Making the Most of Shooting in Crappy Weather

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As a portrait and fashion photographer I rarely have to worry about weather because I’m usually shooting in studio and controlling the lighting and environment. However, when I travel I become a travel/landscape photographer and just let me admit that it’s way way way more challenging. The 3rd stop on my Adobe tour took me to Hong Kong. Since it was my first trip to Hong Kong and I had plenty of time (a week) I was in no rush to go out shooting on day one. I arrived late Friday evening and on Saturday it looked like the shot above.

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I went out for lunch and captured the above shot with my iPhone 6 Plus. Nothing special, just looking up and snapping a pic. I enjoyed lunch by the pool an thought, “wow! what a great weekend!” Well it all came to an end on Sunday. On Sunday it started raining and well it never really stopped.

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I booked a city tour for Monday morning and it rained the entire time. That’s when I realized that:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. If you can get out and shoot on a good day, DO IT! Had I gone out on the same tour on Saturday I would have had a fantastic day for capturing the city.
  2. You have to make the most of shooting in crappy weather. If the weather is not going to change by the time you leave an iconic location, then you have to do your best to get some good shots.

In my case I figured I can’t make it stop raining, so therefore I would shoot things that are supposed to be wet. My tour took me to “The Peak” first and quite frankly it was a disaster for shooting with pouring rain conditions:

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This is the shot I got from The Peak while it was pouring rain.

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While the NEW Dehaze feature in Lightroom CC does wonders and with a few adjustments I was able to get something that was somewhat usable, it was clearly not my best work and didn’t do the scene justice.

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Later in the tour we went to fishing villages and that’s when I applied my theory of shooting things that are ok if they’re wet. I got one of my favorite shots above.

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Take the opportunity to shoot the local community interacting with the elements. In the case of rain perhaps target a sea of umbrellas in an urban setting, the cars going by and splashing puddles of water. Had I brought my macro lens I probably would have focused in on the drops of water on the leaves.

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Luckily the weather did clear up for a few hours on Tuesday and I didn’t hesitate to go back to The Peak as well as taking the Star ferry over to Kowloon to capture Hong Kong from the other side.

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The Bottom Line

If you’re going to shoot, shoot! Don’t take chances that the weather will be just as good tomorrow as it is today. If you are just stuck with bad weather, think of creative ways to shoot outside your comfort zone. Work the weather to your advantage.

 

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

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Where can I get the cool Adobe pillows?

  
Every time I show a shot of an Adobe office (like the Hong Kong office above – sorry for the upside down ID Pillow on the left) I get a flurry of questions on social media asking where can I get those?

Good news! You can order them right here.

They added a LR pillow recently. I hate to inform you that it may be out of stock at the moment as I just snagged the last two;-)

Cheers and happy decorating. 

Shooting Time-Lapse with the Nikon D810

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I’m traveling in Asia for the Adobe Create Now/CC Launch tour. My first stop was Auckland New Zealand and my hotel room just happened to have a balcony. Whenever, I have a private balcony that’s an added bonus when it comes to photography because it usually means that I can leave my camera setup for extended periods of time to shoot long exposures and time-lapse scenes. With a beautiful view of the harbor I decided to shoot a time-lapse. Since I don’t shoot time-lapse very often I Googled “best time-lapse settings”. Most of the result offered pretty much the same advice. For your time-lapse to look the best it’s better to use a consistent exposure and shoot in Manual mode as much as possible. This means setting a fixed exposure as well as shooting Manual focus. The reason for this is to keep your camera from changing exposure or focus in each shot, thereby creating a more smooth time-lapse video.

I learned the hard way that this works great except if your scene will change drastically during the shoot. For example, shooting a sunrise means that you will start out shooting in the dark and ending up in the light. The opposite would be the case for shooting a sunset as I attempted above. By keeping the same exposure throughout the scene it went from being properly exposed to completely dark. I salvaged it by combining it with a second one of the same scene after it got dark.

The lesson here is that if the scene is going to change drastically during your time-lapse it’s probably best to shoot it on Aperture Priority mode so that the exposure will be adjusted automatically over time. Learning from this mistake I shot another one in the morning and the results were much better:

The time-lapse above was shot in Aperture Priority and Manual Focus.

Settings and Gear

I took my Nikon D810 on this trip because I knew I’d be traveling to places I’d never been before and wanted to have my best camera with me. I also brought my Gitzo Traveler Tripod and Kirk BH-3 Ballhead. No matter which camera you have, you will definitely need a tripod. The camera will be shooting for several minutes or hours. This also means you’ll want a fresh battery. I wish I had brought my battery grip along to double my shooting time.  If your camera can be plugged into AC that would be best. I used my Nikon 28-300mm lens. I shot using:

  • f/11
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual Focus
  • 28mm
  • Capturing a frame every 5 seconds
  • Duration 40 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes depending on how long of a video I wanted at the end.

