Adobe Photoshop CC – Black Friday Sale

Summary – A limited time Adobe Creative Cloud plan offer. Access to Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, plus feature updates and upgrades as they are available, 20 GB of cloud storage, and a Behance ProSite. US $9.99/mo. when you sign up for a one-year plan, but you need to join by December 2, 2013.


This is the special creative cloud package

Adobe created for photographers

Who didn’t need the entire Creative Suite

Until now, it had been limited to

Those who owned a previous copy of Photoshop CS3 or later

That’s changed – Until 12/2/13 anyone can sign up

Even if you don’t own PS

Here is the FAQ from the Adobe site


I’m skipping this offer

Already own LR and PSE

Don’t need the full PS

However, maybe $120 for a one year plan

This is the deal you’ve been waiting for


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The Current State of Selective Image Adjustments

Summary – A recent post listed my post-processing “must-haves”. Making selective (local) adjustments was near the top of the list. Each of my candidate software suites (as well as Lightroom) has what I need – albeit with different implementations. Here’s an overview.


My captured images normally require

Only tone & color contrast adjustments

and – Selectively, not throughout the entire image

Not long ago (real-time, not technology-time)

Selective adjustments weren’t easy to make

Return with me to the arcane world of masking, NOT 😉

but – That’s all changed now


001_DSC6924_nc4_lr-2 sepblog

Not converted to B&W; just the kind of day it was

On my stomach, communing with the residents

For visual design enthusiasts – see the three-part “triangle”?

Eye movement is pretty obvious

11-17-2013 12-01-01 PM

After globally adjusting exposure & contrast

Selectively adjusted the two tombstones

Nikon D70 (6 MP) & poor low light performance (tripod)

Minimal impact on final image if captured & processed properly


A step back in time

Once upon a time, most selective adjustments were

Done in Photoshop via the technique of masking

As shown below

( see this post & this one for details)


I want improved contrast in the sky only

Global adjustments produced the center image

The right-hand image required selective adjustments

11-17-2013 7-47-58 AM


Making only local changes to this image

Required a mask (see green check mark)

Which, in turn, required some work

11-17-2013 7-50-17 AM


Fast forward to today

Modern image processing software

Performs local adjustments

Without the labor intensive mask creation of the past

New software still makes masks (virtually “under the sheets”)

But they & their creation is largely invisible to you

Unless you want to “peek”

The big change is in the tools to create them (simpler)

And the fact that layers (as in PS) are no longer needed


Nik Control Points (U-Point technology)

Several years ago Nik (pre-Google) developed

Control points (read this for all you ever wanted to know)

Extremely effective selective adjustment

All you need to do is point-and-click

11-17-2013 9-21-48 AM


We can change the mask from the green square

To the black symbol

Simply by moving the control point

11-17-2013 9-24-39 AM


Returning to the green square

More of the image’s green elements (e.g., bottom)

Can be included in the mask by

Enlarging the control point’s effective radius

11-17-2013 9-28-19 AM

You may have noticed a “slight mask”

In areas other than pure green

Such as the cyan square

This is because cyan has a green component

That part of the mask can be removed by

Placing a “negative” control point

Over the unwanted color(s)


An alternative to the Control Point approach

Nik’s technology is patented and unique to them (now Google)

The common approach taken by others is

The adjustment brush

Adobe LR, OnOne & Topaz all use variations

11-17-2013 10-33-45 AM


Which approach and whose implementation is best?

Like almost anything – best is a usually a subjective judgement

1. I prefer control points

Because I can do what I want without thinking

Now that I use LR’s ACR for RAW conversion

I often use the LR brush

It’s convenient and I can do what I want – usually

After watching OnOne & Topaz videos

I could live with them – little or no problem

Plus – they both add layers, if needed, sans PS

2. It’s important to note

What image parameters can be adjusted selectively

The answer differs from vendor to vendor

11-17-2013 11-00-46 AM

3. OnOne and Topaz are potentially the most versatile

Their addition of layers offers

Many virtues of the old PS approach

Without the arcane approach for creating a mask

At first glance OnOne, especially version 8 due out this month

Looks like a good choice

Topaz’s complete collection has some good pieces, but

Several components are more like “fluff” for my needs


Definitely would be a pick and choose

Especially when comparing prices with competitors

4. I’ll post more detailed looks at

OnOne & Topaz

In future posts (requests?)


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Image-processing Workflow Considerations

Summary – A properly exposed Raw capture usually needs little post-processing beyond the conversion from Raw to tiff or jpeg. This is not to suggest that the Raw capture may not need some processing – just that Nik, OnOne, Topaz, Etc. packages are usually not needed. If used, they tend to tempt the user into going too far.

11-11-2013 1-35-38 PM.


