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Random photo 2014-09-20 – A very Caspar David Friedrich shot of my wife standing in Fort Barry near the Nike Missile site

Random photo 2014-09-20 – A very Caspar David Friedrich shot of my wife standing in Fort Barry near the Nike Missile site

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Random photo. Going to start posting more of these.

Random photo. Going to start posting more of these.

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A Plug for TextureLib.com and Their Amazing Textures

There are a lot of texture sites out there and I have a ton of stock images that I already use for texturing but I recently discovered texturelib.com and it is hands down the best site for textures I’ve seen. The quality and resolution of the images are great but what really stands out about their images is that they are exceptionally shot, without uneven lighting, wide-angle distortion or bad perspectives. They must be using long focal lengths and cameras mounted on remote-controlled helicopters for most of these because you just can’t shoot stuff like this without some special setup:

Anyway, I just had to spread the word because I just bought the year’s subscription for a paltry $29. Seriously, run don’t walk to get on that stuff.

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SuperPNG – the Free Photoshop Plug-in That Saves Large PNGs in Under a Year

I complained recently on Twitter that Photoshop’s compressed PNG option is brutally slow. If you save a 16-bit 8K texture map to PNG in Photoshop, it’s guaranteed to take at least 3 minutes to save, even on current hardware. It’s insane.

Thankfully, someone heard my nerdy tweet cries and pointed me to SuperPNG, a free plug-in that offers different compression levels and saves compressed PNGs a hell of a lot faster than Photoshop does. I had to share this because it will save you tons of time if you work with PNGs in Photoshop.

For Maya users, it also prompts you to specify whether you want to open the transparency of PNG files as transparency or an alpha channel (unpremultiplied!), which solves a big workflow problem for Maya, Photoshop and PNG.

Otherwise, if you just want to convert PNGs quickly in the OS X Finder, my Automator action with Python 3 is still faster. Grab that in my post here.

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Photo from my last trip to Berlin. Sometimes low-contrast images are seductive.

Photo from my last trip to Berlin. Sometimes low-contrast images are seductive.

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My Review of Adobe’s Lightroom 5

Check it out.

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My Review of Photoshop CS6 Extended is Live (as in “up,” not as “in concert”)

I did an extensive review of Photoshop CS6 and have explained the Adobe Creative Cloud licensing. Read on!

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Not an April Fool’s Joke - My Lightroom 4 Review is Up!

Great update from Adobe. Read the full review on Ars Technica.

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Back from vacation. Had a great time in Berlin and Amsterdam (where this shot is from).

Back from vacation. Had a great time in Berlin and Amsterdam (where this shot is from).

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Using Frischluft Lenscare and Hand-painted Z-depth to Fix Photos

When you work on a magazine that does a lot of stories about real people – not celebs who have nice photos – you often have terrible photos that you are forced to deal with. The current magazine contract I’m on has one of these cases; there is a story about a man who ran a marathon to raise money for cancer research and all the photos are pretty rough looking and we can’t shoot him because he has unfortunately passed away. The best (meaning the least terrible) option was one shot that still had big problems: it was an over-compressed JPEG and it wasn’t clear who the subject was, since everything was in focus.

After jacking up the saturation to give the photo more life, the solution to the subject and quality problems was to hand-paint a Z-depth pass to simulate the depth add then apply a depth of field blur (I’m using the amazing Frischluft Lenscare). This served two purposes: you get to decide what the subject matter is by focusing on it and the high-quality bokeh blurring makes the photo sleeker and more film-like. Our terrible photo, while still no Cartier-Bresson, has graduated to publishable. The Z-pass:

The final comp:

Probably easier to see the focus if you look at it animated in Nuke:

If you look closely, you can see there are some edge halos that require touch-ups but that was pretty straightforward.

If you don’t have the money for Frischluft, Photoshop’s Lens blur has similar features. It’s not as nice as Frischluft and requires more touchups but the same technique can be used by pasting the Z-depth into an alpha channel and it will be picked automatically as the depth source when you open the plug-in:

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