The Photo Editing Toolbox

Beano (RIP), Mastermind

Beano (RIP 2011), Master Mouse Handler

As new software gets released and upgraded and digital processes (and hardware) improve, the virtual toolbox of software grows. My workflow is constantly changing to speed up the process and achieve the look that I want. This is what I use, currently, in general order from RAW file to the final JPG that goes to the client:

  1. Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits is the fastest application for managing RAW files, especially at the selection stage; once I download a card, I view all RAW files first in Photo Mechanic and send to other programs from there;
  2. Nikon Capture NX2.3: native RAW file editor for Nikon’s NEF RAW files (best for exposure and colour edits, much better than Adobe Camera Raw); convert file to TIF;
  3. TIF files are edited in Photoshop, the industry standard; I’m still using CS3 (Photoshop 10); all detail work and fine-tuning happens here;
  4. Within PS, I use Rad Lab by Get Totally Rad for their filters, which I tweak for each shoot (can also create a PS action that includes Rad Lab);
  5. Within PS, I use Pro Retouch 2 actions (for skin work), also by Get Totally Rad;
  6. I use Photo Ninja by Picture Code for those noisy images that need help;
  7. Edited image is opened in Lightroom (I’m on LR4), where I may do some final tweaking, but I use LR mainly as a catalogue/library and exporter to various end points such as Flickr, web galleries on my server, or print sharpening. I never let LR manage the native RAW files, only TIFs and JPGs. First of all, it’s slow with the NEFs, it doesn’t preview them properly, nor does LR handle major exposure or colour correction fixes well. There’s a reason why Lightroom is cheaper than Photoshop.

That’s seven different pieces of software. I don’t always need to use Noise Ninja or Pro Retouch 2, but I use the other five programs on nearly every image. Two of those programs belong to Adobe, which really dominates this industry between Creative Suite (which Photoshop is part of) and Lightroom.


Leanne + Peter's wedding - photo by Ashlea MacAulay

Leanne + Peter’s wedding – photo by Ashlea MacAulay

I’ve been hunkered down editing nothing but weddings lately, but you’d never know it by the amount of Instagram cameraphone pics of food and the CN Tower flooding this blog in October and November. Soon I’ll actually get around to blogging more of these weddings, but for now one of my favourite pics from September — the groom’s two boys getting ready. This shot was taken by my assistant for that day, Ashlea, who is a wonderful people photographer. Check out her site!

In The Sun

… Sun Media, that is.

Amidst the blur of the past week, one of my photos from Carla and Cheo’s reality show wedding on 10.10.10 was published in Sun Media’s publications across the country. It was given to the reporter by the wedding planner on the show, David Connolly. The reporter was trying to reach me to get more info about the picture, but I was shooting in New York and wasn’t able to get back to her before the article was published last Tuesday. The photo ran, anyway, but only in the print version, not the online versions. If you find it difficult to read the print in the JPG, I’ve uploaded a PDF.

19th Century Literature Comes To Life On A Plate

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

This month’s One-of-a-Kind-Dinner was themed “The Count of Monte Cristo”, which brings to mind one thing for me: swashbuckling pirates. But this isn’t “Pirates of the Caribbean” the movie, this is a 19th century adventure novel by Alexander Dumas, and it is Chef Clint Rampold’s favourite book, he says.

We were not without swashbuckling pirates, of course.

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

From Wikipedia:

The story takes place in FranceItaly, islands in the Mediterranean and the Levant during the historical events of 1815–1838 (from just before the Hundred Days through to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book. An adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy and forgiveness, it focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. However, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty.

Creating a multi-course dinner around the storyline of “The Count of Monte Cristo” is a rather tall culinary order, but Clint rose to the challenge. Here’s the menu:

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

And, the plates in all their glory. (I will add the course descriptions once I get the list.)

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Amuse-Bouche: Haydee, a Turkish Rose

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Soup: Isle of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Appetizer: Napoleon’s Letter

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Main: Betrayal in Marseilles

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Imprisoned In The Chateau D’If

The One-of-a-Kind-Dinners are known for more than originality, they are a celebration of the arts, including dance, theatre, and music.

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Maria Z

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Maria Z

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Sasha Z

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Equus Q

The Count of Monte Cristo Dinner

Andrew Lopatin

This is by no means all the pictures of the evening — check out the photo album as a full-screen slideshow or click through to view the smaller slideshow autoplay below:

full-screen slideshow

Raising My Nerd Cred

ArtScience Festival 2012: Red Head Gallery opening reception (May 24)

This weekend I shoot my first unconference, which surprisingly should’ve happened a long time ago considering how much I love nerding out the commingling of art and science. But I’d only heard of this conference from a Couchsurfing friend who introduced me to the event, and the organizers of Subtle Technologies who needed a photographer.

