Apple’s Approach To Photography

It almost seems like Apple and other Mobile Phone manufacturers but most certainly Apple’s IPhone team  figured out how to make their in phone camera and camera app understood by their users.

Phone cameras and their supporting softwares have come a very long way in a very short time frame and as an original nay sayer have to admit that I am truly enjoying to convenience of having a great camera in my pocket all the time to capture everyday moments as they happen, instantly and in the spur of the moment.

Take a look at some of the educational  material Apple supplies. Here.

In the next couple of months I am going to be using the IPhone XR primarily and different raw processing software to create images of every day life around me.  Stand by.

For Some Reason It Seems The Contributions Of Women In Photography From Years Past Are Overlooked

I have been fortunate in my various careers in photography to been honored to work with incredible women photographers and came across this article which you should take the time to read and learn from.

Women Photographers

This article speaks to the accomplishments of female photographers through history but lest we forget there are thousands and thousands of women photographers in our midst today.

The Reasoning Behind Using Raw Data Files To Process Digital Images

Excellent explanation of raw and jpeg files. Nik bhatt (1) who is the creator of “Raw Power” and was an essential player at Apple in regards to imaging, not once mentioned his software which is a raw processor and jpeg processor for Macintosh computers and Ios devices. I have been using this program since it hit the market place because it afford continuity between the devices I use to process my image files. The programs have both been adding important processing features and DAM capability in a relatively short period of time.

What has remained consistent however is the incredible image processing that the program is capable producing in a very precise yet simplified manner.

I love this program on my Ipad Pro 10.5 and really like the fact that it is running on the Mac and Ios platforms with exactly the same controls and capability.

I do use Capture One Fuji Pro for tethering and processing in my studio but that that does not replace what I use “Raw Power” for. It is a creative, elegant, accurate and a delight to use.

It is a very inexpensive processor but would be well worth the investment at a much higher price.


(1)”Nik Bhatt spent 14 years at Apple, first as a Senior Director of Engineering on the Aperture and iPhoto teams. Later he served as the CTO of the Photo Apps group, working with the Core Image and RAW teams before founding his own company, Gentlemen Coders.

His first app, RAW Power for Mac, built on his knowledge of Apple’s Photos and iCloud frameworks to provide a robust RAW editing workflow as a Photos for Mac extension and a standalone app. RAW Power for iOS brings all of the features of the Mac version and more to your iPhone and iPad.

Nik Bhatt spent 14 years at Apple, first as a Senior Director of Engineering on the Aperture and iPhoto teams. Later he served as the CTO of the Photo Apps group, working with the Core Image and RAW teams before founding his own company, Gentlemen Coders.

His first app, RAW Power for Mac, built on his knowledge of Apple’s Photos and iCloud frameworks to provide a robust RAW editing workflow as a Photos for Mac extension and a standalone app. RAW Power for iOS brings all of the features of the Mac version and more to your iPhone and iPad.”

Photography – The Journey Never Really Ends – Chapter One

I just finished writing way too many words and I have deleted every one of them.  While I reference a journey, I found that I had written hundreds of words about my journey in photography from the time I was five years old.  That is really more than anyone needs to know.

What you should gather from this blog article is that I have been involved in photography for a  long time and in that very long period which is about 70 years I have worked as a professional freelance photographer, worked for wholesale camera companies such as Nikon and Berkey Marketing (long gone), worked retail, taught photography, and did a stint as a military photographer in the United States Coast Guard.

One might think as I approach my 76th birthday that I would be pretty much done with all things about photography but that is not the case.  I am as passionate about the art of photography, and the storytelling that photography provides as I was when my dad put my first camera in my hands.  My dad was a professional photographer at one time in his life.

I have been fortunate to work with some extraordinary photographers, used some of the most wonderful photography gear and had the pleasure of passing on my knowledge and adventures to those who had a desire to learn more than they already know.

Photographers know what they know and do what they do quite well, but in reality, I have never met a photographer who knew everything.  The reason for that is simple.  As photographers, we tend to move towards a specific type of photography and that might be landscape, portraits, street, industrial, etc.  While the rules of dealing with light remain consistent,  how a photographer gets from point A to point B with lighting varies quite a bit.

For years, having worked for Nikon and being with Nikon when they first introduced their incredible flash system I came to rely on that flash system and camera metering to virtually handle all my lighting needs pretty much, automatically.  I had gone from loving ambient light for many things and manual flash for other things and found myself using more auto flash control to manipulate lighting for my images.

When I talk about a journey never really ending I feel that in time photographers can and should revisIt things they have not used or done for a long time and photographers who have stuck to a favorite way of shooting and never learned beyond that favorite way of shooting should open their minds to learning new things. Sometimes, we  do just that because certain things happen in life that might cause us to adjust how we deal with our photography.

That is what happened to me. Back injuries and age wound up taking its toll and I found myself somewhat limited in doing the more adventurous types of photography I loved and suddenly, even though I carried a camera bag with a minimal amount of gear all the time, I was not reaching for it. I was not reaching for it because the shot I wanted to take required more than I could do physically to capture it. What to do?

