Howdy folks — happy Tuesday!

Adobe has been rolling out a stream of new features for Photoshop CC over the past couple of years, and even I sometimes lose track of all the things they’ve added, so I’m not surprised so many folks didn’t catch this one when it was rolled out (this one had been on my wish list for about 20 years).

It’s the ability to completely customize Photoshop’s toolbar, so you only see the tools you actually use (and hide the rest). It’s super easy to do. Here’s how:

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STEP ONE: Go under the Edit menu, and near the very bottom choose Toolbar. This brings up the Customize Toolbar window you see above. The left column lists all the tools in Photoshop’s toolbar. If you see one you don’t use, just drag and drop it to the column on the right to hide it from the toolbar. The good news is — you can choose to have three little dots appear at the bottom of the toolbar which gives you access to all those tools you chose to hide, ya know…just in case. :)

Also, below the left column are a row of icons of features that appear at bottom of the toolbar, like the Quickmask button, and screen mode toggle buttons — you can even choose to each any or all of those.

STEP TWO: Click done and you’re done! Of course, if you ever change your mind and want to get back to the original default set of tools — just come back to this same Customize Toolbar window and click on the “Restore Defaults” button near the top right side.

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BONUS TOOLBAR TIP:
By default you get a single column toolbar, but back “in the old days” (when dinosaurs ruled the earth), Photoshop actually had a two-column toolbar like the one you see above right. If you ever get in the mood to go all “old school” on us, just click the little double-arrow at the top left of the single toolbar to switch it to the double-column toolbar. You get five extra points if you play the song “Turn up the Radio” by Autograph right before you click that button. Doing that doesn’t actually affect Photoshop in any way, but will cause you, momentarily, to totally rock out and sign along. This is not a bad thing.

Hope you find that helpful. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Tomorrow, at 4pm on “The Grid” we’re airing a special “Live from the UK” tour from “The Photography Show” in Birmingham (it’s not actually live because we taped it at the show, but it was live when we did it, which is the kind of explanation a presidential candidate might give to any given question. I’m not one, but I’ve seen a lot of TV commercials for them). 😉

 

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On the heels of Google last week making the entire Nik Collection of plugs-ins absolutely free, I’m doing a online class that will release this Thursday (March 31st) that not only teaches you how to use the collection, I show:

(1) How I use them in my workflow
(2) Exactly which ones are my favorite filters and presets
(3) Which ones I don’t use at all (and why)
(4) Which one, if I was stranded on a desert island, would be the one I couldn’t live without and why
(5) All sorts of little tips and tricks that will help make your experience faster, better, and more fun.

I’ve been saying for years that for so many pro photographers I know, they will tell you that the Nik Collection is their secret weapon — so if you’re a KelbyOne member, I hope you’ll check out my brand new class coming this Thursday.

Again, a big tip of the hat to Google for making these plug-ins available to us all for free, and here’s hoping upon hope that while it looks unlikely, that if there’s a major update to either the Mac or Windows OS some awesome engineer might update it (perhaps on his own, as some rogue engineering doing good outside the walls). Then he or she could be the new hero of “The Resistance.” [vague Star Wars reference].

Full Details coming Thursday
Don’t forget to come back on Thursday to get the direct link to the class — can’t wait to share this with you!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Hey, did I mention I’m teaching my full day seminar up in Boston on Wednesday? Hundreds of Boston area photographers are already signed up, but it’s not too late for you to come, too!

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OK, not everybody, but I was surprised to see how many people were complaining after Google’s awesome announcement that they were making the entire Nik Collection of plug-ins for Photoshop and Lightroom, available for free download. FREE!

Of course, there are lots of questions after this announcement, so let’s do a quick Q&A on the topic to take us into the weekend.

Q. What is the Google Nik Collection? 
A. Here’s how Google themselves describe it:

The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities — from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images.

Q. So, you use these plug-ins?
A. Absolutely. Daily. I’ve been telling people for years that the Nik Collection is the pro photographer’s secret weapon.

