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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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Above: That’s Peter, Dave and me with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background as we continued our series of photos of me posing in front of amazing places that won’t give me permission to shoot inside. ;-)

Howdy folks. Greetings from Birmingham, UK – I’m here for “The Photography Show” where I’m speaking today and tomorrow. I was excited to learn that my presentation today was already sold out in advance (whoo hoo!), and I’m super looking forward to meeting everybody here.

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I’ve spent the past couple of days here in London having a blast with two of my photography buddies: Peter Treadway and Dave Williams (from Hybrid Photography), and we’ve had such a fun time shooting and other stuff (see below). #smize #bingo #dodgy #silentletters

Here are some highlights of the trip so far:

(1) We stood at the banks of the River Thames and looked out at the MI6 Headquarters building across the river that was blown up in a recent James Bond Movie (see video below); we Googled the lyrics to Skyfall, and the three of us sang the chorus full voice (and it was quite glorious by the way), before going in to the Tate Museum to shoot its beautiful spiral staircase.

https://youtu.be/rh_us78fTlI

(2) We ate at Byron Burger, which was my favorite burger place in the UK (replacing my beloved Gourmet Burger Kitchen [GBK] a few years back), until I learned and experienced an even better burger: The Meat Market, in Covent Garden. Legendary! The new reigning UK burger champ in my book. The hamburger scene here is real!

(3) We went to a Tube Station and talked with a guard who let us take some shots shooting up at the escalators (yes, it’s a thing). He was cool with it as long as we didn’t use flash or a tripod, but then later a big booming voice came over the loudspeakers saying “Photographers at the bottom of escalators 14 and 15, if you don’t have permission — desist immediately.” We had permission, so we continued on for a while and then wrapped up because we had to move on to our next spot, which was…well…not what I expected.

(4) We had special permission to shoot in this beautiful, classic old theater, and it was beautiful…well…in parts. I had seen thumbnail photos of it on Google on my iPhone from an article in The Guardian online about London’s hidden interiors. The name of this classic old theater was the Gala Bingo Hall, and I figured at one time, perhaps back in the 1930s, it was a classic old bingo hall. Here’s how the Guardian described it:

“The Gala Bingo Club is the only Grade I-listed cinema in England, and one of the most lavish in Europe. It opened on 7 September 1931 as the flagship of Sydney Bernstein’s Granada empire. The exterior was a fairly conventional affair but what set the Granada apart was the interior: designed by Russian theatre designer and impresario Theodore Komisarjevsky. The real climax is the colossal auditorium, designed to seat 3,000. It has an intricate coffered Gothic ceiling, arcaded walls and gabled Gothic canopies suspended over the proscenium arch.”

All of that is true. However, what they failed to mention in that article is that it is no longer an elegant Grade-I cinema, as the Gala Bingo hall is actually now just that — a Bingo hall! Beyond that, it has no stage — it’s been replaced with a snack bar, video screens with bingo numbers and prize amounts, plus rows of booths for people playing (wait for it, wait for it) live bingo!

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Above: This is the moment of sadness when you release that the Gala Bingo Hall is in fact, a Bingo Hall and not the only Grade 1 cinema house in all of England. Selfie by a sad Dave Williams.

So, it’s somewhat possible that my research (ahem) on this venue might not have been as tight as it should be. We still shot it, and did our best to hide the snack bar and slot machines and such, and I might have come away with something that’s not too bad, because I was using a 14mm lens, and the stage was so far away (we went to the last row of the balcony), and then of course, there’s Photoshop to hide some of that stuff (but it won’t be easy).

There’s a lesson here: Many photographers already know this, but the main reason you want “fixers” in a foreign country is so you can continuously place blame upon them, and don’t worry — I heaped it on Peter and Dave and they took it like the brave young men they are (though neither are young or brave, which made it even more fun).

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Above: Me shooting Random Stuff at Somerset House (photo by Dave Williams). 

(5) We learned that in 97.2% of all cases, Uber X drivers in London will pick you up in a Toyota Prius. You can bank on it. Nothing wrong with a Prius, just kind of funny after a while. They should just name it Prius X over here. Also, you can ask to go to well known places and most of the drivers will have no idea where they are. For example, Us: “Can you take us to the House of Parliament?” Driver: “Do you have an address?” Or “Can you take us to Buckingham Palace?” Driver: “Is that a Marriott?”

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(6) Saturday night we got special permission to enter the compound at 10 Downing Street (the British Prime Minister’s Home, and the UK equivalent of The White House). We didn’t go inside and hang out with David Cameron, of course, but we did get to meet his house cat and pose in front of his front door, which is (as you might imagine) a super restricted area and behind some pretty high security, so that was pretty cool.

