April 4, 2014

Kelby One is here!

Well it’s finally happened; Kelby Training and NAPP (the National Association of Photoshop Professionals) have merged to become the ultimate online training anywhere and called this new venture Kelby One NAPP was already the largest digital imaging and graphics association in the world with over 75,000 members in 106 countries.

For many years, one of the best ways to learn Photoshop was Photoshop User Magazine. Photoshop User has always been the industry leader and the top how-to magazine. When Adobe introduced Lightroom, Photoshop User immediately created a special section just for Lightroom. A subscription to Photoshop User was only offered to members of NAPP. By joining NAPP, you automatically received 10 issues of Photoshop User magazine, plus you received unlimited access to their member’s only website filled with hundreds of tutorials, webcasts, videos, tons discounts, a members portfolio section, archived and downloadable episodes of Photoshop User TV, a members forum and their very own expert Help Desk where you could get answers to all of your photography and design questions. A fantastic deal at only $99 / year. 
In the fall of 2007, the Kelby Media group introduced another great learning resource called Kelby Training, which specialized in online video training courses. You could watch classes taught by the industry leaders on a variety of different subjects such as photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, Business or Design. Since day one, Kelby Training was offered in monthly or yearly subscriptions and was an instant success. Unfortunately, NAPP membership and Kelby Training were offered individually and couldn’t be combined.

Now Kelby Media has combined both NAPP and Kelby Training and formed KelbyOne, the ultimate learning site available. For one great price,  on either a monthly or yearly basis, you will receive unlimited access to all of their videos and online training classes, discounts and other great resources. Now get this, if you were already a NAPP member, you’ll receive both and be grandfathered in for $99 a year for as long as you continue to be a member. But even for newcomers, by subscribing on either a monthly or yearly basis, you’ll receive full access to both. 

Now you can learn photography, creative design, software and business all offered with expert training (for any skill level) all at one great price. Kelby Media is so sure you’ll love this that they offer a full 100% money-back guarantee. You can sign up on a monthly basis for $25 or for a full year for $249, a $50 savings. They even offer custom plans for schools and businesses. What could be better?  If you want access to some of the best online training available, check it out here at Kelby One

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun.

March 10, 2014

Creating Center Guides in Photoshop

Someone asked me what was the easiest way to find the exact center in an image. This post is on how I do it, and it’s as simple as tapping one key on my keyboard. Here’s a quick tutorial to help you create an action that’ll help you find the exact center of an image by pressing one key.This is one of those actions that I use all the time. I hope you enjoy it. 

The first thing to do is open a photo of something where you’d like to find the center.  It doesn’t matter if it’s in portrait or landscape mode (horizontal or vertical), this action can be used on either. This comes in handy especially when I’m doing product shots and I need to get something aligned correctly. If you’ll notice this image is perfectly lit, but I need my little guy centered a little better. First I selected my guy and put him on his own layer. I then added a layer below filled with white. There are tons of ways to do this in Photoshop, choose your own method. Now by using Center Guides, it’s easy to line him up.

Before we start creating our action, we need to turn on the rulers in Photoshop. You can do this by holding the Control key and tapping the letter R.  (Ctrl + R) When the rulers pop up, Right click anywhere directly on the rulers and in the drop down menu, click Percent.  This is very important to make our action run correctly.

Now click on Windows and in the drop down menu, click on Actions.At the bottom of that panel, click the button next to the Trash can and a New Action dialog box will open. 

I’m just adding this one to my Default actions for this tutorial, but you can put yours wherever you’d like. In the Name box we’ll call this Center Guides. Below that you’ll notice you have the option of adding a function key, personally I use F4. Change yours to whatever you’d like, but make sure you uncheck the Control keys. This way we only need one key to run our action, in this case, the F4 key. On your system the F4 key might be assigned to something else, if so pick something else. When you’ve set those, click on the Record button. From here on, every step we take will be recorded in our new Action. 

Notice the button turns red to indicate its running.  

The next step is to click on View and in the drop down menu choose New Guide.
 Another dialog box will open and under Orientation, click the Horizontal button and in the Position change it to 50%.  Then click OK. You’ll notice a new guide appeared on our image at the half-way point. 

