Established 1988

Category: Tips and Tricks

Backup Images while Travelling

Bob Fowler from the Richmond Hills Camera Club

Bob Fowler
Richmond Hill Camera Club

I recently did some travelling in the U.S. with the intent of taking lots of images with my digital camera. I also wanted to back up those images as I traveled to ensure that nothing was lost during the trip due to card memory failure, theft, etc.

One solution to backing up which many photographers use is to bring along a laptop/ultrabook computer and periodically backup the memory cards to that device. I used a similar method that is much cheaper, requires less luggage space, and is only marginally less convenient. I brought along a portable, slim, external hard drive; usb cable (the one used for your printer); usb hub; and tiny sd card reader. Together they take a mere few inches of room and a matter of ounces of weight in a carry-on bag. Depending on the choices of brand, hd size, etc. the items can be bought for about $100. In fact you probably have most of these items already. In my case it was more like $130 worth of gear since I had a 2 Terrabyte portable hard drive, plus the other items.

The inconvenience involved in this scheme is that one must have access to a computer with usb ports in order to use the gear. Luckily every hotel/motel we encountered had an easily accessed desktop computer in their lobby open to free use by any guest.   Pretty much every desktop computer today has usb ports both back and front. With the hub I had, I only needed one free usb port – never a problem. The hub provided 4 free ports. I needed 2.

That minor inconvenience factor itself will soon be eliminated by new gear. The Western Digital “My Passport Wireless” has just become available in Canada. It has an SD slot in the side for direct access by your camera’s memory card. Furthermore it establishes its own wireless network, so that your mobile devices can use/control its content directly. Each evening you could upload your card’s images and view them immediately on your mobile device (IOS, Android phone or tablet – up to 8 devices simultaneously). This is a more expensive (about an extra $100) option than the one I used on this recent trip, but that extra degree of control may well be worth it. If your only need for your laptop while travelling is for image backup, you can now skip that device and have equal or better backup storage options.

Here is info re. the new WD Passport Wireless:


Creativity in Photography


Creativity in Photography

By Sheri Bélanger

Coordinator of the Creative Challenge Group

Toronto Camera Club

It never ceases to astonish me when photographers say that they are not creative. ‘Creativity’, a late 17th century concept we’ve adopted today, is the ability to make something new or unique that has value. Both ‘new’ and ‘value’ are, of course, subjective. But one thing is indisputable—the uniqueness of every photograph that is taken. No one else has your experiences, nuances, beliefs, and perspectives. Every time you pick up a camera to compose a shot, three factors work together in a synergy of events that create a uniqueness all your own.

The first factor, of course, is you. Everything about you influences the photographs you shoot. Your experiences, beliefs, confidence, perspective, and connection to the subject all come into play as you compose your photograph.

The second factor is your subject. Whether that subject is a person, a rock, or a sunset, you have a relationship with your subject—even if only briefly. How that relationship is portrayed depends on your connection.

The final factor is your audience. Who views the photograph, and when they do so, what are they bringing from their own perspective when they see what you create? It’s the last facet that determines the true creativeness of the photograph—confirms that something new and of value has been made. The individuals who view the photograph are as varied as the photographers. Keep in mind that you will most likely be the first to view your new creation. Judge it not by how others might see it, but by how it makes you feel. If you are not satisfied with it, instead of feeling that you are not creative (which I firmly believe is simply not the case), you might consider that you were not feeling inspired at that particular moment.

Learning to be more receptive to creativity and inspiration takes effort. The most important part of being creative, which you won’t discover in a book or a class, is knowing yourself. What makes you excited to try something new? Do you enjoy tight deadlines and strict rules? Does open-ended exploration bring you into that zone of inspiration? Do you imagine the photograph you want to take and fastidiously plan how to best make it into a reality? Is the moment best captured when you’re confronted with something novel? Are you aiming to photograph something for your own interest and self-satisfaction, or are you aiming to impress others with the image? Maybe a bit of both? No matter which way we find ourselves opening up to our creativity, so long as it gets us there, it is valid and exciting.

