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Posts from the ‘Review’ Category

Trying HDR Darkroom 3

I used to do a lot of HDR photography, but I have to admit in the last few months I seem to rarely do them.  Well, that isn’t true, I will often think about it, do it, compare it with the non HDR and then often delete the HDR.  It doesn’t always make the image better and I have been learning how to work out which image is better as a HDR and when it is better to use the straight image.  

A couple of months ago I got an email from Everimaging asking me if I would do a review of their latest version of HDR Darkroom 3.  I have reviewed its predecessor and can remember thinking that it wasn’t bad and that it could be quite good for people who were starting to do HDRs.


It’s appearance is quite nice and seems very obvious what to do with it.  Though one of the things I found really weird was not being able to close one image when I was finished to begin another.  It seems as soon as you press New HDR then the previous one if saved is closed for the new one.  It isn’t a big deal but I did find that a little strange.

At first glance it looks like there aren’t a lot of options to change anything in your images, as when you open it there only seems to be a couple of adjustments, and lots of presets.  However, if you look under the adjustments there is a button with Advanced written on it and you can do many other things to it.

hdrdarkroomIf you look on the right above you can see lots of adjustments and lots of drop down windows.

If I had one criticism of the adjustments, well two really, they are very touchy, and you can end up with something very horrible very fast.  You really need to be careful.  The other one would be, that they don’t always seem to default to zero, so if you make any adjustments, and want to start again, it can be hard to get it back to where it was, though that isn’t the case with all them.

Waiting for the software to make the HDR initially is a slow process, you can go and make yourself a coffee while it is happening.  Though, this is no different really to any software that makes HDR images.

ivanhoecentre-20131127-2034_hdrdarkroomI went back through my photos, and since I nearly always take at least three photos of any given subject, I had a few things to choose from.  Above is the Town Hall in Ivanhoe, The Centre.  It has done quite a good job, and while I can see some grey areas, I am sure most wouldn’t notice them.  I don’t think the dark areas have been picked up well, so I decided to look for an image that definitely was a lot harder to photograph.

LC2-1157_hdrdarkroomWith this one, it was quite a dark image, the correct exposure image, as I was coming up from a tunnel.  It has got a lot of the dark areas.  I haven’t done anything else to these images, so they are the raw images process in HDR Darkroom and nothing else.  It has done a fair job here.

I did mention that there are a lot of presets that you can use.  I did go through them, but they are not something I ever use.  I think HDR can be very overdone and very easily can turn into something very weird.  I never use the presets, though it can be fun to go through them and see what they do to your image.

It is interesting using different software and I think for this one, my results would be the same as I previously said, if you are new to HDR, and want to play around with and don’t have a lot of money the HDR Darkroom 3 could be perfect for you.  It costs around $60 so maybe half the price of other HDR software, not sure.  It will process your RAW files as well, so need to worry about taking photos in RAW.

If you are interested in trying it out you can find it here Everimaging, they always provide a free trial period, though not quite sure how long the trial is for.  I think it is worth trying the free trial.

My conclusion would be that if you are used to doing HDR’s with other software, you probably won’t like this as much.  However, if you are new and won’t to give it a go, I think you will have a lot of fun with it and don’t have to pay a lot for it.

I did do some others and I am going to put some more images in a gallery so you can see them a little larger.


Mass Watermarking

Last week I was approached by a company to review their product Mass Watermark.  I haven’t been approached much before to do this.  Since it didn’t require much from me, I figured, why not.  I did ask to use it first, I don’t want to mention a product here that I don’t like and I would never recommend something that I don’t like.  So, I guess I am saying I was impressed with it.  I should also mentioned, I wasn’t paid to do this.

I have done tutorials showing how to put watermarks on images, but the way I do it, you can only do one at a time.  However, with Mass Watermark you can put a watermark on several images at the same time.  I don’t know how many at once, but I did over 10, and there wasn’t a problem.

The program works on its own and you don’t have to have other software to use it.  Apparently it only works on a PC.

