Recently in Photos for OS X

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Don't Forget About Noise Removal

For many of us, noise removal is one of those forgotten adjustments in our everyday workflow. In part, that's because camera manufacturers have improved the high ISO pictures that appear on our screen. But that doesn't mean we still don't need it at times.

dxo-noise.png Noise Reduction in the DxO OpticsPro for Photos editing extension.

But what I've noticed is, that if "I just play around with noise reduction" on an image, especially one with continuous tones at a higher ISO, I usually like the results. Looking at the screen, I'll say to myself, "Hmm, that looks better." So I try to remember to at least take a look at noise reduction every now and then with these types of shots.

There's a NR slider in most of our image editing apps. Lightroom, Capture One Pro, and Photos for macOS all have this functionality. But I've noticed that their algorithms vary widely.

luminar-noise.png The noise reduction tool in Luminar.

Even though Lightroom and Capture One have good built-in tools, I find myself working with plugins more often for my NR work. For example, I really like the noise reduction tool in Luminar. Typically, I use it as an editing extension for Photos for macOS or as a plugin for Lightroom because it's so convenient and doesn't disrupt the workflow. For one-click convenience that are also effective, I like the DxO OpticsPro for Photos editing extension.

There's a good article on Amateur Photographer titled, What's the best noise reduction software out there?. They survey a number of apps that work on both Mac and Windows machines, and rate them.

Chances are that you have one or more of these on your computer right now. You might want to pay it a visit every now and then. I think you'll be happy with the results.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Luminar is an excellent portrait retouching tool thanks to its variety of adjustment filers and easy to use layer control. Here's a free video showing you how to quickly improve a portrait with this application.

luminar-portrait-retouching.png

Notice in the movie how easy it is to work with layers during the editing process. This is one of most outstanding features of Luminar

You can download a free trial of Luminar and see for yourself.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Working with Layers in Luminar

If you've been frustrated by layers in other image editing apps, maybe it's time to take a look at them in Luminar. It's a whole different ballgame there, and a much more enjoyable one too.

luminar-layers.jpg

The first thing that I noticed when learning about layers in Luminar, is that they work intuitively. In other words, If I guess that I can reposition a layer by clicking and dragging, it actually performs that way. So using these tools evolved from being the "L Word" to something that I truly like. Here's a movie that provides you with a nice overview of their functionality.

If you want to learn more about working with Luminar as an editing extension for Photos for macOS, I have a terrific resource for you: Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions, on lynda.com. And if you haven't downloaded Luminar yet, you can get it here.

Imagine having powerful layers controls built right into Photos for macOS. Who would of thought? Or, if you wish, you can use Luminar as a plugin for Lightroom, or as a standalone app. It's certainly changed my opinion about this type of editing.

Learn How to Streamline Your Image Editing

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

There are two basic ways to tap the power of Luminar. One is to use is as a standalone app (and there are advantages to that). Or you can tap its power as a plugin/editing extension (Lightroom, Photoshop, Photos for macOS). When would you choose one over the other?

The primary reason for going the standalone route would be if you wanted to go back and fine tune a layered document. I explain exactly how this works in the following video.

Most of the time I'm using Luminar as a plugin/editing extension. But for my special projects, I go the standalone route so that I can continue to refine the image without any loss of quality. This is particularly fun for ongoing projects.

Limited Special Offer Plus Coupon

Luminar Hot Deal

If this is a workflow that you're interested in, the timing couldn't be better. Macphun is offering a sweetheart of a deal for Luminar. This offer is valid until Saturday, Feb. 18th. Here are the details. For $69 you'll get:

  • Luminar, super-charged photo software for any Mac photographer (standalone version plus plugins and editing extension).
  • Vivid Wonderland Luminar preset pack.
  • Pose like the Pros: Family Photos - eBook.
  • Top 25 Places to Shoot the Most Romantic Photos - eBook (I think this is the Valentine's day part :-)
  • Creative Sky Overlays (include 166 Color Sky Overlays, 69 Landscape & Ocean overlays).