Consider the two images below. The first image, “Painted Lady” was very well thought out. From creating the headdress, hiring a makeup artist (Dorota Buczel), painting the background layer, creating Photoshop brushes out of ink splatters–I spent considerable time working on the image. I knew I would be entering this image into competitions.



The second image, “Running away from Home” I created in about ten minutes one day at the studio when I was bored and staring at my keyboard. It made me laugh. That was the motivation behind that image. Both were worthwhile endeavors, and better yet, they inspired me to try something different and new.


There are a variety of sources on line which have great advice on how to increase your creativity. Remember that what works for some may not work for you. Advice that works for me includes the following:

  1. Give yourself permission to play and make mistakes.
  2. Learn your camera the best you can so that when you are in the moment, there is just one less thing to think about.
  3. Do everything you can to explore other individuals work. The best is having the chance to meet other creative individuals, and talk about their art. However, the internet is a rich environment to see many different pieces.
  4. Find a subject you have strong feelings about and go out and photograph it. Your passion will show through.
  5. Talk to children. Listen to their stories. It is a fantastic way to see the world in a whole new light.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” 
Roald Dahl

Online Resources:

Becoming a More Creative Photographer by Harold Davis

How many of these creative photography ideas can you use?

100 Ways to be a more creative photographer by Tanya Smith



Understanding the ND Filter

Thomas Lee

Understanding the ND Filter


Thomas Lee (Chinese-Canadian Camera Club)


What is an ND Filter?

ND is short of Natural Density. It is a piece of glass (or acrylic) placed in front of a camera lens in order to reduce or modified the light getting into the camera. ND filter is in gray color and there are different filters with different degrees of grayness (ratings). On a camera, a photographer can use the aperture setting and the shutter speeds to adjust the amount of light entering the lens. Putting an ND filter in front of the lens will give the photographer a third tool for adjusting the amount of light.


Ratings of a ND Filter

ND filters are rated with different ND numbers according to their optical transparency, such as ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32, ND64, ND100 . . . etc. The lager the number, the greater the amount of light will be reduced. ND2 and ND4 are the mostly common used ratings. Also, there is a variable ND filter which allows the user to continuously changing the ND rating without physically changing to a different rated ND filter. By turning the variable ND filter, a photographer can get his precise light intensity for his exposure which cannot be obtained by any f/stop.


Application of an ND Filter

  • Extend exposure time without having over exposure take place.
  • Blurring the moving water (such as waterfalls, rivers, water waves) by using very slow shutter speeds.
  • Use a wider aperture to reduce depth of field (such as portraits shooting) on a very bright sunny day when the required shutter speeds exceed the fastest available on a camera.
  • Remove or reduce the visibility of any moving objects (e.g. people on a street or tourist hotspots) by using very slow shutter speeds (up to several minutes).
  • In a continuous changing brightness environment, e.g. moving cloud, the photographer can use a variable ND filter to modify the light intensity without changing the camera settings (aperture etc.)


Types of ND Filters

  • Screw over the lens, single rating.
  • Screw over the lens, variable rating
  • Rectangular slot-in ND filter uses with a slot filter holder. The holder can hold multiple filters at the same time to get a mix of rating.


Some brand names of ND Filters:


HDR Photography


HDR Photography


John Strung

HDR photography gets a bit of a bad rap from people who think its sole purpose is for special effects photography. That is not the case all. HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range” photography. It actually originated as an attempt to make photographs look more realistic.

Cameras do not have as large a dynamic range as the human eye. If you look at a landscape on a sunny day, your eye can see the clouds in the sky at the same time as it can see the details in the shadows. Cameras can’t yet do that. If you expose for the clouds in the sky, you lose the details in the shadows. If you expose for the shadows, the sky is blown out. That is why so often shots we take of landscapes do not seem as vivid as we recall the scene being. While you can compensate to a certain extent in post-processing the result often yields grainy images.

HDR photography attempts to remedy this by combining multiple exposures. In the simple example above, you would take three separate shots, one exposing the sky correctly, one exposing the shadows correctly, and one exposing the midrange correctly, and then combine the three to approximate what the eye actually sees.