A note about Time-Lapse on the newer Nikon bodies. Shooting Time-Lapse used to mean shooting hundreds of stills and then putting them together in a video editing program afterwards. Starting with the Nikon D4 the Time-Lapse mode creates a video right in camera. Instead of hundreds of stills on your memory card you’ll have the single video. This is great because it makes the process much much easier and frees up all that space on your memory cards/drives. There was one thing I hadn’t figured on when doing my math. I was figuring video at 30fps. However, I had my D810’s video setting on 1080p 60fps. When I brought my first time-lapse into my computer it was only 8 seconds instead of 15/16 seconds. I scratched my head for a few seconds before it hit me that 60fps means that the time-lapse will be half the time. I stretched duration in Adobe Premiere Pro CC to 15 seconds and the results still looked good.

Here’s one that I shot in Hong Kong during the day. Since the exposure wasn’t going to change I could shoot it all in Manual as originally recommended:

The Bottom Line

Shooting Time Lapse videos can be fun. With newer cameras it’s easier than ever. If you’re in a situation where you can set your camera up for 30 minutes or more on a tripod and shoot a scene you’d be surprised by what takes place during that time. Enjoy!

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

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If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50


 


Aperlite YH-500N Review: A Great Low Cost Speedlight for Nikon & Canon Photographers

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Speedlights are great for being able to light your subject on location. You get a portable, battery operated solution that with the right modifiers can be a great asset. The only problem is that the name brand speedlights by Nikon and Canon cost hundreds of dollars. This makes it hard to justify buying two or three of them. My main speedlight is a Nikon SB910 and it’s currently going for $546.95 at B&H. That price point puts them in the range of studio strobes.

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At the end of the day you need a good light that works with the functions of your camera such as TTL, and doesn’t eat through batteries faster than normal or fail during your shoot. I had a chance to try out the Aperlite YH-500N during a portrait/fashion shoot that I did recently.

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I used it with my Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa modifier as well as my Pocket Wizard triggers. I hadn’t had any time with it before the shoot. I took it out of the box and put my rechargeable AA batteries in it. Mounted it and started shooting. I was impressed with the output and recycle rate was also decent (3 seconds), but not super. The controls are very easy to use and the illuminated LCD is very easy to read. Actually had I spent a few minutes with it before the shoot I would have found out that it has partial support for Nikon’s Wireless remote mode. This takes it up a notch because I have the ability to trigger the Aperlite from the pop-up flash on my Nikon D810.

 

The bottom line

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Chances are your Nikon or Canon branded speedlight is built better and may last longer, but here’s the kicker… the Aperlite is only $59.99! At that price you can buy 4 of them for less than the cost of the name brand basic speedlights.

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Even if the Aperlite failed after a year’s use I could replace it every year for 9 years before hitting the cost of one SB-910.

It also makes my Westcott Rapid Box Duo 32″ Duo (which holds 2 speedlights) much more viable. I haven’t had any issues with it thus far and I’d definitely be much more willing to risk it in less than ideal conditions than I would my SB-910. If I had to do a shoot in the water or rain you better believe I’d reach for my Aperlite first. If you’re looking for a low cost speedlight, this is it.

You can get the Aperlite YH-500N for Nikon here.

You can get the Aperlite YH-500C for Canon here.

You can get the Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa here.

You can get the Westcott Rapid Box Duo 32″ here.

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

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If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50



Is the Amazon Echo worth it? REVIEW

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If you’re an Amazon Prime member then you were probably given the chance to order an Amazon Echo early and for the introductory price of $99. I took them up on their offer and ordered the Amazon Echo a few months back. I wasn’t really sure what it would do for me or if it would be worth it. I received my unit and went through the setup process using the iPhone app. It was pretty easy to setup, connect it to my WiFi network and configure it with my Pandora Radio and iHeart Radio accounts. From that point on I could just say “Alexa” and ask it pretty much anything that I wanted to know. Rather than write about it I decided to give you a video demonstration:

I gotta say that I’m pretty impressed with it and especially the accuracy of the voice recognition. I use it for music the most. It’s cool being able to say play songs by _______ or have it play any of my Pandora Radio stations. I don’t have a daily commute, but if I did it would be great to say “what’s the traffic look like?” and have it give me current traffic conditions from my home to my work place. To answer the question, YES the Amazon Echo was absolutely worth the $99 special price. Now the question is is it worth the current price of $179.99? I would say mostly yes for the music aspect of it and the home automation potential. It’s also cool that new capabilities are being added to it on a regular basis. It works as advertised. One way to justify it is to keep in mind that there are bluetooth speakers out there that cost just as much and do a whole lot less. The sound coming from Amazon Echo is as good if not better than most other “dumb” speakers out there today.