And a Coupon for an Additional $10 Savings

luminar-feb2017.png

In addition to this special offer of Luminar plus bonuses for only $69 (total value $139 Savings of 50 percent), I can save you another $10 if you use coupon code: THEDIGITALSTORY at checkout. That lowers the price for the entire package to $59.

With this offer, you get the standalone version of the app, and all of its plugins, including for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photos for macOS. This gives you maximum flexibility in how you use Luminar's powerful editing tools.

I'm having a blast editing my images with Luminar. I hope you give it a try.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

I met Frederick Van Johnson last night at Oracle Arena to take-in a Warriors game. At one point he said to me, "What's missing here?" We both looked at each other, and neither had a camera other than our iPhones. "Times have changed, haven't they?"

Oracle-Noise-Reduction.jpg Oracle Arena at Twilight. Photo by Derrick Story captured with an iPhone 6S and processed in Photos for macOS with Luminar editing extension.

Obviously, I still shoot with dedicated cameras most of the time. But there are those moments, such as going through security at Oracle Arena, where just having an iPhone is so convenient.

But I do notice, that with shots like this one of the arena at twilight, that the iPhone produces a little more noise in the sky than I like. Since my smartphone images go directly into Photos for macOS, this isn't much of a problem because I have the excellent noise reduction of Luminar waiting as an editing extension. (Luminar noise reduction is far more powerful than the noise reduction slider built into Photos.)

noise-reduction-web.jpg The noise reduction tool built into Luminar.

All I have to do is open the shot in Photos, then choose the Luminar editing extension. Its noise reduction tool provides many options allowing me to apply just the right amount. Plus, it puts the adjustment on its own layer. Nice. I then save the image, and it appears back in Photos, and it's shared across all of my devices.

The process is totally non-destructive, so I can view or revert to the original at any time. And having a robust noise reduction tool to complement my iPhone photography makes it that much easier to travel super light, yet still capture important moments as they present themselves.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Check out this list of killer software: Luminar, DxO Optics Pro, Pixelmator, Affinity Photo, and Polarr - they are all explained in my latest title for lynda.com, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions. Here's the overview movie.

All of this software is available in the Mac App Store and provides you with standalone versions or can be integrated into Photos for macOS as editing extensions. I show you how to use each of these great apps in one complete title.

luminar-in-adv-ext.png

If you want to supercharge your post production using the latest technology available, and have a blast doing so, check out Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions. I think you're going to love it.

Book or Videos: Photos for macOS

Explore the world of modern photography with my The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features insightful text and beautiful illustrations.

And if you'd like to cozy up to a video at the same time, watch my latest lynda title, Photos for macOS Essential Training

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

When I'm out in nature taking pictures, one of the things that I look for are compositions for my fine art greeting cards. I've found that simple, elegant images make are perfect for printing on card stock.

Fine-Art-Card.jpg Washed up Bat Star on a beach in Pacific Grove, CA. Photo and card design by Derrick Story.

I add to the challenge by resisting the urge to move elements in the photograph, and try to stick with the compositions that nature presents me. Such was the case with this series of beach portraits after a storm in Pacific Grove, CA.

I try to find 6-8 compositions that work well together so I can produce a set of cards with a theme. Once I've settled on the shots I want, I design the cards in Photos for macOS, using the variety of templates and tools available in that app.

Then I can send off an order for the cards, or I can print them myself using Red River Paper greeting card stock. (I show how to do this in my latest book, The Apple Photos Book for Photographers).

Regardless of how you output, keep in mind that capturing these elegant, natural compositions when exploring the great outdoors can help you produce some handsome greeting cards when you return home.

Book or Videos: Photos for macOS

Explore the world of modern photography with my The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features insightful text and beautiful illustrations.

And if you'd like to cozy up to a video at the same time, watch my latest lynda title, Photos for macOS Essential Training

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Crashing Waves with Luminar and Photos

The long overdue storm season in California is producing dramatic landscapes once again. I made a stop in Monterey yesterday for a bite to eat and to capture some of the action with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Crashing Waves

Originally I opted for video to record the tumultuous sea. But then I wanted a few stills too. So I switched to RAW mode and worked with the Panasonic Lumix G II 20mm, F1.7 lens. I kept the shutter speed at a conservative 1/60th of a second to capture a little motion with the crashing waves.

