Category: review


Reviewing new gear

Getting this blog going has become a priority and there is going to be a lot more content here. One of the changes you many have already noticed is that there are more posts. The more popular this blog can become then the more I am able to share with you. Part of all that is reviewing new gear.
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On my last visit to Alowyn Gardens I took the Lensbaby Velvet 85 with me. I have had it on loan for a few weeks now, and the gardens are a great place to take photos with any lens that could be good for macro photography. The Velvet 85 is no different. 
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Earlier this week a parcel arrived and in it was a new lens that Lensbaby have loaned to me, the Velvet 85. It is part of the Velvet series. I’ve been using the Velvet 56 for over a year now, so when they asked me if I would like to try it and review it, I jumped at the chance. I love the Velvet 56 and have loved using it for macro photography, so I was curious to see what the 85 would be like.
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Just recently I’ve been playing with different editing software to see what it is like. With all the talk of what Adobe are doing with their subscription use of programs a lot of people are unsure of jumping aboard, while still others are worried about what happens if they keep putting the price up and up so that we can no longer afford it. The problem with the subscription idea is that once you stop paying you no longer have any access to it at all. It is like paying rent on a house, I guess.
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Tales by Light

Recently on Netflix I saw a program that I think all photographers should see. The show is called Tales by Light, and is an Australian production, though the photographers are from all around the world. The show follows their adventures as they travel the world to get the photos they want. This is their motto.

Behind every powerful image is a powerful story

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Last week I was going through some documentaries on Stan and Netflix and I came across Chasing Ice in the former. It is just over an hour long but it was worth watching. I love it when you find something that you can’t stop thinking about and you want to share it with everyone. This is what Chasing Ice did for me.
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Anyone who uses a camera is going to know how horrible sensor dust is. There is nothing worse than going out to get an image, just to discover when you get it on the computer that it is full of spots from your sensor.
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One of the benefits of being a contributer/writer for Digital Photography School is that I get to try out a lot of new gear. It can be good, see what is happening out there, but in some ways it can be terrible, especially when I really like something and have to give it back. Still I usually get over it and then something else arrives that I fall in love with.
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Recently I was given an opportunity to try out some Photoshop Actions from Sleeklens. It is not a company I’ve heard of before, but when they contacted me about their actions it seemed like a good opportunity to try them.

Photoshop Actions for Landscape Photography

The first point that got my attention was that they were for landscape photographers. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve looked at for them and only found ones for portrait photography. I was certainly going to give these a try and see how they would work.


Dark Dreams Action

What is an Action

For those of you that don’t know what an action is let me explain. They are like mini programs, you load them up and then when you press play they will do a few processes. It is a bit like your washing machine. You press start and then it adds water, washes, empties, fills again, empties and finally spins. An action works in a similar way, but each one has a different set of stages it will go through. All you have to do is sit back and watch until it finishes or you get a prompt telling you to do something.

I know we are visual people, which is why we do photography, so I am going to do a video to show those that don’t know how, how to load actions and where to find them. I am also going to show you how some of them workYou can purchase the package with this link, Landscape Adventure Collection. They also sell presets for Lightroom and lots of other ones to help with your workflow.


Dreamy Landscape Action

How are Actions helpful

Actions can be great for helping to minimise your workload. I have made several of my own for those things that I do a lot. If you are new to Photoshop actions the ones from Sleeklens can be great to help give you great results. Though, like with anything they should be used carefully and appropriately. If you use one and it makes your image horrible, then don’t use that action for that image.


Detail Enhancer Action

One thing I do like about these actions is that if you don’t like it it is easy to remove it from the image. It puts all the work it did into a group that you can just delete. When you are working on an image you don’t always know what is and isn’t going to work so it is good to be able to try one, remove it, try another one.

The set of actions you get give you lots of different options for different images. I did enjoy playing with the sunset and sunrise actions. Seeing how you can enhance a sunset was great. I think a lot of people will really like those.


Intense Sunset Action

There are quite a few different actions and they are always fun to play with. You can get an idea of the possibilities and you never know there might be one that you really like and want to use all the time.


Autumn Colours Action

It should also be pointed out that the actions don’t just add special effects, they can help your images. They can help warm your image or make it cooler. There are actions to help the base image better if the exposure wasn’t quite right. You can work on the shadows, or get more clarity within it. So they aren’t special effects necessarily.

They are also not gaudy or over the top, as some actions I’ve seen can be. You have options within many of them as well. You still feel like you are in control with what is going on.

Where to get them

If you are interested in purchasing their actions then the link for the ones I’m using are:

Landscape Adventure Collection

They also have a number of other actions available too, follow this link to see those.

Photoshop Actions at Sleeklens

I have done a short screencast for you as well so you can see the actions in action, so to speak.