Speed-editing a Portrait in Adobe Photoshop by Aaron Nace

There are tons of videos on YouTube of people doing absolutely incredible things with Photoshop. Most of the time these videos are more impressive than they are practical. It’s pretty rare that I need to create a disaster scene from found photos, as amazing as the video is.

Today I stumbled onto a post from FStoppers featuring Aaron Nace speed-editing a portait for an editorial audience. The original image was shot by Aleksandar Jaredic.

Aleksandar Jaredic Before After by Aaron Nace of Phlearn.com

Aleksandar Jaredic Before After by Aaron Nace of Phlearn.com

It reminded me of a photo shoot I did last year. I originally was commissioned to shoot 5-10 executive head shots. When I got to their headquarters the plan changed to an incredible 45 head shots and an event shoot. In my head I was totally overwhelmed but I couldn’t let the client know this. I was working solo and given 8 hours to shoot 45 people and an event. Impossible right? Continue reading

The Evolution of a Photographer in 15 Steps

It always interests me how an individual’s photographic style changes as they get more familiar with their tools and study the work of others. Photography is something that requires a real dedication of time, money and heart. If you really want to shine and standout, there isn’t a whole lot you can do besides shoot more, read and experiment.

Evolution of Photography
A brief showcase of my evolution in photography

The evolution of a photographer can be reduced to around fifteen steps. From the initial purchase to the clichés to the stunning work that can become their art. What follows is a loose order of how things typically go stylistically for someone who dedicates their time, money and heart to their photography.

Continue reading

Profile Pictures

Over the years I’ve had only a few different profile pictures.  Probably cause I don’t like pictures of myself.  I’m trying to get over that and make some self portraits, get me over that whole “I take pictures of other people but never of myself” thing.

Also, it gives me the chance to see what I can do with Photoshop, to learn new techniques and make some cool pictures.  I don’t really care that the picture looks very little like me or the original picture, the idea is to make something totally different than the source.

I think I’m going to use this picture as a canvas to mess with. I’ve already made several other images from this picture.  It’s pretty fun.  Maybe this summer I will have time to make more pictures of people instead of the stuff I’ve been doing for my photography course.  I sure hope so.  I miss taking pictures of people.  Maybe I’ll do a whole before/after series with these portraits.  Anyone want me to take their picture?

I did this with Micheal (@mdanbom) (website) last year, wish he was still here, he has AMAZING eyes.

Alright, off to do something else.  Would love ideas for photos though!

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Topaz Adjust – “Quick” Review

In the past few months I’ve been looking pretty heavily into Photoshop plugins. Until recently, and through the suggestion of Scott Bourne from This Week in Photography, I picked up a few of the Nik Software Photoshop plugins.

I’ve been incredibly happy with Nik Software‘s Dfine 2.0, Viveza, Color Efex Pro 3.0, Silver Efex and hope to pick up a copy of Sharpener Pro when I have the cash.

These titles are pretty darn expensive.  You can pay up to $250 for a single title though recently they released an incredible deal/steal.  The Nik Software Complete Collection for $299!  Buy this.

But for those who can’t afford $99, much less $250 per title or $300 for a suite of plugins, as worthy of the cost as they might be, there’s a company out there making a great product for you.

Topaz, known for their video and photography plugins, has two tools for under $100.  I’m looking at Topaz Adjust.

Topaz Adjust is like Nik Color Efex merged with DFine 2.0 and the Photomatrix HDR tone mapping utility all rolled up into one Photoshop Plugin.

It uses a single image as the source and is able to create some really stunning, dynamic pictures.  You can get simple enhancements or go crazy with some totally unrealistic artistic stuff.  (I don’t much care for that, though I’ve gone there before!)

I won’t go too much into how Topaz works or all the steps it takes to make the following pics.  Just know that I did all the adjustments in under two minutes for each picture.

Here are six pictures I hastily enhanced with Topaz Adjust. Click to enlarge and activate the lightbox slideshow.  Pictures on the left are the original RAW files converted direct to JPEG from Aperture.  On the right, the Topaz Adjust enhanced versions.

As you can see from the pictures above, the results are pretty darn good and can range from believeable to enhanced beyond reality.

Topaz Adjust has several sliders and presets to make things easy, but possibly the best part of the deal is that it includes Topaz DeNoise.  While, it isn’t the entire Topaz DeNoise package, it’s pretty darn good.

In fact, I’d say it works just about as good as Nik DFine 2.0.  Topaz DeNoise, the full version not what’s in Topaz Adjust, probably bests both Nik DFine 2.0 and NoiseNinja!

