Monthly Archives August 2007


Hi everybody! Here’s the Thursday stuff:

  • It’s been a big week for both Canon and Nikon who intro’d lots of very, very cool stuff. On Monday Canon kicked things off by introducing the long rumored 10 Megapixel 40D, and the new 21 Megapixel EOS-1DS Mark III, along with some very sweet lenses.Then today, Nikon announced their new 12 Megapixel D300, and supercharged D3, along with some (you guessed it), very sweet lenses (Fast VR supertele’s and zooms). Right now I’m shooting both Nikon and Canon gear so this has been a really great week for me!!! I’m totally psyched!!!Check out Rob Galbraith’s site or DPreview for all the details on one of the most exciting weeks in DSLR history!
  • Hey, this is cool; my Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers was on CNN. OK, it wasn’t quite as cool as it’s sounds—Mike Mackenzie (one of our in-house editors) was watching a CNN video segment called “Snap Decision,” about Rosanne Penella, who chucked her career as an attorney to follow her dream of being a travel photographer, and in the segment, shot in her studio, she is looking through my book. Now, the only people in the world that would probably notice are Mike and myself, but it still caused us to do an internal “high five.” Here’s the link to the CNN video clip.
  • If you got a sec; Wacom has a very cool video clip/music montage (shown above) on their site about their amazing Cintiq 21UX interactive pen/display for photographers and graphic designers. Take a minute and check it out right here.
  • Here’s a mini-editorial: ya know Apple has taken some bold moves in the past to move the computer industry forward, like being the first company to do away with Floppy Disc drives, and being the first to use a trackpad on laptops, and about a dozen other things? Well now, with record number of PC users switching to Macs, and Apple’s share of the laptop market at a whopping 17%, I’d love to see Apple make a bold move to help these PC users make the switch less painful, and make all of our lives better in the long run (even if it’s a little painful in the short term, just like it was when the floppy went away, which many decried at the time was a huge mistake).Anyway, I’d like to see Apple do away with the Command-key (the Apple key) and finally, once and for all remove the word “Option” from the Alt key (it says “Alt” in small letters right on the Option key already). Then, standardize the shortcuts so whether you’re using an Intel Mac or an Intel PC, the keys work the same–the Ctrl key on a Mac works like the Ctrl-key on a PC, so there would be no “Command-this, and Command-that). I await a flood of angry comments for this suggestion. :)

Well, that’s it for today. Have a great Thursday and remember; just because you’re paranoid, it’s doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you! ;-)

It’s Wednesday everybody, and you know what that means? That’s right, it’s not Tuesday anymore. Here’s the latest:

  • Very interesting article over at the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on how everyone is getting their photos retouched these days—not just the big celebrities. The article is titled, “My brush with absolute perfection” and a great example accompanies the article. Click here to read it online.
  • Our buddy Jason Moore, over at Soup Questions, has an online interview with one of our favorite guys: Photoshop Project Manager John Nack. It’s a quick read, and gives some great insight into one of the most fascinating and brilliant individuals in our industry. Take a moment to read it right here.
  • Photographer and author Derrick Story just posted another episode of his popular Podcast “The Digital Story,” and the focus of this one is helping you build your own workflow with tools you already have (i.e. Lightroom/CS3 Bridge), and how to use them to get organized. Also, he’s he’s included a link in the Show Notes where you can download a free 28-page PDF titled “I’ve Taken Great Pictures… Now What?”. Thanks to Derrick for sharing this with me (and now you). Here’s the link.
  • Want to see some really professionally done commercial compositing? Then check out this deconstruction of a print ad campaign created by “Blue Object Design” for a Denver-based nightclub. They staged a simple photo shoot, then composited images from the shoot in Photoshop, using stock photos from and some clever retouching techniques, to create the final look, which they show step-by-step. I really found this fascinating. Check it out right here.
  • Just a reminder; next Thursday (the 30th) I’ll be in Chicago with my Lightroom Live! Tour, and if you haven’t signed up yet—I hope you’ll join me. Should be a blast! Here’s the link with more info and how to register (It’s only $99 for the day; only $79 for NAPP members). See you there! (P.S. The registration is now online for my Honolulu, Hawaii stop on December 3rd).
  • How about some mid-week photographic inspiration: This week, one of NAPP member Rebecca Parker‘s images was chosen as our editor’s “Photo of the week” choice and I really like her illustrative style, which mixes photography with Photoshop effects. Very cool stuff—check out her NAPP member portfolio right here (you don’t have to be a member to view her online portfolio, but it wouldn’t hurt).
  • My buddy Jeff Revell, (who went shooting with me and my other buddy Dave Moser last week out in Arizona and Utah), posted a nice pano he shot during our trip over the Grand Canyon. I think he said it was nine individual shots stitched into one panorama, and the new CS3 stitched the whole thing together just right—first time. Here’s the link to Jeff’s site—just make sure you click on the pano to see it at a larger size. (As a side note: if you do panos, or ever wished you could, the Photomerge feature in CS3 is worth the entire upgrade price alone. It’s just about as close to magic as you can come).