Now click on View again and choose New Guide again. This time in the dialog box, click Vertical and change the Position to 50% again.  Walla, you’ve got the center guides in your image. 

The last step is where a lot of people mess up. In the bottom of our actions panel just click the Stop button and you’re done. If you don’t remember to hit stop, you’ll keep adding steps to your action. Now to test our new action, clear your actions from your image. To clear them the easy way, hold the Control key and tap the Colon key. You can tell I like shortcuts huh?  Now, tap the F4 key (or whatever yours is set to) and you’ve got center guides, Nice huh?

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!

February 6, 2014

Testing the Phottix Odin Flash System

This is just a short article / review on the Phottix Odin Wireless TTL Trigger Set. I’ve been using off-camera flash with various wireless flash triggers for over ten years now, mostly for fill flash type scenarios at weddings or on occasional portrait sessions. Every pro or semi-pro photographer has known that for years the Pocket Wizards were always the cream of the crop. For my shooting style they tended to be on the expensive side, but they were ultra-reliable and also one of the first units to offer full TTL functions. 

I’ve always been conservative (on the cheap side) when it comes to buying new gear and I need enough gear to trigger at least two flashes. I’m also a Canon guy so when Canon announced their wireless flash triggers, the Canon ST E3 RT and the 600 EX RT Speedlites, I almost went right out and purchased them. I really liked the new function screen on the commander unit, but to be honest, the price was still a major issue because if I wanted to trigger two flash units I was looking at spending well over $1300. In order for them to be fully functional, I needed to upgrade my flashes and get a TCU unit (the ST E3 RT)
When Phottix first announced they were coming out with a totally wireless flash system with TTL capabilities about a year earlier, I really wasn't in the market for a new system. I sort of put their system in the back of my head for awhile. I had been using Phottix Atlas flash triggers for a couple years, and knew they were reliable, but my units had no TTL capabilities so basically all they could do was fire my flashes.

The main feature I liked on the new Canon was that you could change any of the settings right from the camera without having to physically make changes on the flashes themselves. Then I remembered the Phottix Odin system, which could also do the same. Whenever I purchase any new product, I like to wait until they've been battled tested in the real world, so I went online and read the reviews for the Odin system to see how they held up.  Not only could the Phottix do all the same things the Canon could do, I could keep my current flashes and that alone would save over $1000. So that was enough for me to purchase the Phottix Odin system and after using them for awhile, I knew it would be a very long time before anything else came close to these units. 

I’ll be the first to tell you, they just work. Every time, no exceptions. They’re rated at 320 feet range and I believe it. Just for the heck of it I had tested my old Atlas triggers and they fired at over 300 feet. In my opinion, the Odins are just about the best thing since sliced bread. With these units you have access to 4 channels and 3 groups, plus they can sync with your camera’s shutter (high-speed sync) up to 1/8000 second. They allow you to raise or lower the power, switch from TTL to manual, adjust the zoom and set ratios if you want, all from your camera. The screen on the TCU is easy to read and all the units work on AA batteries.  Another feature of the Odin wireless system is the addition of a USB port and a USB cable so you can install firmware updates. The Odins come complete with a 3.5 sync cable, and a 3.5 to 3.5 adapter, a 6.3 adapter for studio strobes and even a lanyard. The transmitter also features a backlit LCD screen for viewing in low-light conditions and modeling flashes that can be activated right from the transmitter. There is even a switch so you can use second curtain sync!
I've been using the Odin system for over a year in the field with my 580 EXII’s and they've been great. To date, these are the easiest and most reliable triggers I've ever owned. The the real benefit is being able to make all my flash adjustments without touching the flashes. Just dial the power up/down for each flash right from the LCD screen and keep shooting. Using the Phottix Odin system couldn't be simpler and I would personally recommend them to anyone. The last time I checked they were available for use with Canon, Nikon and Sony. The prices can’t be beat either. You can get a set-up for one flash for about $329 or a set-up with two receivers for only $399.  If you’ve been thinking about picking up a set, you won’t be sorry.  Great system, great prices……..Remember, keep shooting and have some fun!