I decided that there was no way I was not going to produce images, create “art” or tell a story and if working outside was too limiting for me then I would move inside. I set up a studio in a bedroom that was 10 x 10 x 7.5 feet, purchased some inexpensive Godox and Flashpoint studio lighting and Glow lighting modifiers, and spent literally hours watching educational studio lighting Youtube videos. I practiced daily, step by step what I was learning. I learned a lot from the instructors on the Adorama educational channel. They were Gavin Hoey and Daniel Norton.

What you hopefully gather from this first chapter is that there should virtually be nothing that stops you from doing some form of what you like and nothing that would want to make you stop learning something new every day.

Chapter two coming soon. The Studio







No Need To Spend A Lot Of Money On Professional Quality Flash Anymore.  Go Beyond Camera Manufacturers Flashes For Less….

On camera flash, over the years has evolved into virtually automatic systems providing acceptable control of light.  A whole industry has been built up around the flashes that camera manufacturers provide for the cameras.

For a while, this was the best you could get for doing your flash photography unless you were willing to go to metering your flash and setting things manually for very precise personal control.  Everything that was available was outrageous when it came to price.

Today there are Chinese companies that several years ago I would have snubbed my nose at. That is no longer the case.  One company, whose strobes I own have proven to have jumped ahead of the camera manufacturers in technology and features is Godox.  Their range of flash is extensive and for most brands can be TTL or manual and wirelessly controlled.

I spent my early years as a photographer which now seems to be so very very long ago hardly ever shooting flash with the exceptions of things like weddings. Even then I did more available light than flash.  It was not until much later when I was working for Nikon and Nikon introduced their excellent flash systems did I begin to use more and more flash.  But I became so dependent upon TTL (which is acceptable) that I no longer tried to manually control these light sources.

The article I reference in this blog may well help you change your mind and take the time to learn just how flash can change your photography.

Not About A Particular Brand – But An Overall Reasoning About All Our Gear Choices

This is a very good video from a professional photographer that is worth listening too.  Try to put aside one’s own brand loyalties and come to understand it is not what about what you own that determines how good you are as a photographer.  It is not about switching but really about what works for the photographer as opposed to what impression your gear leaves.


Raw Power by Gentlemen Coders – Evolved To A Level Of Perfection

I know I write about a lot of different softwares and honestly quite a few of them are pretty darn good.  Some are not quite so good.  I can write about them because I own them or subscribe to them and I do that because I have the time to do that which a lot of other wonderful folks do not.  So while I find almost everything I use helpful in furthering the look of my raw and / or Jpeg images, every once in a while one program will stand out as exceptional.

What makes a program or app exceptional in my mind is the quality it brings to an image and how simple it works to achieve that quality.  While some programs are the perverbial kitchen sink, others are meat and potatoes and truthfully working with the down to earth meat and potatoe software and app without feeling I have to dive into all the multitude of effects and layers which usually result in less than desirable image quality or image looks.  However that does not mean I do not mean that I shall not use features of other programs once I have established a really good base image.

But for the everyday meat and potatoe processing of an image I now have one program that fits the bill.  It lets me make incredible adjustments that bring me to a finished product quickly, simply, and elegantly without spending needless hours.

That product as I am sure you can tell my the title of this blog post is Raw Power and I have watched its development for over a year now for both my Apple Macintosh and Apple IPad 10.5 and have to say that right now, today, Nik Bhatt, formerly the developer of Apple Aperture has announced the birth of version 2.0

The additions he has added to an already incredible processing engine or way beyond expectations and has now made this program one of the easiest to use, most powerful raw and other format processor at the top of the image processing game.

Just to be clear I have no business relationship with Gentlemen Coders or Nik Bhatt or for that matter even a personal relationship.  I am simply a customer of the company and have taken the time to use and watch and enjoy the development of this software.


Gentlemen Coders Logo

RAW Power 2.0 for iOS and Mac Now Available

Edit on Mac, continue on iOS. Same adjustments, same exceptional RAW processing.
On Mac, view multiple parts of your disk at the same time with the new tabbed file browser. Edit multiple images at the same time too!
Presets come to iOS, along with five new adjustments for both Mac and iOS. New space-saving design on iOS allows you to collapse and reorder adjustments to make the most of your screen.
On iOS, work with multiple images at once. Apply presets and adjustments, revert your edits, or make high quality JPEG previews for RAWs.
On Mac, you can also batch apply presets or adjustments. In addition, export multiple images with custom size and naming options.

New RAW Power 2.0:

  • Free update. iOS includes a new in-app purchase for some of the new adjustments.
  • Demo videos of the 2.0 features on YouTube
  • Tons of other improvements including:
    • Improved sharing on iOS to the Photos app
    • Additional Metadata on Mac including a map for images with GPS
    • Full Dark Look on macOS Mojave
Learn more on our website



Portrait exhibit casts light on women’s underrecognized military service – The Washington Post

Grounded by injuries, an Air Force combat photographer turns her lens on fellow veterans.
— Read on

Celebrate women every day. Remember and admire their contributions to the world we live in and learn everything you can about too many unrecognized achievements.

RAW Doesn’t Make You Better

This is a pretty spot on article about raw vs. jpeg images.  It does not say not to use raw but it does take the position that jpeg files today are a lot better than when the digital age became a part of our imaging lives.

It is an interesting read.


