Articles written by Mel Martin
Last year, I took a look at Astro Panel, a Photoshop plugin designed to enhance Milky Way and other astronomical images. At the time, I was happy with what it did, but the author had a security scheme that forced you to log into the app every couple of weeks, which I thought was burdensome and downright silly.
I'm mainly an Arizona based golden time landscape photographer, and I also mix in Milky Way and telescope based astronomical photography of galaxies and nebulas. On June 5th, a lightning storm struck the Catalina Mountains near Tucson, and almost literally, all hell broke loose.
Mac users with a need to migrate image catalogs to another hosting app have found that process difficult to impossible. Help is here, in the form of a new app called Avalanche Unlimited from CYME Software. The app can deal with migration from Apple Aperture, Adobe Lightroom, Luminar 4, Capture One, and Apple Photos. The latter two are coming soon as a free update.
It was about a year ago I reviewed the NIK Collection 2, a rebirth of popular Adobe plugins that laid fallow while its new owner, Google, tried to figure out what to do with them until DXO bought the software in 2017 and continually upgraded the collection. They have now added a feature that is really going to excite photographers.
Like most of you, I'm cooped up at home other than occasional forage for groceries. As a landscape photographer in Arizona, there's plenty of landscape, but I'm doing my best to abide by the stay at home rules. So basically, the landscapes are in one place, I'm looking at 4 walls.
Like many photographers, I was intrigued by the announcement of the Peak Design Travel Tripod. It was a Kickstarter offering, like many things Peak Design sells. It appeared to be a fresh look at what a travel tripod should be, so I plunked down my money. I opted for the carbon fiber model, as travel tripods are all about weight, and carbon fiber is lighter.
Over the years, 3D has come and sort of gone, then come back again. We've seen it in the movies and in photography. After digital imaging got popular, I had a 3D Fuji camera, which was fun, but you either had to make expensive lenticular prints or watch on a 3D TV. Not a fulfilling experience.
Photolab 3.1 from DXO has been out a couple of months now, and early looks from photographers have been positive. It's a complete raw editor and has many features photographers will expect to see and adds some very worthwhile enhancements that will highly interest editors at every skill level.
I've been looking at photo apps for the iPhone since the phone was first released in 2007. From the start, it was pretty clear Apple wasn't getting the most out of their own camera with the built-in app, and third parties rushed in. If you wanted to take serious photos, many of the apps were wanting, offering stickers and other features most pros would disdain. But not this app.
Experienced night sky shooters know that some of the most challenging targets are meteors. While meteor showers, which happen several times a year, will make capturing the elusive meteors easier because there are more of them, you can still point a camera to the sky with a 30 minute exposure and get nothing. Then, suddenly, a meteor can appear where you weren't pointing.
In March, I did a post that was critical of Adobe applications of late: lots of bugs, sometimes unintelligible offshore customer support, and their Creative Cloud menu bar app (on Mac OS) that seemed more a marketing device than a useful way to know about Adobe updates (on Windows, the Creative cloud app is launched from the Task Bar).
There has been much talk about the upcoming version of Luminar 4 from Skylum software. I've tested an early beta release and found the new features, particularly sky replacement, rather incredible. Others will be more interested in the new AI Portrait tools, to which I also gave some attention. The bottom line is that Luminar 4 goes beyond any manual method of sky replacement for speed and accuracy. The portrait tools also work more quickly and easily than any software I've seen, including apps dedicated to portrait retouching.