This sounds complicated, but modern cameras and software make it easy. In fact, modern cameras make it easy to take HDR photos with 3, 5 or 7 images.

The image below is a HDR composite of 5 different exposures.


 The next image is the middle of the 5 exposures used for the HDR photo above.


Compared to the HDR image, the single exposure image has blown out highlights in the streetlight and at the base of the lighthouse, and has no colour or detail in the lake or sky or below the pier.

HDR is useful whenever your subject has a larger dynamic range than your camera can handle.

It can be particularly useful for shooting into the sun or for getting texture in snow as in the image below.

1409-3HDR is also useful for indoor architectural photography. If HDR had not been used for the image below of the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, the bright chancel would have been blown out and there would have been little or no detail in the dark areas under the balconies.


Making the HDR Image


  1. Camera Settings – taking the photo

Use a tripod.

Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode (Av on Canon, A on Nikon), with a fixed (not Auto) ISO setting, so that only the shutter speed changes between exposures.

Most cameras have an “Auto Exposure Bracketing” setting that will allow you to set the camera to take 3, 5 or 7 shots at different exposures automatically. You may have to consult your camera manual.

The photo below shows a Canon 6D set to take 5 shots, the first 2 stops underexposed, then 1 stop underexposed, then correctly exposed, then 1 stop overexposed, then 2 stops overexposed.

If the camera is set to the timer mode, you only have to press the shutter once and it will automatically take all 5 shots one after the other.


Exposure Tip:

Most cameras will not let you take an exposure longer than 30 seconds unless you use the manual “bulb” setting. When shooting HDR in low light situations, to ensure that your longest exposure is 30 seconds, set up your camera as above and press the shutter half way down to see what shutter speed the camera will automatically expose for. Then, assuming you are going take HDR shots over a range of -2 to +2 EV (as above) change your ISO so that the shutter speed is shown as 8 seconds. This will result in exposures of 30, 16, 8, 4 and 2 seconds. (If you are going to shoot a range of -3 to +3, set your ISO so that the metered shutter speed is 4 seconds).

  1. Combining and Processing the Images

Combining and processing the images is done most easily using a plug-in. The two most popular ones are Photomatix ( and Nik HDR Efex Pro ( Both will work as plug-ins for Lightroom and Aperture. HDR Efex Pro will also work as a plug-in for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Although HDR Efex Pro is a little more expensive than Photomatix, it comes as part of a suite of 7 plug-ins, so you get an additional 6 plug-ins for the price.

There are good video tutorials for using both of these tools on the web sites linked above.

Basically, it is just a matter of selecting the 3, 5 or 7 images you took in the Aperture or Lightroom browser, and pulling down a menu to invoke the plug-in. The software will then combine the images and give you a choice of various effects you can apply.

With a little practice and experimenting, you will find that you can process HDR images quickly and effectively.

  1. Useful Links

Photomatix – HDR Plug-in

Nik HDR Efex Pro – HDR Plug-in

HDR Tutorial – How To Make Beautiful HDR Photos With Ease!

The HDR Image

Cambridge in Colour – HDR Photography

Trillium Photographic Club Tips and Tutorials


A tip for new photographers – Composition

Wayne Elliott


Wayne Elliott

Latow Photographers Guild

A tip for new photographers – Composition 

This is a tip for new photographers.  One of the earliest challenges is composition…what to put in the frame and what to leave out.  Here is a homemade piece of ‘equipment’ that will help you to compose stronger images.

Find a fairly rigid piece of plastic, I used the bottom of a microwaveable tray.  Cut out the bottom, 4 or 5 inches will do and then cut out a 2 inch by 3 inch rectangle from the centre of your piece of plastic.  You now have a cutout that mimics the proportions created by your 35mm DSLR or film camera.