I read something yesterday that bothered me. A really talented photographer, who has a blog that I like to read sometimes, posted an article stating that the number one thing you can do to improve …

Source: RAW Doesn’t Make You Better

She Was A Great And Perfect Example On Fighting To Live A Life

This was Calise, our beautiful Calico Cat.  She was about 21 years old and she arrived at my wife’s parents house when she was about 6 months old on Halloween.  As candy was being handed out to the neighborhood kids she was on the front steps with them but no one claimed her so she was instantly adopted by my in-laws, who have saved cats and dogs from danger for years.  Calise immediately became the Alpha cat, taking control of the other cats and dogs.

She had medical problems like diabetes and she got insulin twice a day for years and she had debilitating arthritis in her back legs and hips but she was a trooper and a wonderful example of doing everything to live her life.  She managed to work through all of her problems with the goal of bringing happiness to all of those who were fortunate enough to engage her.  When my father in law had passed away we adopted their cats including Calise.

Just the day before she had managed to summon the strength to come out to the living room where she got into her little pink bed that had her favorite toy in it and eventually made her way back to the bedroom where she stayed.  She had a whole bedroom to herself.

We did what we could to make her last days comfortable realizing that her time was near.  She had placed herself a little bit under a bed in her room and there she stayed. Ramona covered her with a small blanket to keep her warm.  Our Jack Russel, Ginger had crawled under the bed to be with her and I laid on the floor nearby letting her know I was there.  When she passed Ginger gave out a low cry and moan and stayed with her for quite a while.

All of us, Ramona, Ginger and I will miss this superstar.  We love you Calise and now you are with Ramona’s parents and free from all your ills.

Creative Camera Tethering With The New Alien Skin X4 Software

If you have ever thought about tethering your camera to your computer and it seemed like a difficult process, especially with Adobe and other programs, then you need to look at these videos.  You may question why you would want to tether and have your images come up in your software and you may think it is only for people doing portrait shoots but that is not correct.  It makes a great tool for doing in-house product shoots, in-house artful shoots, and with Alien Skin X4 you can also shoot in several different presets at the same time so you can see what creative film look works best for your images.  It is not just for Fuji as it will work for almost all cameras.  Check it out on Alien Skins website below.


Alien Skin X4 was recently released and has a great many features that should appeal to very creative photographers and yes even those who are not so creative.  The best thing you can do is go directly to their website if you want to learn more and even download a 30-day trial.

Is it a viable alternative to the popular subscription only Lightroom CC Classic.  Yes, it is and it is not a subscription which is really nice.  It has layers, folders, collections, tons of presets and filters with what many have said and I agree, the best film presets ever produced. Tons of them.

Take so time to learn something new by downloading their trial copy. RIGHT HERE.



RAW Files: Digital Manifestations of the Emperor’s New Clothes

A battle of sorts is raging throughout the photography communities. Jpeg Vs Raw files as a final step is what the battle is about.

Raw files, I think by now, are known for containing a lot more data than a Jpeg file and to extract that data special software such as Luminar, Aurora, On1 Photo Raw, Alien Skin, now X4, and of course Adobe Lightroom. The data can be manipulated into whatever vision you choose. Whatever you do to get the image you want will not hurt the data in anyway.

Jpeg files are baked in. The camera software takes care of everything needed to give us an image and in most cases a very acceptable image that can be used with virtually no manipulation. In reality you do not want to manipulate Jpeg too much because it will degrade the data in the image.

Fujifilm X cameras happen to produce exceptional Jpeg files and it can do that with a variety of alterable film simulations for a variety of different film looks. They are pretty darn good. What I like is the fact that I can load a Jpeg file into most softwares and save that Jpeg as a preset to preserve the look the camera gave it with a film simulation and then apply that preset to the normally flat Raw file. It works and really makes final processing a lot easier. My favorite software for doing that is Alien Skin and Luminar 2018, soon to be 2019.

In this unique explanation of what they are and how RAW files work, see how they are the equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes,
— Read on


Every year people with all sorts of cameras having waited for one of the most wonderfully colorful and crisp seasons rush out into the world to create some spectacular images. While I will more than likely do the same this year, I also wanted to take a look back at lots of images to give myself the inspiration to get my butt out there once again on the chance that there is something going to happen that I have not seen before. Today I use Fuji X camera gear but over the years I have worked with several different camera systems.  Most of the images in this gallery were taken with Fuji cameras but there are some that were shot with Nikon, Pentax and Olympus.  I have never used a camera system that I did not like.  They have all been great pieces of technology and have made my photographic endeavors very pleasurable.  Today I travel as light as possible and own a Fuji X pro 2 camera and three prime lenses. 23mm,35mm and 50m, all 2.0 lenses.  The whole system is light, compact, and weather sealed, and on any given day my total package to go out with is no more than 6 pounds total and that includes the aforementioned gear, 4 batteries, 2 extra cards, cleaning stuff, cable release.  I may throw a flash in my pocket should I need a touch more light. 🙂 and there is always a small lightweight tripod in the trunk of my car. The same goes for software.  Software today is greatly improved over what was available many years ago and while the packages offer pretty much the same basic controls there are some that provide a lot more creative control and it is not unusual for a photographer to work with several softwares to create the look they want to achieve.  For the most part I cannot tell you what was processed with what and unless I look at my Exif data I couild not tell you what camera or lens I used. Today my software includes an Adobe subscription which I may stop but maybe not.  Then there are three creative packages. One is the Skylum Luminar. Another is Alein Skin X3, and a third, but not used often is Skylum Aurora Hdr. I use Adobe subscription that includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC Cloud based, and Lightroom Mobile CC for the Ipad Pro.  The only reason I use it is because it is the only software company that provides a complete “eco” system.  What does that mean?  It means that if I am working on my Ipad Pro and processing images, everything I do will be saved to the Adobe Creative Cloud.  Because of that I can go to my office and launch Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic and the images will sync to those applications for further use or data collection.  Of course it also works in reverse.  Process on my computer in my office and open up my Ipad pro and launch the Lightroom Mobile app and those images will sync to my Ipad Pro.  Very convenient.  And it is possible to tell Lightroom Classic to bring down images from the Adobe cloud and have them actually store on the Ipad Pro just in case I am going to be in a place where there is zero WiFi. Whew.  It’s a lot.  You are also locked in to the Adobe library which is not my favorite data storage option.  if other software companies could provide apps and syncing capability I would probably kiss Adobe goodbye.