Q. So let me get this straight — Google takes this amazing plug-in collection, which they were selling for $149, and they announce it’s now free, and some people are already hatin’ on them?
A. Oh, Absolutely. Welcome to the Internet, where lots of people are literally just waiting to be outraged about something. I’ve always said if you stood on a street corner and passed out free $100 bills, you could literally count the seconds before someone came up and said, “Are you kidding me? Where am I going to break a $100 bill? Can’t you give me five $20s instead?” 

Q. Like, what kind of stuff are they saying?
A. Stuff like: “So if I bought it in 2015, I’m f#@$d right?” or “…bit pissed as i paid full wack just over a year ago and not even partial refund. Will be the last google product i buy if they just keep giving things away”  or “Very disappointed, I bought it in 2015. Nice you make it free but you should refund your previous licenses.”

Q. Haven’t they had the use of this software all this time, before it was free?
A. Yes.

Q. So why are they so mad?
A. Apparently Google didn’t have five $20s. (see my answer to the 3rd question above).

Q. Isn’t this awesome that they’re giving this incredible plug-in package away for free?
A. I think it is. A lot of folks who could never afford it will now have access to it. I think that’s awesome!

Q. Does this mean that future updates for this collection have ceased?
A. Based on what I’ve read, I absolutely think that is the case, but I haven’t confirmed it with anyone inside Google yet.

Q. So, what if I download it today, and then there’s a major Mac OS or Windows update down the road and then it doesn’t work anymore. Will Google do an update to fix it?
A. Not as best as I can tell, so use it today and enjoy it for as long as it works.

Q. But that’s not fair!
A. You’re right. You should ask Google for your money back from that free download. Oh…wait…

Q. What if I bought it back in February? 
A. Google said they are automatically giving full refunds to anyone who bought the collection in 2016.

Q. Are you certain about that?
A. The older I get, the more I realize I’m not certain about anything, but that’s what they said in their post.

Q. What if I bought it back in December and I missed the cutoff?
A. Then you only had to pay $37.50 a month to use it until now, which for this suite is totally worth it, but that is still kind of a bummer. I’ve bought stuff the very week before it goes on sale. It happens, but you’ll get past it.

Q. Can’t I write angry comments about how unfair that is?
A. Absolutely, and you should use a lot of cuss words!

Q. Will that help?
A. Not one bit.

Q. Will Google ever release a Nik Collection Version 5?
A. I would love that, but based on their post about why they are making it free, it seems fairly clear that their desktop plug-in days are over (that was my take on it anyway). However, if they do one day come out with a new version, I imagine they would charge for it; I would definitely buy it, but I imagine it would be worth it.

Q. So, do you know something secret here?
A. I do, but it’s not about version 5. The secret stuff I know is about the supposed 1969 Apollo moon landing, and the plane that never crashed into the Pentagon, and the JFK assassination, but I’m not at liberty to say, because they’re watching me. They’re always watching.

Q. Were there any nice comments on Google’s announcement post?
A. Thankfully, there were many tucked in and around the whining. Some very grateful folks, and I was happy to see that.

Q. What was your favorite?
A. This one from Ray Akey:

“Funny to see all the reactions on this one. Free software is good for everyone, no matter what, especially when it comes from a company known for their excellent plugins because a lot of shareware and freeware is crap! Personally, I have only used SilverFX and it is a pretty nice piece of software. I’ll glady download and check this out. Thanks Nik and Google! Whiners: Poo!”

Q. That guy rocks, right?
A. Right! I love his attitude.

Q. So, where can I download the free Nik Collection?
A. Here’s the link.

Q. Should I write a mean comment here on your blog for taking the side of the non-complainers?
A. Believe it or not, there are bigger fish to fry in the world today than you complaining that somebody is getting something for free that you had to pay for a year or two ago. Instead, you should be happy that a good thing happened to a lot of photographers all over the world through this gift from Google. If you bought it beforehand, you should be thankful for the time you got to use it and how awesome it made your images look; you should not expect that Google will ever provide a free update to this free software, but know that you’ll still be able to somehow carry on.