Instead of using your camera to frame and reframe images, you can now easily frame them using your new composing tool.  Hold it closer to your eye for more subject matter in your frame, much like a short lens, e.g., a 50mm,  or hold it farther away from your eye for more of a closeup as in a longer telephoto.  Move it in and out or turn it for portrait or landscape orientations or angle it for more novel images.










Edith Levy

Toronto Digital Photography Club

Phoneography – Taking Big Pictures with a Little Lens

I’m a photographer! I use a DSLR with various lenses to photograph the people and world around me so why would I want to use my phone or any other mobile device to take pictures? That’s easy sometimes it’s the only camera I have with me and really any camera is better then no camera. There are other reasons of course and they include but aren’t limited too:

  • It’s convenient
  • It’s easy
  • It’s less intrusive than a DSLR when doing street photography
  • I can take pictures with my phone when I’m doing long exposures with my DSLR
  • There are 1000’s of Apps that let me get creative on the go and many are free.
  • I can upload to social media and share my images right away

What Do You Need To Get Started

  • A smartphone with the ability to take pictures (which is just about any phone today) – iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc.
  • Instagram – it’s free and it’s like twitter for pictures. You can share your pictures with friends easily and follow others. If you want to follow me on Instagram @EdithLevy
  • Camera+ – (I love this camera app) or your phone’s native camera
  • Snapseed – my go to app for processing

One of the keys to getting started with Phoneography is to get yourself organized so that you know where all your important apps are. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create folders so that when you’re in the field your apps are literally at your fingertips when you need them.

Image 1



I create 3 separate folders to keep all my apps organized (and this method was created by photographer Justin Balog)

  • Darkroom folder – I keep all of my processing apps in this folder. My Photo editing apps include:
    • Snapseed
    • 100 Cameras in 1
    • PhotoToaster
    • HDR FX Pro
    • Dramatic B&W
    • BlurFX
    • Grungetastic
    • Glaze
    • Mirrorgram
    • TangledFX


  • Camera folder – I keep all my cameras together with the exception of Camera+ which is onthe first screen of my iPhone. All other camera apps are in the folder and they include:
  • Camera Awesome
  • Hueles
  • 645Pro
  • Pocketbooth
  • Light Camera
  • Hipstamatic
  • MPro


  • Photo Tools Folder – For tools that I usually use in the field such as:
    • The Photographer’s Empheris
    • The Longtime Exposure Calculator

Image 2


Taking pictures with your phone is quite straightforward. Being consistent and following these simple steps will ensure that you come away with good images. As with all photography be sure to be mindful of composition. Open your favourite camera app and tap the screen to focus.

Image 3


The square box will appear on the screen indicating where your focus point is. In most apps where ever you decide to focus this is where the camera will meter. This is similar with the spot metering system on your DSLR. It’s for this reason that my go to camera app is Camera+. The focus and exposure are separate in this app. You would tap on the square to focus then set your exposure point anywhere on the screen, via the circular aperture icon, to set the exposure as in the image above.

Take the picture and if you like it the way it is then great…you’re done. If you’re like most of us you’ll want to enhance your image using an image-editing app. The app that I use 99% of the time to edit every image is Snapseed. It’s intuitive and will allow you to crop, straighten, adjust brightness & contrast, bring out detail in your shadows and so much more. I may give my images a final artful touch by using other apps and apply presets to further give life to my vision.


Original Image straight out of my iPhone taken with Camera+

Image 4_Original



Final Image edited with Snapseed and the Toy Story preset in PhotoToaster

Image 5_PhotoToaster



Finally don’t forget to share your work on Social Media. Whether its Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Google+ there’s a whole community of Phoneography shooters that you could be a part of.


Edith Levy is a member of the Toronto Digital Photography Club and her work can be found on

Travel Tips for Photographers




Sandra Laurin

Etobicoke Camera Club

Travel Tips for Photographers

“some people photograph their travels, other people travel to photograph”


Whichever group you belong to, there are a few things you should prepare for your trip.


