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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Awaken The Artist Within

Plug in to the creative power of plug-ins

Labels: SoftwareHow To

This Article Features Photo Zoom

This plug-in from Alien Skin Software (www.alienskin.com) can save you money, as well as help you save a shot. It can save you money by simulating the wide-open aperture effect—shallow depth of field and a blurred background—that you get with an expensive, fast ƒ/2.8 lens. It can save a shot by blurring a distracting background while keeping the subject sharp. As with the other plug-ins mentioned here, you have creative control within Bokeh. You choose the effective lens and aperture and the amount of blur.

Before you plug in to Bokeh, you need to make a careful selection of the subject in your image-editing software. Take your time making that selection, and you’ll get more realistic results.

Photomatix, a popular high dynamic range (HDR) program from HDRsoft (www.hdrsoft.com), is both a plug-in and a stand-alone application. First, you take several pictures overexposed, underexposed and correctly exposed with your camera mounted on a tripod (set to the aperture-priority mode) and fired with either the camera’s self-timer or a cable release to avoid camera shake.

Then you use Photomatix’s Details Enhancer and Tone Compressor, along with the options in the submenus, to create images that go way beyond the recording capabilities of a digital camera’s image sensor.

Topaz Adjust
Enter the Topaz “Twilight Zone.” Topaz (www.topazlabs.com) is a relative newcomer to the world of HDR image-making. It offers an easy, not to mention very effective, method for creating an HDR image.

AFTER Photomatix

Topaz Adjust allows you to create an HDR image using only one image, as opposed to most other HDR programs that combine several images that are overexposed, underexposed and correctly exposed. What’s more, you can use the noise-reduction feature for super-sharp, noise-free images, or you can blur the noise to the point where you get a painterly-type image, as shown applied here to a photograph I took at Bodie State Historical Park in California. Presets are available, which are cool. But to really unlock your creativity, use the manual adjustment tabs.

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