Be thankful that there are brilliant geniuses that created this software in the first place, and that Google is so successful they can give it away to us for free, and instead of focusing on the negative side of things, why not take a deep breath, be glad you’re alive; enjoy your weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday. :)

Best,

-Scott

 

InDesignPhotographers

Adobe InDesign for Photographers: Creating a Trifold Brochure, with Dave Clayton
Photographers need collateral material to further promote their brands, but InDesign can be intimidating to new users. Join Dave Clayton for a step-by-step approach to creating a trifold brochure for your photography business. Even if you don’t know where to start, Dave will take you through the process of gathering up all of your materials, customizing the InDesign workspace, and then putting all of your copy, photographs, icons, and logo together in a stylish design that is simple, professional, and ready to deliver to the printer. By the end of the class you’ll have gained enough confidence in using InDesign to take on new projects and elevate your skills to the next level.

https://youtu.be/lu5DquV_UC0

Throwback Thursday
In case you missed it, you might want to also check out Glyn Dewis’ class Shooting Sports Physiques On Location!

(more…)

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My name is Brian Podnos and my wife Donna and I run an architectural and interiors photography company based in NYC called Donna Dotan Photography. I wanted to share the interesting process by which we recently created a 60 foot photo for a client.

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(Click here for a MUCH higher resolution view)

Before I get into the making of this photo, here is a bit of context surrounding the job:

  • While doing a photoshoot of model units for a new development, the client asked Donna and I to photograph the view from on top of the construction site for a print. We happily obliged and got a great shot at sunset. The view was NYC with Citi Field in the foreground.
  • For the shot, we used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70 zoom lens.
  • After delivering the image, the client told us the resolution wasn’t high enough. They wanted the image to be printed as wallpaper to cover their sales gallery wall of 60 ft by 9 ft.
  • They asked us to redo the shot. However, in order for everything to be ready for an upcoming event in the sales gallery the following week, we only had three days to deliver the image.

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Okay, so lots of pressure, not a lot of time to figure out the best way to approach the project. One thing we knew was that we wanted a medium format camera system in order to get that kind of image quality. People were going to be looking at this photo from less than a foot away, so we wanted to make sure we had the best resolution possible. Going medium format would be a risk because we only had one opportunity to do it right, it’s a very expensive system to rent, and it was something we had never done before! However, Donna and I felt that the reward outweighed the risk, and this way we would ensure that the resolution was the best it could possibly be.

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The Phase One IQ3 100MP system had just been released, and we really wanted to utilize the latest and greatest sensor on the market (100MP!). After some adversity (you’ll see in the video) we were able to rent the camera. At this point we were left with only one day to get the shot, edit the file and deliver it to the printers!

Everything had to go according to plan. The weather had to cooperate, we had to learn the mechanics behind the camera system the day of the project, and we had to figure out exactly by what method we would create the photo. Since the wall was 60 feet wide, we figured we would have to shoot multiple panels and stitch them together in post (even with a medium format system and 100MP sensor, a single shot wouldn’t be sufficient), but we weren’t sure if we should use a rail or a tripod. We also didn’t know if we should photograph in the horizontal or vertical orientation, or if we should capture the panels top-down or left-right (or both!). Lastly, we weren’t sure which lens would be most appropriate. Lots of questions, not a lot of time to spare.

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After much deliberation, we decided to take multiple lenses and figure the rest out on site. Thankfully, the weather was on our side that day. We rented the camera from Digital Transitions in NYC and they were amazing in teaching us how to operate it. They also assured us they would always be around should something arise on site. That comforted us to say the least.

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Sunset was around 5:15, so we arrived at 4 and made our way up the construction site to the 15th floor. It was already so beautiful as the sun was setting behind the Manhattan skyline. Quickly, we were able to eliminate the rail system we had brought. Our photo subject was so far away that we could easily photograph the needed panels using our Arca-Swiss D4 tripod head. Next, we decided that the Schneider 150mm was the lens to use. It gave us exactly the frame we were hoping to get with minimal cropping needed in post. We elected to orient the camera vertically and shoot 7 panels from left to right.

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One additional element we worried over was the fear that the construction site would be too active. Any camera shake would cause our long exposure capture to be blurry. Luckily we were able to select a floor where no construction workers were working and thus were free to begin.