One of the best digital Slr Cameras I ever used – Olympus 4/3 E1


Click on the first line above:

It almost seems like I used this camera before the stone age because it was only a bit over 5 mp.  This was a professional 4/3 sensor size camera while today’s modern and smaller versions are Micro Four Thirds.  The actual sensor is the same size but in smaller more compact bodies with a smaller lens mount and smaller lenses.

The lenses for the E1 were not small.  Well perhaps smaller than Nikon or Canon but not as small as they have today.  But the lenses were beautifully made and as sharp or sharper and more contrast than any of their digital competition of the era and perhaps today.

The reason I am writing about this camera is because of the images that I produced with it.  By today’s standard, the LCD on the back was really small, maybe 1.5 inches, but everything else was truly at a pro level.  And if you should walk into my office you will see images that I shot and printed say back when with this camera and a large format Epson printer, covering, and I mean covering the walls.  And the images that catch my eye every time are the ones shot with the Olympus E1 and various Olympus Zuiko lenses both prime and zoom.

Please make note that my current system. the Fuji X mirrorless produces better images than any other camera I used both past and present, but considering that the Olympus was a 5mp camera with a smaller than APS-c sensor, it sure is holding its own next to current day images.

One important point of interest is that the sensor in the camera was not what almost every sensor starts out as today namely Sony.  It was a Kodak sensor.  And for those who do not know or are too young to care, Kodak was the premier in camera sensor of the day because Kodak was making some of the finest pro Dslr cameras at the time and they had agreed to make a 4/3 sensor for Olympus.  It was outstanding.

Anyway now you have had a part of my history in blog form.  Have a great day.

Apple Does Not Get It In Regards To The Ipad Pro Photographers

I been using  Ipad Pro 10.5 now for just about one year and have to say it has been for the most part an enjoyable experience.  I cannot think of a time since I got it that it is not with me, 24/7.


However, as a photographer, I find Apple’s requirement that all images be passed through the Apple Photo application is extremely, highly restrictive by not allowing programs like Lightroom CC mobile, Affinity Photo Mobile and all others to import images directly into their own apps.

Apple Photo relies upon the Apple Cloud for storing images and even though apps like Lightroom can save images to a variety of places the only true storage area is still the Apple Cloud.

When it came time for me to make a choice as to what device I wanted to carry with me beyond a heavy portable computer I had narrowed down the options to two devices.  One was the Ipad Pro and the other was the Microsoft Surface.  I opted for the Ipad Pro because I have been an Apple product user for many years but I think Microsoft has provided features that Apple had the chance to implement with the “pro” models but chose not to.  And I do understand that Apple relies on small apps and Microsoft uses full programs, but the apps are not the issue here.

Apple could have added a USB port but they chose not to.  Apple could have allowed other apps to bypass the Apple Photo app, but they did not.  I could go on and on about what Apple refused to do, but it all boils down to fact that they did not provide simple solutions for photographers that Microsoft did.


If I had wanted decide to use the Surface I would have had to purchase new software because everything I own is for Mac.

There are days I am sorry that I did not go with Microsoft if only for my image processing on a portable device which is what I wanted the Ipad Pro for.  I guess my dislike for Windows kept me from doing that, but now I have to wonder, what if.

Considering that my main purpose for a small and portable device was for doing image processing and culling while out and about wither device would allow me to do that.  But what Apple does not do is allow me to save images directly to a portable drive via a USB device.  It only allows me to import images via the Apple SD card dongle.  It does have a way to hook up a USB device but more often than not a message saying that the device on the Apple Ipad can not be powered and yet hooking up that same device to the Surface would not even blink.

So if you are looking for a portable device to do mainly image processing then look into all your options no matter what your current system is.  All devices will take you to your favorite social media and email options.  Perhaps the most outstanding differences is one system relies on apps and the other on programs.  Apps or less expensive and in many cases equal to programs in how they perform.

Do I love my Ipad Pro? Sure I do.  But I could probably love the Microsoft Surface just as much.


Simple sometimes is totally elusive

Yes!  It is I.  The wannabe minimalist and with both gear and post-processing.  It is I.

Sometimes and only because human nature dictates it, wanting something that will make one’s photographic life easier and simplified seems to become more and more elusive even though one thinks they are micro steps away from achieving the goal.

