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Hands-on with new Loupedeck+: The quickest way to get faster with Adobe Lightroom adds Skylum and others

Adobe Lightroom is an amazing product. However, since the original interface was built for a simple RAW converter, more and more functionality has been squeezed into limited space. Lightroom Mobile, and to some extent the cloud-first Lightroom CC, have started to deal with this situation, but for traditional users of Lightroom Classic CC, it is just painful to find and adjust the endless variety of tiny sliders. Loupedeck aimed to fix that with a custom input device that was pre-mapped to allow instant access to dozens of popular Lightroom functions. The initial version was lauded for its functionality, but dinged by some for build quality and lack of support for other applications. The new addresses both of these shortcomings. I’ve been lucky enough to get a pre-release version to use, and so far I’m impressed…

Benq ScreenBar LED Monitor Light: A great addition to any studio computer

One of the first pieces of advice for anyone doing serious image editing or color correction gets is to keep your working area fairly dark. That provides the best environment for accurate assessment of on-screen colors. Unfortunately, that can also make it hard to see the things you need to see that aren’t on the screen. That includes your keyboard (unless you are an awesome typist), other accessories like a LoupeDeck, or even proof prints that need to be compared to the displayed image. There are a number of lights on the market that are designed to address this shortcoming, but monitor-maker Benq has just released its one of the nicest. I’ve been using one for a couple months and am happy to share my experiences.

Zephyr Drone Simulator Adds Cinematography Training Modules

We’ve . It is a powerful platform for learning how to fly your drone, either for fun or for professionally. Since for many of us our drones are basically flying cameras, it makes perfect sense that Little Arms has added a set of modules designed to train you on how to perform the types of moves that are common in creating video footage. The modules were designed by Skip Fredericks, the Emmy-award winning cinematographer and drone video pioneer. I’ve been working with them a bit over the last couple weeks.

Top-off your travels with a slideshow using ProShow

One of everyone’s favorite parts of our photo safaris is the participant slideshow on the last evening. Everyone gets to relive the trip – which always goes by too quickly – while looking at their images on the big screen for the first time. Each of us also gets to marvel at how many different ways there are to look at the same scene. Set to an appropriate sound track, with some professional-looking touches, the show is popular enough that we normally need to run it twice. Best of all, because it is pre-timed and self-running, it doesn’t bog down the way presentations can if a presenter narrates every image. I always get compliments about putting the show together, but at the risk of spoiling the magic, the secret is simple: . Whether you lead a group or simply want to chronicle a trip with friends or family, it is absolutely worth it to put together a show as a great finale.

MindShift Exposure 15 Field-tested: A Bag for Both City and Country Mice

Shoulder bags for photographers tend to be aimed at either photojournalists or hip street shooters. They come in a number of really attractive designs, including two of my favorites, the and the . However, they’re not designed for extended outdoor use in rough conditions. In contrast, many of the great bags and backpacks for wildlife and sports photographers are anything but stylish, and are often not that practical in confined urban settings. So I was very excited when Think Tank introduced the new and . The Exposure series offers serious weatherproofing (even without using the rain cover), room for a good amount of gear and a laptop, and is stylish enough that they’re at home just about anywhere you’d take your camera. I took an Exposure 15 along on our recent photo safari to Africa, where it did double duty as my computer bag around the camps, and as my all purpose shooting bag when we were touring in Johannesburg and Cape Town…

Family group of White Rhino captured with a Google Pixel 2

Tips for using your Smartphone on Safari

We’re just back from a very productive photo safari to Botswana and South Africa. We had a great group of participants, and had day after day of amazing wildlife experiences at two really excellent camps. Our personalized tour through the sights and sounds of Soweto was also a unique experience. While I brought and mostly shot with my traditional and DSLRs, I also brought along two flagship smartphones and put them to the test. You can read about what I found they were great for, what they couldn’t do, and get some tips on how to use one on your next safari in . Quick note: We’re starting to organize another high-end photo safari to Botswana and South Africa, possibly invitation only and probably Spring, 2020. If you’d like to be kept in the loop email us at .

Bird Photography on High Island and Galveston Island, Texas Gulf Coast

My friend Ed and I got to spend a few days doing some bird photography on the famous High Island in Texas, and nearby Galveston Island. Neither of us had been there before, but it was on our “bucket list” of bird photography destinations. We hadn’t been able to do much preparation, but fortunately the areas are incredibly friendly and easy to sort out for both birders and bird photographers. After only a few days of course we’re no experts, but can pass along our observations on how to make the most of your trip and a few favorite photos.