You can get the Amazon Echo here.

How to shoot fireworks and cheat

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First off Happy Independence Day 2015! I know that many of you will go out and shoot fireworks this weekend. I started a little early shooting last night. Believe it or not it was my first time shooting fireworks professionally. I just hadn’t been to a fireworks display with  my gear in all these years. The last time I remember trying to photograph fireworks was years ago and it was a disaster because I made the amateur mistake of trying to photograph them handheld. Every shot was a blurry mess. A few years back my buddy Scott Kelby was looking for a topic to blog about and I said why don’t you blog about “how to shoot fireworks”? He resisted at first, but then he did it and it was such a hit on his blog he has done it every year since. Every year I refer to his post just in case I’m get a chance to photograph fireworks and this year I actually made the time to do it. I figured I had several nights to try since fireworks here in Atlanta take place in different places all weekend long.

What you’ll need and the settings:

It will work best if you have a camera that can shoot in manual mode. Sure some cameras have Scenes and even “fireworks” modes. If you want to play it totally safe by all means use one of those modes. However, if you want to have complete control, shoot in manual mode. Next and I can’t stress this enough, you’ll need a tripod. Don’t even waste your time trying to do it without one unless you’re just doing it for the fun of it and don’t expect to have “great” shots. Ideally you’ll also want either a wireless trigger for your shutter or a cable release. This will help by keeping your hands off the camera and reducing vibration as much as possible. Here are the settings you’ll want:

  • f/11 aperture
  • 4 seconds shutter speed
  • ISO 100
  • White Balance set to Tungsten 
  • Manual Focus to infinity (the symbol that looks like a sideways 8)

Which lens? I fully expected to use my 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens, but actually I was closer than I expected to be and I was glad that I brought my wide angle 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. I would recommend either a lens with a variable focal length like a 28-300mm or bring both a telephoto and a wide angle so that you’re covered depending on your location.

Now what?

After having those settings drilled into my head all these years I thought it would be a piece of cake. However, last night I realized two things about shooting fireworks: #1 Unless you’ve sat though the exact same show before, you have no idea what’s coming when. Shooting fireworks is kinda like shooting sports. You have to anticipate where the action will be and be ready for it.

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I had plenty of misses like the one above. Four seconds is a long time before you can press the shutter again. #2 and probably the thing I least expected is that fireworks shows can suck sometimes. We have to realize that fireworks shows cost money. In many cases you’ll see lots of what I call “streamers”. They go up and leave a trail of light, but no big pretty explosion at the end.

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It doesn’t cost you to shoot more pictures digitally, but what this really means is that you’ll only have a few chances to get the really “pretty/spectacular” ones. Yes there is usually a finale at the end, but it only lasts so long, If you haven’t gotten your timing together by then you’ll blow it.

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I got some “good” shots, but I wanted some “awesome” shots like the ones I see in magazines and on TV. Then I realized that I can cheat a little. I have a few good shots that could be combined in Photoshop to make an “Awesome” shot like the one at the beginning of the post.

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I combined 4 of my “good” shots into one composite in Photoshop CC 2015. I simply put each one on a separate layer and set the Layer blending mode to Lighten. This got rid of the black sky and left me with just the fireworks that I could then move into any position I wanted. I used a layer mask to mask away the remnants of the laser show and ghosting of Stone Mountain.

I wasn’t a fan of the smoke surrounding what would have been a nice shot. With Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 it was even easier with the NEW Dehaze feature in Adobe Camera RAW and better yet the Camera RAW filter. I was able to take this shot:

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While it was a layer in my composite I simply ran the Camera RAW Filter on it in Photoshop CC 2015.

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Dehaze only got rid of so much of it in the first pass. Since it’s a filter I could simply apply it two more times and turn it into this shot:

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I was quite pleased with the results.

The bottom line

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Go out tonight and have some fun shooting and celebrating the 4th of July. Always remember that we have Lightroom and Photoshop to make great shots even better. If you want to check out Scott’s post you can here.