One of the good things about the software is how easy it is to use, you can work through it rather easily, and it is so simple to go from one process to the next.  I did a screencast of me using it, and I am going to show you how easy it is.  I am sorry about the screencast, not great, very hard to do them at home at the moment, everyone is here.

Another thing I was offered with the review was a give away.  I am told that I can give away three activation codes, so three of you can get it for free.  Though it doesn’t actually cost a lot anyway, only about $30.  (COMPETITION NOW CLOSED)

So for the give away, I thought I would put everyone’s name in a bowl that leaves a comment and the winners will be picked randomly.  I will let it be open for just over a day or until I do my next post after this one.  In that next post, I will tell you who has won the activation codes.

If you want to just download it, or even a trial here is the link, Download Mass Watermark.

I am also going to put the screencast here again.  I paid money to WordPress so I could upload videos directly here, but I am finding that the quality is not as good as the ones that I put on YouTube, exactly the same video, but they don’t look the same.  So ignore this one if you like.

Celebrating 30 years of Rick Amor at Niagara Gallery

That isn’t the exact title, I think it is more Rick Amor – Celebrating 30 years of Exhibiting with Niagara Gallery.  I couldn’t miss this show, in fact I try to never miss exhibitions Rick’s work.  So I was really happy when I received a comment reminding me of the exhibition, that it finishes soon, from someone who works at the gallery, so thank you for the reminder.  

The exhibition is work done in the last couple of years and gives you a great insight into his work.  

While I was viewing the exhibition I asked if I could show a couple of images of the paintings here on my blog and was given permission to do so.  

15627There are many buildings in his images and I find the presence of people in them quite wonderful, the way the people just allow you that hint of scale, though if they weren’t in the above image I don’t think it would detract from it at all.  

15632I just don’t think this image would have worked without that man working on the side, it really gives you the idea of how big this actually is.  I think you see it the structure in the image but don’t get much idea of scale, and then you see the man, then it suddenly seems monumental.  I love it.  

15647The beach has been a favourite subject matter for Rick for as long as I have been following his work.  I love the way he depicts it.  The way there often seems to be a storm brewing.  I have to say the concrete bunkers look like ones that are at Point Lonsdale.  

The exhibition is on until the 7 September, so if you are in Melbourne you should go and take a look at one of my favourite artists and one that has been a huge influence on my work.  Niagara Galleries are on Punt Road, very easy to find, look for the red and white building that has “Art Does Matter” written on the side.  If you want to buy one, something I dream of doing one day, then you better be quick, there are red stickers on nearly all of them.  

If you would like to see a lot of Rick Amor’s work, then you should also visit his website,

Taking the Canon 60D to Harrietville

Last week, I’m sure I mentioned that I was allowed to have the Canon EOS 60D for another few days so I could take it to Harrietville and try it out.  I did take it and I managed to get out a few times with it.  It went back on Tuesday so it is time to tell you what I thought.

Benalla 1On the way up we stopped at the Benalla Art Gallery for lunch and I saw this bridge close by and went for a quick walk underneath it.   With images like this I had no trouble using the camera, it did what I wanted and the images came out quite well.

Benalla 2The bridge from the side.  Again, the colours are good and it is a good representation of what I was seeing.

As I stated before, it is a nice camera to hold and to take photos with.  I found it easy to carry around with me and never though, I really want to put this away.  It would be  good to use all day if you are travelling.  Well, compared to my Nikon camera, it is much easier to continue carrying.

Coffee Break 1When we went across the road in Harrietville for coffee I just slung the camera over my shoulder and when opportunities came up to take photos, well I took them.  Again, it was easy to use and fun to use.

Coffee Break 2I managed to get really close with this image and got a great shot of the muffin.

It had been fun to use, but when I went out the next morning, well, let’s look at a photo.

Harrietville 1In the morning I thought I would go for a walk around town with the camera and just take some snaps.  It wasn’t very good light and I tried to change some of the settings, but they wouldn’t change the way I wanted them to.

Harrietville 2I got a couple of good shots, but I was actually disappointed with a lot of them.  They were out of focus, or just not quite in focus.  I don’t know if it was because I had been fiddling around with the metering, or the ISO was too low, or what.  I am positive that it isn’t a real problem with the camera, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get any photos in focus.