Because I suffer from chronic pains in a variety of places (weep) I was drawn to smaller and lighter photographic gear and that is why I use one Fuji X pro 2 camera body and three very small, compact prime lenses.  I take with me two batteries, two extra memory cards (the camera takes two) Zeiss cleaning packets and a lens cloth.  I keep a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod in the trunk of my car with a small Really Right Stuff ball head for those times when I am out and about that, I have no other option but to use it.  My camera bag is a Billingham Hadley Pro.  (I do like the Cosyspeed Sport bag for one camera and one lens at times as well.)

So it would seem that I have the camera gear and carry issue pretty well solved and that is quite true.

But of late after trying out lots of different software for “raw” files, I find myself in a quandary as to what better serves the need of a minimalist who generally shoots a pretty well-balanced image in regards to composition and exposure.  I have Adobe products such as Lightroom CC, Classic, and Mobile as well as other Adobe Mobil apps. I have Alien Skin X3 (soon to be X4) and of course Apple’s own software called Photo.

Adobe (who I am not in love with) is the only company that actually offers a true ecosystem through Creative Cloud which allows me to process on my Mac and/or Ipad Pro and transfer images via the cloud from one device to the other in a fully processed form or partially processed form.  And the tools offered are quite extensive and creative.

Alien Skin on the other hand only works on my Mac (my computer of choice) but offers, in my opinion, a much more simplified data management system for my Mac (or your pc).  The film-like presets are the best in the business and the overall controls of the program are excellent.

If I thought it would work out I would only use the Ipad Pro, store my images in the Apple Cloud and ultimately transfer them to some kind of a drive for back up, but there are simply issues that make that too convoluted way to work.  Now if Adobe could import into the Ipad directly and then allow me to store images wherever I wanted them to be, bypassing the Adobe Library which I hate then I could be one happy minimalist, but Apple won’t allow that (at least not yet and quite possibly never.)

If I truly want to be totally minimalist then the Fuji gear and the Ipad Pro 10.5 is the only way to go.  Hopefully, Apple and Adobe will put their heads together and come up with a solution that is workable for their customers.  Wouldn’t that be eventful?

So, simple is not all that simple and the perfect solution in part is still elusive.  Hey! How about Alien Skin making a mobile app just for me?

Are you using an Ipad that runs “TRUE TONE?”

What is True Tone?

True Tone is a relatively recent display feature on Ios devices that allows your iPhone or iPad’s display to adjust its color temperature based on the light of its current surroundings. Warmer light in the room leads to warmer colors on your display. 

It’s sort of great idea but not so great for folks who are processing images on the tablet and/or a computer with the anticipation that everything is going to look the same from device to device.  For months I have struggled to get images that I processed in Lightroom on the Ipad Pro, which would sync to Lightroom on my desktop or laptop via the Adobe Creative Cloud, to look the same.  Fortunately, I happened upon another photographers blog who had gone through exactly what I was going through.

The incredibly simple solution was to go into settings on the Ipad and scroll down to “Display & Brightness” settings, and under brightness shut off “True Tone.”  Now life is good and I can be looking at an image I just processed on the Ipad Pro in Lightroom Mobile CC and my 27 inch Apple Monitor hooked up to my laptop and the images are virtually identical.  And of course it works as well in the opposite direction, laptop to iPad.

By turning off “True Tone” you are effectively shutting down Auto White Balance so that there is a consistent level of color.  I know a great many photographers that shut off auto white balance in their cameras and set it to the daylight setting which provides consistent color as opposed to varying color image to image which can make editing a set of images easier.

The more I use my Ipad Pro 10.5 running the current Ios operating system, the less I am relying on my Macintosh computers.  That is not to say that the Mac or PC if that is what you use as a laptop or desktop, does not have a certain advantage.  They do!  There are software packages that simply do not and may never appear on tablets and most of them involve image processing.

But there are more than enough software packages for the mobile community of photographers to deal with any level of images they may have.  On the Ipad, I rely upon an Adobe suite of apps for processing images.  Whatever I work on is sent to the Adobe Creative Cloud and quickly synced to my Adobe Cloud on my laptops and desktop with all the changes I made to the image.  It does not mean I am an Adobe fan.  I am not.  But it works and works pretty darn good.  I still hate the Lightroom Library but a lot of folks love it.

Here is an image I quickly processed on my Ipad Pro which was on my desktop virtually immediately.


Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

A long time ago, at least in digital software terms, a company called NIK introduced a revolutionary set of Plug-ins that would work with Adobe products such a Photoshop, Elements, and the like.  These plug-ins would open up creative opportunities to the masses allowing for specific adjustment to parts of an image as opposed to a whole image, much like advanced Photoshop users were doing with “brushes.”  While you could by individual plug-ins in the Nik group, the overall total package was about $500.00.  To own the whole package you had to be a pretty serous image processer.  The most popular were Silver Efex for black and white work (exceptional).  Color Efex (Outstanding) and Viveza (that any real photographer could not live without).  And, some of this capability was built into Nikon Capture Softwae and Nikon called it UPOINT.

But like so many other things in the digital world and the photography world, Google, who desperately wanted another program that Nik had created called Snapseed, decided to buy the NIK company.  Once in their hands they lowered the price of NIK plugins to $150.00 but you had to buy the whole suite.  Still that price was a far cry from the original NIK price.  But before long Google lowered the price to ZERO and you guessed it, it was the end of any future development and would lead to the product being discontinued.  Another Google FU.

