Topaz Labs AI Tools – Getting Started…

Although I had been trying out the Topaz tools, but I was undecided till their 2020 Black Friday sale. For the first time all the AI tools were in one package unlike their regular bundles.

In this video, I will share some general points when using the Topaz AI tools from Lightroom or Photoshop.

The first point is that you should avoid processing any camera raw files in the Topaz applications. The reason is simple and documented on the Topaz site for all applications in their FAQ.

Let us look at this and some more…

Getting Started with TopazLabs AI Tools

#Photography #TopazLabs #Lightroom @Photoshop

Walk-around Birding – How To and Settings…

There are quite a few of us who indulge in walk-around birding. In short, we walk around parks and general birding hotspots and try to get whatever shots we can. For a vast majority, this happens on weekends.

I am just going to discuss one technique that I have learned over the years during my walk-around birding. This is about the settings I use on my camera and how.

Most of us already know that we can find birds just sitting around or ones that just fly past. We mostly miss out on the flypast ones. The shutter speed is the culprit in all these cases that I have seen so far (besides focus, but, that remains otherwise as well).

This is a technique that I have shared with my colleagues and friends which helps in dealing with such scenarios for the most part.

Generally, we would use slower shutter speeds for sitting birds than BIFs which would require a much higher shutter speed.

I will not get into which camera mode you choose to shoot in or if you use full manual or auto-ISO. The kind of metering mode you use will affect any “auto” that you use. That part is all yours.

The only mode in which you cannot use this technique is the Aperture Priority since this is based on shutter speed.

Personally, I use full manual (excepting for Auto-Focus and Auto-White Balance) and you can and use manual mode with Auto-ISO for similar results. I spend a lot of time round-tripping my shots from any new gear to figure out the response to light and distance and prefer to set the ISO manually instead of depending on the metering on the camera.

Now, when you are at the spot you want to start birding, just take a test shot to make sure that you have the camera working as expected.

Then, set the shutter speed to your favourite BIF speed. I generally use 1/1250, although, I have started using 1/1600 with my Nikon D850 and I will explain why in another video.

Now, take a test shot again and just make sure it is not too dark on the histogram of the LCD on the camera. I would not advise looking at the image to figure that out.

This is actually it!

Always walk-around with the camera set for BIFs. You will have enough time to reduce the shutter speed for still targets, but, if any bird flies past, you might not have the time to bump up the shutter speed at that moment.

Whenever you take a sitting bird shot, let us say with a shutter speed of around 1/640, make sure you switch right back to 1/1250 after that.

This process has two advantages…

1. You will generally be able to get birds in flight that pass by since your camera is already set for that.
2. For smaller/tiny birds, you would need a higher shutter speed even for sitting shots and even if you take those shots at 1/1250 or just one rotation of the shutter speed dial lower, you will still get them. Assuming you are working with the camera default settings of 1/3rd stops, a single rotation of the dial will set the shutter speed to 1/1000 which is good enough for most tiny birds.

To summarise, always keep your camera set to shoot BIFs. Change the shutter speed only when needed for sitting targets and switch back to the BIF settings right after that shot.

Last, but not least, is that you should keep your shutter speed to what works best for you for BIFs. The lowest reasonable speed from my experience is 1/1250. Feel free to go higher than that when needed. For example, small birds would be better at 1/1600, the tiny ones would require 1/2000 or even more.

Try out this technique and do drop in your experience with the same in the comments.

My Flickr stream has more images with the complete EXIF at Flickr in case anyone wants to look at the settings and the details related to the same.

Cleaning up Shadows in Wildlife Macros

Where there is light, there will be shadows!

In this short video, we will look at a different technique for cleaning up shadows in macro images using Lightroom range masks.

This technique can be adapted for other images as well. The final image can be seen on Flickr.

Let us look at an example to see how this is done…

Luminar AI – A Quick Walkthrough!

In this video, we will just take a quick look at the new Luminar AI menus and features without going into any details.

We will look at what is new and similar to Luminar 4 which should give a better idea as to what Luminar AI offers over Luminar 4.

So…Let’s get to the AI…

Luminar AI Lightroom Plugins Not Working?

If like me, you got the Luminar AI package on release and installed it, you would have noticed that the Lightroom plugins for Luminar AI do not work as expected.

Luminar has released an online update which fixes the issues, but, leaves the older, non-functional plugins in place. This can be very irritating at best.

Let us take a look at how to update the plugins and remove the non-functional ones…

Cloud Storage – What is the best option?

I will not get into any arcane storage options of unknown companies offering lifetime schemes. In fact, I would advise avoiding all such for a variety of reasons.

Let’s look at the top 3 names that offer us reliable cloud storage for normal users.

1. Apple iCloud

2. Google Drive

3. Microsoft OneDrive

Although there are some more names like DropBox, Amazon etc. we will ignore those for now…

Speed up Adobe Lightroom Classic

This is a little known technique that I wanted to share, but, kept forgetting 🙂

Basically, it’s not just Lightroom, this technique works for all disk/file intensive applications on the Mac and since Windows also indexes file, this would work on Windows as well.

Let’s take a brief look at how to speed up such applications on the Mac…

SanDisk Extreme SSD – A Brief Look!

This SSD is good enough for all practical purposes excepting for editing 4k, or higher, video.

In practice, you will not notice the difference between the 4 times faster internal SSD on the MacBook Pro vs this Sandisk Extreme SSD.

The SSD link at Amazon: https://amzn.to/39Qw6Kl

Type C to Type A Adapter at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mQZX9a

#SandDisk #SSD #Mac #MacBook

How to rename “EFI Boot” to “Windows” on the Mac

This is an irritant for some people like me who use multiple drives and partitions. Since all Windows and/or Linux boot partitions show up as “efi boot” on the Mac startup, it is desirable to change the name on startup so we can easily figure out which partition is which.

For some, it is merely the aesthetic value, but, in either case, being able to change the EFI boot name is generally desirable.

In this video, we will see how to do this on the Mac for installers and then how to change the same once we are booted into Windows on the Mac.

Generally, since we would format the Windows partition to NTFS, we have to use a small workaround in Windows to change the boot name for the Mac.

In this video, we will see how to go about the name change…