Hello dear friends. There has been no secret here on the bloggings, surrounding my desire to find the perfect 85mm lens. It has become my own photo gear holy grail, and a fun journey it has been. I’ve owned, sold, used, borrowed or rented at least a dozen different 85mm (or equivalent) lenses for a few different systems over my years. It’s probably the single most fascinating focal length, for me. The most popular classification for a lens of this focal length, is going to be portraiture. It balances minimal distortion, with flattering spacial compression when working at traditional distances for portraits, and is a go to for many portrait photographers. I do like a good portrait session, but a mid range tele lens like a nice, fast 85mm can offer much more than merely head and shoulder shots. I want to look at this lens on its own at first. How sharp is it? Bokeh? What kind of value does is present at its price point for a photographer like me, or you? Later, I’ll be comparing this lens to a couple other fast portrait lenses that I have here on the blog, but for now let’s see how this beautiful new Sigma Art lens stands on its own…
The gears of time continue to grind, and we’re at that most opportunistic time of year for photographers. Personally, you couldn’t pay me to wake up the morning after our Thanksgiving holiday to wait in line for a $0.99 DVD player at Walmart. It’s a silly tradition built on a consumer culture’s need to find a deal at any cost. Luckily for us, the marketing world has found opportunity in offering online deals for almost anything available, and for those of us that can hold off until this time of year, many killer deals can be found.
As is often the case, Topaz has brought their half off deal to the black Friday party yet again, and it is an amazing deal. You get all 17 Topaz plugins for $250, which is 50% off the already halved price of the Complete Collection, so in reality, it’s more like a 75% off sale if you were to individually buy these programs one or two at a time. For those who already own one or many Topaz plugins, don’t fret! They offer a “Collection Upgrade” where if you sign in on the website, it will automatically deduct the pricing for the plugins you’ve bought and registered, and offer you the remaining plugins at an even further decreased price. This only works if upgrading to the Complete Collection though, as singular plugins will stay at full price. The sale runs from Friday November 25th, through Wednesday November 30th. You can always download full free trials of any or all Topaz plugins, but I’d try them soon if you want to go this route as it will be another year at least before getting a crack at all 17 of the plugins for the price of a few of them. Click the link below to go directly to the Topaz sale site.
I’ve written about and reviewed many of the Topaz plugins over the years here on the blog. I thoroughly enjoy, and constantly use a solid handful of them. Here are links to my reviews for a few of my favorites:
I could go on, but rather than add to a list of links, just let me know if you have any particular questions on any of the plugins and I’d be happy to give you my personal opinion or any insight that I can.
Happy holiday season and thanks for stopping by.
I hope you and yours are well, and happy shooting.
Need a little artistic inspiration? Try running one of your images through Topaz Impression, a beautiful paint and mixed media plugin and/or Glow, Topaz’ deliciously surreal fractal effect plugin. These two offerings are both on sale for 25% off right now by using the code TOPAZART at checkout over at Topaz Labs HERE. As always, Topaz offers full free trials for those interested, and I’d highly suggest checking them out if these effects suit your style. You can download those free trials directly from Topaz HERE. If you like them, jump on this sale before it disappears.
Come on in to see some more examples and thoughts on how and why I use these two awesome pieces of software in my own work.
Happy new year! I’ve been having a wonderful holiday season, largely thanks to Adorama for lending me this beaut of a lens. The Sigma Art 20mm f/1.4 is the widest, f/1.4 full frame lens, and is the newest addition to the much vaunted line of f/1.4 Sigma Art Primes available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony FE, Leica L and Sigma mounts. In this article, we’ll explore a bit of the more measurable aspects as well as the more touchy, feely parts of interacting with this lens. I shot this lens on both the Canon EOS 5D mkII and the Sony a7II via the EF>FE Metabones MkIV smart adapter, and it performed equally as solid on both cameras. Is this a viable option for full frame system shooters for fast, ultra wide applications? Well, seeing as there has never been a full frame compatible lens this wide, this fast, it’s forging new ground for many shooters, and that is pretty rare in this day and age. C’mon in to see some example images and read my rambling thoughts…
Hot on the heels of the Complete Collection Cyber Sale, Topaz Labs is offering anything and everything for 35% off. If you’ve been waiting to try, grab or buy a Topaz plugin or two, now is an awesome time to do so. You can find the sale on the Topaz Labs website HERE, and use code “TOPAZ2015” to get 35% off of anything that Topaz offers through the end of the year.
