I’m sure you have heard about the Google Nik software suite offer by now. …no? well then, get this… It turns out that Google has reduced the price on the entire Nik software suite to an affordable $149. The Suite includes all the famous and popular plugins: Define 2, Sharpner Pro 3, HDR Efex 2, Silver Efex Pro 2,Viveza 2 and Color Efex Pro 4. Works with Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Lightroom and Aperture.
Even better, if you already own a earlier version of the suite or just one of the 6 plug-ins, you can get the entire suite for free. If you have registered your product, you should have a mail from google by now in you inbox with a download link. If you don’t, check your spam folder, that’s where i found my email from Google.
I really look forward to take some time and play with the different plugs in from Nik.
Most of my images takes a trip through this suite in one way or another. I use Perfect Effects for the final tweaks and stylization. I particularly like Tonal Contrast, the Big Softy and HDR look Natural. I have used Perfect Resize with greats success a few times. And Perfect Black & White is quite amazing if you ask me. This version works of course with Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. But even better, this suite also is a stand-alone collection of software, meaning you can use this with out Photoshop etc. Just launch Perfect Layers and you are good to go. It’s a great plugin to have and I recommend you at least give it a trial – free of course. Prices starts at $79. Actually, now you can download Perfect Effects 4 for free!! And a bunch of cool presets as well. No charge. Gotta love that!
The last plugin I use is one I found recently. Its made by the good folks at HDRsoft who makes the well-known and highly recommended Photomatix HDR software. This little plug-in is made for Lightroom 4, and what it does is combining your selected brackets to a 32 bit tif file, that you can edit in Lightroom, making your Lighroom 4 software a great tool for HDR shots. It does that without going into the main Photomatix program or Photoshop for that matter. Lightroom 4 has the ability to work with 32 bit files. The advantage of a 32 bit file is that it gives you a +10/-10 f-stop range, that you can control in great detail by using the brush adjustment tool in Lightroom. It’s quick to use, and gives a result that looks better than what Photoshop CS6 can do in my opinon.
The plugin costs $29 but if you already own Photomatix, you get it for free.
Click the headings for a link to the download site.
I wanted to show you this 4 image panorama I made from this location. Kind of gives you a nice view from the vantage point under the highway bridge. Gorgeous place. I hope to find time to go there again one morning and to find more mist on the water. Of course, this time of year, it’s a totally different image. Colors and leaves are gone, so it’s a bit sad to look at right now to be honest, but i think with the right light and a bit fog, it can be quite interesting. A reminder for next time, a slightly longer lens (this is shot with a 35mm), and perhaps shooting the panorama with the camera vertical. It is a wee bit narrow…
My good friend Ken Bennison asked me to come with him on a trip up the West Branch this past weekend. But before I get to that, I should explain the title on this blog post. It came up as we were waiting for the light to be in the perfect spot, and for the wind to die down a bit.
Extremist is (what I learned on this trip) more or less what his own family affectionately calls him, and it refers to the way he approaches his photography. There is a very good reason why Ken is an incredible artist/landscape photographer. He does what a lot of other people wont do. He gets up at an ungodly hour, drive,hike or canoe for hours, (obviously not at the same time, but most of the time he will have to do all three to get to his location of choice.) And when he gets there he will explore the area, figure out what he want to shot, and wait for the perfect conditions to happen. Ken is not afraid to wait for hours for his shot. He knows exactly what he wants in a picture, and if the conditions aren’t there, he wont even take the camera out of the bag, because he wont be able to use the shot anyway, so if he doesn’t get the shot, he will simply return to the same spot again and again until he gets the shot he has in his mind. And the results speaks for themselves. Check out his website. I should mention that Ken’s is shooting with a Canon 7D, one lens (28-135mm) and his trusty SLIK tripod. Yes, Ken only use one lens.
Anyway, so this past weekend we were up at the West branch north of Webbwood, Ontario. A place I haven’t been to in 2 years, so it was nice to go there again, and revisit some of the places I have shot before. Examples of previous posts can be found here, here and here. We are about 80 km (~50 Miles) in the bush, driving on a gravel logging road. The weather was perfect. No wind, sunshine and frost in the air. After having shot at a couple of locations, we wound up at the little lake where I had taken the Moonshine shot a couple of years ago. All of a sudden the sunshine starts to come through the trees, and lights up some grasses in the lake. Being the extremist that Ken is, gets up and wades out into the shallow waters. Ankle deep in loon and beaver crap he sets up his tripod and starts to compose a shot. I thought this would be a good time to get a shot of him in action, so I took a few of him shooting this sunlit grass, with some mist in the background.
The shot below is my shot from this location. Not being an extremist, I of course did not go into the water.
One more from the Hwy 17 over pass. Same location as this shot, but this vantage point is from under one of the bridges looking south, as you can see on the google map. It’s definitively an area ill will revisit again.
I got a few more fall shots I would like to share. (My first Fall shots post is here). Still on Hwy 17 west of Sudbury in Northern Ontario. It’s always a treat when the water is calm, and the reflections is like mirrored perfectly.
Fall in Northern Ontario lasts approximately 3-4 weeks by my understanding – if we are lucky. This year it started a wee bit early too, probably due to lack of moisture, so the trees started to turn even before the summer was over. Yes, fall time is nice, but as soon as the colors are gone from the trees, it only becomes a reminder whats coming. -Yes, the white stuff….uggggg. The ‘S’ word is a bad word in this house.
Anyway, fall time – time to get out and get some colors at my regular locations. So here we go. First shot is from the Hwy17 bypass. I drive on this highway quite frequently, and I have been witness to the amazing color change during a period of a couple of weeks, so it was a must have shot. Shot on a chilly and cloudy morning around 8 am.
On a trip down Hwy 6 to Manitoulin Island back in October last year, I drive through the town of Espanola. – See more shots and post from the town here, here and here. That morning the fog was pretty heavy and on a hunch I took a detour down on Panage Lake Rd, just in case I would get lucky, and I didn’t get disappointed. It took about an 1 hour before the fog was burned of enough to get this shot – well, shots actually. It’s a panorama made from about 16 images, 8 shots in 2 rows. But in the mean time, I had a lot of fun shooting the morning mist or fog which is magical in a picture. It’s peaceful and a bit mystical. Not a bad thing in an image if you ask me.
A new post is way overdue. That’s what happens when work takes up all your free time.
This shot was taken in Espanola, Ontario. Same day as my last post, but earlier in the morning. Its a silhouette of the towns paper mill which dates back to 1899. With all that history, there must be some gems hidden from view that just begs to be bracketed. I wish I could go explore the plant, but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.