That’s it for today. Have a great one everybody, and we’ll see you tomorrow (unless, of course, it’s “No Blog Thursday,” but I rather doubt it will be).


My buddy Matt Kloskowski just released a kick-butt training DVD on Lightroom, called “Photoshop Lightroom Basic Training” (Matt is the guy behind the incredibly popular “Lightroom Killer Tips” weekly video podcast.). This 2-hour DVD takes you from start to finish, in workflow order, and teaches you how to get up and running in Lightroom fast. Highly recommended for anyone who’s ready to make the jump to Lightroom. Click here for the full scoop, or to order your copy.


As promised, here’s the first installment of my field reports on the gear I took out West last week, and I’m starting with the Canon 5D, which was my primary camera body for the entire trip. (The shot above is from Monument Valley at sunrise–click for a larger view).

As a longtime Nikon shooter, this was my first time out with one of Canon’s higher end digital rigs and Canon L glass, and although it was a bit awkward at first (just figuring out where all the dials and buttons I use most are located on a Canon body), by the second day I was totally comfortable and the transition was easier than I thought.

My field reports are based on my personal impressions (and not loads of lab testing), so I’m going to boil these field tests down to what I liked and didn’t like, so here goes:

What I liked best:

  • The low noise. As a general rule, I don’t shoot at 800 ISO or above unless it is an absolute emergency (and I cringe if I shoot at 400 ISO), but in both of my last shoots with the 5D I’ve shot at 1600 ISO and higher numerous times (even some when I was intending to) and the noise levels are shockingly low. This pretty much blew me away.
  • I fell in love with the scroll wheel on the back of the body. It makes image review so much easier and faster. It’s a little thing, but at this point, they’re all little things (well, except the low noise).
  • The weight: I was really surprised by the light weight of the 5D, and the 70mm-200mm lens. It seemed like half the weight of my regular rig, but not at all cheap or too lightweight.
  • I liked the full frame more than I thought I would, but then again I was shooting landscapes, and that let me really take advantage of the 16mm wide angle lens (which I love).
  • The Canon IS (Image Stabilization) is just outstanding. Better than anything I’ve used on any brand. Period.
  • I like the 9-point AF system quite a bit, and the overall picture quality rocks.

What I didn’t like:

  • The thing that drove me particularly crazy was the fact that you can’t get full-screen Highlight (clipping) warnings. In fact, worse than that, to get them at all, you have to first take the shot, then push a button to switch to the postage-stamp sized view of your shot, and its so small that if something is blinking it’s just about impossible to tell if it’s an area of important detail or not. This drove me nuts. Now, I heard someone say that the new Mark III has full screen clipping warnings, but I haven’t confirmed that (if anyone knows for sure—let me know).
  • The other thing that threw me was the sound and feel of the shutter button. Longtime Canon users look at me like I’m crazy when I mention this, but it just feels kind of “Digital.” It doesn’t feel “real” and even though there’s no shutter lag, it feels like it doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting at 1/60 of a second or 1/8000, the shutter sounds the same. This could just be me, because after a day or so it didn’t bother me as much, but it definitely takes some getting used to.

Other than those two things; I have to say I’m very impressed with the 5D and I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about. I haven’t had a chance to do any serious portrait or studio work, and I’ll be interested to see how it performs there, especially how it captures skintone. I’ll continue my landscape field testing going into Photoshop World next month, where I’ll be shooting out in the desert once again (it’s a great way to lose weight).

More field tests this week, including the new Sigma 300mm zoom, the Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead, the Gizto traveler tripod, and more.

Now, scoll down to the next post for a fresh cup of Monday news (that’s called spin, by the way).