If you’d like to see more about my personal favorites, click the following links to my reviews. I use many of the Topaz plugins, very often for personal stuff, along with most all my paid projects.
Topaz Adjust (reg $49.99, now $32.49) – the flagship Topaz plugin, and a great companion to high dynamic range photography.
Topaz Clarity (reg $49.99, now $32.49) – My go to for beautiful image definition through contrast without haloing. Simply awesome.
Topaz DeNoise (reg $79.99, now $51.99) – In my experience, this has been the best noise reduction plugin, hands down.
Topaz Glow (reg $69.99, now $45.49) – If ever you’ve searched for Fractalius, this is like that, only way better. Fractalized and beautifully surreal effects.
Topaz Impression (reg $99.99, now $64.99) – Adding a touch of hand painted flair, or going full blown Picasso, Impression is an awesome multi media simulation software.
Topaz ReMask (reg $69.99, now $45.49) – I might use ReMask more than any other plugin (topaz or otherwise). If you use a layer based editor like Photoshop, and you’ve ever needed to select something (like oh, I don’t know, HAIR!), save yourself an amazing amount of time and try this out.
You can try any and all of the Topaz plugins for free. I really suggest that you do. Don’t take my word for it. Download the free trials via Topaz HERE, and give them a go. If you do want to buy them, and you do so before December 31st, 2015, you can get 35% off using code “TOPAZ2015”!
Share your results with us via our Flickr Group HERE, or find me on the socials; Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram. If you’d like to receive my reviews, tutorials and sale posts as I release them, feel free to add your email to the top right of the page here and you’ll get them emailed as soon as they’re posted. I’m currently working on a couple fun lens reviews along with a full frame vs micro 4/3 sensor comparison which should be showing up soon after the new year.
If you’ve got any questions, fire them off. Thanks for the read and I hope that all is well, wherever you are.
Happy holidays, and happy shooting,
As seen above, Alien Skin has released Snap Art 4, featuring an example image from yours truly! I am a big fan of the Alien Skin plugins and with this new release, they’ve continued to refine one of their most unique offerings.
Painting has never been so easy. With their most recent release, Alien Skin has yet again upped the ante on creative digital photography plugins. Snap Art 4 provides many jumping off points and the final result can vary between a single click, or as much time as you’d like to throw at a painted rendition of your digital image. The use of improved masks and even more creative controls, Snap Art 4 builds on what was already a powerful and fun tool. C’mon in to see more examples and info…
Shooting art can be a tricky task. Replicating the colors, texture and vibrance all while lighting it properly and controlling detail ruining reflection is challenging. Every canvas provides it’s own nuances and unique elements needing to be worked around, especially a canvas that is 3 dimensional and isn’t entirely static. All of these tattoos are original works by my friend Josiah Laughlin. He tattoos here in Portland, Oregon at Imperial Tattoo, and this is an ongoing series we’re collaborating on to document his portfolio. C’mon in to see more of his work and read through diagrams on how I shot them.
Where does a photograph stop being a photograph and start becoming something different? We’ll call it an ‘artistic interpretation’ for lack of a better description. Or, are they one in the same no matter what level of manipulation has been applied? I’ve been taking pictures for a while, more of my life than not if you don’t count the hiatus I took after college when I was bogged down with three jobs. I still have some shots from that time period, but they are few and far between. So, I feel like photography has been a part of my life for a while. I’ve not spent too much time thinking about it in these terms until recently. Prior, I’ve just enjoyed taking pictures but thanks to the internet and my epiphany that there are other people out there with opinions getting me to challenge my personal understanding, I feel like it is an entertaining idea to explore. Is anything done to a photograph, after an image has been captured, by way of any kind of manipulation actually doing something that betrays the purity of photography, or is it just part of the progression? Well… let us explore. Continue reading