Tag Archives: Software

POTD: Academy Revisited

United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in HDR
United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in HDR

I captured this image of the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel several years ago, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s an HDR image that I like to revisit from time to time in order to test new software tools.

In this particular image, I was trying out the new Aurora HDR Pro software from Macphun. This newly announced HDR software isn’t out yet, but you can pre-order it here. This software has some unique features that make it stand out, including glow/lighting effects, very good control over details and textures, noise reduction, and built-in layers (including luminosity masks). Overall, it’s excellent software for those interested in fine-art HDR images.  Look for a full review after November 19th, when Aurora HDR Pro  is officially released!

A few more thoughts on Nikon Capture NX-D

This is what happens when using Capture NX-D for more than 30 seconds.
This is what happens when using Capture NX-D for more than 30 seconds.

I managed to get the beta of Nikon’s Capture NX-D working again briefly. For some reason, it did not like working with files that weren’t in my home directory (I keep my images on a separate external drive).

Between reader comments and playing around more with the software, I’ve discovered a few more tidbits, some of which I’ve added to my previous post.

To add to the list of missing features:

  • Effect opacity
  • Auto Retouch Brush
  • Lasso Tool

So you won’t be able to do ANY retouching in CNX-D Continue reading A few more thoughts on Nikon Capture NX-D

Nikon Capture NX-D: The end of Capture NX as we know it

Nikon Capture NX-D: A return to 2004 RAW editing workflow.
Nikon Capture NX-D: A return to 2004 RAW editing workflow. I made this screen capture before the beta software stopped working on my Mac Pro.

Along with the Nikon D4s announcement, Nikon yesterday also announced a long-awaited upgrade to Capture NX2. Called Capture NX-D, this Nikon RAW converter is being offered for download while in beta form. Public beta testing is something Nikon has been reluctant do to in the past, and it’s something I applaud them for. I downloaded the beta of Capture NX-D to see what it would do. Unfortunately, it is clear to me that this new product is more notable for what it lacks than what it offers. Continue reading Nikon Capture NX-D: The end of Capture NX as we know it

Quick Thoughts: Adobe CC Photography Bundle

I waited until the very end but I have upgraded my version of Photoshop to Creative Cloud.
I waited until the very end but I have upgraded my version of Photoshop to Creative Cloud.

Earlier this year, when Adobe announced that all future versions of the Creative Suite and Photoshop would only be available as part of the Creative Cloud subscription, I was fairly disappointed. I mean, I just upgraded to CS6 last year at a pretty substantial cost. A few months ago, Adobe announced a special “photographer’s” package for previous CS users. This package includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 for a monthly subscription price of $9.99 USD (offer expires 31 Dec. 2013).

At the end of November, Adobe announced that this special offer would be available to anyone, regardless of whether they were a previous owner of the Creative Suite. I decided that this is a pretty reasonable offer, so I upgraded to Photoshop CC. At least for me, this subscription makes sense. I still have my CS6 applications, but I can run the latest version of Photoshop. I still have Photoshop CS6 should I decide that Creative Cloud isn’t worth subscribing to next year.

For someone looking to add Photoshop to their editing arsenal, the $9.99 offer is about as good as it gets. You also get Lightroom 5, and some free cloud storage (20GB). Frankly, I’d still recommend getting a perpetual-use license for Lightroom 5, as Photoshop is something you could choose to live without over time if you were so inclined.

And to clear up any confusion:

  • You don’t need to be online to run Photoshop
  • All applications run right from your hard drive, just like they did before
  • You don’t need to store images in Adobe’s Cloud Server
  • The $9.99/mo subscription price is locked in for one year; after that it will renew unless cancelled at the then-current price*.

While I’m still not thrilled about “subscription-ware,” Adobe has made it pretty clear that this is the way forward. I’ve managed to get nearly two years out of CS6, and I’m still using the other applications in the suite that I don’t need on a regular basis, like Dreamweaver and InDesign. I’m perfectly content to use slightly older versions of those products for the time being while keeping my version of Photoshop up to date. If you are looking to get the full version of Photoshop, this is currently the best way to go.

*There has been no official word as to whether Adobe plans to offer the $9.99 price perpetually. They have said they have “no intention” of changing the price, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. IMO, as long as Lightroom can be purchased as a perpetual-use license, everything is OK by me. Should Adobe move LR exclusively to the subscription model… well I hope that doesn’t happen.

Understanding the Camera Calibration Module in Lightroom

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom relies on the Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) rendering engine to convert camera RAW images. The default color and contrast settings are something called “Adobe Standard” which look different than what you might see on your camera LCD when reviewing your images. However, Adobe offers alternate Camera Profiles which emulate the as-shot settings from many Nikon and Canon DSLRs. You’ll find these settings in the Camera Calibration panel in Lightroom and ACR.

In this example, I have placed an image of a Colorchecker card on the screen so you can see how the colors and contrast change between camera profiles. For this image, I get options based on the Nikon D800 that I used to capture the RAW file. Note that you can only make profile changes to RAW files. If you see “Embedded” under the profile option, it’s because you’re looking at a TIFF or JPEG image in Lightroom. Choose from any of the profile presets in the drop-down menu to change the baseline color and tone curve of your image, and you can fine-tune it with the sliders if you wish.

If you have a ColorChecker card, you can use the ColorChecker software from X-rite to create a custom profile for your camera. Each custom profile is specific to the camera you use to create the image. You can further tweak those profiles using Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor software (free download from www.adobe.com).

Once you have a profile that you like, you might wish to change your defaults to always use that profile going forward. If you do change your default settings, note that ANYTHING you modified in the Develop section gets applied, so keep your adjustments minimal (Calibration, sharpening, lens corrections) so that you don’t over-process your images. Defaults are only applied automatically when you import new images into Lightroom. Existing images will not be changed; you’ll have to adjust them manually or use the “Reset Settings” option in Lightroom to do so.