Thursday, November 8, 2012

I've Moved To:

Hey Gang,

I've move to a new site:

This site will be my new home on the web for . . . everything: blog, galleries, workshops, seminars and so on.

Thank you all for following along here. I think you'll like the look and feel of the new site even more.

See you on my new and improved site!

Explore the light,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sammon, Sexton and Wier - teaching together in Monterey, California

Light Illuminates, Shadows Define. Photograph by Rick Sammon
Check this out my friends. This is going to be a totally cool  - and educational and fun-filled - event with me and photographers extraordinary John Sexton and Nevada Wier.

Travel photography workshop: 
• Creative Digital Travel Photography on the Monterey Peninsula
• July 15 to July 28, 2013 
• C.S.U. Summer Arts program (3 units of undergraduate or graduate credit available).  

My events:
• Public lecture on evening of July 18th
• Workshops from July 18 to July 20.

At this workshop you will learn creative composition and digital photography techniques along with insights into travel photography careers. You will develop advanced Photoshop skills for fine-art inkjet printing with Michael Jones from West Coast Imagining and create and print two large fine-art images for the public culmination exhibit. 

While gaining a deep appreciation for the history of photography in the Monterey peninsula and exploring photography in the field throughout the area, you'll learn marketable skills in travel, landscape and fine art photography. 

See: for more information 
contact Prof. Mark Larson at 707-826-5925 or email him at

I hope to see you in beautiful Monterey! It is quite a honor be at this event.

Explore the the light,

Look Ma! No Cables!

I give many speedlite demos around the country. In the past, when I shot tethered, I sometimes tripped over the USB cable that connected my camera to my computer. Sure, the transfer was super fast, even with full res JPEGS, but the cable did get in the way.

An easier and safer (as in no tripping over a cable) is to use a wireless transfer accessory. Canon makes a great one, the Canon WFT-E7A, but it's about $800 after you add tax and shipping.

The most affordable way I've found to transfer my files wirelessly from my Canon 5D Mark III to my MacBook pro is the Eye-Fi card. Software comes on the card that easily lets you set up your computer for the transfer. The cards sell for under $100.

The wireless transfer is not as fast as a cable, so I would suggest not shooting at the highest JPEG setting. Set a low setting for faster transfer.

Above is a shot from my Des Moines speedlite session. To keep my USB cable securely attached to my camera. I used the Tether Tools Essential Pack.

Above is a shot from that Des Moines session.

I teach speedlite shooting at many of my workshops. I hope you can join the speedlite fun someday.

Here is a link to my favorite speedlite shooting session.

Explore the light,

P.S. This just in from Ziv Gillat, Eye-Fi Co-founder. He had more time to write than I did. It' now a blizzard here in NY. What a follow up to Sandy!


Totally awesome.

BTW, I see that you're using a MacBook Pro. You can just use the built-in reader. The reason that we give you that orange reader, is in case you don't have a solid built-in reader. But your Mac's reader is solid, so you can just use that :-)

Yes, I shoot RAW + JPG, and the RAW goes to my CF card, and the small JPG to my iPad or Android tablet, during a shoot. If I shoot small + compressed JPG's, they're 300KB on my D300s, and takes a split second to come in. Basically, divide the size of the file, by 1.5, and that's how long it'll take, under best conditions to transfer. Our 16GB Pro X2 card can sustain write speeds of 22MBps, and transfer speeds of 13mbps. That's 13 / 8 (bits into bytes) so roughly 1.5MBps. If your JPG is saw 9MB, it'll take 4 seconds. If it's less then a MB -- it'll be super fast.

I think that if you compare our speeds to the $800 grips, you'll see that even though we cost 1/8 -- we're actually faster, and work better in noisier Wi-FI environments :-)

Also, in a studio, you can do ad-hoc, with the Pro X2 card.

When shooting on the weekend, and non-professional, I shoot JPG's that are Large and Fine, they go to my iPhone, via Direct mode, and from the iPhone, over 4G, to the cloud, and to my Mac back home :-)

ciao --

Eye-Fi co-founder

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Be Scared About Boosting Your ISO with the Canon 5D Mark III

I took this shot at ISO 5000 with my Canon 5D Mark III. The camera's great in low light at high ISO settings.

Hey, have some fun! Write a caption for this photo, which I took on Saturday at the Day of the Dead parade in Tucson, AZ.

I used the Vignette filter in Nik Color Efex Pro. Seems to work well with this image.

Info on all my plug-ins on my Plug-ins page.

Explore the light,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

12 Things You Might Not Know About Topaz

Topaz is one of my favorite plug-ins. All my plug-ins are listed on my Save on Creative Plug-in pages.

Here are 12 things you might not know about Topaz. Check 'em out, and save a few bucks, before reading on.

1. Using a smaller brush size during tri-map creation to create a more precise blue outline will make cleanup easier and faster. Limit the amount of blue (compute) selections. You don’t have to be overly precise, however an abundance of blue may result in longer processing times, a less refined initial mask and more refining at the end.

2.  Always sample at least a little bit within enclosed areas. Interior areas like the background in between curly hair or the middle circle of a donut are considered enclosed areas. Sampling these areas is important. While you don’t have to select every enclosed area or completely paint it in, it is still a good idea to mark with a dot or small brush stroke. (

3. Many people don't like the harshness (artifacts, grunge, grit) that Adjust can have on images...there are tools included in Adjust to help with this. The Detail tab features an option called Process Details Independent of Exposure. ( Also, making use of the Noise tab while help smooth out the image and remove added or amplified noise...just don't over apply it. 

4. The Smooth brush option in Adjust 5's Local Adjustments tab is AMAZING (IMO) for quickly smoothing out dimples, wrinkles and other skin blemishes. (I'll often open Adjust specifically for that purpose...just reset all and then brush away - this is my Q of the week for this week!)

5. Adjust is handy for quick, clean, photo pops:

6. The base / edges option allows you to edit AND process your base image and edges together or separately. Select an individual option to view/edit only that part of the image. If you stay in that mode don't select combine) then when you click "OK" only that will be processed back to PS. This is a great way to create line art/sketches. You can also create a duplicate layer in PS to process/manipulate just the edges...then overlay that on your orignal layer in PS to create neat, enhanced lines and edges. (Also, a future  Q of the week!)

7. In addition to Detail enhancement, Topaz Detail is also great for detail removal. It can quickly cleanup busy or unflattering detail texture. Lowering the small boost slider will remove noise-like details (the smallest of small details

Lens Effects
8. xF - Sharpen is great for quick sharpening. 

9. A great way to explore the different type of lenses and camera filters - without breaking the bank ;-)

10. Bump up the strength, Edge Accent (you can also play around with the other sliders in the edges tab for more variation) to get those curly, stylized effects like in Vivacity. 

Star Effects
11. Does more than stars! You can create neat glow effects as well (

B&W Effects
12. Quad Toning feature gives you more control and flexibility over tonal range (I like it more than the presets alone). Example at the bottom of this article:

Explore the light,