Monday, February 27, 2012

Lisa's Photography INFO Blog: Portland camera Club Tony Sweet March

Lisa's Photography INFO Blog: Portland camera Club Tony Sweet March: The Portland Camera Club will be hosting a photo seminar featuring Tony Sweet on March 18, 2012 . I hope you’ll take a few minutes at you...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New eBook!! Nik HDR Efex Pro

Jason Odell and I have finished the definitive guide to Nik's HDR Efex Pro software.
It's available for digital download and there are a set of original presets to 
get you going in the right direction.

Friday, October 8, 2010

NIKs HDR Efex Pro released TODAY!

NIKS HDR Efex Pro is released TODAY: 
Order HERE and don't forget to use code TSWEET to save a few bucks!

It's the best thing out there! Amazing!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HDR Efex Pro and Sept. 22 (Tomorrow!!) Webinar

First off, my posts are less frequent than I would like. Being only one person, and busier than I've been in years with various projects, I feel like several split personalities most of the time. However, I've been testing Nik's tremendous, soon to be released, HDR Efex Pro program almost since it's inception (alpha) and have marveled at the creation process, now into Beta 2, to be released in October. It is my HDR program of choice. The way it comes out in the initial processing , subsequent adjustments, including fine tuning targeted
(U Point) adjustments make this a powerful and remarkably user friendly product. As with the Nik people, I am very excited about it's release. I'll be sharing some insights into HDR Efex Pro on my upcoming webinar TOMORROW, Sept. 22, 2PM eastern (11am Pacific).

You can sign in to register here:

HDR and Fine Art Nature Photography with Tony Sweet
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PDT

Here's examples of finished images. As there is almost always a need to go into post HDR processing with other programs, all images were processed totally in HDR Efex Pro.

Hope to see you online tomorrow!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Truth be told...

We were in Iceland for a workshop, thru Focus on Nature, and it never really got completely dark, therefore one of the images that I really wanted, warm sunset/sunrise backlighting a large chunk of ice, wasn't going to happen. Well, I managed to get a shot with the hot sun backlighting a nicely translucent enough small beached ice "sculpture." The funny thing about software is that if you take the time to get a little facility and concept, you'll start to pre-visualize the ultimate use of a particular plugin effect. As you can see the original image is a bright, graphic, backlit subject with no color. The ultimate image employs a healthy dose of Viveza 2 to dramatically darken the sky, then selected a very small point on the iceberg and cranked up the brightness, contrast, and warm white balance to render this scene as it should have looked.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Silver Efex Pro magic!

My D3X was in the shop. It's a long story, but all is well, and I missed the large file size and, with good technique, the incredible sharpness attainable. Detail is best expressed in black and white photography. Color is great, and I'm primarily motivated and excited by color, but for the subject, the detail was such with the 24.5 mp file that a black and white conversion was chosen. Using nik's Silver Efex Pro and the fine tuning controls in the far right panel to control contrast, structure, and more, the difference in the color and black and white interpretation is impressive and profound transforming the image from a nice color shot to a fine art image. To me, nik's Silver Efex Pro is the best B&W conversion software in the business.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NIK Summit 2010

This was a great event and I would definitely suggest that you mark this down on your calendar, when the next year's dates are available, to get to it. The NIK Team was tremendous, the speakers were tremendous, my co-workshop instructors, Rick Sammon, Tony Corbell and the lovely Laurie Shupp are a joy to work with. I finally got to meet Vince Versace! Unfortunately, we had to cut out a day early to get to a teaching gig on Whidby Is, WA! So, we missed  Joe McNally .

Quite simply, it was a photography party in one of the best photo venues anywhere! and a great educational experience! Nik Guru, and she's a real one, Janice Wendt, was spinning her NIK magic! The experience was open and cordial...information was flowing were the iPads!! The blog image was shot during our first photo shoot in the lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument optimized using Nik's Silver Efex Pro.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Take the edge off...

I carry a couple of soft focus filters by Singh Ray, which I use frequently, but when wanting to take just a little edge off of an image when the soft focus filters are too much, I take the sharp image into nik Color Efex 3.0 and apply the Classical Soft Focus filter. More often than not, the default setting is enough. However, there are 6 presets for soft focus and diffusion, amount of detail, strength, and brightness, so the filter has a wide range. Although, the difference is ostensibly subtle, the difference in emotional impact is quite different and apparent. It really doesn't take much to transform the feeling of an image. The Classical Soft Focus filter is an essential tool to add emotion and depth to your image. Click on the image to see a larger set of images where the effect is more obvious.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Infrared Glow

Although there are software infrared plugins, and they can work on occasion, infrared subjects can render as black and white when converted to IR in software. For example, software cannot determine that dark green kelp is actually in the infrared spectrum, rendering as B&W. True infrared can only be captured digitally by having one of your older cameras converted to infrared. However, anyone who has processed film infrared (an ever dwindling number...), the attraction is the over processed glow. I have been trying to achieve the glow effect and it can be achieved in several ways, all a bit different, but one of my favorite ways to get the infrared glow is to take your adjusted infrared image into Nik's Color Efex Pro. The Midnight filter can work, but is a very different interpretation, working best on very bright to slightly over exposed images. On this image, the Glamour Glow filter was used to create the sense of depth and infrared glow. Don't be fooled by the name (it sounds like something to use on a fashion photography subject).
Glamour Glow is one of my most used Nik filters!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Shot at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, the barber shop is an iconic image. However, in the first HDR image, the place kinda looks nice, bright and colorful. But, being an old penitentiary, with very small and clammy cells, it really is not a nice place. I wanted a darker interpretation of this scene, so began by converting to a high contrast black and white image in Silver Efex Pro to add grit and a darker feel to the place. But the barber shop was still the main subject. To draw attention to the chair, I painted the color back in on a mask, then applied the bleach/bypass filter from Color Efex Pro. These last two applications greatly increased the visual pull to the chair as the entering point of the eye, followed by the pull of the hallway.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Completely off the wall...