5 Books to Improve Your Photography

I haven’t met a photographer yet that doesn’t think they could improve their craft. We attend seminars, we practice, we buy new gear, we watch other pros via YouTube and we read books. I thought I would give you 5 books that will help you improve your photography.

 

It’s Not About the F-Stop

by Jay Maisel

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Jay’s book is all about tips and advice on everything from locations and gear to bring to people and enthusiasm. A great motivational piece:

You can get it here.

 

Understand Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

by Bryan Peterson

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Bryan’s book deals with mastering the exposure for just about any lighting condition with just about any camera. It answers some of the questions I get asked the most.

You can get it here.

 

Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs

by Roberto Valenzuela

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I get a little giddy just talking about this book. This is one of those books that with every page turn you’re going to learn something. Every page is loaded with not only great tips but out of the box thinking and practices I had not heard of before.

You can get it here.

 

The Digital Photography Book: Part 1

by Scott Kelby

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I remember when the 1st edition of this book came out and I read the entire book on a flight back home from California. I couldn’t put it down. Again this is an example of one of those books that has useful tips and techniques on every page.

You can get it here.

You can also get ALL 5 parts/books for one price here.

 

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers

by Scott Kelby

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While this is not a book about photography, it’s impossible to be a good photographer without a good workflow to manage your photos. Lightroom is the industry leader when it comes to photo management and Scott’s book is #1 best seller on the topic.

You can get it here.

 

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50



Why I shoot Nikon?

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I can’t believe how many times this question comes up. Usually it’s asked by new photographers or photographers that haven’t yet made a decision on which brand DSLR they’re going to go with. Last week I attended a photography meet-up at one of the local studios. Keep in mind that this was just a casual setting and I didn’t even bring my gear (in hindsight I wish I had as there were some shooting opportunities there with new models). Two of the photographers walked up to me and we started talking about photography and videography in general. One of them asked me “so do you shoot Nikon or Canon?” and I said Nikon, his partner high-fived me while he turned and walked away in disgust as if he had just lost another bet or something. It was all in fun of course, but I guess I find it odd that people are so passionate about what tools they work with that if you use a different tool it upsets them. Last night I got asked on my Instagram feed.

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This one was obviously more looking for a recommendation than anything else and I respect that. It prompted me to write this post so that I can answer the question and of course point people to it the next time I’m asked :-) So let me get to the answer(s):

Why did I pick Nikon?

Nikon D70

My first DSLR was actually an Olympus E20N. I started to take my hobby more and more serious and while I liked my Olympus camera, it had a fixed lens. It was finally time (2004) for me to upgrade to a DSLR with interchangeable lenses. Having watched the market I knew that I was going to go with either a Nikon or Canon camera. I want to make this part perfectly CLEAR! I had ZERO bias towards either brand (and still don’t to this day!) None of my close friends were photographers. I was making my own choice simply by my budget and the specs. I knew I wanted a camera with a fast start up time. Yes we take for granted now that we can just turn on our cameras and start shooting, but back then it “startup time” was a concern. My budget at the time was around $1,000. That put me in the price range of the 1st generation Canon Rebel. It looked good to me, but the only problem is that that model had been out already for almost a year and while I new a newer model was probably coming, it hadn’t come by the time I was ready to buy. On the other hand Nikon had just introduced the Nikon D70. It was new, and this 6.1MP beauty had all the specs I wanted and was in my price range. That was it. Plain and simple. I went with the newer camera by one of the two brands I was looking at.

 

Why did I continue with Nikon?

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As almost any photographer will tell you, once you start buying lenses you’re not going to switch brands on a whim. There’s always a new Nikon and a new Canon camera coming out. So you’ll always be glancing at the other brand and latest new toys. However, there hasn’t been anything on the Canon side that made me say “I gotta sell everything and switch.” On the other hand for years Nikon has had a couple of features that lacked on the Canon side that made me happy with my choice. For one I was a heavy user of the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) and the ability to fire and control Nikon speedlights from the built-in flash. This wireless control is beyond just a simple wireless trigger and allows you to control the power and groups of flashes. The other long time advantage that Nikon had was built-in GPS support right in the menu of the cameras for years. While you still need to buy an external GPS module (when will you guys build these in as a standard option or least put them in the battery grips?), the support for them is and had been built-in for a very long time. I love having the geotag info go right into the metadata as a I shoot. Now these features that I’m sure Canon probably offers by now, but for years they didn’t.

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Did I ever consider switching?