MindShift launches rugged new Exposure outdoor photo shoulder bags

The MindShift Exposure shoulder bag, shown in "solar flare" is a storm-resistant carrying solutionRegular readers and my safari clients know that I’m always on the lookout for the ultimate field photo bag. Especially when working in inclement weather or in situations where you can’t set a bag down, it has to be both versatile and easy to access. I’ve used a variety of bags from MindShift (and sister brand Think Tank) this way successfully, but I think they’ve outdone themselves with their new Exposure series…

 

PolarPro extends popular Polarizer and ND filter line to standard cameras

QuartzLine FiltersPolarPro is one of the top makers of cinematic filters for drones. I’ve been using their excellent Polarizer, Neutral Density, and combined Polarizer + Neutral Density filters with my Mavic Pro drones for over a year – and they’ve performed perfectly. Its new QuartzLine set of filters are suitable for use with lenses and cameras that accept screw-in filters from 37mm to 82mm. As the name implies they are made out of nearly pure Quartz glass. PolarPro claims a ‘hyper-neutral’ color profile and has added additional scratch resistant and water and oil repellant coatings. Filters range from a simple UV and CPL, to ND filters from ND8 (3-stops) to a dramatic ND100K (which sounds like it is a pretty amazing 16 stops). The ND8, ND16, and ND64 also come in a combination Polarizer model. Filters will ship starting on May 15th, but are available for now. Prices range from $60 – $240 depending on size and model.

Cool new Profile and Preset functions accelerate image editing in Photoshop and Lightroom

Profiles can also be used to create a certain look either from a particular film, camera, or styleAdobe has completely overhauled camera profiles and presets in both Photoshop and Lightroom. Camera profiles are expanded and renamed Profiles. They can now include both a variety of more traditional RAW file interpreters and some new Creatively-focused Profiles. Similarly, Presets are now easier to find, organize, and use. Adobe has worked with partners to provide a variety of Profiles and Presets, and I expect to see more. All you need to do to get the new features is let your Creative Cloud software update your Apps. I’ve written a .

Tips on creating a pro-caliber mobile photography workflow

Every photographer wants to go lighter, and almost all of us have a smartphone with us all the time. So, as phone cameras continue to improve, it’s worth checking in once in a while to see what’s possible with a minimal amount of gear. I did that recently, working with a Google Pixel 2, Pixelbook, and filling in with my lightweight as needed. The most recent version of Lightroom Mobile was also a key component. I .

How to create and share 360-degree panoramas with your drone

What I love most about drone panoramas is that they combine a unique way to show a location with being dead simple to shoot once you have a good workflow. Now that they are natively-supported by Facebook and purpose-built sites like Kuula.co, friends can get a sense of where you’ve been more easily than ever. There are a variety of approaches that will work, and I’ve outlined some of them, along with tips and my workflow in a .

Setting up your own private photo sharing cloud

While most people are perfectly happy letting their smartphone photos get backed up to Google Photos or iCloud, more serious photographers typically want to have more control than the free, automated, syncing, provides. This is especially true for those of us with large libraries of images and videos captured using standalone cameras that don’t automatically sync to the cloud. There is no shortage of public cloud services you can purchase, typically for about $100 per Terabyte per year. These include Adobe’s and Google’s Clouds, and Amazon Drive. Personally I like the deal I get with Amazon, as I can purchase 1TB of space, but my 10TB of photos don’t count towards that. However, it doesn’t have the photo-friendly editing and display tools of Google Photos or the Adobe Cloud. But what if you don’t want to trust your image library to someone else? You can set up your own, private, photo-sharing cloud fairly easily, especially if you have or are willing to purchase a Network Server (NAS). We’ve outlined some of the options in a .

Sony's mirrorless Alpha a7 III is a great reason to consider dumping your DSLR

Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)Sony’s latest full-frame mirrorless, the , continues to up the pressure on traditional DSLRs. Not only does it do everything you’d expect in an equivalent DSLR – fast AF, 4K video, 10 fps, 24MP, etc., but it does some things better. Access to the augmented information available on it Electronic Viewfinder, super-high-performance phase detect AF that works even when shooting video, and 5-way image stabilization. All in a 1.5 pound package. For action shooters who can find the right Sony-mount lenses to pair with it, the $2K price should be well worth it. ! For now I’m sticking with my as my primary camera, but if I didn’t have such a large collection of Nikon lenses, I’d be pretty close to making a switch.

Zephyr: A drone simulator for fun and for learning

Whether you are learning to improve your drone flying to qualify for a commercial opportunity or simply to have more fun, it can be an expensive process involving trial, error, and crashes. It’s also hard to quantify your progress. Zephyr is an impressive drone simulation environment for the PC that lets you advance your flying skills from the comfort of your armchair. Using a controller that closely mimics the controller for your drone, you can fly through a wide variety of training lessons or just free fly in any of several nicely-crafted landscapes.

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