Thermal Infrared. Where in the H#@% would one use something like that?? Well, it's always a good idea to ask oneself, "What if...?" And the most important thing is that no matter what you do...nobody gets hurt!! So, why not try everything you can think of? Sue and I went out on a really nice, delicate snow to shoot for our holiday card image. We liked these trees a lot, but didn't want to do the same thing everyone does. So I started hitting a bunch of Color Efex Pro filters that I don't normally use and after pressing Thermal Infrared on this snow image, it took on the look of a batik style image. The dramatically downsized, framed image on the card worked well for us and gave the card the appearance of a high end fine art card. Moral to the story: If you come across a filter that you never intend to use.....use it. Spend a few minutes with it. You may be surprised at what happens.

Creating a sense of time

This is a process that I often use with HDR images. As you can see from the top image, although the 7 exposures brings in all of the exposure range, the image is a bit flat. Also, the green cast is the result of very bright summer sun throwing the light reflection from the trees into the room. That is the first image. Using nik Color Efex Pro Bleach Bypass filter, desaturated the room a bit and added dramatic contrast. Still not quite what I had in mind, but getting there. The final image is the result of creating a full black and white layer in Silver Efex Pro, blending the 2nd (color) version and a B&W version together, adjusting the opacity to get more of an old faded look. Don't forget to click on the image to get a larger view.

Change of Seasons

We teach on Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School almost every year. Late on this day, the wind picked up. So, the class was shooting long exposures of the blowing wheat. However, the light was a bit flat and the overall color palette was banal. But, I kept shooting to get just the right amount of movement in the grasses without being too schmoozed together or too frozen, knowing that I would be re-interpreting the scene in post processing. So, a variety of shutter speeds were used until I got a feel for particular range of shutter speeds that work. That's image #1, the original. In processing, I changed the season from early spring to early fall using Nik's Indian Summer filter in Color Efex Pro. Anyone viewing the 'fall' image first wouldn't see it as completely changed from the least, I don't think they would. The "fall" interpretation is by far more desirable than the original. I also dropped in nik's Grad Blue filter at a low opacity to add some color to the sky. Afterwards, in Photoshop, I performed a curve adjustment layer to add contrast to the middle ground, which has much more punch than in the original. Bottom line: after dramatically changing the image in software, bringing it into a whole other season.......nobody got hurt! Don't forget to click on the image to see a much larger version.

Long Day's Journey into Black and White

It's a little known factoid, but in order to get the best possible tones in your black and white conversions, it's a good practice to get the color processing nailed down first! In the top image, the exposure was aperture priority, matrix metering. It's a bit dark, but the light was low enough to render a low contrast image, making it easy to adjust exposure and saturation. The second image is the result of using several control points in nik's Viveza 2 brighten and intensify color, add some contrast to the sky, and saturate the buildings. The bottom image is the result of the black and white conversion in Silver Efex Pro. After applying the green filter, I only needed to add a bit of structure to get the final image I was seeing in my imagination.

Don't forget that you can click the image to see it in a much larger view in a separate window.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Warm sunset light....not!

I've been to this spot after a rain, when the sun came out from behind a cloud bank just before dropping below the distant ridge. At these times, there is a classic Smokies fog in the valley touched by warm sunset glow. However, it didn't happen on this particular day. I didn't forget what it looked like, and had the software to make it look as it should've looked! Quite simply, I dramatically increased Warmth in the Global mode (not in Selective). In Viveza 2, I was able to use the white balance tool (warmth) to create the image I was seeing in my imagination!

"hot" Pelican

Sometimes you're photographing in the worst possible light. We are with Nik's Laurie and Tony at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, hoping for clouds.....but, not in San Diego! The contrast was so high on the original image that it was barely manageable, highlights still blown out in the bird and not quite black enough in the background. Being an avid Nik user, I was sufficiently able to Nik-o-fy this image to a whole new interpretation using Midnight from the Color Efex Pro collection, which added the "glow." Then I used Viveza2 to brighten up the feet, the front of the beak, and the tail, then to completely blacken the background.

Balanced Rock

This image from Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia, originally made in color, worked fine until I got into nik's Silver Efex Pro. As I was learning the software, going through pre-existing images, it became clear that certain types of images work better than others. In the series, the sky was soft and pastel in color, consequently lacked visual punch. The light was not as contrasty as I had hoped, so the rock also had a flat look. I took this into Silver Efex Pro and, working off of the Antique Plate preset, tried to give the image more depth, but applying the "Structure" adjustment to the boulder and by allowing the highlights to blow out around it to increase separation.