I love shooting events, especially the ones that raise my nerd cred. Fashion shows? Meh. Give me theatre, opera, a kids’ concert, anything else before a fashion show, unless it’s centred around recycled materials or maybe space. Someone asked me once many moons ago what I’d love to do or be if I’d excelled in another area of study. My answer was I’d be a scientist. Biology, chemistry, physics — I’m fascinated by the esoteric nature of science. I just chose a different path, away from academia. It was no coincidence that at the time (January 2002) we were standing at the top of the Griffiths Observatory in Los Angeles.

But what is ArtScienceCamp?

ArtScienceCamp (#artscicamp) is an intense but informal gathering of artists, scientists, students, engineers, architects, designers, and many others. A Friday-night party is the venue for collaboratively creating a program of events to take place the next day. Everyone is encouraged to bring a crazy idea, a work in progress, or a vital topic for discussion, and to organize a session around it.

ArtScienceCamp is based on an unconference model that has taken off around the world, with events like DemoCamp, SciBarCamp, and many more. Successful Camp events bring together people who would not normally have conversations with each other, and create a space for surprising, serendipitous connections.

Friday 7:00pm – 10:00pm: planning session & party
Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm: unconference events

ArtScienceCamp1 presentations included:

  • Mass Collaboration in Science
  • Scientific Imagery in Life & Art
  • Design Charrette: Models for Community Art
  • Rebranding Science
  • Science Tarot
  • Proteins Are Beautiful

This event is brought to you by Subtle Technologies and Hart House. Join the Subtle Tech mailing list to hear about our other activities.

So stay tuned for some interesting event photos — I’ve been told there will be structures created with marshmallows!

The Secret Life Of Wedding Photographers

The Perception

perception of what wedding photographers do

I wish!!

The Reality

reality of what wedding photographers do

--plus other things, like training assistants.

Originally published by International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers. Full article here.

Reverse-Lens Macro Photography



Last weekend we were chasing an enormous ant around so my friend Jan could take some reverse-lens macro shots. Also referred to as “the poor man’s macro”, this DIY method allows you to get very close to the subject by simply turning your existing lens(es) around. There are various tutorials written on the web for it, check one out here.

As you can see in this photo, Jan’s combined two telephoto lenses to get close. But as you can imagine, you need a LOT of light to get through these lens barrels, even outdoors in bright sunlight.


Jan’s got a set of these reverse-lens macro shots in Flickr, check them out here. He’s also written about it here.

Featured On Fotomoto

Hey, remember the little contest I ran last week that Nigel won? The photo is featured on the front page of Fotomoto today! Check it out!

Tour de ‘Hood

Roncesvalles Village

At breakfast I discovered I needed to make a milk run and the brilliant sunshine convinced me to bring the camera and 50mm f/1.8 lens with me. I turned it into a looped photo-walk starting with a latte at the local cafe and ending with a trip to the grocery store. The thing about shooting in your own neighbourhood is that it tests your power of observation. I’ve lived here nearly three years, but I will be the first to admit that there is lots of exploring yet to do. Here’s what I shot, in no particular order:


Sorauren Ave

there goes the neighbourhood

my local produce stand is awash in red today

Roncesvalles Village

Sorauren Ave

Roncesvalles Village

guarding the neighbourhood

a homeowner's method of keeping the birds away?

Roncesvalles Village

have a seat

Video for today: a film project video of “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” by Montreal band Arcade Fire, acted by children. (Director: Jay Cheel) “Laika” is one of my favourite songs off the Funeral album.

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Interview With Anna Kuperberg

I follow the work of many, many photographers. And by ‘follow’ I mean I view their work as a learning tool, and look at it as if I were a client trying to decide which photographer best represented my own view of the world. I don’t remember how I found Anna Kuperberg, a San Francisco photographer who shoots weddings, kids, and dogs, but I’ve been reading her blog via RSS for at least a year now. Out of the long list of professional photography blogs, I usually click on her feed first. She continually surprises me with her quirky, often whimsical photography. She also shoots at all angles and, very notably, her timing is incredible — the images really show how observant she must be to capture what she does.

Anna was recently interviewed by Marc Silber, and what she says in her interview sums up how I feel about the art form.

