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Lion Black and White Aperture 3 Preset

Both Images are 1920×1080 and can be saved as Desktop backgrounds.
Download Lion Black and White

Dandy Lion Macro 1920x1080 canon s95

Taken with a Canon s95 in Manual mode, ISO 80, f/4 and Shutter 1/125 with flash on. Picture was Cropped in at about 100% from original.

Dandy Lion Macro B&W 1920x1080

Picture after the Aperture Preset is applied.

Download Lion Black and White Aperture 3 Preset.
To install this preset open Aperture 3 and select the adjustments tab. In the Effects drop down menu, select “edit Effects”. From her you will see a new window that has a small gear icon in the lower left corner. Clicking on this will give you the option needed to import this preset.

HDR Photography

Ike Water Line HDR

Ike Water Line After HDR

HDR or High Dynamic Range is a way of combining multiple exposures in order to get a desired exposure. Often we take pictures of landscapes, sunsets, buildings or anything that inspires emotion but the end result is not how we remember the image when we were there. HDR is a technique used to achieve either a natural or an artistic look. In this tutorial I’m going to walk you through what it takes to get started working with HDR.

A couple of tips before we get started. One, It’s strongly recommended you use a tripod for HDR. This is really the only why to get usable and consistent results. However if you’re using an SLR or a point and shoot camera like the Canon G10 that can capture in a RAW file format, you can get good results editing a single RAW image. In some cases you will need to use a single image anyway, if you’re capturing people, animals or other types of action. Two, RAW, RAW and more RAW although not a requirement, this is the best format to use for HDR because it simply gives the HDR software more information to use and the end result is just better. On the other hand if done right, JPEG can produce good HDR. In fact the IKE Water Line HDR Picture was generated by a single JPEG. Last, a Good HDR program. Photomatix Pro is what I’m using for HDR images and even though there are a lot of HDR programs out there Photomatix in my opinion really does do the best job at producing solid, great looking HDR’s in very little time. One cool thing about Photomatix Pro is that it’s also available in a full featured trial version for both Mac and PC that you can try for free before you buy it, so check it out. The trial version does put a watermark on your finished image but never-the-less this trial is a great and free way to get your feet wet with HDR. The Trial version can be downloaded at

Ike Water Line

Ike Water Line Before HDR

When working with HDR, the idea is that you typically take 3 exposures of different values using the exposure compensation of your camera. One normal (0), one under exposed (-1 to -3) and one over exposed (+1 to +3 ). The Canon 40D that I use has an auto bracketing feature that when set will do this automatically. This feature is common among SLR’s but if you don’t have an SLR handy you can set the exposure compensation of your camera manually between shots. Just don’t move your camera between shots (use a tripod). If you’re using 1 image to do your HDR, you will need to duplicate two more copies of you picture ( total of three ) then edit your exposure values of each before you open up your HDR software. You can do this in just about any photo eding software. Most programs will have an exposure slider. Adjust the exposure control to the left or right to the desired look. If your using Photoshop you can simply enter in the EV you want ( which is nice BTW ) You’ll have to experiment with this for a while. I’d start of with a plus 1 or plus 2 and then a negative 1 or negative 2. It’s best to keep your 3 values symmetrical. First picture -1.5, second 0, and third +1.5, and so on.

Once you have your three pictures, you’re ready to get started. Believe it or not, getting good pictures to work with is the hardest part of the HDR process. As the old saying go’s “Garbage in garbage out” is never more true than when working with post editing effects. Using the HDR software it’s self is a little tricky and has some learning curve to it, but it’s relatively straight forward.

Once you have the pictures you want to turn into an HDR, open up Photomatix Pro. By the way if you haven’t already, you can also download sample images from hdrsoft.com. This is a good way to start and it will give you a good idea of what to do when you start shooting your own pictures for HDR. The dialog box that opens when you launch Photomatix Pro will give you a hand full of options but for now, just click on the “Generate HDR Image” icon. A second dialog box will open asking you to select the images you would like to use in your HDR. From here browse and Select the Pictures you want then click “ok”.

Another way to do this is to highlight the pictures want then right click and choose “open with” Photomatix Pro.

After that, one of two new diolog boxes will open up. If the photos you picked already have the exposure meta data imbedded in them the next box you will see is the HDR Options box. For now you can just use the default options that are already preselected for you. The RAW conversion setting options in this box will only appear if your using RAW or Digital Negatives. The other box you may see ( depending on the type of file you’re using ) is the Exposure settings window. Here you can change the exposure values to the desired levels if the ones preselected are not what you need. This can be done using the “E.V spacing” drop down menu or by selecting the exposure levels manually.
Once you have the exposure values at the right spacing you’re ready to continue and click “OK”. Photomatix will then start to work its magic and begin processing your HDR. However this not the end of the HDR process. After Photomatix processes you’re images you will be presented with a preview that will NOT look good ( this is normal your not done yet ) and right next to this image you will see a new dialog box that has the “Tone Mapping” Icon. Click that and your HDR image will start to come to life. In the Tone Mapping settings is where the HDR becomes true to it’s reputation. From here you will be given two different way’s to adjust your HDR image. One is the “Details Enhancer” and the other is “Tone Compressor” For now stick with the Details Enhancer option, it’s selected by default anyway. Now before you do anything else you may want to sit back and take a look at what you have already. The default settings in Photomatix Detail Enhancer actually look pretty good.

