Posted on 2 Comments

Check Out These Top Cyber Monday Deals For Photographers

The Best Deals For Photographers

Cyber Monday is when you can find the biggest photography deals of the year online! We scoured the web for some of the best sales for photographers. Here’s a little bit of everything to get your photography going. Shop for discounted photo editing software, camera gear, online storage, and more!

Topaz Labs 54% off The “Everything” Bundle
Everything you need to create beautiful, clear, and crisp images. Get all 6 Topaz AI applications and Topaz Studio 2 for just $299. Existing users get special discounted pricing—only pay for what you don’t own!

Canon Holiday Sale
Up to $500 instant savings on Canon cameras, lens kits, and more.

Pelican Case Black Friday Sale
Get 20% off the world’s most trusted photography cases, and free shipping on orders over $49 using code HOLIDAY.

Outstanding Sony Savings
Get up to $600 off a huge selection of Sony cameras, lenses, accessories, and bundles.

Black Friday Deals on Nikon Lenses
Get up to $600 off a selection of premium Nikon lenses.

Great Discounts at DJI
Save up to 40% on everything at DJI, from drones to accessories.

Westcott Cyber Week Sale
Huge discounts of up to $1300 off a giant selection of photo and video lighting gear and accessories.

Save with SmugMug
Get 40% off your new account at SmugMug to display, backup, and sell your photos online.

Get 10$ off Square Space
Save 10% off your purchase of your first domain or photography website with coupon code BLKFRI10.

Did you find more great Cyber Monday photography deals? Share in the comments below!

Posted on 4 Comments

Featured Interview: Nature Photographer Joanne Klausner

We recently selected photographer Joanne Klausner’s image to be featured on the launch screen of Studio 2. We wanted to learn more about the artist behind the image. Read on for an interview with Joanne Klausner. 

Tell us about your background. How did you get into photography?

Photography was something that was introduced to me at a very young age.  I grew up watching both my father and brothers develop their own black and white photographs they took, and later on, my father dabbled in developing his own color prints.  I always found it fascinating watching my father put a piece of paper into some liquid (developer) and it slowly started to show an image. 

I also remember thinking we would all die when my father would slam on his brakes on a highway and pull over to the side of the road to get a shot!  I grew up in Montreal, Canada and we had beautiful mountains that, in the fall, turned into an absolutely beautiful painting.  Caught at the perfect time (height of color) if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe the colors could be real. 

I always enjoyed taking photos, always had some kind of point and shoot but I didn’t really have any desire to do anything with them.  Fast forward many years, moved to Edmonton Alberta, Canada, kids grew up, moved out and we finally started to travel.  We love to cruise and I just love being in a new port with new photo opportunities daily.

I was frustrated with my point and shoot as I couldn’t get close enough to anything and really wanted a zoom lens.  My first DSLR was purchased about nine years ago with a zoom lens.  I kept it in “auto”, so proud of the pictures I was getting⁠—not when I look back at them now!  

Fast-forward again to about four summers ago, I had my staff over for a BBQ at my house and I pulled out my camera and began to take photos.  One of the girls started asking me questions about the camera and it came out that I was shooting in auto.  She just looked at me and asked why I would have such an expensive piece of equipment and not use it to its potential.  DARE ON!!!  I am very competitive with myself and from that day forward I made it my mission to learn how to shoot in manual.

What is your favorite subject to shoot? 

My favorite subject to shoot is anything in nature, but mostly flowers and birds.

Tell us about your photographic style and gear.

I try to capture anything that evokes emotion.  If I see something and it moves me in any way, I am inspired to capture it. 

I am a Nikon gal and over the past 4 years I have changed Camera bodies 3 times.  I am now using the D850 and absolutely love it.  The lens most often on my camera is the Nikon 28-300 mm.  In my bag I also carry my Nikon 105mm, 50mm and my Sigma 14-24mm.

I use a combination of Adobe LR, PS and various Topaz products.  I downloaded Topaz Studio 2 as soon as it came out and loved it right away.  It is now an integral part of my workflow.

How does Topaz Labs software help your editing process?

I have been using Topaz products for probably the past 4 years, which is when I started to take my photography seriously.  As I mentioned, Topaz Studio is always in my workflow.  I will always use AI Clear and basic adjustment.  

When I am doing my macro flower work, I love using a combo of Glow, Radiance and Smudge.  If I really feel like getting creative, I will start diving into the textures!  I recently downloaded the 30 day trial of Sharpen AI and am anxious to test drive it.  

How do you find your inspiration? 

It doesn’t take much to inspire me to pick up my camera.  I find my job can be stressful at times, and there is nothing better for me to calm my nerves than to pick up my camera and go into my backyard in the summer.  I have bird feeders all over so I can just sit quietly and wait for my subjects to show up.  I also love to travel and my husband and I will pick destinations that will offer the best photographic opportunities.

Living in Canada with our long harsh winters I sometimes have to get creative.  I very often will buy a single flower at the supermarket and come home and take shots until I find that special angle that is just a little different.  I also have been dabbling in model train scale people set up with either fruit or vegetables to tell a story.  I probably love Macro photography the best for its shallow debt of field. 

If you could only shoot with one lens, which would it be? 

I would have to say my 28-300 as it is the most versatile and gives me a good range of wide angle to telephoto so I wouldn’t miss many shots.

What is your biggest challenge in photography?

In-studio lighting!!!  One day when I am retired from my full-time job, I will master it.  I am always growing and learning new things every day.  When I compare my photos today from 5 years ago….well there is no comparison.  I hope I say that again in another 5 years.

Do you have prints for sale?

All my prints that you find on my Instagram page or my Facebook Photography page are for sale.  I also sell greeting cards a few times a year, and I am currently taking orders for my 2020 Calendar.