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Yes there was a time. Well I’ll say that I considered ADDING a Canon DSLR back in the days when Canon was ahead on low light/high ISO shooting. Yep, I was drooling big time. I almost pulled the trigger on buying a Canon DSLR a couple of times just to have this capability. However, I waited and the next Nikon to come out had great low light performance and that was the end of my envy. I stepped up to a D700 (from the D300 that had replaced my D80 which had replaced my D70) and used it happily for several years before going to the D4 (D600 backup body, which replaced the D7000 and D5000 backup bodies before it) and now a Nikon D810!

 

Do I think Nikon is better than Canon?

Model: Kandice Lynn, MUA: Houda Bazzi, Lighting by Westcott

Nikon D700, Model: Kandice Lynn, MUA: Houda Bazzi, Lighting by Westcott

I can see the eyebrows raising as I type this. Let me answer it this way. Both brands produce GREAT cameras and with any two things you’re going to have advantages in one area over the other. So yes, I think Nikon glass (lenses) are better. But keep in mind that’s just from my observations looking over the fence. I haven’t actually spent a lot of time shooting different Canon lenses. It’s just an observation and even something that I’ve had Canon shooters whisper to me on the side. I think Canon does and has done a much much better job with video than Nikon has. There’s no question about it. If you’re looking to do DSLR video then you should probably look at Canon first. Also Canon seems to have the sports shooting market all but locked up. You’ll see more Canon cameras on the sidelines than any other brand in professional sports. Since I never shoot sports this isn’t something that I consider. My Nikon D810 does a great job shooting video too. My primary use for my Nikon camera is shooting portrait work and for that I’ve been happy since day one. Never had a complaint about the quality and my work has been used in print. If you were hoping for a clear definitive one is better than the other. I can’t give you one. It’s because I think they are both great and both have advantages and disadvantages over the other. I never understand why some people feel that in order to be justified in their choice, the other one must suck/fail. It’s a lack of confidence thing I think.

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Westcott liked the images from my Red Rock Canyon shoot so much that they wanted to use them for the Rapid Box packaging.

 

Which one should YOU buy?

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Believe it or not I really don’t care. Last time I checked neither Nikon nor Canon has paid a single one of my bills. So I don’t gain anything if you buy Nikon or if you buy Canon. The best advice I can give you is to buy the one that does what you need it to do. The one that’s in your price range and it probably wouldn’t hurt to buy the brand that your friends use. Huh? What do my friends have to do with it? Think about it this way. If you’re always shooting solo then no, it doesn’t matter which brand you choose. However, if you’re shooting with your buddies on a regular basis then having the same brand means that you guys can swap lenses, batteries and other accessories while you’re shooting. You’ll have a lot more fun and be able to focus on your photography rather than constantly glaring at the fact that he/she’s using something DIFFERENT. Both brands will allow you to capture amazing images, if YOU are up to it.

 

The Bottom Line

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I’m not really into  the whole Canon vs. Nikon war that so many of you fight (if you want to have a health RAW vs JPEG debate then I’m all for it – kidding…). I explained my choice above and most importantly I get the results I want from the investment that I made in my tools. I have friends that shoot Nikon. I have friends that shoot Canon. It’s all good (unless of course you shoot Sony! We just can’t have that at all! OMG YOU SUCK! —— Just kidding. LOL my buddy Frank Doorhof shoots Sony. It’s ok. No, really it is.)

Now you know Why I shoot Nikon.

Going to Photoshop World 2015?

Hey! If you’re going to Photoshop World this year that’s great and I look forward to seeing there. So much so that i’m going to give you $50 off your Photoshop World registration simply by clicking here to register and by using discount code: TerryWhite50



The 2015 Release of Adobe Creative Cloud is Here!

Adobe_Creative_Cloud

All new versions of your favorite Adobe creative applications are here! As you might expect it has been a busy few months for me not only getting up to speed on all that’s new for Design and Photography (the areas I focus on), but also creating content so that you can get up to speed quickly.

Before we get to the content let’s talk about installation

Screenshot 2015-06-15 10.52.49

Last year when we released the 2014 Release of Creative Cloud there was a lot of confusion because the installer installed the new CC 2014 apps along side your existing CC apps. People didn’t know if they needed to keep the older apps installed or not. This time around the powers that be have decided that it’s best to “uninstall” your older CC applications by default. Of course you can choose NOT to do this if you want to hang on to your older applications. My colleague Jeff Tranberry has done a great job outlining what’s going here.

What’s NEW in the 2015 Release of Adobe Creative Cloud?

I just released 25 NEW videos outlining the individual top features of Photoshop CC, InDesign CC, Muse CC, Lightroom CC and the updated Mobile Apps. I put them all in a single playlist to make it easy on ya:

I’m off to bed now. Enjoy!

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