Blog Archives

Photographers: It’s Time To Register For Summer School

Hi folks. Scott Bourne here with a message about a photo conference you can’t afford to miss. It’s Skip’s Summer School.

I’m proud to once again be on the teaching faculty at Skip’s Summer School for 2012. I’ve taught at each of these events and hands-down, they have been some of my favorite in the industry. Skip’s Summer School had turned into the most amazing boutique photo conference in the business and this year, Skip’s managed to make it better.

It’s one of the best programs and faculty ever assembled and there are some new components that people have asked for in survey after survey.

Before I talk about the up-coming program, here’s a three minute look back at last year that I think you’ll really enjoy…

Here’s what’s different this year…

*Everyone who signs up gets an immediate website review – we’ll help you figure out how to improve your chances of getting seen on the web.

*Now in Chicago with a more centralized location that’s easier for most people to get to than Vegas.

* It’s not just classroom stuff – Now each attendee gets a full day of hands-on with the two instructors of their choice.

* Enhanced platform programs and speakers.

*A couples workshop – more couples are working together in the photo industry than ever before and we have advice from three pro couples who have seen it all.

*Two catered lunches on Monday and Tuesday – this will maximize everybody’s time and we’ll be running two panel programs at lunch as well.

*Discounted $75 registration for WPPI next year.

*Enhanced network building experience unlike any other workshop or conference.

I can’t stress how important it is to get to know and learn from the other people in the photo business who have been there and done that. Here’s your chance. All the registration info is right here at

Retrographer = Great Presets + Versatile Engine

One of my favorite plug-in discoveries of 2011 is Retrographer from Mr. Retro.  The plug-in designed to create authentic vintage photography effects. I’m already a big fan of Mr. Retro’s Machine Wash plug-in which ages text and images, and this versatile package really delivers. The manufacturer claims that users can perfectly re-create any vintage camera look including Lomo, Dianne, Holga, Polaroid, Brownie, Kodak, and Daguerreotype.  I’d say the claims are true.

To start there are a wide range of presets – over 1,100 preset camera settings to choose from.

But the presets are just starting points.  You’ll find total contra over all aspects. You can adjust:

  • Lens – Control focus and distortion.
  • Flash – Control light and spot effects.
  • Film – Control tone and grain for a unique look.
  • Lab – Control exposure, color, and hue.
  • Effects –Add vignettes, light leaks,and  halftones.
  • Finish – Add detailed textures and frames.

I really liked the toning and grain controls.  They are some of the most versatile I’ve ever found.

I found that the filter was very versatile…  although some of the controls were almost too deep.  Also, a small drawback, some effects require you to enter X and Y coordinates into field (hopefully sliders or draggable controls will appear in the future). The only other drawbacks that it is an 8-bit only filter…  but I guess the logic goes if you’re going to age or stylize your image this much, 16-bit color fidelity goes out the window.

I really liked the Finish Controls. a great library of textures and vignettes really added to the image.  I also found the natural media approach to be truly refreshing and inline with how I would do these techniques manually (whether digitally or physically processing).

The controls definitely show how serious the developer was about the product.  While there are a few oddities and gaps, this really is an amazing product (especially for a discerning photographer who wants precision).  If your brain wants to just roll the dice… one nice option is clicking the Auto button (the second button in the top bar).  This will generate random looks and is a great way to experiment.  The other two buttons link to a detailed user manual and a useful preset gallery online.

The plugin sells for $99 USD.  But you can take 10% off using the code RHED at checkout.

To find out more and see more examples of Retrographer in action, simply head to:

Mixing Panoramic & HDR Photography

Sometimes you just have to make lemons into lemon-aide – or at least try.

A few years ago I was in Alaska photographing bears. We moved our boat into Geographic Harbor for a few hours and of course, when we got there the weather was horrid. I made the image immediately below because I was there, not because I liked it.

There’s not much I like about it other than it provides me with a personal memory of my time in Alaska that year. But when I was shooting this location I knew this would happen. So I made several exposures and decided to combine panoramic photography and HDR photography to see if I could salvage something.

Here’s a link to a large version of the result. It’s not the best image I ever made, but it isn’t as horrible as it was when I just made one shot.

I made four shots – two exposures each – and merged them in a combination of Photoshop and Nik HDR Efex Pro. I then added some effects in onOne’s new Perfect Photo Suite. I still don’t love it but that’s not the point. The point is that thanks to technologies like panoramic stitching and HDR tone mapping – once in a while we can save a shot that otherwise wouldn’t make the grade.

HDR Toning Images for Texture and Tone

©Richard Harrington

Using HDR techniques to enhance the details of a single exposure shot in low-light.

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RC Concepcion Reveals How to Make Better HDR Photos

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Scott Bourne catches up with HDR expert and author Rafael “RC” Concepcion.

He is the author of the bestselling book “The HDR Book – Unlocking the Pro’s Hottest Post-Processing Techniques.”

RC shares some great advice on getting the most from your HDR photos.

Be sure to read RC’s blog for some great tips too –