It is a great camera, there is no denying that, but I don’t think I would buy it.  I found it hard to work out and things that I thought would be so easy to work out, just weren’t.  It really is a camera that you need, need to read the manual for.  I didn’t have the manual with me, but if I owned the camera I would always have it with me.  I  would keep a copy of the manual on my phone.  You would need to I think.  Some cameras you can just pick up, use and work everything out, but I didn’t find that.

When I was lent the Canon EOS 600D last year, I can remember loving it, almost to the point of not wanting to give it back. I thought it was a great camera, but I didn’t fall in love with the 60D.  I wanted to and I kept trying it, it just didn’t happen.  I know a lot of you have this camera and love it, and I really wanted to feel the same.  I am sorry about that.  Interesting how different each camera can be.

Reflections and Other Things Seen Through a 60D

Last weekend I showed you some images I had taken with the Canon EOS 60D and while all those photos were of the Supreme Court Building, I did take other photos.  I thought I would take this opportunity to show some more.  I am not going to go into much detail about using the camera, that is all still the same as last weekend.  I should have more to tell you after I get back from my weekend away.  I am looking forward to using the camera more.

Image 1This was the very first photo I took with the camera last weekend, and the first image that worked.  The others I had tried didn’t really work out, I was using the wrong settings.  I saw some people staring down this laneway and wanted to know what they were looking at.  How strange is the pipe with the funny bend in it?

Image 2This was taken in the hotel that Steph was staying in.  I was taking photos while I waited to see if Steph got my message in time, which we now know she didn’t.

The ISO was turned all the way up for this image, and it is quite grainy, but it handled it rather well, don’t you think?  I wish my D300s was this good when the ISO is all the way up.

Image 3I have seen other people doing images like this, and I do quite like them.  I don’t think I want to go out and do a series of images like this, but it is fun to try it.  I thought, while I am walking around with this camera, I should just photograph everything.

Image 4I quite like this composition, but the light was horrible.  It was grey, overcast and very flat, which is what I think is really wrong with all the photos I took that day.  I must try and go back another time when it isn’t so grey.

It is going to be interesting to see what the 60D will do in Harrietville.  I bet you are looking forward to seeing how I go with it.

GPO Three Ways

The internet and WordPress has been buzzing with the latest news from Nik Software by Google.  I thought it was time for me to keep you up to date with what is happening.  You can now get all of their programs in a special package for $149.  That is really amazing and a fantastic deal.  So to remind you of some of their programs, today I thought I would show you an image from my early morning in the city the other day and process it with some of the software.

GPO Done with Camera Raw

I processed this image as a HDR and then put it through camera raw in Photoshop.  I darkened it a big, maybe too much looking at it now.  Though for the next images I used the undarkened image.

GPO Done with Color Efex ProThen the image was processed with Color Efex.  I love the different looks you can get.  It is really nice.  The filter sunlight was used for this one.  It has given it a lovely soft glow.  I might have to use this one more often.

GPO Done with Silver Efex ProYou don’t get points for guessing this one.  I used Silver Efex and the low structure filter preset.  I will admit that I use the low structure one the most and then make my own changes to it.

I haven’t been using the programs from Nik Software a lot lately, I have really engrossed in other work I have been doing and they weren’t needed for those.  It is nice to play with them again.  I have been playing with the HDR program a lot more.  There are some issues that I have been finding with Photomatix that I don’t really like, and often HDR Efex, in some situations works out better, though I need more time to work with it.

If you have been thinking about getting any of the programs by Nik Software by Google then now is a perfect time.  I have to say putting it altogether in one package for such a great price is a brilliant strategy.  So I hope you will go and check it out.


I did something today I haven’t done before, I opened a shop on Etsy for my postcards.   I thought it might be an easier way to get the word out about them.

It is such an interesting idea to try and sell your work.  It is a lot harder than you think it is going to be.  I am hoping that while people won’t buy a canvas print or a print, that they might consider buying a postcard.  I know I often buy them.  They can be a good way to support an artist, and you get a small thing to put up on your wall.  I have a space on my wall near my desk that I put postcards up on.

