Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Update Extra! Train Time!

Update to Luminar Neo v. 1.14.0 arrived yesterday, so if you're on one of the subscription options you'll have the new Neon & Glow tool, as well as the addition of Tilt/Shift to the Blur tool as soon as you install the update.

Big Boy On Acid (Neon & Glow) ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Durango & Silverton RR (tilt/shift blur) ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

If you're an existing Lifetime owner, you'll need to purchase the Creative Journey Pass to have access to these updates, and all the extensions and tools to come from now until next Summer! Your other option, of course, is to upgrade to one of several subscription models here.  Remember, there's a bunch of really cool stuff coming, as I wrote about in the previous post.

Don't forget, you can save 10% off whatever you purchase with the discount code: PHOTODAN

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Coming Attractions!

Sherri M. ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site
The fine folks at Skylum Software, the makers of Luminar Neo are poised to virtually bust a nut with new features this Autumn. The first of these is the already released Studio Light tool, which I've already featured here a couple of weeks back.  I've spent some more time with it, and have refined my technique a little, getting familiar with some of the options. Here's an example from a model shoot we had at the local photo club several years ago, and displays the use of some of the light patterns available. This isn't a tool I anticipate using a lot until it's (hopefully) available for more than human portraits.

Now suppose I was an accomplished graphic artist (I'm not) and I wanted to add some punch to use this already well polished image in, say, some magazine ad copy?(Dream on, Dan).  That's where the Skylum pipeline is ready to shoot out the next new tool. It's called Neon & Glow, and I'm fortunate enough to have been supplied an advance beta copy, to play around with, evaluate, and publicize here. And since there's no embargo on info for this particular tool, I can show you right now.

I must admit, I struggled a bit getting familiar with the sliders and buttons, and how to structure a work flow. I watched a few YouTube videos by some of the Luminar brand ambassadors, and that helped. The first effort started out slowly, while I just threw commands and adjustments and different neon and glow colors at it. I also added several other layers from other tools, and frankly made a mess of it until suddenly it looked like a finished product. Happy accident, but that's the fun of Luminar Neo:

"Flashing Ann Arbor" ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Funny anecdote here.. these kinds of edits are not everyone's cup of tea, as my friend Bob will attest. I sent this to him, and his reply verbatim: "Cool, art but not photography.  You did that in the computer not in the camera in the field."  Of course, feeling quite contrary, I countered with: "It all begins as photography.  45 years ago, in this case."  What I meant, of course, is that it always begins with a photograph, and this particular photograph is about 45 years old. But I stand by the larger point here, as well.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. You want to see what I did to bring some pop-sizzle-bang to that photo club shot. Well here you go. This includes Neon and Glow, and one of the native Luminar Neo layers in the Flares collection. Oh yeah, see the sparkles? They're part of the Glow tool.  I like it, and I hope Sherri M. likes it, too (if she sees it!).

Neon Sherri M. ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

So, you've read all the way down here, waiting for the really big Fall news, right? Here you go. Over the next few months, Skylum will by launching several Generative AI tools, which you can get a brief summary of in this press release from August! 

Time to throw some bullet points, samples, and short summaries (lifted from the press release in case, you know, you're too lazy to click the link above).
  • GenErase: A next-generation Erase tool that not only removes unwanted distractions from your images butalso replaces those areas using content-aware tools, providing a focused and distraction-free composition.This feature preserves the integrity of your photos by intelligently filling in the gaps with textures and otherelements to match the surrounding area. GenErase can seamlessly remove objects like trash, street signs,vehicles, graffiti, and more to preserve the beauty of the composition.
  • SceneExpand: This tool enables users to extend the boundaries of their photos, adding a new dimension tooriginal compositions. Whether creating panoramic landscapes or adding breathing room to favorite images,SceneExpand offers the ability to break free from traditional aspect ratios and unlock new creative possibilities
  • SceneSwap: Lets users replace specific elements (such as the sky or foreground) with high-quality AI-generated visuals that blend seamlessly with the rest of the photo. Imagine a stunning sunset replacing thedull, overcast sky or crystal-clear azure waters instead of a murky pond in your photo
  • Water Enhancer: Designed to enhance water features in aquatic scenes, giving landscape photos greatervisual impact
The first three items are the biggies, and the ones causing some consternation, because unlike all previous tools and extensions available, GenErase, SceneExpand, and SceneSwap will require the user to have an active internet connection. Unless you own, oh I don't know, and IBM Watson supercomputer, you'll need a whole lot more computing power than you've probably got. Skylum will use a massive server farm to help you do these edits in a timely fashion. When you see the examples below, you may see why I think this is a reasonable requirement.  So here they are.