Then a few months ago it was announced that DXO had bought the rights to the program including the patent  to and the code and recently released a new and cleaner 64bit version of the Plug ins for $69.00.  There is a trial version which I tried and then bought it.

Go Take A Look At It Here

I have been watching some newly created live webinars and all I can say is that for all the years I used it in my work I never realized that I only partook in about 40 percent of the actual features that are available.  It is my understanding that the live webinars will be available as videos in a few weeks.  In the meantime you might want to look at some educational material on YouTube.

As many of my readers know I have been messing around (really learning) lots of different softwares over the past couple of years and have written a lot about what I liked and did not like.  My current, but not perfect program is Alien Skin X3 because it has so many creative alternatives built in and yes I can control click my way right into the Nik Plugins as well.  Other programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements, Capture One, all make complete use of Nik.  But the most versatile program because of how it works with smart layers is Photoshop when it comes to using Nik.  Nik can also be used as stand alone applications.

Now, it is important to know that Nik does not recognize raw files, at least not yet.  When using host software like Adobe, the image will be sent to Nik as a Tiff file and once processed through it will go back to the host as a finished Tiff file.  If you use Nik stand alone then you need to open a saved Tiff file to work on.

I can only say that if you want to enhance your images with selective edits this is a great and simplified way to go.

Jane Lurie Photography – Jane’s Lens

Professional photographer based in San Francisco covering Travel, Landscapes, Street, Nature, Architecture, Portrait, Black and White, Photography Tutorials.
— Read on

When given the opportunity I am going to joyfully present the incredible work of other photographers.

I have been an admirer of Jane’s work since I was taken to her web site. She is a very inspiring artist with an incredible eye who is constantly providing me and others with images that tell a story in a single blink.

Please take the time to look at her work on her site.

I hope you enjoy.

Who Are You As A Photographer?

How much time have you given to developing a particular style, a look that is all yours when it comes to your images.

Do you have a unique way of framing and capturing an image?  Do you have a digital processing formula that will be solely yours so that when someone looks at your unsigned photograph they will know it was done by you?

If you have evolved as a photographer and developed all of this uniqueness then kudos to you.  If you have not, why not?  What is holding you back?

developing a shooting style comes with time and while it may seem that your style looks like someone else’s, it is not.  It is your style.  It is the way you see, frame, meter, expose what appears on your LCD or in your viewfinder.

Developing a processing style will require experimentation over time just like it did for film photographers who had to learn the best way to process their film, what chemistry to use for the film, what chemistry to use for the print and what paper to put in the chemistry and let’s not forget how an image was burned and dodged to get to the final latent image.  But while the materials have changed for the majority of us, and the darkroom has been replaced by the software on computers and tablets and the processing trays have been done in by inkjet printers the final results will be the same.

The big difference however is in the software.  Computers, tablets and software have opened up an enormous range of creative possibilities through presents, color grading, brushes and gradients and so much more that will allow anyone the opportunity to create an individual look and or style.

So if you are looking for something that will make YOU unique and recognizable as an individual as opposed to being a clone of another photographer then it is going to be important that you choose a SOFTWARE that will give you that opportunity.  There are options out there but the two I have locked on are Alien Skin X3 and Luminar, with Alien Skin X3 being the one that tops the list.

I know I have written about other software some of which do an excellent job.  But none of them offered the diversification that Alien Skin X3 does.  Alien Skin started  as a plug-in for Adobe many years ago and was very popular among creative professionals.  What it primarily offered was over 500 film simulations and styles that in the digital age offered photographers highly accurate renditions of the different film types and grain structures that photographers had come to love over the years.  But that was then and here we are, now.

Alien Skin X3 represents the culmination over the last couple of years on the part of the company to provide a highly accurate and creative raw processor for Windows and Mac that includes its own digital assets management that utilizes the operating systems own file system, produces  xmp files that ride along in the same folders as the original images.   It still has over 500 film presets, overlays, layers, outstanding color control, and on and on and on.

With all of the presets, which are really starting points,  you can modify them, combine them, so they achieve a final look you are happy and comfortable with and guess what, that look becomes your look because you can save everything you did as a new preset which belongs only to you.

It is not a secret that I use Adobe Lightroom CC, Classic, and mobile.  It is  not because I like the way Adobe handles raw files and it is not because of the Adobe Library module that I really hate but it is because of Adobe’s creative cloud which allows me to sync images from my desktop to my IPad Pro.  Adobe simply put has the best Eco system out there.  But as far as being a main tool to process my images just is not the case.  And it is not a secret that I have used a multitude of raw processors in my search for what works best for me and my Fuji X trans images.  Alien Skin simply put provides me with the complete set of tools and creative artful extras that bring me to a style and look and especially a place that I am happy with.

I am not telling you to buy it, but you would be smart to go for their free trial to see if it can fit into a more creative workflow for you.




Rekindling the Romance of Black and White Photography

My Romance With Black And White

The other day I blogged about black and white photography and today I found a pretty great article on the web which goes quite a bit deeper.  It is a bit of a long read but worth the time you will invest in digesting it in total.  The previous article is here

It hits on points I did not make, especially what I would call the “romance” of doing black and white when I was a young man and the aesthetics that went along with the love of creating a wonderful and meaningful black and white final print.  Because the black and white print process was no where as complex as the color process of getting to a print I was able to do it almost anywhere.