You might think at this point that I would open the RAW in Lightroom or Capture One Pro. But I'm on vacation and wanted to play. So the images went into Photos for macOS. Then I used the Luminar editing extension to pull the drama that I knew lurked in that RAW file. And Luminar did just that.

Want to see the difference? Take a look at this before/after view in the Luminar editing extension.

luminar-edit.jpg

Back in Photos, I added a dash of Brilliance, then viewed the image in full screen mode on my MacBook Pro. Lovely. So wonderful to have this weather in California again...

Book or Videos: Photos for macOS

Explore the world of modern photography with my The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features insightful text and beautiful illustrations.

And if you'd like to cozy up to a video at the same time, watch my latest lynda title, Photos for macOS Essential Training

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Impressive RAW Power App for Photos

One of the features that I miss from Aperture is the ability to customize the decoding of my RAW files. Now, thanks to the $10 editing extension (and standalone app) RAW Power, I have those tools again. And they are wonderful.

001-RAW-Process.jpg The key to this app is the RAW Processing panel, that gives me control over the actual decoding of the RAW file.

the-raw-process-panel.png

I purchased RAW Power from the Mac App Store, then tried it as a standalone. I usually do that first with editing extensions to make sure everything works OK. And indeed it does. I so enjoy having control again on how software interprets my RAW files.

The key to this editing extension is the RAW Processing panel that contains all the sliders you need to customize the file's decoding, including the ultra-cool boost sliders. Getting these adjustments just right makes everything that follows so much more effective.

I then fired up Photos for macOS and used RAW Power as an editing extension. Same controls, same wonderful results. This file, for example, was captured in existing light with an Olympus TG-4 compact camera. Yet, I was able to take that RAW file and make it shine. Compare the decoded top image to the original (without RAW Power processing) below.

002-Original.jpg Original file before decoding with RAW Power.

RAW Power does include plenty of adjustment tools too, such as shadows/highlights, curves, white balance, and sharpen, just to name a few. So after you decode the file, you can spruce it up a bit too.

But my workflow has been to get the basic image in good shape, then return to Photos for finishing touches such as color cast, vignette, definition, and sharpening.

003-Finishing-Touch.jpg Now for the finishing touches in Photos for macOS.

RAW Power is a wonderful addition to Photos, as well as a strong standalone app. Most of the files that circulate through Photos for macOS are Jpegs from my iPhone shooting. But I do have a surprising number of RAWs also, especially from the Olympus TG-4. How wonderful to finally have a set of pro tools to work on them, and have the results automatically shared across all of my devices.

Master Photos for macOS

Explore the world of modern photography with my The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features insightful text and beautiful illustrations.

And if you'd like to cozy up to a video at the same time, watch my latest lynda title, Photos for macOS Essential Training

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

What a great time of year for creating slideshows to share with others. Whether it's a wrap-up of the holidays, or the entire year, these short videos are a perfect way to tell your story.

If you're an iPhone shooter, you have a robust slideshow editor on your laptop that can tap into all of those great images on your phone. Photos for macOS makes it easy to author and share these presentations. And if you want to take your movie to the next level, customize your title screens using this simple tip. Here's a video that walks you through the steps.

That's right - the greeting card tool in Photos for macOS can also be used for creating professional title screens for your slideshows. And everything you need is right there under one roof.

Instead of printing the card, you output it to digital and add it to your presentation. The look absolutely great because you have all of the high-end design tools in the greeting card creator at your disposal.

digital-output.png Output to digital to use your design in a slideshow.

A few of these handsome titles will make your video shine. Also, keep the overall presentation short - about 1.5 to 2 minutes - and add some audio as appropriate. Your fans will love it.

But Wait, There's More!

If you'd like to cozy up to more helpful videos, watch my latest lynda title, Photos for macOS Essential Training. Tons of tips to help you bring out your inner artist.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.