When Westcott sent me an Ice Light to try, my husband saw it and immediately asked “why are you holding a Lightsaber?” And yes, I suppose it does resemble one. But the truth is that this oddly shaped light is lightweight, transportable, and meant for photographers, not Star Wars fans.
You can adjust the brightness and it’s daylight balanced. It attaches to light stands or you can simply hold it. Jerry Ghionis designed this light for Westcott, as a portable, rechargeable, continuous lighting source. And it is just that.
My Initial Impressions
Fun, lightweight, and the quality of light is very nice. I am 99.9% a natural light shooter – and I add light using our Photoshop actions or Lightroom presets as needed. Many years ago, I used strobes when I had a product photography business, but since 2006 MCP Actions is my full time job. Photographing my kids, nature and wildlife, is more for pleasure than pay. In fact I no longer have strobes – just a few speed lights and reflectors. So for me, I am interested in the Ice Light as a quickly accessible tool that does not take up much space in my office or home, and something I can pop in my camera bag should the need arise.
I’ve only practiced with it a few times so far. But I see it having a place in my photography, for the reasons noted above. The major downside I see to buying one of these: price. It is expensive for a small, saber-like light. And truthfully, when I used it, I wished I had a second one simultaneously. If you are a professional and shooting models or high school seniors on location, these may be the ideal quick lighting source you need. If you have limited space and mostly shoot with natural light, but want a daylight balanced light source to add in, definitely consider these. If you photograph young kids, it may be hard, as they will want to play with it. They aren’t going to just let you use it – they’ll want your toy.
As I mentioned above, I definitely am not seasoned with the use of lights, but I’ve included a few of my daughter Jenna taken in near darkness in my home. I wanted to see if it could help me in low-light indoor situations. And compared to not using any light at all, for my first try, I was pretty happy. I just need more practice.
Here are two professional images taken with an Ice Light:
photo by Jerry Ghionis
photo by Rick Sammon
Are you ready to win an Ice Light?
Entering is easy!
- Check out the Ice Light, and then leave a comment on our blog post and let us know “In what type of photography do you think the Ice Light would be most useful and how could it help you get better images?”
- PIN, SHARE, TWEET or post to G+ about the give away. Then add a second comment below for an additional entry!
- Join MCP Actions as a NEW subscriber on any social networking site (Facebook, Facebook Group, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+) or sign up for our mailing list (top right corner), and add a comment for an additional entry.
Are you the winner?
- The contest ends on June 23rd. Check back to see if you are the lucky winner – it will be announced at the top of this post that night.
Adobe released the latest version of Photoshop today.
Photoshop CC (also known as Photoshop Creative Cloud) has several new features that photographers will love. More about the new features below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To learn about Photoshop CC, you can visit this link. But to get the discount as a past Photoshop purchaser, you need to << GO HERE >>. This page is hard to locate on Adobe’s site.
Unlike past versions of Photoshop, where you own boxed software or the download, Adobe’s Photoshop CC is only available by online subscription. You pay a monthly fee and gain access to the software. It lives on your computer, but you authorize it monthly to keep it working. The controversial decision upset many Adobe Photoshop customers.
Some of the frustration happened because people misunderstood how Photoshop CC works. It does NOT run in a browser. Files are not stored in the cloud, unless you want, and you do not need online access to use it. You only need to go online to download and activate your software. Customers with an annual membership, who provide a credit card, will be able to use products for 3 months (99 days) when offline. Month-to-month customers will still need to validate every 30 days. The validation process is very lightweight and can be done over dial-up, tethered/connected to a mobile device, or at a wireless access point (public library, coffee shop, etc).
We surveyed MCP Facebook Fans and photographers. Read these pros and cons before you decide if the Creative Cloud makes sense for you.
- Immediate updates to the product. You do not need to wait 18 months (or more) to get new features. You get them once they are tested and ready.
- Photoshop Extended. Everyone gets the full extended version. You may not need it, but you’ll have it just in case.
- Access to Creative Cloud Learn. Access hundreds of instructional videos from Adobe and their training partners.
- 20GB of cloud-based storage. This storage is included with any single “app” purchase including Photoshop CC.
- Multi-device access. Gain the ability to easily access and share your work on virtually any device.
- Mac vs PC – no longer a problem. If you use multiple operating systems and computer platforms, you can use Photoshop CC on both. You will NOT need separate licenses/versions for each.
- Multi-Language license. Install applications in any supported language.
- Helps reduce piracy. Piracy is very similar to copyright violation and is stealing. If it cuts down on that, Adobe “might” spend more on new technology or pass savings on to consumers. For those who immediately say, “they won’t” think back to Lightroom 3. It cost $300, but Lightroom 4 and now Lightroom 5 retail for $150.