A good Raw conversion program

Can normally provide all of the image processing needed

Assuming the in-camera capture was done properly

Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is an example

The full version in LR or PS (PSE’s isn’t as effective)

 Swiss-army type plug-in suites may be helpful

But are needed only a small fraction of the time

and – They often make things worse

If we don’t know when to stop


Here’s an example –

1. Capture

The scene’s dynamic range wasn’t over the top, but

Shooting toward the brightest part of the sky required care

Too much exposure and we get a blown out sky

Too little and the shadow details are lost

I opted to expose for the highlights (once lost, lost forever)

The sky was important

In doing this, the shadow areas weren’t totally blocked

(not against the left side of the histogram)

and – I knew they were recoverable and further

Noise in the shadow areas would be unnoticeable

Due to the nature of the dark objects (rough stone)

Here is what I saw at capture when examining the camera’s

Histogram & “blinky display”

Perfect for my needs

11-11-2013 12-45-07 PM

If your first inclination with this scene is

Make a HDR image

Wrong; it’s not necessary

Especially if, like me, a realistic image is your goal

HDR often makes your goal more difficult to achieve

2. Raw Conversion

In just 2-3 minutes, the following is what came out of LR’s ACR

Click for full size view

11-11-2013 12-06-40 PM

The only ACR feature used – beyond BASIC – was

The selective adjustment brush

Restored some sky detail after basics were done

Enhanced near tombstone’s detail after basics

Left unused are these other LR adjustments (not needed)

11-11-2013 1-21-53 PM


The take-away –

A well captured image has little or no need of

Swiss-army software suite post-processing

Add this to the take-away of my previous post which said that

Craftsmanship is only a small par of an extra-ordinary image

Composition, creativity & communication

are more important

Swiss-army tools and their post-processing are

Just a small part of craftsmanship

If your in-camera craftsmanship is up to par


The role of Swiss-army suite post processing

Begins to come into perspective

Other things are far more important to

Making your extra-ordinary wall-hanger or competition winner

Anybody & everybody can nail craftsmanship (or should)

You need to go the extra step (or three)

Which have nothing to do with software


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Blog Topics – What are Your Favorites?

Summary – Just did a quick stat survey to see what topics on this blog are most read. No real surprises.


I don’t care much how many “likes” a post gets

To me, it’s not a good measure of subject interest

Especially when some folks “like”

Multiple posts – all within a 2-3 minute interval

Lots of serious reading that 😦

I want to know how many times a post is read – liked or not

Simply because that’s a clue to

Topics I might devote more space to


Just fooling around with grungy texture overlays

Roll Mouse

001_DSC8366_lrblog 001Untitledblog

Autumn, Jackson Hole, Wyoming


Keep in mind that my first topic priority is (as I’ve said often)

Documenting things of interest/importance to me

This blog is a journal of “notes to myself” first & foremost

Readership & likes take a back seat to the journal 😉


And, so what, dear readers, have you been reading?

Since the beginning of time (three years ago in this case)

1. # of posts – over 1265

2. # of views – nearly 420,000

3. # of subscribers – about 350 (nearly 600 incl. social media sites)

Each year, readership has risen nicely over the previous year

In terms of topics

Nik software post “reads” dominate –

Slightly over 33% of the total all time views

Even though they’re less than 1% of the total posts

Probably due to my tutorials being

A valuable reference (as good or better than Nik’s)


Of the total posts since the beginning of time

I looked at the ones with 400 or more reads –

  • There were 131 (of over 1250 total)
  • They comprise almost 57% of the total reads
  • 78 of these 131 are Nik topic related
    • Comprising 1/3 of the blog’s total all time reads
  • The highest single number of visits was to the blog’s home page
    • About 1 in 10 visits start there (41,000)
    • (or at the table of contents – another 8,000)
  • In summary (roughly) –
    • 1% of the total posts published
      • Account for almost 60% of the total views
      • Sounds like a variation of the Pareto Principle
        • 80% of the effects is due to 20% of the causes
    • The remaining posts, on average, are viewed 180 times

What does this tell me?

Don’t expect much from any single post

In terms of long-term (or short) interest

The readership for a typical post is less than 200 and

Those posts are here today & gone tomorrow 😉


Miscellaneous –

The posts total in the vicinity of 1,000,000 words

That’s 10 paper back novels

Nearly 1700 comments – all answered

Actually closer to 5,000 before the spam filter does its job

Busiest time of the day (most visits) – 0700 Eastern Time (US)


A footnote –

I wrote this post several days ago.

Yesterday a blogger I respect & follow posted a similar theme

Blogging readership & content

But with more of a business/$$ slant

And much more thoughtful

Just a coincidence, but

One I see quite often

There’s only so much to write about

Before the same ground get covered again – and again


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What is “Pure” Photography?

Summary – “Pure” photography – was the theme of the recent major Nikon ad campaign. What does pure photography mean? Many things to many people. To some it’s the equipment & processes used – view cameras & wet darkrooms for example. To others, it’s film, not digital. For me, it’s the look of the final image regardless of time frame, equipment, or type of “development”. It’s a realistic image – one that looks like what I might see with my “eyeballs” in real life.


Why this post?