From Marc Silber’s website:

This year, Anna Kuperberg has been featured on the cover of Photo District News and PPA magazines, and was named one of the world’s top ten wedding photographers by American Photo magazine. Her work has appeared in InStyle, People, and Martha Stewart Weddings.

Click on the image to see the interview (opens in a new window):

Picture 7

Still editing, editing, editing, but I’ll have a slideshow from Beth+Shawn’s wedding soon.

My Photos At Large

I have “All Rights Reserved” on all my online photos, which I’m sure gets ignored and abused without my knowledge (it’s the internet, after all). The last time I reminded someone to provide attribution for my photos that he used without asking, he deleted the entire post in a huff. A completely unwarranted huff, since he didn’t even link back to my sites — he’d just downloaded my photos and posted them!

Depending on what people use it for, I usually say yes if it’s for charity/asked nicely/assured proper attribution (name/link back) because I am generally a sharing type of person. I’ve considered a Creative Commons license in the past for my point-and-shoot photos, but surprisingly I’ve sold p&s photos and I don’t want to take the extra time to use different categories — it’s easier just to use one!

Here are a couple of positive examples, where I was happy to share and reciprocate in giving credit:

(I was planning to post this at Halloween, but I completely forgot…)

Burningbliss asked to remix my photo of Alberto.

Fotofyoog: Gail at Large's "Bravo Alberto!"
Fotofyoog: Gail at Large’s "Bravo Alberto!" by burningbliss

His description:

Part of my collaborative “Fotofyoog” Project (see set). The original photo came from Gail at Large – her photo titled “BRAVO ALBERTO!” Thanks “Gail” for such a wonderful photo to play with! =) And yes…the split, creepy monster, outer-image was also manipulated from Gail’s original pixels (if you look at the details you will see that both the “good” and the “evil” images were created from the exact same original photo).

Here’s the link to the comparison photo.

In other news, one of my 2006 film photos of a likeness of Stanley Segalla, the Flying Farmer, accompanied an article written about the man. It’s funny because I have photos of Segalla in the flesh, but the cut-out made the grade…

Two and a half years ago Stanley Segalla, then 81, flew from his home in Connecticut to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in upstate New York on very short notice to help me scatter David’s ashes on his birthday when we couldn’t get the biplane that day. I’ve written more about Stanley Segalla here.

The author of the article, John Cilio, sent me the PDF last month, which you can open up and read here. (PDF posted with permission.) I just found the online version here — it was published in the November issue of the Atlantic Flyer.

It’s the end of an era for Segalla — he flew his last Flying Farmer routine at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in the closing weekend last month. He’s following the sun and moving full-time to Florida for his other business, where he teaches aerobatic flying in the winters. Even at 83, the man’s still working but at least he won’t be commuting back and forth from Connecticut!

F-Stops Explained By Penmachine

back in business

I’ve been talking a lot about f-stops lately, it seems, to people who own point-and-shoot digicams and wonder what all the numbers on my DSLR and lenses mean. Since my own photography knowledge isn’t derived from a classroom but a mental mashup of books, conversations with photographers, the internet, and a variety of other sources, I really don’t know if I’m synthesizing my learning into a coherent explanation of what that f/x really means.

Today, like an answer dropped right out of the sky, my RSS Reader served up a comprehensive post by Vancouver’s Derek K. Miller (Penmachine) which does the job quite nicely:

August 7, 2008: Camera Works: what are f-stops and why do they matter to the pictures you take?

If you’re allergic to math, don’t worry — the words will do the trick.

Thanks, Derek, I can stop stammering now.

I Should Call This Linkage Week

I actually have work to do this week, but you’d never know it by the amount of internet pages I’m linking to.

I *must* share this one, though, it’s too priceless to sit in a little corner of the web (although, it has 200 comments, it’s hardly unnoticed):

List of the Day: Great Olan Mills Photos

I can’t believe there was a time when these (photographic) styles were de rigueur. Mind you, someone will say that about photos taken this decade, too. We know fashion recycles, but will we be using these fake library backdrops in the future? I sure hope not!!

Lenses About Town

BCE Place
BCE Place

I hadn’t been taking many shots with the Pentax in May, but when Rachael rolled into town on the 25th, knowing she’d bring the Contax and trashcams to her old stomping grounds was more than enough inspiration for me to rouse the Pentax from its hibernation. (If Rachael can lug her equipment across the country, I can schlepp the Pentax down the street, no?) My trusty 50mm lens had its aperture half-open like a sleepy eye.

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If You Love Colour…

… you will LOVE this:

Flickr Crayon Box Experimental Colr Pickr by Jim Bumgardner