As a matter of fact I can remember traveling in my Ehrenreich Photo (now Nikon) territory in Ohio.  I not only sold Nikon but also took care of the rest of the products lines that Ehrenreich offered.  One of those product lines was a complete darkroom solution.  I was leaving a dealer call when I noticed fire engines rushing down the road and right across the street from where I was a fire was blazing and fire persons were battling the blaze.  I whipped out my camera loaded with Tri X film and shot 36 exposures of the fire, the fire fighters and the collapsing wall of the building.  I went back to my hotel room and took the Durst enlarger, trays, chemicals, film tanks out of my trunk and set up a portable darkroom in my hotel bathroom.  (Note: see what the article I am linking you to describes), processed the film in the tank, dried it, and printed the images with the durst enlarger set up and the trays full of chemistry.  Finished the process, dried the prints and drove down to the local newspaper in the town I was in and turned the pictures over to them and they published them.

Sorry, had to get that story out of my system. I do love black and white.


Stuck in a rut? Bored with your photography? How about considering a romance with black and white photography? If you’re old-school this will take you back, if you’re new to b/w why not give it a try?!

Source: Rekindling the Romance of Black and White Photography


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Black and White? Color? You do not know until you try?


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We all have different preferences when it comes to our photography and that means we are making decisions on what we want an image to convey to a person who is viewing the image.  Black and White vs. color really is not a major issue.

I happen to like black and white images.  I feel that the tones are more distinctive and the ability to isolate the subject from the rest of the image is something black and white lends itself to as well as the drama and emotion in certain types of photography.


Color on the other hand can vividness of the subject in the scene and make use of warm and cool lighting in ways that black and white cannot do.


What this means is that you as the photographer are the only one who can determine the look you are going for and we are fortunate to be in the digital age of photography which makes our decision-making a heck of lot easier.  It is easier because our cameras, whether they are point and shoot, Dslr, mirrorless, or phone cameras can all shoot in black and white and color and better yet because they can do that you can actually visualize what a black and white image will look like in your viewfinder or on your lcd screen.

Cameras today can shoot a Jpeg file in a variety of color schemes or in black and white.  Remember that a Jpeg is an image that is finalized in camera.  But if you set your camera to shoot a Jpeg and a RAW file, then your Jpeg can be in black and white and your RAW WILL ALWAYS BE IN DEFAULT CAMERA COLOR.


You also have the option in certain software to create what is known as virtual copies of your raw files which in turn allow you to try different looks with each virtual copy.  In this way you can choose the look that best suits the message your want to convey about the scene.


Because I like black and white as a first choice I do have my digital Fuji X cameras set to a black and white mode plus RAW.  This way I can see what the black and white will look like and still have the raw file to work in color or black and white on my Ipad Pro or computer.


In the end the choice of whether to use color or black and white for an image is subjective. Try looking at your photos in both black and white and color to get a feel for what works and what does not work. No matter which option you go with, make sure you know why you chose it. The color or lack of color in an image should contribute to its impact.



All of the images in the little slide show were processed from a RAW file in a variety of software products.








Before You Whip Out Your Camera – “Take a moment to smell the roses” – This is a good read from Digital Photography School –


Before You Whip Out Your Camera – “Take a moment to smell the roses” – This is a good read from Digital Photography School –


II have long been an advocate of checking out where you are going to shoot pictures.  Getting the lay of the land and the interaction of the local population no matter where you are can lead to better images.

Now of course when it comes to certain types of photography such as sports and street a lot is also dependent upon spontaneity but just knowing where you can be do get the great shot is important in these fast-moving moments.


You can read the article here

Apple Ipad Pro, Now being adopted by many photographers as part of an overall workflow – An article by Marius Masalar (1)

Really good read.  Click on the link below.  👇

Apple Ipad Pro, Now being adopted by many photographers as part of an overall workflow

I found the above linked article pretty interesting and very much on target when it comes to where we are today with more options to work on our images than we ever had before.

Devices like the Ipad Pro as well as the Microsoft Surface have truly opened our world in regards to being able to process images on the fly, anywhere at any time we choose.  I am never far from my cameras or my Ipad Pro.  I feel like a part of my world that kept me chained to a desktop or subjected me to lugging a heavy portable computer is no longer a necessary part of my post processing life.

It was never unusual for me to travel out from my base of operation with a heavy and bulky bag of cameras and a bag full of computer stuff and now I carry a Fuji X pro 2 and 3 prime lenses and an Ipad Pro 10.5, and a USB 3.0 SD card reader dongle. And of course the incredible Apple pencil. 🙂



(1) Marius Masalar


Bad Backs, Bad Necks, Bad Shoulders Are Not A Joke And Are More Than Likely The Fault Of Every One Of Us

I recently wrote a blog about my bad back coupled with the aging process, all of which can make what used to be very enjoyable days out in the world taking pictures a painful and creatively limiting experience in my world today.

Below is a link to that article if you need to revisit it or perhaps read it for the first time.


Back injuries and the ever lasting pain that they can cause are extremely prevalent in a particular group of people.  They are called photographers.