Before you go…

  • research your destination so that you know the best time to travel (arriving in the rainy season can limit your photo-taking opportunities… as well as your patience!)
  • google your destination for tons of current travel info about weather,political situation, currency, festivals, and celebrations
  • guide books provide lots of info that can enhance your trip
  • learn a few key phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting (never underestimate the power of “Good Morning” in the local language)
  • get to know a new camera before your trip
  • make sure your camera is in good working order
  • pack the camera manual in your carry-on backpack so you can spend some time reading on the plane. I find something new every time I consult the manual.
  • take a backup camera if possible
  • take extra batteries, a recharger and electrical converter for the country you’re going to visit
  • have extra memory cards (preferably 2-3 smaller cards rather than one huge card as it could possibly malfunction), so “don’t put all your photos in one basket”
  • it’s a good idea to download photos to a card reader or laptop if you don’t mind the extra weight
  • use a microfibre cloth to keep the lens clean (can also be used for your glasses and sunglasses)
  • a travel tripod or a tabletop mini-tripod to steady your camera in low light or to set a time exposure that allows you to be in the picture
  • photocopies of your passport, tickets, insurance, medication and eye glass prescriptions, travel itinerary, driver’s license, credit cards also leave copies of the above with someone at home
  • a small notebook to record names of places, tips from other travellers or addresses if you promise someone a photo
  • a small flashlight…in some countries the hydro goes off at a certain time of night…also if you’re near the equator you’ll be surprised how darkness comes within minutes after sunset!
  • a nail brush is useful for scrubbing dirty hands and feet as well as hiking boots or dirty clothes
  • a small compass, as it’s often hard to determine direction even in cities and to find north in the rain or after the sun goes down
  • a thermometer, as it’s sometimes interesting to know just how hot or cold it really is!
  • an iPhone has apps that can do many of the above (ie. compass, flashlight, notes, temperature,)


When you arrive..

  • talk to other travelers and locals to find out points of interest
  • pick up a local English newspaper to check out “what’s happening”
  • look at postcards of the area…they usually have good composition and location ideas (it’s OK to copy!)
  • a map of the city or area and be sure to mark your hotel and jot down the address and phone # (take a brochure or card from the hotel as it’s often easier to let a taxi driver read the address)
  • be friendly and interact with people…buying a mango from a market seller can give you the opportunity to ask if you may take a photo (if you promise to send a copy, write down the address and make sure that you follow up)
  • a friendly greeting and a smile will result in more genuine people photos
  • carry small change of the appropriate currency in your pocket ready to buy that mango
  • although there’s much debate on whether or not to pay people for pictures I feel that even a small amount of change can help out a family in a developing country and you will have negotiated for a much better photo than if you had to “steal” it on the sly
  • download images to a card reader every night
  • don’t delete photos on the camera until you see them on a large screen (unless they’re totally horrible!)
  • recharge batteries every night ready for the next day of shooting


On the go…

  • always have your camera ready to go with probable settings (ISO, white balance, aperture or shutter speed) and at arms reach
  • when you first get sight of a subject (especially animals if on safari)…take a shot…you may not get a second chance
  • then move in closer…frame your shot to get the image you really want
  • turn around…often the best shot is behind you!
  • use a fast shutter speed (or sports mode) generally with animals and with active children
  • try using fill flash outdoors especially with subjects in front of water or with strong light from behind
  • get wide angle shots of herds…then zoom in on a specific animal for close-ups
  • zoom in to fill the frame or take a couple of steps closer
  • close-up shots are fantastic but don’t forget to include the surrounding environment or habitat in some shots to give a sense of place
  • think about the direction of the light and if there’s time,move for a better angle
  • in cases where you can’t get out of your vehicle (on safari), a beanbag or rolled clothing resting on a window will give added stability, especially when using zoom lenses
  • “early to bed, early to rise”…you will get wonderful lighting at dawn and dusk (the Golden Hours) especially if on safari at the water hole where all the animals come to drink at that time of day
  • check white balance…often the sunset mode is useful at these times
  • always use the histogram to determine proper exposure…if necessary, change the settings and shoot again
  • don’t hide indoors in the rain..protect your camera with a baggie or even use the shower cap from the hotel


Take time to ENJOY your trip. Take photos that please YOU. They are YOUR memories.


