Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Software

A while ago a friend of mine demonstrated a product named Portrait Professional. He was doing a lot of portrait work at the time and was really impressed with its capabilities. He was running his version on his Mac and I am a PC Windows based user. I did eventually download the trial version of Portrait Professional and played with a bit. I was doing some of the things is does in Adobe Photoshop so I placed it on the back burner for a bit.

I eventually got a promotional e-mail offering a discounted price for Portrait Professional 9 with a free upgrade to Portrait Professional 10 when it became available. Portrait Professional 10 is now released and today I finally got around to loading it on my PC. Naturally, one needs to test their newly installed software, so I selected a photo of a model I had photographed more than a year ago to test with.

I think you would agree the photo of her looked pretty good since she is a very lovely young lady. She has makeup on, so any minor imperfections would certainly have been taken care of. Her photo does not need much improvement but perhaps a subtle amount of correction could enhance the image, so I loaded it into Portrait Professional 10 to see what it would render.

Portrait Professional 10 and previous versions I have seen of it give a walking guide of selecting reference points for the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, hairline and face contour. The user has the option of fine tuning the contours of the selected items. I found that very slight minor corrections are required after Portrait Professional 10 has completed its selection process. When you are satisfied with the selections, Portrait Professional 10 will render a suggested corrected image.

Since all beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Portrait Professional 10 does allow for correction of any and all photo parameters by the end user. There are sliders for every aspect which allows the used to visually see the effect as the sliders are moved. Using the software is easy and very intuitive in its use. I have used it without reading a manual or help screen. The results are stunning even for a photo requiring a subtle correction.

I admit, I have not used this product extensively to date, but I do anticipate using it much more in the future. So I am very pleased with the purchase and results achieved in using Portrait Professional 10. However, one needs to test for their self use and the best way to do that is first play with the free trial version that is available for either the Windows based PC or the Mac. One caveat to using the trial version is while you can work on any photo you wish it will have a watermark placed on it. So, the trial version is only suitable for product evaluation and not to render adjusted photos without first buying the product.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Think Spring

With this harsh weather we have had this winter in the Northeast has me yearning for spring. Winter has a beauty about it but it takes its toll on many things in life. When winter is long and unrelenting it can weary the strongest of souls. However, in time like these I always hear that tune in my mind and the voice of Bette Midler singing “The Rose”.

“just remember in the winter
far beneath the winter snows
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose”

The song was written by Amanda McBroom and performed in the 1979 movie with the same title, “The Rose”. Although the song has been sung by many there is only the voice of Bette Midler when this tune plays in my mind.

Remember “think spring” and happy Valentine’s Day to all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finding Photo Ops

Of course, there are photo ops every where you can cast your eye; however there are those times when one cannot find a willing model. There again, you can hire a model to pose, but the cost can be high, especially for someone that just wants to improve on their photo skills. I have found that there are a number of great Meetup groups that are photography oriented. A few do have photo shoots that use models for their photo subjects. These can be a combination of studio shoots or at times may be a photo shoot at an outdoor venue. The advantage to joining such a group is that a photographer can take advantage of shooting one or more models at a very little expense. The Meetup organizers attempt to price the photo shoots such that there is a nominal charge for each photographer. The one disadvantage is that there are a number of photographers and all need to be patient and fair about taking their allotted time with the model. For the most part I have found that many who do attend these Meetup photo shoots are cordial, helpful and cooperative in self regulating their allotted shoot times.

I attended the Boston Portrait Photographers Meetup group photo shoot this past Saturday. The advantage was not only having models available to photograph but the use of equipment to give it the total studio photo shoot experience (see photo showing one of the studio lighting setups). It is not only fun but educational as to what equipment to use for differing lighting effects. There again, it allows a photographer to experience a model photo shoot, get the touch and feel of using studio lighting equipment at a fraction of the cost it would take an individual photographer to fund such an event on their own. The benefits are greater than the risk and that includes the shaking off of stage fright. There are all levels of photographers that participate in these photo shoots and the more experienced ones are more than willing to help assist and educate those that are less familiar with their photographic equipment and the processes being used.

My recommendation for beginners and the more experienced photographers is to check out the photographic Meetup groups in your area. You will have fun, possibly make some new friends and garner much more experience and knowledge that just going it alone.