Posted on 3 Comments

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started HDR By Jim Nix

1. It’s about light, not color.

When you start with HDR, one of the first things you notice is that all of a sudden, you are getting some incredible colors and high saturation levels. It can be inspiring and interesting, and in a lot of cases, I’ve seen folks getting carried away with it (myself included!). I’m a big color guy at heart, so this one I struggled with. It’s easy to push those sliders, but be careful because otherwise, you may end up with what I have seen referred to as “clown vomit.” Very descriptive.

I believe it was Trey Ratcliff that once said, “HDR is about light, not color,” and his words are so true. The real reason people normally shoot HDR is to balance out light in a scene where it isn’t balanced. So keep that in mind and watch your saturation levels. Nothing wrong with big bright, saturated colors – and it depends on what you are trying to achieve with the shot because this is art after all – but just remember to keep those saturation levels in check if you are trying to appeal to a wider audience.

2. Step outside of your comfort zone.

If you are a landscape person, try some architectural shots.  If you prefer cityscapes, take a drive in the country or head out to the beach.  If you always shoot wide angle, put on a zoom.  Stretch your creativity by forcing yourself to do something you aren’t comfortable with.  This has the added benefit of being fun too! If you are a sunrise person then try shooting at night. It’s good practice to get accustomed to various light situations, because at some point you will likely have to shoot at the one you are least comfortable with.  Practice ahead of time so you are ready when the moment presents itself.

3. Take more shots per HDR.

This is another one of those situations where you will get different responses to the question of how many shots are in each bracket.  Shooting 7 exposures per bracket (all 1 stop apart), is a good idea for cathedrals, or anything highly architectural, unless the light dictates that I don’t need that much (or need more) or if I am shooting handheld for some reason (my arms are not exactly capable of being still for 7 exposures). With the recent advancements in camera technology, however, just 3 exposures per bracket can give you some fabulous HDR photos.

When I first began, I normally shot 3 exposures, 2 stops apart (so it was -2, 0 +2 normally).  It worked fine for me for a while, but the more I experimented, the more I realized that I could get better results if I shot 1 stop apart and more frames per bracket.  Making the jump to 1 stop apart made a big difference in my opinion, and having more exposures to work with just gave me a greater range of light to work with.  So nowadays, it’s usually -3 to +3, but not always… which leads us to the next point.

4. You shouldn't always center your brackets.

The traditional approach is to shoot 3 or 5 frames per bracket, which means either -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 if shooting 5 frames or just -2, 0, +2 if shooting three.

But sometimes a scene is fairly bright and you don’t want that long, bright exposure just being a big white mess.  So, often times I dial down the brackets and start with -4, which after 7 exposures ends my set at +2.  This way, my darkest exposure gives me a somewhat darker sky too (which seems to balance out the light in the sky well against really bright exposures) and the brightest one is only -2, so it’s not a total waste.  I have even shot brackets starting at -5 if the scene is really bright.  Experiment and see what works for you — and have some fun doing it!

5. You can achieve an HDR look in post-processing.

Even if you’ve not mastered true HDR photography just yet, there are ways to achieve the HDR look. The first plugin I ever bought was Topaz Adjust, nearly 10 years ago now. I was blown away with how much it could do with a photo and achieve an HDR look on a single exposure. In years since I’ve used a lot of other products as well, but I’ve always had a fondness for Topaz Adjust, because it was my “first love,” if you will, in terms of post-processing, and now it’s gotten even better with the new Topaz Adjust AI.

Topaz Adjust AI functions as a standalone, or as a Photoshop or Lightroom plugin, so it is simple to incorporate into your workflow. There are two auto-adjust modes that are AI-powered: Standard and HDR Style. The HDR Style mode obviously is geared toward achieving an HDR look, so this particular mode can give your photos a nice, natural enhancement without putting a lot of backbone into manual adjustments.

Adjust AI includes two other Topaz technologies, Topaz Clarity and Topaz Detail.  

Topaz Clarity intelligently enhances contrast and dynamic range without creating a lot of halos or artifacts. By bumping up the contrast, it does a wonderful job making the photo pop and you’ll also be able to isolate contrast in different regions of the photo with the micro, low, medium, and high sliders. So, you get an unprecedented amount of control compared to the global contrast slider.

Getting into Topaz Detail, it basically figures out what is detail and what is not, so you can selectively crisp up certain parts of the content of your photo. Topaz Detail goes beyond edge sharpening — it intelligently divides the small, medium, and large-sized details in the photo, so you can selectively enhance what you want very quickly.

When I started with HDR photography, I tried to follow along with everyone’s ideas, but it got to where I felt like I was doing “their version” of my photos and not my own. These finishing touches of technology make Adjust AI a great fit for achieving an HDR style on any photo, polishing your images to bring out those fine details, and making them unique to your style as a photographer.

From more HDR tips to just about any aspect of photography, I’ve worked hard to build up a wide range of trainings and tutorials on my YouTube channel, so you can learn from anywhere you are, in any stage of your photography journey! Browse my channel, and please feel free to ask me questions on any of my videos. I’d love to hear from you.

About Jim Nix

Hi there, brave reader. I’m Jim – traveler, photographer, wanderlust sufferer.  

My hope is to motivate people to travel and take photographs; to inspire creativity in others by sharing what I create, how I create it, and even what I use to create it with.  I hope to inspire people to go explore someplace new, to just get up and give it all a try.  

So go see something new.  Try something different.  Travel.  Take a photo.  It doesn’t even have to be a good photo.  Just take it.  Create something.  There’s a kind of magic that happens when you do.  

Learn something new on my YouTube channel!