Sony World Photography Awards 2018

Each year the Professional competition of the Sony World Photography Awards draws a huge variety of inspiring, engaging and emotional photography from around the world. Pro submission valid until January 11th

Photojournalism and hard-hitting news photography sit side-by-side with fine-art, still-life and commercial work, as well as awe-inspiring images of the natural world and our travels within it.

The Professional competition is judged on a body of work.  Photographers must submit a minimum of 5 and maximum of 10 images and all submissions must be accompanied by a series description.

At the pinnacle of the Professional competition is the title of Photographer of the Year, one of the most distinguished and highly regarded awards in photography. The winner is chosen each year by the Honorary Jury from among the first place winners of all the Professional categories.

In addition to the main prizes, all winning and shortlisted photographers will be included in a global press campaign, featured across the World Photography Organisation website and exhibited at Somerset House, London in the Spring.

Morning Glory by  Huibo Hou  Morning glory hot spring in Winter, Yellowstone National Park, USA. Copyright: © Huibo Hou, United States of America, Entry, Open, Landscape & Nature (2018 Open competition), 2018 Sony World Photography Awards

Prizes & Exhibition

  • $25,000 (USD) for the Photographer of the Year.
  • $5,000 (USD) for the overall Open competition winner.
  • Professional, Open, Youth, National Award and Student Focus category winners will receive the latest Sony Digital Imaging equipment.
  • Professional category winners are flown to London to attend the Sony World Photography Awards dinner on Thursday April 19, 2018.

All winning and shortlisted images will be included in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London from April 20 – May 6, 2018.

DxO Photolab Review

A few weeks ago, DxO bought the Nik Collection from Google, already a great news for the future of this great plugin suite, but the most important for DxO is the release of this major application incorporating the U-ponit technology developed by Nik. One thing you must know about DxO is that they are a major Benchmarking company. They develop state of the art bechmarking machines and they are extensively testing all the optics and cameras on the market. PhotoLab can be considered as the ultimate Raw image processor today as it adapts to both the specific camera and lenses profiles and by offering options not available in any other Raw image procesor. Please note that the comparison with the other apps I mentioned only concerns the RAW processor Except for the Film Looks emulation with DxO Film Pack if you own it, there are no styling options available. It is not an All in 1 product. That will probably change in 2018 when the integration of the Nik Collection will be fully operational.

The interface

It is not much different than the other applications you can find such as Lightroom Classic, ON1 Photo Raw, Skylum Luminar 2018 or Topaz Studio. Only Capture One has a very different organisation, but this is for a future review. You have the Browse panel on the left, the number of controls you get is really huge. They are separated in 4 main sections. The Essential Tools, the Light section, the Color section, the Geometry section and theDxO plusins such as DxO Film Pack section.

When you choose DxO Photolab from Lightroom, you see a lot more controls than theLighroom Basic adjustments.. You get five main categories. Essential Tools, Light, Color,  Detail and Geometry.

The Essential Tools section is where you find what could be called “Quick edits. If you want a real fast way to enhance your images without real heavy processing, you have the DxO Smart Lighting slider and the DxO Clear view. They work like a radiance and a Micro Contrast / Structure sliders.. This is a one minute quick edit.

Even if the panels are huge and can be a little intimidating, the tools are very well organized and are making a very coherent workflow. Another great thing is that you can create your own workspaces with only the controls you really use. You can also save all your settings as presets.

I really enjoyed the DxO Film pack section that lets you add finishing touches such as frames, textures and even light leaks

Local Adjustments

When you click for the first time on the Local Adjustments button on top of the interface, you can select either the mouse or touch screen depending on what you use.

The first tool DxO brought from the Nik Collection to Photolab are the u-Points controls. The great addition they made to this tool is the controls block presentation. just click on the one you want to use and drag up or down. A very convenient way to use these controls much more effective than in the Nik Collection.. The same system is used for the gradient filter. It is nice when you want to place a gradient to have a selection of tools with a right button mouse click..This is a circular gadget with tool icons around the outside, offering a BrushGraduated FilterControl PointAuto MaskEraserNew Mask and Reset buttons.

 

Final Thoughts

This is the strongest Raw editor available today. The list of controls is gigantic, but lets you build-up a very efficient workflow. Due to the DxO experience on benchmarking, all the camera and lens profiles are very accurate and the image quality you can achieve is really fantastic. I don’t think it is a full photo processing software as the tools for stylisation are not present. They will for sure be available when the integration of the Nik collection will be complete.  It really becomes the extension of Lightroom very rapidly and the “Export to Lightroom” button when you finish your editing makes ithe whole process so easy.

With this excellent piece of software and the arrival of the DxO collection, DxO jumps straight into the top photo editors manufacturers group. No doubt we will follow what’s coming next..

Download a trial version at DxO.com

 

SKYLUM LUMINAR 2018 is here for MAC and PC

Luminar is a universal all-in-one photo app designed to offer everything a modern photographer needs for photo editing. With intelligent filters and over 100 presets, Luminar speeds up the photo editing workflow to deliver great results in less time. It also features some advanced tools like layers, masking and blending, lens correction and transform tools — to name just a few — that take image editing to the next level. The previous version of Luminar was honored with a TIPA award for Best Imaging Software 2017 and three weeks ago won the 2017 Best Software Plug-in at the Lucie Technical Awards at PhotoPlus Expo, NYC.

