Since the beginning of July, 2021 I’ve been sharing photo-related tips, tech reviews, useful apps, and inspiring video content that I’ve found with my main email list. Here are some of the subject lines from the collection (some have been edited a bit for clarity).
1: Some of my Favorite Fireworks Photography Tips (the photo above is from that one)
2: iOS and Android Photo Tips that Blew My Mind
3: A Fantastic Series That Has Inspired My Photography
4: This Video Speed Controller for Chrome Can Save Hours
5: A Simple List App I Never Knew I Needed
6: Another Outstanding List App
7: Fantastic 20 to 25 Dollar Wireless Items Perfect for Photography
8: Another Useful App That I Use Constantly
9: A Highly Recommended Photo-Related Podcast and Short Video
10: A Collection of Fantastic Historic Street Videos
11: How to Quickly Remove Power Lines in Three Apps
12: An Amazing Power Line and Object Removal App for iOS and Android
I did something very similar back in 2019 and the response was very favorable, so I decided to give it another go. The best part about it is that it helps me to dive into topics that I otherwise may not have spent the time to research to the same degree. If you have a list or social media account, you might want to do the same.
If you’d like to begin getting the tips (there are 18 more to go as of today!), just visit THIS PAGE and enter your name and email (you can unsubscribe at any time, and be sure to check your sp*m or Promotions tab in Gmail in case they go there).
Also, if you’d like to be able to read the previous email newsletters in the series, just reply to the email you receive from me and ask! I will then give you access. Here is that page again to sign up to receive the next 18 tips, plus future news, reviews, tips, and more.
Hope you enjoy the tips!
All the best,
Editor, The Imaging Buffet
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
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.