This is the opening of my search for

A Nik Collection “just-in-case” fall-back

It’s a description of what’s important to me

When it comes to post-processing images

It starts with describing what I expect my images to look like

I want traditional photos (per my own definition)

Not vintage, not Instagram, not faux-paintings, not….

This description of “my pure photo” leads to

Defining my post-processing software requirements

Non-traditional images are fine – I often make them for fun

But, for me, “fun-fauxto” software  is secondary

Not an essential element of my Nik-replacement suite

 (obviously YMMV)


What I want in a photo

First and foremost – a good (perfect?) straight photo

If you’ve tried or watched competitive photography, you know

The rules for “straight” photography aren’t clear-cut

(An aside) A suggestion for clubs –

Instead endless words about

What you can & can’t do in the digital darkroom

Make your rules simply state

Images must appear realistic

(regardless of the processing)

If it looks like something you might actually see

Then it’s a “straight” photo – PERIOD

The definition should rely totally on the end – not the means

Besides – if the photo appears realistic

How could you prove otherwise re. post-processing

(short of examining the “negative” – raw file)

Back to the regular show –

My priority when making images is to

Make the best “realistic” image that I can

I am, always have been, always will be

Competitive & perfection driven

Now – the competition is with myself

It starts in the camera (get it right in the camera) and

Then the software

Finishes the job when & where needed


What does this say about my post-processing priorities?

  1. Efficient workflow – at age 76 time is precious 😉
  2. Quick & simple local adjustments (in addition to global)
  3. Tone & color contrast adjustments are paramount
  4. B&W conversion is required
  5. Noise reduction is a plus, but I have other options

But what about? –

  1. Raw conversion
  2. Image file organization & management
  3. HDR
  4. Sharpening
  5. Printing

I have those covered by other programs (keyed to above) –

  1. Lightroom & Nikon Capture NX2
  2. IMatch & Downloader Pro
  3. Photomatix
  4. Qimage – the best print program on the planet 😉
  5. Qimage


To be continued….


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Nik Collection, OnOne Suite, Topaz Collection — (part 1, whither go-est Nik?)

Summary – I’m in the process of comparing image processing tools out of concern for where Google is going with the Nik Collection. I’ve decided to compare Nik, OnOne, and Topaz. There are others , but IMO these three are comparable in terms of tools offered and all seem to cover my basic requirements.


Converted this image to B&W

001_DSC1041_071231_646_orig_lr nikblog

Used two of the three candidates under consideration

Shown are the starting (default) and a custom result for each

Neither is better – just different

Spend enough time & both customs could be made identical

My point? Either is perfectly fine

Click for full screen

11-9-2013 11-51-37 AM



Since Google bought Nik over a year ago

They’ve done nothing to improve the Collection except

Lower the price and institute an auto-update

The latter was anything but an improvement

Last week, after a year, they added Analog Efex Pro

Which is of little value to my needs (YMMV)

It is an editing toy, not a tool

Worse – that release caused serious problems for users

Which – over a week later – are still not all resolved

All of this – coupled with the extensive additions to

The Google+ on-line & cloud photography functions

Suggests that Google’s priorities & mine differ greatly

Not suggesting mine are right for Google

Just sayin’ – I’m nervous about my future

As a beta tester for many years for the Nik Collection

The difference between Nik’s interaction with testers then

and Google’s now is day-and-night

Google being in the keep-them-in the-dark camp 😦

SO –  Adding this together leads me to conclude that

It’s time to look for a possible fall-back to the Nik Collection

Occasional posts over the next several weeks

Will document what I’ve found


The real problem

What’s the problem with the Nik Collection

Nothing major; I can certainly live with it – for now

So – why the fuss?

It’s my perception of Google’s attitude

Photography for social media takes priority

Lots of signs & evidence for thinking this

This attitude along with Google’s actions (& in-actions)

Suggest that Google improvements to

The “serious pure photography” part of their software

Is unlikely – or don’t hold your breathe

All in all the Nik Collection is a small side line for Nik

The whole desktop Collection could disappear and

Not affect their bottom line

Their business & bottom line is almost entirely

On-line & in the cloud

Not on the  computer sitting on your desktop

Haven’t you heard?

Tablets & phones are tomorrow’s PC’s

So why expend resources improving desktop computing?

Not so with their competitors whose survival

Depends on their image processing programs

They continue to evolve & improve and

Are now on an almost equal footing with Nik

In a key area, they are ahead of Nik

Image processing workflow

I’ll discuss this fully in a later post

It’s the deal-maker-breaker for me



Next post – what’s important to me in image post-processing??

Choosing image processing software starts with the answer to this question

My “givens” –

Lightroom (actually ACR) is

Good enough for 99.9% of my RAW conversion needs

PSE, in combination with LR,

Suffices as a host for plug-ins

I have printing and image file management already covered, as well

Question – what processing beyond the above is needed, if any

NOTE – What fits my needs may not fit yours

But my analysis may apply – just with different answers


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