel’ more creative with a prime.

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Nikon 35mm Prime

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Nikon 35mm Prime

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Brilliant for Expansions shots as well – this is approx 9 shot expansion – 35mm

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Shot with Sigma 35mm Art Lens

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Nikon 50mm prime

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Nikon 35mm Prime

So how do I rate a relatively cheap (AUD$200.00) lens? I love it, great for portraits, head shots and full body shots.

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Nikon 35mm Prime

Would I prefer the (F/1.4)  AUD$2,000.00 possibly, but what I saved on that lens also bought my new strobe light kit…………but more on that another time!

~ Julz

Tech Talk – Nik Analog Efex

I don’t often review PC Software, I have done Smart Phone Apps, but Lightroom and Photoshop have been well and truly done, and by people who know far more than me. I while ago I trialled some Nik Software, HDR Pro 4, Silver Effects Pro 2 and Colour Efex Pro 4. I adored them, HDR only got used a few times, but it was fabulous, especially the B&W HDR effects! However when my trial ran out, I did miss them, but they were expensive and money only goes so far, right? Then I had heard that it been bought out and taken over by Google (is it me or are they spreading their wings, this isn’t a bid for world domination is it? ), and they have re packaged it as the Google Nik Collection, you get everything by Nik for one reasonable cost AUD$169.00, but there is a free trial if you are not sure.

Anyway, I recently decided to spread my creative wings and play with one such Program I had never used Analog Efex Pro 2. There is a brief blurb and some videos about it here. Wow, this is such a cool program, I had no idea. This gives me access at my fingertips to really old style camera effects, wet plates, blur, double exposure, light leaks and other cool stuff.

It is loaded into Photoshop or Lightroom as a plug in and then you can access add filters to the image from within those programs. This is what it looks like once launched. There are presets, tools, tool combinations (that also had presets) and then on the right is all the additional adjustments you can make; noise, light leaks, dust & scratches, lens vignette and more.

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One you have the effect you like (ie Wet Plate) you can select various pre sets, add additional elements (Light leak) and then you can adjust elements and filters, so you can for instance choose from various different Dust & scratches, they each have a drop down mean and you can adjust the strength of each as well, making a truly unique filter; which you can then save as your own preset.Nik_2

Now I get these are not for everyone, but for anyone interested in digital art, or adding some cool FX to an otherwise possibly boring image, then this maybe for you. Below is a sample of just a fraction of the hundreds of FX you can achieve in this program; Motion Blur, Double Exposure, Multi Lens, Wet Plate. You can also add film types and frames too

DSC_3473Here is one I did, using all custom settings………….I think I used most of them!

Wet Plate, Blur, Motion, Light Leak, Lens Distortion, Bokeh, Photo Plate, Dirt and Scratches, and a film strip frame. It kind of looks like a photo from the 70’s huh? That damaged Kodachrome from a bad instamatic camera……….OK so it does kind of ruin the original image, but it is a lot of fun!

DSC_3473-Edit

Well I have had fun and I am sure you will see plenty more images using this program in the future, I loved it. Til next time, happy snapping…

-Julz