- Yearly tax deductions. Professional photographers likely will write off the ongoing expense. Many businesses find it easier and more economical to write off operating costs instead of depreciating capital investments.
- No serial numbers. Just login with your Adobe user name and password.
- Need internet access once every month to 99 days to confirm you subscription (depending on your subscription plan). This is a problem for photographers traveling to remote areas on assignment for long lengths of time.
- Future price increases. What if Adobe raises the price and makes it more expensive in the future. You are at their mercy. Many photographers expressed a distrust and assumes Adobe will increase prices often.
- Don’t like renting software. Many photographers prefer the control of owning their software and using it as long as they desire.
- One-Year Contract. While you do not have to pay all at once, you do commit to a one-year contract. If you cancel, you owe a %.
- Vanishing software/nothing to show for it. If you do not renew or or cannot afford to re-subscribe, you have no software to show for it. Unlike having a box or download, you are left with NO Photoshop.
- Too expensive for hobbyists. If you feel this way, there are options – One powerful combination: Lightroom 5 + Elements 11.
- No choice. Some photographers feel that Adobe now dictates how they work. These photographers wished they had the choice subscribe or own the software. This caused the greatest source of tension for people.
Pro or Con – Depends on your viewpoint:
- Accessibility. This was listed as a pro and con. Some photographers felt the cloud subscription model makes it easier for people to get the full version of Photoshop since they do not have to spend $700 up front. Others expressed that the monthly bill would exclude new photographers and hobbyists. More beginning photographers could buy Photoshop CC, making the barrier for entry into photography less expensive. On the flip side, fewer photographers might charge low prices since they’ll incur one more monthly bill. I think we will need to wait and see.
- Cost. The price to own Photoshop CC is $19.99 per month. If you have Photoshop CS3-CS6 you can get the first year at $9.99 per month. A single-app membership is available at a special introductory price of $9.99 per month (with an annual commitment) for Adobe customers who currently own Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS6. Offer available until July 31st, 2013. So rounding to $20 or $10, the yearly price rings in at $240 a year ($120 for the first year if you started with the eligible software). Photoshop CS6 cost $699 retail, $999 for Photoshop CS6 Extended. If you upgraded from PS CS5 to PS CS6, it cost a one time charge of $199, $399 upgrading from one extended version to the next. You will pay more to own Photoshop CC at the $20 rate, but you spread the payments out. Some prefer this. Others do not. If you upgraded software every release, this isn’t a huge expense. But if you are content waiting 3-4 releases, than yes, you will pay more.
I’ve read many rumors online about how Adobe may offer more options for photographers who want Lightroom and Photoshop as a package. There’s also talk of long-term contracts with possible ownership. But these are all just rumors. Time will show the path Adobe chooses to address the needs of photographers.
Solutions if you are not happy with the cloud options:
- Buy Photoshop CS6 now. Or stick with an older version of Photoshop until you adopt the cloud.
- Buy Elements 11 and/or Lightroom 5.
- Find alternative editing software.
All of our Photoshop actions for CS6 are compatible with Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud). If you used Photoshop CS5 and below, you will need to re-download the Facebook Fix actions and Rounded Blog It Boards and Print It Boards, as these sets had changes between versions CS5 and CS6.
Best New Features in Photoshop CC
As mentioned above, Photoshop CC will continue to evolve. Adobe engineers will test and disperse new features as they are ready. Photographers will love the expanded smart object support, including the Liquify filter. The new Upsampling will help you print larger and the enhanced Smart Sharpening will make your photos more clear with less noise. Cloud Syncing benefits people who use Photoshop on multiple computers, since you can sync certain settings such as preferences, actions, brushes, swatches, styles, gradients, shapes, patterns, contours, and tool presets. And the fun new toy, Camera Shake Reduction, reduces or eliminates camera shake. I’m actually not sure I will need the camera shake tool often, but I am still excited to play with it. Also, Camera Raw now has the Radial Filter to apply local adjustments and the Upright tool to correct perspective distortion.
Here’s a screen shot showing more new features – courtesy of Adobe.
Now that you’ve read some of the perks and downsides expressed by our readership, it’s your turn. Will you be “subscribing” to the cloud version of Photoshop? Explain your thoughts below in the comments. We have some Adobe employees who read the MCP Blog so let them know if you love it or hate it – or if you need time to decide. We look forward to hearing from you.
Happy Father’s Day to all those hard working dads. Photographer dads, put down your camera and remember to get in a few pictures with your kids. And have a fun day. Photo courtesy of Christine Sines, one of our Facebook Group Admins.
This week’s photography challenge offers you the chance to slow down and feel the sun on your face. The challenge is to take a photo using backlighting.