It’s a new week—the dawn of new day–bright with opportunity and excitement. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and….ah, who am I trying to kid? Here’s the stinkin’ Monday news:

  • Back in June, Dave Moser and I were out at Adobe’s Headquarters in San Jose, CA for some meetings, and walking back to HQ after dinner we noticed these large symbols being projected on top of Adobe’s North Tower building, and every so often one of the four symbols would change (We joked that it was code to let the alien craft know where to land). Anyway, we figured it was “art” (a “California thing”), and kept walking, but then this weekend I ran across a story about some very clever, and curious guys (with way too much time on their hands), who cracked the code and revealed what the symbols mean. It’s a very interesting story. (Hint: the message says really mean things about QuarkXPress. Kidding!) Here’s the link to read the full story (worth a quick read).
  • Series Four of the machine Wash plug-ins for Photoshop have been released. These plug-ins make your art or type look like they’ve been thru the rinse cycle, with a totally cool aged and weathered look. You can see demos right there online (click here to check them out).
  • Freakish coinsidence or carefully calculated plan? On the same day that I did my first ever report on Canon gear, Canon released a batch of new gear, including the rumored 40D, and their first 20+ Megapixel camera (plus some cool lenses as well). Check for all the juicy details. (by the way; it was a freakish coinsidence).
  • If you’re out on the West Coast, check this out: We’re opening the Photoshop World Expo Floor to the public for one day only (Friday, September 7th). If you’re interested in seeing all the latest gear from the biggest names in the industry, plus you want to soak up loads of free Photoshop training in three different Expo Floor theaters, not to mention the training in individual booths, then sign up for your free pass now. If you sign up in advance, it’s free. If you show up at the door, it’s $25 per person. To get your free one-day Expo-Only pass, visit the Photoshop World site.
  • We’ve added links to the past archives of “Photoshop Insider,” and they’re found on the right side of this page—just scroll down and you’ll see them listed by month. Anything prior to what’s listed is on my old blog hosted over at (here’s the link to the old site).
  • The first ever “Voices That Matter Web Conference” is coming to San Francisco’s Grand Hyatt on October 22-25, 2007 and is aimed at people who design and create for the Web. It features an all-star lineup of leading Web design authors and gurus (including Cory Barker, the “Photoshop Lad”), and you can get all the details by clicking here.

That’s it for Monday. Have a great week everybody! :-)


Here’s a shot [click on it for a larger view] taken shortly after dawn at Utah’s Monument Valley (which is just an amazing place—almost surreal). I’m using this shot as a perfect example of me not following my own rules, and paying for it later. Here’s what happened:

The night before this was shot, Jeff (scroll down two posts), Dave and I went to this cool little steakhouse about 40 miles from Monument Valley, where they cook the steaks outdoors on a “Swinging Grill” (it literally swings back and forth over a huge open flame to grill your steaks). It was a quirky place, with a live country band playing outdoors, and everybody there had a camera, so we were all taking shots of the band, the grill, and the scene. It was a low light situation, so I had to show off to my Nikon-shooting buddies by changing the ISO on my Canon 5D to ISO 1600 and hand-holding for a half-an-hour of shooting while waiting for our table.

The next morning, at 4:00 am as we’re driving toward Monument Valley, I told the guys, “Hey, don’t forget to change back your camera settings from last night’s low light shooting.” Then I told them about an Acronym I use to help remind me to check my most critical settings. It’s WHIMS, which stands for:

  • W: White Balance
  • H: Hightlight clipping warning
  • I: ISO
  • M: Mode (JPEG or RAW)
  • S: Shooting (Resetting to the right shooting mode for the subject: Aperture Priorty, Shutter Priority, Manual, etc.)

If I remember to check those five things, I’m set, and I reminded them twice during our drive there. Then, when I got to spot where we’d be shooting, it was so beautiful, and I was so excited, I just jumped out and starting shooting. At ISO 1600, at f/4 (the camera settings I used the night before). It wasn’t until about an hour later, after sunrise, that I actually checked my settings and learned that I had been shooting all morning at ISO 1600. My heart sank.

To Canon’s creditâ”the noise is amazingly low (in fact, I was shocked at how little noise there is), but obviously I would have preferred that it was at ISO 100 (which is the ISO I try to shoot in as much as possible, and since I was shooting on a tripod, ISO 100 would have been ideal).

So, although this is an embarrassing story for me personally, I hope you’ll use it (and my Acronym if it helps), to keep you from making the same mistake I did.

To wrap up: the shot was taken with a Canon 5D, using a 70mm – 200mm lens with Image Stabilization) in Aperture Priority (at least I got that part right), and because of the ISO of 1600, it was shot at 1/8000 of a second. The processing was minimal: In Lightroom I simply increased the Shadow amount (dragging the Shadow slider to the right), and increased the Clarity amount. Then I went over to Photoshop and darked the clouds at the top of the photo a little bit, and ran a Unsharp Mask filter, then saved as a JPEG for the Web.

I had hoped to post some field reports today on some of the equipment I used, but I won’t get one up until Monday. Now, if you kindly scroll to the next comment, for a Friday News Wrap up.