Water Enhancer

Exciting stuff. And if you're lucky enough to be on the Luminar Neo Subscription model, you need do nothing. These will be included in regular updates.  If you own a copy of Luminar Neo, you'll have options to buy these tools either in your account at the Luminar Neo website, or through clicking on the puzzle icon on the upper right of the app.  Or there's another option: you can purchase the Creative Journey Pass for $79 and you'll get all the new goodies, and any still unannounced extensions or tool through August of 2024. Hell of a deal!  And, as always, use PHOTODAN at checkout to save 10%!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.


Friday, September 15, 2023

I Gotta Show You This!

The most recent update of Luminar Neo had a surprise inside! All the hoopla preceding it was about      Studio Light. (Read about that here).  When it arrived it had another new tool; one that I had been quietly wishing existed. Wish fulfilled.  Let me show you.

This screen grab shows a folder of images I took 21 years ago, on a boat tour of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  As you can see from the details box inset, this was taken at a shutter speed of 1/500th second. I can tell you it was also taken from a moving boat. In mid day.

Now just supposing I would have preferred taking a long exposure shot. At sunset.  Well, for starters, I'd need to be set up on a tripod. On firm ground. You can immediately see that I'd have to be in the water, not on a boat. Water that was probably over 20' deep where the boat was. I'd be out of luck.

Or would I? 

Maybe back then I would've been. But not now. What was the surprise tool in the latest update? One that I will be much more likely to use than the Studio Light tool. It's the Blur Tool! It gives you options for Motion blur, Twisted blur (a fun one to be sure), and my personal favorite, for some reason, Gaussian blur. Hello grandpa (not reallty).

So when I discovered the Blur tool, I knew I had to play around with it. What did I do first? I wasn't sure how to use Gaussian blur, and I couldn't think offhand of any images in my files to use the Twisted blur. But Motion blur? Oh yeah, as a photographer of the fastest running hounds on the planet, I had lots of images to choose from. But in the end, I just picked the first promising picture I came across. A shot I just grabbed while walking back from the Smokin' Oldies car show last spring. A ratrod, or more accurately I guess, a rat-jeep of sorts. It was crossing the intersection and that was all I needed.

Some judicious masking, a few basic color edits, and we've got us a jeep making the jump to hyperspace. (or just accelerating through a red light)

©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

So now we come to the image selected at the top of this page. I want to fake a long exposure shot where non actually existed. Again, it was Motion blur to the rescue, along with many, many other tools I like to play with. Sky replacement for one. If I wanted a sunset look I needed a different sky. I prefer to use my own skies for most images, but I think this might be one I got from Luminar. Whatever, it's the perfect sky to match the sunset light I created. 

Pictured Rocks, ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

I used MaskAI to select out the water, then the smoothing was done in two parts. First I reduced the structure to nearly zero, but to finally get the flat water look I used Motion blur setting of almost 100.

And clouds move during a several minute exposure, too, don't they? So MaskAI also selects out the sky, and with a combination of the defocus tool in SkyAI, and Motion blur I got the sky right where I wanted it. 