Night Shooting

head 2

Barb Redford

Halton Hills Camera Club

Night Shooting

General tips:

  1. Tripod… Tripod… Tripod
  2. Manual setting – Bulb… or a long exposure setting generally between 10 and 30 seconds or more
  3. Release cable or timer and lock up mirror if you have the ability to do so ( live view locks up the mirror)
  4. Use lowest ISO possible to reduce noise in most instances
  5. Turn OFF your image stabilization on your lens when on the tripod
  6. Have an alternate light source – flash, flashlight, sparklers, glow sticks etc

Aurora – aka the Northern Lights:

  1. High ISO – 1600 or more
  2. Focus on infinity
  3. Short exposures ( 5-10 sec) to get “ribbon”effects
  4. Wide angle or fish eye lens is best

Car Trails + Streaks :

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Watch backgrounds
  3. Longer streaks require longer exposures
  4. Streets with curves give greater interest
  5. Oncoming white streaks – outgoing red streaks

Long Exposure:

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Increase exposure time by 5-10 sec increments
  3. A very long exposure will create daylight effect
  4. Dawn or twilight will leave a bluish tinge to photo adjust white balance to Kelvin setting (8000K)
  5. Lights in pictures will “ star”

long exposure

Fireworks + Lightning:

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Manual focus on a distant object or infinity
  3. Daylight white balance to get colours in fireworks
  4. Wide angle lens is best for multiple “ explosions” on single shot cover lens between fireworks / lightning strikes while lens open

fireworks 3

Lens Spin:

  1. ISO doesn’t matter – lower ISO gives more time, aim for 5-15 sec exposure
  2. Turn lens while open, stopping at end before lens closes will put last object solidly in picture
  3. Creates streaks across picture, slow turn shorter streaks, fast turn longer streaks

Moon Shots:

  1. Moon is very bright and moves very fast across the sky mid range ISO depending on moon brightness
  2. Manual focus or some cameras will focus on edge of moon
  3. 5-10 sec exposure
  4. Telephoto lens if want just moon
  5. – moon rise and moon set plus times and angles

Painting with light:

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Use flash off camera or flashlight to light scene, can use coloured gels over light source
  3. Move quickly through your image and DON’T stop moving !
  4. Do not fire flash directly at camera unless you want a bright “ star” in the shot
  5. Use side lighting to create depth to objects



Star Trails or just stars:

  1. High ISO ( 3200)
  2. Best time is at least 3 hours after sunset
  3. Wide Angle lens
  4. Focus manually on a bright star or object
  5. For circular trails must focus on the North star as centre of shot
  6. The trick *** a series of 30 second exposures stacked in photoshop gives best shot with least amount of noise
  7. 15 min of star trails is approx 1-2 inches long in a picture

star trails

Quick Photoshop Tips for B&W

Tony Paine

Tony Paine

Mississauga Camera Club

Tony Paine is the 2-time Club Champion of Mississauga Camera Club, Competition Director at Etobicoke Camera Club and a contributing member to the Toronto Focal Forum.  About 40% of his work is in B&W.  See more examples at

Quick Photoshop Tips for B&W

Black and White is used to add drama and emphasize the structural design of a well-executed image.  My 3 hour B&W Workshop covers 10 Tips & Tricks to make better images (most of which also work in color).  Let me give you a couple of the best quick tips.

Half Dome

 Image: Half Dome View from Shady Lookout

Tip #1: Improve the apparent 3-dimensionality of any image with “Poor Man’s PerceptoolTM(courtesy of; George also has a great free natural HDR program “ALW HDR” for CS3/4/5).  PerceptoolTM is a downloadable program that costs about $100 US, but is also only available for CS3/4/5.  What I call Poor Man’s Perceptool is a free Action you can download (which does a better job on highlights than the paid version), comprised of the following simple steps:

1.       Select the upper layer in your image stack (or the base layer if you just opened an image).

2.       Start recording the Action – call it “GDW Poor Man’s Perceptool”

3.       Press Alt-Control-Shift-E (PC) to generate a new layer representing a copy of all the underneath layers.  Name the new layer “Copy”

