Shootin’ And Scootin’; Products For Wedding And Other Photographers

“Now join hands, and with your hands your hearts.”—William Shakespeare

There is more to wedding photography than capturing the image. Afterward there’s more work involved getting all of those images sorted, edited, and prepared for the web or albums for the happy couple and their parents. This month, I’ll introduce you to a few software and hardware tools that can make you more productive as well as open up some creative possibilities. For skeptics reading about the last featured product and wondering where High Dynamic Range (HDR) imagery fits into the wedding shooter’s bag of tricks, I direct you to this month’s Web Profiles, where one of the featured photographers spectacularly uses HDR images in his wedding work.

© 2010, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

How Suite It Is
Plug-In Suite 5 by onOne Software ( bundles complete versions of the company’s FocalPoint 2, PhotoTune 3, PhotoFrame 4.5 Professional Edition, PhotoTools 2.5 Professional Edition, Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition, and MaskPro 4 into one affordable package. It also includes a new onOne Panel that provides fast access to all the plug-ins, Windows 64-bit support, and compatibility with Adobe’s Lightroom 2 and Apple’s Aperture 2.1.

FocalPoint 2 lets you add realistic depth of field and selective focus control to any image after it’s photographed. PhotoTune 3 optimizes an image’s dynamic range, color, and sharpness so it looks more true-to-life. One of my perennial favorites is the Professional Edition of PhotoFrame 4.5 that allows you to add creative edges, frames, backgrounds, textures, and layouts to your photographs. PhotoTools 2.5 Professional Edition is my first choice for image tweaks and now includes a MaskingBug that produces masks to let you selectively apply effects. For a long time Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition has been the de facto standard for making big prints from little files and now includes a gallery wrap feature and output options for tiling enlarged photos. MaskPro 4 is designed for those times when you need to extract a subject from within a photo and uses a color-based method that lets you remove unwanted backgrounds. Plug-In Suite 5 costs $599.95 or $199.95 to owners of previous versions. I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: if you use even one or two of these plug-ins you’ll get your money’s worth.

Photos © 2010, Mary Farace, All Rights Reserved

Card Reader With A Difference
While there are several methods for transferring image data to computers and even networks, most of us still do it the old-fashioned way: inserting a memory card into a card reader. Here’s a new spin on that approach from SanDisk ( their $49.99 Extreme Pro ExpressCard Adapter is designed for high-performance UDMA CompactFlash cards and transfers image files to your computer with speeds (read/write) up to 90MB/sec. In addition to a fast card, including SanDisk’s own, you’ll need a notebook or desktop computer that has an ExpressCard/34 or ExpressCard/54 slot.

Geek Note: ExpressCard replaces the old and hard-to-pronounce PCMCIA slots, is hot-pluggable, and has an open standard with two form factors—ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54—although the connector is the same 34mm for both. You can just plug the Extreme Pro ExpressCard Adapter into your laptop and leave it there, although it does stick out a bit and may snag on some covers or cases, but there are no cords and it makes a far more convenient traveling companion than a card reader for on-location file downloads. The Extreme Pro ExpressCard Adapter works with Windows computers, although you may have to install the bundled driver on a Mac OS (10.4 and later) laptop.