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Mel Martin
Tucson, AZ

Articles written by Mel Martin

How I Spent My COVID-19 Vacation

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.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod: Pricey but a Small Breakthrough

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.

A New Way to Take 3D Photos on Your Phone is Coming

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.

DxO PhotoLab 3.1: A Lightroom Replacement?

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.

ProCamera Is Still the iOS Photo App to Beat

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.

Plan Your Meteor Shower Photography From Your Smartphone

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.

Topaz Mask AI: How Much AI Is There Really?

AI has surely become a catch phrase, and we are seeing it all the time in photography applications. Luminar touts AI and Topaz, and even Adobe is jumping on the AI Bandwagon. Topaz Mask AI is one of the latest apps using AI, and I put it to the test.

Did Adobe Improve Their Creative Cloud App? I Think Not

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).

Luminar 4 Is Coming Soon: Here Is Fstoppers' Advance Review

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.

Topaz Studio 2: Is It Worth Buying?

Topaz Studios seems to have endless releases of powerful tools for photographers, and many of us have at least one Topaz application or plugin in our collection of editing tools. So, just how good is the newly released Topaz Studio 2?

Skylum Is Adding Sky Replacement to Luminar 4

The next version of Luminar, called Luminar 4, will include a one-click sky replacement feature. Other photo editors can get it done, but it usually involves masking, and it often doesn't work very well with foreground objects like trees with a lot of leaves. Adobe demonstrated a one-click sky replacement in 2016, but alas, it never appeared.

How Useful Is an External Field Monitor for Stills Photographers?

I've watched with interest as videographers use external small monitors attached to their DSLR or mirrorless cameras. I could see the advantages: the larger screen, the ability to see vectorscopes, histograms, and the variety of focus tools available. At the same time, I wondered if a monitor would enhance my landscape and nighttime photography, so I took the plunge, and here are my findings.