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(7) I did my first ever Airbnb rental and it turned out really great! An entire apartment, just outside the Buckingham Palace gardens (right around the corner from Victoria Station), and it was literally half the price of a room at the Hilton, and 5x the space, with a full kitchen, beautiful bathroom, great natural light, but a very, very unusual closet situation. Check my Facebook page, and you’ll see a live video tour of my “Swinging London Pad” and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve never seen anything like it (neither had Peter or Dave). It’s clever, but just …wow.

(8) At breakfast yesterday Peter offered me a taste of “black pudding.” It looked kind of funky so I passed. It wasn’t until after I passed that he told me black pudding is pig’s blood wrapped in the lining of the pig’s intestines. It’s lucky for Peter that I didn’t actually taste it, as that would be the defining moment when our friendship officially ended. I told him, you have an amazing selection of food in this country, from every corner of the world. Why would you voluntarily eat pig’s blood wrapped in the lining of a pig’s intestines? He will never be able to give me a satisfactory reason I could possibly accept.
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Above: I can’t swear this is even us, but the guy on the left could be an American. 

(9) We took lots of photos in lots of different places, from architectural shots to cathedral interiors, to rooftop shots; we shot inside museums, we shot in Tube Stops, we went to Somerset House and shot the wrong spiral staircase (the old one, not the cool new one), and Dave flirted with a German waitress at Byron Burger, and went so far as to leave her his phone number on the bill. We’re still waiting for her to call him. I’m starting to get concerned, but ya know…love takes time. ;-)

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(10) Peter and Dave took me to some Awesome guitar stores! This one (shown above) was my favorite though — it’s called “Hanks” and apparently it’s quite famous in the UK, and its 2nd floor was guitar heaven. I didn’t buy any…but I wanted to! Awesome vibe in that store – just something about it (and it’s right next to Tin Pan Alley where,back in the day, musicians  would post job openings with bands. Story has it The Beatles used that job board in the early days).

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Above: random British guys on a train. Not Peter and Dave if that’s what you’re thinking. ;-)

(11) As I write this, we’re on a train from London to Birmingham  and we’re meeting up with two of the best guys in the world (and two of the most talented): Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis. Can’t wait to see them both. Seriously love these guys!

OK, that’s it from here in the Swingin’ UK. I’ll be sharing the photos later in the week – maybe doing an Adobe Slate or Exposure post, and I’ll share that link when I post it.

Looking forward to meeting everybody here today – please come and say “Hi” if you’re here at The Photography Show, and here’s wishing you a less weird than my weekend Monday. :)

Best,

-Scott (and my train mates Peter and Dave)

P.S. We’ve already sold out some of the Pre-Conference workshops at Photoshop World this summer , so if you’re thinking of taking one of these optional in-depth workshops the day before the conference begins, make sure you book ’em now!

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This week we were very fortunate to have Adobe’s own Bryan O’Neil Hughes in our studios (he was taping a KelbyOne class on using Adobe’s Mobile Apps, plus he did a live private Webcast exclusively for our members, and he was also my guest on The Grid on Wednesday). Basically, Bryan didn’t get much sleep  this week.

Anyway, if you missed any of this…
I’ve got the next best thing, which are some short clips where Bryan is giving you a glimpse of the power of some of these amazing apps (and once you see them, you’ll be even more amazed to learn that Adobe makes all of these apps available for FREE!).

Take a look at these three short videos (below) on these mobile apps in the Photoshop family: Photoshop Fix, Photoshop Mix, and Photoshop Sketch. (I’ll share some more app videos next week). A lot of folks were literally blown away at what these apps are able to do, and how they extend the power of editing your images to mobile. Really incredible stuff (and thanks Bryan for an incredible week of learning Adobe’s awesome free mobile apps).

https://youtu.be/OpvCgARhvXY

https://youtu.be/DL27l4QvhIo

https://youtu.be/40t1Ou9rnKM

We’re cooking up lots of cool training on mobile apps, including classes on Lightroom Mobile at this summer’s Photoshop Conference 2016 in Las Vegas (Bryan will be teaching there again this year), so I hope you can make it. If you’re a KelbyOne member, and you sign up before June 10th, you can get a full conference pass for all three days, with nearly 100 sessions to choose from, for just $599. Here’s the link with details.

Hope you all have a great weekend, and we’ll see ya back here on Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m off to London today and I’ll be speaking at “The Photography Show” on Monday and Tuesday. I hope to meet you in person there. Can’t wait! :)

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