In 2018, Luminar will be updated with a new image browser & digital asset manager for efficient image library organization and management. Photographers will be able to sort, rate, organize, and backup their photos, in addition to tapping the award-winning editing power of Luminar. The new digital asset management platform in Luminar will work without a subscription and will arrive as a free update to all Luminar 2018 users.

What’s new in Luminar 2018:

  • NEW: RAW develop module that handles high-quality images faster and includes Lens Correction and Transform tools.
  • NEW: Brand new streamlined user interface that speeds up working with presets, filters, and masks.
  • NEW: Intelligent Sun Rays filter that recognizes objects and creates a natural yet impressive look.
  • NEW: LUT Mapping (Look Up Tables)* delivers creative color, perfect black and white conversions, and digital films looks in seconds.
  • NEW: Dodge & Burn filter is designed to selectively lighten or darken specific areas of an image.
  • NEW: Brilliance and Warmth filter adds a rich tone and warmth, or can be used with negative values to cool down an image for a more subtle look.
  • NEW: Matte Filter delivers a trendy vintage look with a silky matte finish.
  • NEW: Hue Shift lets you roll the hue in a photo for subtle or dramatic changes. A little is perfect to eliminate unwanted color tints while a big adjustment is perfect for dramatic stylizing.
  • NEW: Real-time noise removal that quickly fixes noisy (low-light) images.
  • NEW: Support of 3rd party Adobe plugins
  • NEW: Apple HEIF files support
  • IMPROVED: Advanced masking with filters
  • IMPROVED: Advanced Bi-Color Toning
  • IMPROVED: Advanced Cross Processing
  • IMPROVED: Advanced Image Radiance
  • IMPROVED: Advanced Structure and Microstructure
  • IMPROVED: Advanced Split Toning 

* Workspaces, Clone & Stamp, blend modes for layers, luminosity masking, flip and rotate, as well as some other tools and features will be available in the Mac version at launch, and arrive in the PC version with free updates by the end of the year.

* Look-Up Table (LUT) – is mathematically precise way of taking specific RGB image values from a source image – and modifying them to new RGB values by changing the hue, saturation and brightness values of that source image. LUTs are used creatively to impose a specific ‘Look’ on a source image; tens of thousands are available from a variety of sources around the Internet.

 

Order Luminar 2018

Mixed-computer households can share the same product key for Mac and PC which can be activated on 5 devices. A 14-day free trial is also available.

  • $49 upgrade for current Luminar users
  • $59 for Luminar for Windows Beta testers
  • $69 for new users

The Digital Asset Management platform will arrive in 2018 as a free update for all the users of Luminar 2018.

Visit https://macphun.com/luminar to order

Loupedeck editing console for lightroom

For almost a month now, I have been trying the LOUPEDECK console for Lightroom. I was not too impressed at first, thinking that I knew Lightroom enough to go very fast with my editing workflow, but I really wanted to give it a try. So I contacted Loupedeck, a Finland based company and they kindly accepted to send me one to test and review.

What a surprise when I got the box! The console is quite big and very well built. All lightroom’s main editing functions are represented by knobs and sliders. The install process is very straightforward. The first thing you have to do is go to www.loupedeck.com to download the software and install it.  After the instalation, you are led to another screen that asks if you want to customize the console.. The console has three buttons called C1, C2 and C3 for wich you can assign a task. You first select the button and there is a dropdown list of Lightroom tools not directly accessible with the console set of buttons. For exemple, I selected going from the Develop module to the Library module.  For C2 I selected the sharpening, and the vignette for C3. Then and only after installing the software, you must plug the console with a USB cable and start Lightroom.

You get a nice “Loupedeck thinks you look great today” message and you’re good to go.

The Design

 All the basic functions of Lightroom are available on the console.. The left part is for the selection, ratings, crop/rotate, full screen display and selecting color or black and white..

The right part is for all the basic correction. They are not organized exactly as Lightoom. The knobs are divided in three sections, one for the exposure, contrast and clarity, the second is for the luminosity, and the third one is for the color.. It takes a little time to get used to this arrangement, but it is very logical.

The top center part i for the HSL correction. You have 3 main buttons to select Hue, saturation and luminosity and 8 knobs to make the adjustments. One thing I noticed the first time I used the console is thatyou can make precise adjustments. Much more than with the desktop interfce. Of course, you can select a slider in the desktop app and use the arrow keys to move the slider, but is it much easier and intuitive with the console.. The buttons are not locked and you never reach any end. You start where your cursor is and you turn it to satrt from this point. And all the buttons are clickable to reset them to the default value.. 

You also have buttons going from P1 to P7 to assign develop presets you often use. eally cool to use.

Button Speed settings

In the previous versions of the Loupedeck software, you had no option to setup the knobs reaction and they used to be quite slow. With the version 1.3.2, they added a speed and reaction controm and it is for sure a huge improvment.