I suspect they included Topaz DeNoise (abridged) into Adjust just as insurance… Adjust sure brought out a lot of noise in some of my pics, but the noise reduction portion of the plugin gets almost all of that excess noise out.

And now to what really matters.  Cost.  Right now, Topaz Adjust can be had for $39, that’s $60 off retail price.

Or, buy the full version of Topaz DeNoise for $79 and get Topaz Adjust for FREE!

Both can be your’s for 30 days at no cost.  Just download the trial version, install and follow the directions for a free, 30 day serial number.

Bottom line, if you can’t afford the Nik Software Complete Collection, want an alternative to Photomatrix or just wanna play around with your “dull” pics, get Topaz Adjust.  You won’t regret it.

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Cupertino, We Have a Problem

Ok. So first.  My bad.  I dropped my iPhone from the SUV my mom was driving onto concrete… about a four and a half foot drop, the top of the phone slamming into the concrete.  This caused the power button to get jammed down and, well that sucked.  So I got a knife to open up the phone a bit which let the button out, though it still isn’t perfect, and allowed me to use my phone.  It is really delicate now though, squeeze it and it will turn off.  Squeeze it again and it turns back on.  You have to squeeze it really hard… perhaps this would be a good thing to patent? haha

I’m not too bent out of shape since I was thinking I would be getting the new 3G iPhone once it comes out and it wasn’t until a day later until I noticed something else was broken…

It appears something awful happened to the camera too.  Guess something is a bit loose.  If I squish the front to the back, it will fix the camera and take a regular picture.  However, if I squish from the left to right, it will turn off.  Seriously, I gotta patent this shit!

So it’s official.  My iPhone is halfway dead.  The solution is a series of squishes and non-squishes.  How awesome is that?

My poor cousin over there looks quite scary.  I’m thinking that I might have also tapped into some sort of super secret easter egg of the iPhone… thermal photo imaging.  

I am pretty sure I’m ready to take on The Predator!  Thoughts?

Next up is this one.  

I was working on a couple of pics in Photoshop and Aperture, all raw and actually it was about 15 pictures.  The total was about 2gigs of data being manipulated (working on the pictures I posted earlier. Here’s what happened that time around.

I am pretty sure that this is not supposed to happen.  Nothing I could do would fix it and it just kept moving around, flashing and changing colors.  My iTunes kept playing no problem.  It was weird and disturbing and I plan on sending a message over to Apple about this.  What do you think?  Am I Apple cursed or what?!

Sunsets of Horseshoe Bay

I took a break from the season finale of House (do not tell me how it ended!) to get a shot of the sunset.  It really wasn’t anything too spectacular but I figured it would give me a chance to try out HDR again.

I have never done too good of a job at HDR but here’s what I got this time.  Click it to zoom in a bit.

Sunset on Golf Course

The second picture I took was really about ten which I stitched together in Photoshop to make a panorama.  The file is 499 megabytes and some how converts to a jpeg to 2mb…  So that’s interesting.  How something goes from 6000×2300 and 8 bits into just 2mb, I have no idea.  Again, click to enlarge.

So while I was taking these pics some random guy in one of the houses started yelling at me to get off of the course.  It kinda really bugged me.  I had every right to be on the course.  My grandparents are members of the country club and own a house on the golf course.  They pay for the right for us to use the course.  Furthermore, it was after 5:30pm so actually anyone could go on the course.  Gah.  What a meanie.

I just ignored him, took more pics and continued my conversation with Ryan.

Bored! (but happy!)

So, I first want to shout out to a few friends. DJ, SHOUTOUT. Ryan, SHOUTOUT. Gus, SHOUTOUT.

Ok, I’m done.

I was supposed to hang out with Trina tonight but I get no signal here at my parents new house and thus, missed her call. Well damn!

Mom and Dad are both out of town on business trips so I’m taking care of the pets and watching over the house. It feels great to just kinda hang around and be lazy, even though I wasn’t so lazy today. I had my lasik appointment which went fabulously well followed by lunch with Melissa and Jeanne and then off to Ikea. I found so many fabulous things at Ikea but didn’t buy any, not just yet.

Lomo Pinnacles

I spent my evening watching TV and chatting online, it was a fun time for sure. Plus I played with Gracie and Charlie. Wooo! I feel like I’m back in high school haha.

I lomo’d that pic above from a pretty boring shot, I think it looks pretty fun.