A real challenge, several of our members shared stunning backlight photos. Here are a few we wanted to highlight.
Submitted by Ali Ellen
Submitted by Amber Bullock Owens
Submitted by Amy MagnetGirl
Submitted by Yvonne Germond
Join us for the photo challenge. It is the perfect way to grow as a photographer. You can be creative with your subject matter, vantage point, and editing while shooting these images for yourself. Once submitted, you will have the support of a large group of photographers who can offer constructive criticism and give you feedback as you work on specific themes and skills.
The team would like to thank everyone who submitted a photo for the challenge. You have one more week on this theme, so come join our Facebook Group and participate now.
Our photo challenges give you a chance to edit other photographer’s images, share them for critique, and see how others edit the same photographs. Participating allows you to practice editing, learn how to give constructive criticism, and watch what steps or Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets are used in various edits. Join us to edit the bi-weekly photos.
If you have an idea on how you’d edit the image below, or want to see and learn what others did, JOIN US HERE.
Thank you to Amber Bullock Owens for allowing us to use this photo. The current challenges are linked at the top of the group. Remember, you can also ask for critique on your edit.
Several of members of the group have shared great edits. Here are a few of the many favorites:
Edited by Meredith Hogarth
Submitted by Susan Elisabeth
Submitted by Tabitha Presnell
We will have a new edit challenge starting Monday, so come back to see what image you can edit then.
How to Edit Newborn Photos in Photoshop
One of the things I love about editing with MCP’s Photoshop actions are the adjustable layers. Most MCP Newborn Necessities actions don’t require flattening, so you can edit and retouch, and have the flexibility to re-work things as needed.
The baby in the photo below was reddish yellow and had purple/red hands and feet. Also, the photo was underexposed. The photo was taken late in the afternoon as the family was moving out of state the next day. The sun was setting and I used a diffused, bounced flash.
Here’s how I edit newborn photos in Photoshop (including the image above):
* After some minor adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw I brought it into PS. While this sounds like a lot of steps below, it actually is extremely fast, as compared to making each of these adjustments from scratch. You can adjust any of these steps to fit your image and edit as much or as little as you choose.
Step 1. Increase Exposure action - I brought my opacity up to 15%.
Step 2. Pick Me Up action - with a 53% opacity. I like that it gives the photo a little bit of pop but not going overboard. You can adjust this later to give yourself more or less pop but for now I am leaving it at 53%.
Step 3. Baby Bottle action This action will give you a nice white haze on your photo.
Step 4. Since his skin was a bit too yellow I used the It’s A Boy action to neutralize the yellow. You might not need to do this step but I use it if babies looks jaundice.
Step 5. Paint On Formula action - I love that sometimes you can run an action and it will just nail it for you. Paint on Formula is an action that I use in all of my newborns. I LOVE this action because it helps quickly fix spots of color, rather than on the entire image.
- The first area I worked on was that purple hand. Using a white brush with a 30-40% opacity you paint on the proper fix. In this case – Magenta/+ Green. I went over it a few times. Tip: If it starts to look green, you can switch your brush to black and fix your mistakes.
- While still in Paint on Formula layers, I selected the – Red/ + Cyan. This will start to pull out all the red and add a little bit of cyan.
- To adjust the tones on his little foot, I used the items in #1 and also went into the + Yellow/ – Blue. I added a little bit of yellow back. We used It’s a Boy to neutralize so only use this on areas with the weird color casts from using the other steps. I also used this on his hand because it was a little more red than I would have like it to be.
Step 6. In My Dreams action When the action runs look for a good colored area of skin that want to try to use through out the rest of the skin. I had to choose one area for his hand to keep it a little darker and another for the rest of the skin. Once you run it your skin should all be pretty even now. Run it a few more times on different parts of the skin if you feel it is necessary.
Step 7. Baby Lotion action - I normally don’t smooth newborn skin too much. You can go overboard really easy. When you run this action it will take it to the very bottom of the layers right above your background layer. Lower your brush to 30% and pain on areas that you’d like to smooth out a little bit.
Step 8. I felt he might have looked a little too pale or gray so I ran the Paint on Gray Skin Fix and popped him up a bit. My brush was at 40% opacity and I left the action opacity as it was.
Step 9. Blushing Paint On Cheeks Bring a little pink back into your skin by using this action and your brush at 45% opacity. If it’s too pink then lower the opacity of your brush. You want a little bit of color but not over pink.
Step 10. Cool Vignette at 25% opacity
Laura Short, the guest writer and photographer for this image, is the owner of September Smile Photography. She’s a Navy veteran and currently lives in Austin, Texas with her four children and husband. Laura is a lifestyle photographer specializing in maternity, newborns and children.