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Once the camera was set up, we ran a test by tethering to a computer and taking a look at how the panels stacked up next to each other. The raw files looked really good. We were zooming in and able to read traffic signs that were miles away!

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Finally, we were confident that we would be able to create the image the way we wanted to. Now we just had to wait for the buildings to light up during twilight…

The next day we imported all the files to our office computers and spent the rest of the day editing the shot. It literally took all day to stitch the panels seamlessly, get the color correction on point, and pull out all the details we wanted to showcase. Each shot was a 15 second exposure, and since the sky gets dark so quickly there was a noticeable gradient in color with each panel. Smoothing out the sky was quite a challenge!

We finally submitted the panoramic photo and shortly after heard from the printer that the file was going to work. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

https://youtu.be/NzqbEx53mNY

Donna and I got to see the photo in person a week later, and it was incredible. Inspecting the wall up close we really got to see how sharp every detail was. Considering this was our first time using a medium format system, and considering all the external pressures to get the job done right, I feel like we really succeeded in what we set out to do.

Reflecting on the experience, the whole process was pretty wild. There were so many question marks in the air, but it all worked out in the end. We created an amazing final product and made an important client very happy.

-Brian Podnos
Donna Dotan Photography

Special thanks to Onex Real Estate Partners, Modern Spaces, Digital Transitions, Ken Jones, and Pitra Media!

You can see more of Donna and Brian’s work at DonnaDotan.com, and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Greetings from The Photography Show in Birmingham, UK. First, what an awesome show this is! I was surprised at how large it is (about the size of Photo Plus Expo in NYC), with row upon row of vendors selling everything from cameras (Canon, Nikon, Fuji and Sony) are all here, and there’s tons of camera bag dealers; Elinchrom is here; Westcott is here (quite a treat to walk past their booth and see one of my demos of their lighting playing in their booth); the gang from 3-Legged-Thing tripods are here; Wacom is here; Epson is here; everybody is here! Awesome show and incredibly energy. Photo above by Peter Treadway of Hybrid Photography.

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Yesterday I did a sold out session on their “Super Stage” (they also have a “Live Stage” moderated by my dear friend Dave Clayton) where they do live lighting demos and model shoots, and I’m teaching it again today at 10:30 am. (photo above and all the ones below by David Williams of Hybrid Photography).

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Such a great crowd to present to – incredibly gracious and fun. I did an hour session, a 30-minute open Q&A, and I wrapped up with something for the crowd to think about for 2016. So much fun! (and such a well-run, well organized show).

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This is me gesturing. Why is there a “dent” in the middle of my hair? I’ll tell you why — funky blow drier in my hotel room (yes, I know I’m the last living person using  a blow dryer. I get it).

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I’ve spent the past three days with these two awesome guys (L: Peter Treadway, me [duh] and Dave Williams, often confused with famous actor Toby Maguire, but without the fame, the girls, and money, and talent, and charm, and fancy cars, and tailored clothes, and…well…you get the picture). ;-)  By the way — please ignore the fact that when Dave took this selfie of us, he cut off Peter’s ear. They’re both very sensitive about it.

If you’re at the show tomorrow and you see me, please create a momentary distraction so I can sneak away from these two stalkers guys, so I can escape back to London for my flight home tomorrow.

Glyn and Dave. Two top bananas! 
While Peter and Dave are clearly two dodgy characters, we did meet up with two of my dear friends: Photoshop World instructors Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton, and we had dinner together this evening and it was just absolutely wonderful. Worth the trip over just to spend some time with them. Absolutely top men!

Tomorrow we are planning on doing a very special episode of The Grid (with a tour of The Photography Show floor, and including our guest Dave Clayton, and the Hybrid Boys: Peter and Dave), which will air at its usual time of Wednesday at 4pm New York Time – that is if every single little technical thing in the world works out just right, so you know…it’s a lock. ;-)

Thanks in advance to exhibitors Calumet Photo and the folks at Rode mic’s for helping us out with gear for our Grid episode today (big love to you both).

Cheers,

-Scott

P.S. I have learned a LOT of very bad English phrases from Peter and Dave, which I will not repeat back in America even though some sound totally innocent, but honestly, I think at this point they’re just making them up anyway. 

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