So if you would like to check out my Etsy store then click here to go and take a look around.  There are only 3 postcards there, but I will be putting up more soon, I have sent 3 more images away to be printed, so more soon.

Sorry, this weekend must just seem like product reviews, I didn’t mean it to be that way, I promise tomorrow won’t be.

A 60D View of the Supreme Court Building

Just over a week ago a parcel arrived at my door and inside a was the Canon 60D for me to try out.  It wasn’t a surprise, I knew it was coming as I asked if I could try it out.

On opening the package I got the camera out and attached the 18-55mm lens that came with it.  As you do with cameras, I felt it in my hands to decide how it felt when I held it, conclusion, it felt good, it was a nice weight. Then I put it down, and got back to work.

Yesterday I went into the city in the afternoon to try and catch up with Steph from Travel Oops.  She was in Melbourne and we were trying to hook up.  Unfortunately it didn’t happen, communication problems, no internet and no mobile.   I took the 60D in with me and thought I would play around with it, in case she didn’t get my message, which was the case.

sccanon_9999So I sat in the foyer for a little while and played with the camera.  It actually worked out okay.  I fiddled with the various things trying to get an idea of how it worked.  I had tried playing with it quickly a couple of days ago and didn’t have much luck.  I was in a hurry, so that is probably why.  I had decided after then that maybe it would be a lot harder to use than I thought.

I was wrong, it is actually quite easy and you can see everything on the back and top to change.

Once I thought I had sorted it out, I took it for a walk.  The Supreme Court building was just across the road, so I went for a walk around it.    The above photo is out the front.

sccanon_9996There are some lovely features to this building, so I thought I would concentrate on them.  The photos have all had further processing in Photoshop, not a lot, but some.  I found that many of the images were over exposed.  Not sure if it was how I had it set up, or if it was the camera.

sccanon_0004This is the decoration over the main entrance, you have seen this before, but it was part of a bigger image.  This image was definitely over exposed.  Figuring out the metering system was a little strange.  If it were my camera and I was going to be using it a lot I would try and work it out more.  I knew how to change it, but I do find moving the spot metering around very different and hard to work out on the Canon.  Again, that is more me than the camera, it is probably because I don’t use Canons normally.

sccanon_9987I don’t think the 18-55mm lens was good for these shots, they are all out of focus, well slightly.  I am assuming it was the lens and not the camera.  Usually getting things like this are because of the lens.  The next image was the same.

sccanon_9992The other problem may have been shutter lag.  I am not used to using a camera with any shutter lag, and I know that it can cause images to be out of focus.  I had to be extra careful holding the camera still.

sccanon_9989A side door, same door that had the handle a couple of photos back.

The camera does have a nice weight, but it isn’t heavy to carry around.  It is light enough to take with you and not think it was heavy.  Though a different or better quality lens might change that.

Was there anything I didn’t like?  Yeah, I am not going to lie, I thought the buttons on the top to change ISO, metering, and a couple of other things, were hard to use.  You basically needed two hands to change those things.  That isn’t a problem, but your hands are trying to change things in the same place and it is awkward.

I couldn’t work out whether or not you could do bracketed shots with the 60D.  I am sure you can, I know the 600D does, so it makes sense that the 60D would as well, but I had trouble working it out.  It wasn’t obvious to me.

There were some other things, but I know if you had the manual and went through it you would be able to work it out.

sccanon_0018I was impressed with the low noise when using higher ISOs.  It was much better than my camera.  The above image was taken through a window.  It has some noise, but not as much you would expect, or as much as I expected.  My D300s creates a lot more.  The ISO also goes up to 6400 which is really good.

I will take the camera out again.  I have it for a few more days, so I hope to get out some more.  Easter means I have a willing driver and another person who likes road trips, so it will be good to get out of the city and test the camera out some more.

I don’t want to make any conclusions just yet, it is too soon.  My initial impression is that it isn’t bad, but I don’t love it.  I may just need to use it more and get more used to it.