Austin 360 Bridge HDR DT

Austin 360 Bridge HDR DT 1920x1080

Well, that’s about it. The basics of HDR. From here on out you’re on your own. Try different presets, experiment with the different settings and remember, The quality of the pictures you start with will have the biggest impact on how they look as an HDR. Also be cautious about your edits to your images before they go in to the HDR process. Try to hold off on as many if not all of these edits until you have your finished HDR. Good Luck and have fun.

iPhoto ’09 Review and What I’d Like to See Updated.

Apple’s well known photo editing and management application called iPhoto has been around for some time now and it’s part of Apple’s iLife software suite. Along with its intuitively laid out management and edit tools iPhoto has a integrated feature that makes it convenient to order Prints, Cards, Books and Calendars. You can even have your orders sent to different addresses, which actually came in handy this year while we were traveling.
Because of its integration with iPhoto’s well laid out themes and templates this system works out great especially for the books which are hardback and can include up to 100 pages. The books are our favorite thing to order and kid-you-not they really do look professional with the new iPhoto ’09 layout. All services have worked out great for us during the Christmas holidays except for the prints. This was the first year we chose to do prints with Apple and it’s not that the prints turned out bad because they didn’t. My trouble with this part of Apple’s ordering service is that you cannot select what type of paper the prints will be on. I suppose in an effort to simplify the process the type of paper is selected for you. You get Basic Glossy for all print except 16×20 and 20×30 which are done with a matte paper. I don’t mind the basic glossy for the 4×6 prints especially at $0.12 Each, however I would like to have the option to pay extra for better paper. A small complaint in the eyes of many I suppose, but never-the-less I’d like the option to choose the type of paper my prints will be on.

Here is a link for the up to date pricing from Apple print products.

As for everything else, iPhoto stands out in the iLife line up. You get all your standard editing adjustments as well as straighten and touch-up.

iPhoto Adjust

iPhoto Adjust

The touch-up tool works surpassingly well and having the level adjustment for tightening up the color casts is also nice to have. Also if you shot in RAW ( Yes, iPhoto ’09 does indeed edit RAW ), the RAW format is automatically recognized and you are able to edit in RAW as if you were using JPG, just plug in your camera. The only difference you see will be in the lower corner of the edit window were RAW will be indicated. After importing into iPhoto, If you need to use the RAW file for other programs go to the “originals” folder of your iPhoto’s Library or use the “export command” to pull the RAW file. I’d like to be able to do this inside iPhoto by just dragging the file to the desktop. iPhoto gives you the drag and drop option for tiff and jpeg but RAW is left out. I imagine this is because RAW is not a printable file format so iPhoto simplifies things by just converting the RAW to jpeg for you if dragged it to the desktop. On the other hand, if your going to be using RAW a lot you may want to consider Aperture (in a way, the pro work flow version of iPhoto) or Photoshop Lightroom. Each have free, full-featured 30 day demo option you can download. However, for simple edits and touch-ups iPhoto, 09 will get the job done with surprisingly good results.

Face Book and Flickr
One of my favorite features is iPhoto will link to your Facebook or Flickr account. You can set up a folder to one or both of those accounts and simply drag and drop the photos you want to into them, iPhoto will do the rest. Seriously, this makes it so easy to add photos to Facebook it’s not even funny.

There are a few somewhat questionable features in iPhoto that I’d to see changed. The first is “Faces”. Faces is a built in face detection software that automatically goes through your entire photo library and will “attempt” to assign names with faces. Sounds cool and in a way it is. However in practice it’s a different story. The problem is family, families have this crazy thing going on called DNA that makes us look similar, go figure. Faces has a difficult time with this. Namely Babies, kids and siblings. Friends, cousins, aunts and uncles do however work well in faces. Parents can be hit or miss especially if you look a lot like mom or dad. This feature is definitely something of value, but unless you have spent a lot of time cleaning up the preliminary sort of Faces, then the feature can seem somewhat impractical.

Next is “Places”
Places takes GEO tagging to the next level by incorporating a GPS tagging feature more and more cameras will start having. Cameras that have this feature will imbed GPS data along with the rest of the meta information hidden within your image. Places in iPhoto works one of two ways. It will automatically read the GPS coordinates for you or you can manually tell iPhoto where the photo was taken.
Now someone like wild life photographers and land developers this could easily be a must have feature. I personally have just not found a use for it. Don’t get me wrong this is COOL tech but for me this is a novelty feature. I guess you could say, “have it and not need it than need it and not have it”. I would on the other hand defiantly use this feature more if I had a camera that imbedded GPS information, as I don’t, I have the task of tagging all of the information manually. So for now I’ll pass.

As for the new iPhoto here are a few things I’d like to see added:

1) Ability to add text to you pictures.
2)A basic clone tool.
3)Expanded RAW editing

Wishful thinking would be for…
Layers and HDR

As for what I’d like to see changed:

1) Improved Faces.
2) Ability to select the type of paper to use for ordering prints.

Over all iPhoto is a solid peace of software and one Im very happy to keep using.

One more thing. Other than iTunes I think Apple should make iPhoto available for purchase separately from the other iLife products. I mean why not give the option? For example you could have each for $25 or all 4 for $80. Anyway, just a thought.