The final step was the trees. I'm surprised I even thought of it, but the leaves don't sit still over a 2 or 3 minute interval, either. They just required the minutest hint of Gaussian blur. You probably wouldn't even notice it if I didn't tell you. 

Contrasting all the moving parts (artificial, though they are) with the crisp sharpness of the unmoveable rock, and we've got us a pretty compelling photo, if I do say so myself.

And what about Twist blur? Glad you asked. I finally found a use for it. See if you can spot it.

Cactus Ernie ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Surprisingly, Skylum/Luminar Neo don't have any promotions going on right now, but you can still save a whopping 10% if you decide to make a risk free purchase. Just use the code: PHOTODAN at check out. You can reach their website

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Classical Composer Reacts To "Pet Sounds"

I've been a fan of the Beach Boys for over 60 years. I've been an occasional follower of The Daily Doug for close to two years. This YouTube channel features classical music composer/educator, Doug Helvering, in a genre known as "reaction videos", wherein experts in one type of music express their reactions to other types of music. For some reason, these are wildly popular. I quite enjoy them myself.

In the relatively short time I've been following Daily Doug YouTube videos he's posted reactions to many of my favorite musicians, including Pat Metheny Group, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd among others. But it always irked me a little that I never saw a reaction video to any Beach Boys songs or albums.. until last Friday, that is.

While scrolling through YouTube's daily recommendations (something I'm wont to do on a daily basis, as mentioned in a previous post here) a couple days ago, I came to a screaching halt. The Friday edition of The Daily Doug, the extended show where he posts reactions to entire albums, would be devoted to, arguably, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys greatest album: Pet Sounds. And while I had other things I should have been doing at that time, I sat there watching for the next 51 minutes with the volume at 11.

Surprisingly, Doug admitted to only being familiar with only two of the songs on the album! So while he played the album from start to finish, marveling for the first time at the genius of Brian Wilson (and lyricist Tony Asher), I happily sang along with every tune... even the instrumentals.

So, when was the last time you listened to Pet Sounds? For me, it's been a year or two. Buckle up, it's time.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

I Am Not A Mime...

 ...but I play one in this Baleaf unboxing video.

If you follow this blog religiously, you will remember I wrote about Baleaf's cycling clothing back in November of last year, highlighting their big Black Friday sale. In the interim, I've picked up a few more items from Baleaf, like some new base layer compression shorts sustainably made from recycled plastic bottles. Nice.

So, to bring this up to date, a week or so ago, Baleaf had a 9th Anniversary promotion, where they were offering free shipping on any order (I jumped at that!), and a free gift for sharing "(my) Baleaf journey." I did that, too, because who doesn't like a free gift? Lazy person that I am, I disclosed that I was a Baleaf affiliate, and gave them the link to my previous blog post. 

And they liked it! I got an email from Polly in marketing who wondered if I'd like to try out some other cycling gear and review it on my blog and other social media accounts. Oh, would I! I looked through the offerings, (and more importantly, the sizing charts), and sent my reply: "Here's my size, and I'll leave it up to you what you want to send".

And what I got was the nice... let me get this right... so the package label says: "BALEAF Men's Fleece Running Tights Thermal Cycling Pants Winter Gear Water Resistant Leggings Pockets Black/Green XXL"  that you see in the video up there. 

Now since these are thermal (really niiiiice fleece lining), and the temps here in southern New Mexico are still in the 90s, it might be three or four months before I can give them the proper workout and review that they deserve. I can tell you, the "fit and finish" is perfect, so I can't wait. I pointed out all the little details and features in the video, but if you want the all the pertinent details, colors, sizes, etc, just click on the picture of me just down there πŸ‘‡

LOL, just kidding! Not about clicking the picture, definitely do that. I can understand if you're confused, but no, that's not me. 

If this item is not to your liking (or gender), just click on any of the other links on this post and it will take you to the Baleaf home page where you can peruse the men and womens (and a few kids) active wear. Cycling, running, hiking, golf, yoga. Excellent quality, way reasonably priced. Fast shipping. Do it. And SAVE 10% when you use DANIELRGAUSS at checkout~

Oh, and I hope you enjoyed the videoπŸ˜†

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Let's Say I Had This Friend....

