For the last seven years, an amazing bundle of software, e-books and video training has been made available for just 5 Days. It’s called The Complete Photography Bundle from 5daydeal.com and this year, it has an estimated value of just under $3000 for just $89 (there are some upgrades with more content that are also available). Last year was the first year I became a partner with the company who puts the bundle together, which means that I receive a commission on sales when I share my referral link to the main page for the bundle.
Here’s a quick overview image of the people and companies who are contributing:
A $10,000 GIVEAWAY AND A FREE APPLICATION FROM SKYLUM SOFTWARE
Because the bundle is so highly discounted (nearly $3,000 in value for just $89), I believe that if you find just one valuable item from the bundle, it will be worth investing it. Whether or not you decide to purchase the bundle, you can enter a $10,000 giveaway that includes a free copy of a piece of software FOR EVERYONE WHO ENTERS from Skylum Software called AirMagic (here’s a link to a quick overview video tutorial of the application). Just look for the entry form toward the bottom of the 2019 Bundle Page. It looks like this:
10% of all the proceeds goes to charities (over $1.5 million has been raised thus far), which you can select. I usually choose to give an equal amount to the charities they have selected. About 100,000 people have purchased the bundles over the last seven years, and I’ve bought at least four of them. In a word, the content is AMAZING! If you’d like to check out what’s inside the bundle (and it’s A LOT), visit THIS PAGE.
P.S.: I HIGHLY recommend purchasing a dedicated external hard drive (or making some space on a drive you own) for all of the files that you will probably be downloading if you purchase the bundle. That way, you can move the content from computer to computer and not worry about filling up your internal hard drive (if space is an issue on your internal hard drive(s)). You may even want to purchase two relatively small hard drives (512GB or 1TB) so that you can use one as a backup. They can be found for $50-75 each online or in camera stores/office supply stores like Staples.
All the best!
Editor, The Imaging Buffet
I chose the photo above because it fits in with the topic I’m discussing today. I photographed it with an iPhone 11 Pro using the Panoramic mode. Click on the image to view it about four times larger (I did some perspective correction in Photoshop to straighten the buildings, and boosted the saturation a bit).
WHY I’M RINGING THE ALARM BELLS ABOUT 10.15 CATALINA
There’s a new operating system, named macOS Catalina (10.15), coming very soon (potentially as early as October 4, 2019 according to This Article) to millions of Apple Macintosh users with computers that were produced recently enough (or that have sufficient hardware specs) to run it (this Wikipedia article has a list of the specific models). Normally, I would not be sounding any alarm bells about this, but this is a different situation. Many people get into the habit of just clicking on “update” or have their computers set to automatically update to the latest operating system. But I would be very careful about doing that this time. The reason is that macOS Catalina (10.15) will only run 64-bit apps, and there is a VERY GOOD CHANCE that some or many of the apps you have on your Mac are 32-bit apps. Those applications will stop working if you upgrade.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
1. The main thing to do is to not automatically approve the upgrade if you are invited via a pop-up message to do so until you are ready. I personally will be waiting at least a few months on my main machine (maybe even a year or more) to upgrade.
2. The next thing you can do is turn off all automatic updates for your current Operating System. For example, I am on macOS Mojave (10.14), so I went to System Preferences>Software Update (located in the 3rd Row in the default configuration), and made sure that “Automatically keep my Mac up to date” was unchecked. See below for what that screen looks like. I then clicked on the “Advanced” button and kept “check for updates” checked, but unchecked everything else. With all that said, I would set a reminder to see what updates are available for your computer if you turn off the “Install system data files and security updates.” Checking that item Will Not update your software to a new operating system like macOS Catalina.
3. If and when you do upgrade, I recommend having two backups of your existing system (a Time Machine backup plus a Clone of your system on an external drive).
WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT RUNNING MOJAVE (10.4)?
If you are not running Mojave (Sierra (10.12) or High Sierra (10.3), for example), it’s a bit more complicated. You can find it Software Update under “About this Mac” and then “Software Update”. You can also read about how to upgrade (or avoid turning on auto updates) on THIS PAGE.
RELATED ARTICLES & PODCASTS
On a related note, This is An Excellent Article with a comprehensive overview of what’s in macOS Catalina, and how many things will be changing on your Mac (bye bye iTunes, for example!).
And I thought you may like to listen to This Episode of Connected, one of my favorite podcasts about all things related to Apple Computer, the Mac and iOS (you can even adjust the speed of the playback). If you’d like to cut to the chase, you can skip to 52:32 (you can move the playhead back and forth near the top of the page) to just listen to the section about macOS Catalina, including their suggestion to install an app called Go64 (You Can Find It Here) that will quickly tell you which of your applications on your Mac are 32 vs 64 bit. There are other items called “Kernel Extensions” that are changing, which is quite geeky, but it’s an important change.
If you listen to the beginning of the show, you will hear that the co-founders of the company who produces the podcast (Relay FM) recently helped raise over $300,000 for childhood cancer research by doing a focused fundraising campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Relay FM has more than 20 shows, and their hosts and listeners were very generous in their support. I learned that no family has to pay for the treatment that they receive at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and I was a bit shocked to learn that the average treatment for a child with leukemia is about $200,000.