4.       Press Control-J to make a copy of the Copy layer.  Name the new Layer “Poor Man’s Perceptool”

5.       Apply a 250 pixel Hi Pass filter to the PMP layer (Filter > Other > Hi Pass > 250 Radius).

6.       Select the Copy layer and press CTRL ALT 2 (PC; or Command Opt 2 Mac) to load the Luminosity as a selection.

7.       Click on the PMP layer; Click Add Mask (rectangular icon in Layers Palette with circle in the middle).  This should put a B&W version of the image in the mask of the Copy layer.

8.       Set the blending mode of the PMP layer to Soft Light.

9.       Stop recording the Action

10.   Delete the “Copy” Layer – I use it to allow multiple under layers.  With only an image layer to start, you will get an error message running the Action, but simply press “Continue” to ignore it.

In use, you adjust the PMP layer opacity (50% is typical for color images; 100% for B&W), or turn off the mask if you like.  The result should be deeper shadows and brighter whites emphasizing edges – a more 3-dimensional look.  I use this little trick (plus George’s Edge Burn Action to create a subtle vignette) on almost every image where it is important to develop a sense of depth – in both Color and B&W.

Mississauga Moonrise

Image: Mississauga Moonrise

Tip #2.  A snappy B&W conversion.  Anybody who looks at the luminance mask (Shift-Click on it) on the PMP layer will recognize the mask image is a very snappy B&W in its own right.  The same B&W conversion can be realized in 4 steps (which I also program into an Action):

1.       Save the image then flatten and convert to LAB color.

2.       Duplicate the base layer.

3.       Select the duplicate layer and perform the 250 pixel Hi Pass Filter on it.  Rename it “High Pass 250”.  Set the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

4.       Add a Hue Saturation Layer and Set the Saturation to Zero.

This is all I did to the color head shot of me at the top of the article.  You may dial down the opacity of the High Pass Layer to taste, but at 100% the result is the same as the mask in Poor Man’s Perceptool.  Usually I flatten at this point and convert back to RGB because I want to work B&W in RGB to add color toning for effect or to offset unwanted printer/paper tones.

Peruvian Encounter

Image: Peruvian Encounter

Once you have the Actions in place, it is a simple matter to run them with a single click and then dial down the opacity of the resulting layers to boost your image potential.


‘Live’ Image Access from Storage to your PDA Device


Bob Fowler

Richmond Hill Camera Club

Most of us remember media from the past that was used to store our digital data: cassette data tape, floppy disks, syquest drives, early hard drives gigantic in size. Later came cds, dvds, more compact external hard disks, usb ‘flash’ drives, and various memory cards. Except for temporary storage, the modern, compact, hard disk has proven the most efficient, fastest, and cheapest means of storing large amounts of data. It will also provide a straightforward means of transferring data to any new media (artificial DNA?) that may come along, thus future-proofing our storage efforts as well.

Until relatively recently the external hard drive has had only a limited function for data with respect to portable devices. With the assistance of a desktop or laptop computer it archived the data, and data could be retrieved from it when required. Recently that role has been widely expanded. Now a cpu (brain) has been added to the external drive in order to let it communicate directly on a continuous basis with wifi or internet connected digital devices. Your smartphone or tablet (or laptop) can now use the high-capacity hard drive space as if it were part of its own hardware. Instead of 8 or 16 gigabytes of storage available on your phone or tablet, now you can have terabytes of directly accessible memory when it comes to viewing images, or videos or listening to audio.

The chief players at the moment in providing this kind of storage are Seagate (“Go Flex Satellite”, LaCie (“Cloudbox”), and Western Digital (“My Book Live”). The reviews I’ve read tend to favour the Western Digital device, and my own experience with it has been very good.

I highly recommend exploring these drives if you have a portable device you use for viewing your images or videos. It addresses one of the most outstanding weaknesses of such devices as they are at present: they have too little memory for storing images and video files.