...and this friend, knowing I was pretty good at photo editing, asked if I could do a favor for him. See, this friend is roughly the same age as I am, and like me is into photography (but not quite as seriously as I) and way back (let's say in the mid-to-late 1970s) he took a lot of photos of the, um, boudoir genre.

This... friend wondered if I could use Luminar Neo to improve some of his old images. Well, what kind of "friend" could turn down a request like that? 

When I saw what I was going to be working with, I wondered what I what I'd gotten into. The original prints looked like they had been in  ̶m̶y̶  his drawer for the last 45 years. And they were tiny! 3.5 x 5, silk surface paper, with round corners! Remember those?

And check out those colors! Jaundice city! This was not going to be the easiest project I ever took on. But... I had a secret weapon! Oh yeah, Luminar Neo had all the tools I needed to fix the colors, remove the annoying silk texture, and make a much larger image file using UpscaleAI.. from 40KB to 3MB with the click of a button. I had not done this kind of work, ever, and yet Luminar Neo is so intuitive (and quick) that it was easy to figure out what tools would do what. And of course, if I didn't like a result, it's simple to back out, with no effect on my original image file because as I may or may not have harped on many times, Luminar Neo (in fact all the previous versions of Luminar as well) is a totally non-destructive process. No matter how many changes you make to an image, your original file is untouched. Cool huh?

And then, there was Studio Lighting.  I had, in my possession the beta version of the upcoming feature, Studio Lighting, which will show up in the Portrait Tools on the next update around the end of this month. It allows you to re-create  many dramatic lighting lighting effects heretofore only available using actual, you know, studio lighting.  I actually found this fairly daunting, because there were so many controls and I just had to fiddle around with each one to see what they would do (remember "non-destructive process?" Good thing).

In the end I ended up with a simple "stripe" lighting effect, (think sunlight through vertical blinds). Just the right "punch". Added a simple vignette, and called it "done".  I'm pretty happy with the result. Pretty sure you'll agree, the final image is a far cry from where I started.  This is easily the most accurate color I've gotten from faded and color-shifted old prints or slides. Now that I know what's required, I might work on  more of  ̶m̶y̶  his old photos!

Now, after the image, I'll fill you in on all the exciting new updates and extensions coming this autumn from Skylum and Luminar Neo....

Famous Fujifilm Kimono ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

As I mentioned above, Studio Light will be available on August 31, but you can get early bird pricing for all Luminar Neo platforms starting now through August 27th. Here's the deets:

New purchasers have a choice of:

  • the brand new Pro Monthly subscription, $14/mo
  • Pro 12 Month subscription, $99 instead of $119
  • Pro 24 Month subscription, $139 instead of $179 πŸ‘ˆ (Best deal, of course)
  • New Lifetime purchasers (if you'd rather pick and choose your Extensions) $249 instead of $279 (Trust me, the subscription model is the way to go)

If you're an existing Lifetime user, you might want the 2023/2024 Creative Journey Pass for $39 instead of  $79. You will need this to get the next update with Studio Lighting.

There's so much more to come this Fall, and I'll tell you all about it the very next post! But for now, to take advantage of the early bird prices click on this. And remember, to use the code: AFS-rdFDRy at checkout to save an additional 10%! (PHOTODAN may work as well and you won't have to cut and past, or try to remember that first one)

Here's more samples (by other folks) of Studio Lighting tool...

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Win A Super Light "Killer Whale"... Unless I Do.

 This time I'm definitely going to win! Unless you do..

At the very least, it's fun building your very own custom $11,500 Orbea Orca climbing bike using the customizing tool on the Orbea website. The above is my blue-on-blue design (with the easiest gearing possible, LOL)

Territory restrictions apply (But Europe and North America are OK)