I also learned from doing some online research that in the 1950s, nearly all children with leukemia passed away, but today, the survival rate is about 75% thanks to the work of research hospitals like St. Jude. Here’s a link to a six hour “podcast-a-thon” that helped them a lot to reach that goal. They are the same people that you will hear on the podcast and their names are Stephen Hackett and Myke Hurley. Stephen Hackett’s son was a patient at St. Jude’s and you can read about his family’s story HERE. You will also hear a gentleman on the podcast named Federico Viticci, who runs a fantastic site called MacStories.net.
MY 40 DAY EMAIL CHALLENGE IS IN FULL GEAR!
If you are not currently receiving my preferred email news and tips, I welcome you to subscribe HERE. You will instantly receive an e-book with 25 pages from my award-winning photo tips book, Focus & Filter, as well as some Lightroom videos. I’m also in the middle of a 40 Day Challenge in which I’ve been sharing tips and advice on many topics, including inkjet printing, portrait photography, travel and much more. I hope to see you there!
It’s truly an amazing time to be a photographer. There is no shortage of incredible tools to edit just about any scanned or digitally-captured image, whether it be a Raw file or many other file types. In September of 2018 I posted an overview of Alien Skin Exposure X3 as well as some of the new features that were coming to Exposure X4. You can find that article here. Recently, the company released Exposure X4.
I was impressed then with the speed and feature set of Exposure X3, and I’m even more impressed now with Exposure X4.5. There are many effects in the application/plug-in that just can’t be found on other non-destructive image editors.
Some of the things that stand out for me in Exposure X4 and X4.5 are as follows:
• LUTs: (short for Look-Up Tables) are small files that allow you to apply certain “looks” or color grading non-destructively to your images inside of Exposure X4. This is an excellent article on the topic that shows a number of examples, with a link to some free downloadable LUTs from Lutify.me.
• Preset thumbnails: (allow you to see and apply many different effects, such as film simulations), are able to be resized by dragging the panel where they are located. This is extremely helpful when choosing different looks. Like all of the panels, you can even customize where they are located.
• Hovering effect for presets is very fast (I tested it on a 2013 MacBook Pro with an i7 Processor). This feature allows you to hover your mouse over a preset, and the image in the center window will temporarily apply that preset, making it very fast and easy to test out different looks.
• The “IR” tools are nothing short of amazing. This tool allows you to create different types of “glow effects” that simulate the look of infrared (or you can use them to just add a softer look) in your images. As they say, you have to see it to believe it!
• The Bokeh tool (used to create creative blur effects) could be an application all by itself. It’s just mind-blowing.
• Tethered Shooting and Non-destructive Layers: Here is a link to a tutorial that shows some of what Exposure X4.5 can do, especially when put in the hands of a skilled image maker:
• User Configurable Keyboard Shortcuts, including one option that makes it easier for Lightroom users to either use Exposure X4.5 as an additional editing tool (standalone or as a plug-in), or for those who want to make the transition from Lightroom Classic to Alien Skin Exposure X4.5.
And here are a few of the newest features that have been added to Exposure X4.5 (from the company’s press materials)
MODIFYING KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS – A Real World Example
I try to use keyboard shortcuts whenever possible to save time, and two that I constantly use in Lightroom are the “-” and “=” keys to make thumbnails larger or smaller in the Library Module. With that in mind, I was able to change the default keyboard shortcut in Exposure X4.5 for those keys (they were previously assigned to “Toggle Pick Flag” and “Toggle Reject Flag”. Now the keyboard shortcuts match between both applications.
NEW VISUAL BROWSING OPTION FOR CARD IMPORTS
I found the new visual browsing option when copying photos from a card to be very well designed and easy to use. The thumbnails can be made quite large (almost full screen if you like), which is great for quickly making selections. Here’s what it looks like (click on image to see it larger):
Alien Skin Software has an excellent collection of tutorials to help anyone get started or hone their skills with their applications. Here is a link to the tutorial page for Exposure X4.5, and here is a link to their YouTube channel.
I would be remiss not to include at at least one screen shot from my testing. I praised this feature in my review of Alien Skin Exposure X3, but this tool never ceases to amaze me. It’s the Overlays panel, and if you like the idea of being able to create a wide variety of custom borders for your images, I would reserve a few hours for yourself to dig in and enjoy!
EXPOSURE X4.5 PRICING and 30 DAY FREE TRIAL
Alien Skin Exposure X4.5 is free to all owners of Exposure X4, and is available in two configurations for Mac and Windows OS:
• Exposure X4 (US $119). I should note that this is a $30 savings compared with the previous price of Exposure X3.
• Exposure X4 Bundle (US $149), a $50 savings compared with the previous Exposure X3 bundle. It includes Exposure X4, Snap Art, and Blow Up. As I noted in my other article, Blow Up is an amazing application that can enlarge your images quite a bit while retaining good detail and minimal or no visible artifacts. Snap Art’s forte is transforming photos or other artwork in many different ways. Effects include many different looks, including pastel, oil painting and watercolor. For more on Snap Art, visit this page, or see the the video below:
and here is a quick video overview of Exposure X4:
• Re: upgrades, the cost to upgrade from previous versions of Exposure to Exposure X4.5 is $79. The company also frequently releases updates to support the raw files of new cameras, make bug fixes, etc.
I highly recommend downloading a copy of Alien Skin Exposure X4.5 and giving it a test drive. Even if you are happy with your current Raw processing app or other image editor, you may find that some of the tools are well worth the cost of the application. If you’d like to try out Exposure X4.5 for free for 30 days, visit this page.