Photographers are known for carrying big and heavy gear, and in the past few years more and more have moved to smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras but even with that there is still a tendency for photographers to carry more gear than is actually needed. I attribute this to these great photographers having an inert fear that they will miss the shot of a lifetime if they do not pack everything they own. They won’t but they just have to learn that.

Sadly that does not negate the fact that even with smaller and lighter gear photographers still tend to carry more than they will ever need and worse, they carry the gear the wrong way. Over one shoulder can lead to all kinds of back and shoulder problems. Wearing a backpack at the wrong position on your back will lead to shoulder and lumbar issues.  Sling bags are okay alternatives and they fall between the backpack and shoulder bag. But over loading a properly designed sling bag can be as bad as a shoulder bag or back pack. Ultimately the goal, beyond getting a great image, is to be able to avoid injury and be comfortable enough to spend a whole day out without stressing your body and fighting your carry method.

Not enough attention is paid to the part of the body that can carry weight properly distributed that does not impact the neck, spine or shoulders and that is a bag that can fit around the waist and sit on a hip.  This kind of bag means that a photographer who wants to be able to go out for day and not have his or her creativity dumbed down by back and or shoulder pain must make the decisions that will make that happen.  Those decisions involve selecting the best means of carrying gear and learning to get along with less gear.

In reality most photographers of all levels who go out for a day of shooting whether enthusiast or professional and carry tonnage of gear only wind up shooting with a camera and two zoom lenses.  In most cases while the zooms are practical, one mid range zoom can be replaced by a couple of 2.0 prime lenses.  I have worked with a great many overloaded pros and I have run photography workshops where students carried 25 to 40 pounds of gear and most of that gear never saw the light of day.

Where is all of this going.  There is a bag that fits comfortably around the waist and is designed to sit on the hip of the shooter.  So while the waist belt does the job of holding the package, the actually package is flared out and made to sit right on the hip so that the weight is comfortably distributed. It is my go to bag and it is the only camera bag I can use because my neck, spine, and rotator cup is a mess, painful and takes great days and makes them crappy days. But this bag gets me out of the house and on the road for hours of pleasurable photography.

You have read my articles on this before, or at least I am going to assume you have so one more time, just for you and your body parts.

The outstanding design of the Camslinger line of bags requires just a few things. One is your promise to yourself to choose one or two small lenses and one body with the understanding that this gear can capture almost everything you want. The second thing is your decision to get the Camslinger bag. My favorite is the outdoor version because it is weather proof, and the most versatile. Why is number two so important? Firstly, if you are young and somehow have avoided body damage that gives you chronic pain, then this is the time to have the right bag so that does not happen. But if you have worn out different body parts in your shoulders, spine and neck and find yourself limited and uncomfortable like shooting like you used to then the camslinger line is going to get you back out there. Do yourself a favor and order one of these bags. You won’t be sorry. I can wear this bag for hours on end and not even know it is around my waist. Considering how much pain I am usually in, that is a miracle in itself. What’s in it? Fuji X pro 2 body with a 35mmn 2.0 lens mounted. 23mm 2.0 and 50mm 2.0 lenses. 2 batteries, 3 moist lens cleaner packs, cable release, and 2 extension tubes. A complete kit for a days worth of shooting. It weighs 4.6 pounds.  I have a close lady friend who is using the Cosyspeed Outdoor bag with a non mirror less Canon system with a Rebel and a 24mm to 120mm zoom lens, and accessories and weighs in at 6.5 pounds.

One of the hardest things I ever did was to become a minimalist. I had to get over the need to take everything I owned in cameras and lenses with me on any given shoot, and that really took a while to do. But once I did force myself to do that I found that my photography started becoming more creative again. It became a case of less is more. I keep a small tripod and a bag of small accessories like filters in the trunk of my car just in case. I wear a a ScottVest which handles my keys and wallet and an IPad Pro and cables. That particular vest is designed to deal with electronics on the go.

Just to be clear, I have no business relationship with Cosyspeed, the company that manufactures the Camslinger Waist packs. I just happen to love their exceptionally well made and functional products that have allowed me to once again enjoy my photography.


And just as a side note, one other minimalist product is the Platypod Ultra which gives me a great camera stabilization platform for those times when I want to either get into a picture or otherwise steady the camera and lens when slow shutter speeds are called for.

I add the Playpod accessory kit and a ball head with a 12 pound capacity in a small belt bag and you would be amazed at how versatile the little set up is.  You cannot always replace a nice travel tripod, but I’ll be damned if I won’t try, and I have found enough situations where it was easy to replace a full tripod with the Platypod.  They also make a pro version which is designed to hold up to about a 70-200 2.8 zoom lens and a body like a Nikon D810.

Working with Different Focal Lengths for Macro Photography

Interesting and informative article on choosing the right focal length for your macro photography.  In the past my favorite macro lens was the 150mm macro from Sigma, but using Fuji X eliminates Sigma.  However, Fuji does have a screaming 80mm macro. I am just sayin’  because I have a birthday coming up.

The article does not mention close up lenses like Canon superb closeup screw in lenses for your tele lenses and it does not mention extension tubes which allow for getting closer with short prime and short zoom lenses.

But all in all a very good read.

Which lens you choose to get for macro photography is quite important. In this article, you’ll see the difference that focal length makes when doing close-up work.

Source: Working with Different Focal Lengths for Macro Photography