Presets settings

One of the cool functions is that you can assign Lightroom presets to the F1 to F8 buttons and you get 8 more when you press the Fn button. A great thing when you want to apply quick settings to your images. I personnaly set up quite a lot of different Black and White presets and I can toggle through to find the right one and make the correct adjustments after with the buttons.

Custom buttons settings.

You have three different contros you can assign to specific keys.You can assign one action to the C2 and C3 buttons. For example toggling through the Library and the Develop module. The C1 is a button and it is great for settings such as vignette you can adjust with the button.

Who is it for?

Loupedeck is a fantastic time saver when you have lots of images to process. 

Wedding photographers will love it, but any photographer that makes a lot of images will love it. Picking and selective images is so fast and easy with the Pick, Stars and Color buttons. 

NOTE: 4 on 5

Price  €289 on Amazon or $299

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed using Loupedeck. I loved the precision you can get with the knobs even if they are kind of slow to move and you can  think you have to turn them a lot to get significant results. But you get used to it very fast. I found myself using the HSL section a lot more than what I use to do in the desktop app. Same for the white balance. The Fn key is an essential part ot the console as it evokes different settings. You must read the user manual very carefully to not be confused. I found very clever to have clickable buttons to reset the settings.  The brush button is nice to use and you can use different buttons to create  a base setting and then mdodify it. I didn’t understand why they placed 2 zoom buttons doing exactly the same thing. Another function such as the Previous button in lightroom would have been very useful. Just be aware that you still have to use the keyboard and a mouse/tablet.   But after a while the button position is becoming a second nature and you spend a lot more time looking at your image and a lot less searching for the keyboard.  A few times the loupdeck software didn’t load correctly but as they are releasing frequent updates, that should be fixed real quick

I had a small problem when I updated Lightroom as Loupedeck didn’t recognized the new Lightroom Classic. and the lastest update didn’t work with some languages. This is a know bug and Loupedeck is fixing it.

DxO acquires Nik Collection from Google

DxO acquires Nik Collection assets from Google, and plans to continue to develop the Collection for the benefit of the photographer community.

Interview with Jean-Marc Alexia (VP, Product strategy) and Fabrizio Dei Tos (Senior Manager, Marketing et Sales desktop solutions)

How was decided and negotiated the purchase of Nik Software?

It all worked very well. I cannot enter into the details of the transaction as you can guess. But sometimes there are meetings of industrial good which allows you to see a future in which corresponds the desire of the two entities, and that is what has happened here between Google and DxO and which has led us to acquire a product whose Google wanted to get rid of.

Is Snapseed is part of the agreement?

Not in any way Snapseed remains the property of Google and we have only acquired he Desktop part.

Now how do you see the future and the integration among DxO of the collection Nik?

We have two tracks of integration. The first which is already effective is the integration of the U-point technology  in the new DxO Photolab, formerly DxO Optics Pro. We have built new tools and in particular the Equilazer. This allows us to enter into another dimension with a software more and more complete and even very complete with the the most powerful algorhytmes in the world for the Global treatments. For the second track which concerns more particularly with the plugins, we will wait for the next year. The Nik Collection stays downloadable free of charge, but we have some big changes in the middle of next year for a perfect integration with the latest OS, all the latest platforms on which operate these plugins which will become Nik by DxO 2018

How will be the integration of the functionality of your two ranges of products? Is it by example of the functionality of the Silver Efex or Color Efex be integrated to DxO film pack?

It is still too early to say and precisely for this kind of decisions, we hope to receive as many opinions as possible from professional or amateur users. The crosstalk between the two ranges will be effective, but we do not yet know in which direction

How do you see the future of DxO against competing companies such as  MacPhun, Topaz Labs or on1 which represents the biggest part of the competition with Adobe.

The acquisition of a product with such a reputation and a colossal number of users propels us into another dimension and the reputation associated with this product is exceptional. During the presentation of the purchase of Nik at the Photo Plus exhibition in New York was wonderfully welcomed. Google caused a lot of trouble last June when the announcement of the abandonment of the Nik Collection and users are excited about the possible arrival of new updates.

Will there be new versions of software like Viewpoint which is an exceptional tool for architectural photographers like me?

All this is a little suspended because of or thanks to the acquisition of Nik. Once again we do not know for sure how the two ranges will be mixed.

Many photographers now prefer to use all-in-one  applications like MacPhun Luminar or On1 Photo Raw. Do you intend to go in that direction?

We are extremely attentive to this evolution of the market and expect to see how this evolution will become clearer. That’s why user reviews are important for this type of decision. We create products for as many people as possible and these opinions and your questions help us making the right decisions. In any case, it is an evolution that we must take into account.

How to break down the activity of DxO?

That’s about a third for each of our domains which are the software, the Benchmark and the DxO ONE camera

Concerning DxO ONE, is it a product that satisfies you and how are sales given a fairly high price?

DxO ONE has become one of our flagship products and its price is not really high if we look at products of the same range among our competitors who are on average twice as expensive. We use an exceptional sensor made by Sony that produces pixels 5 to 7 times larger than those produced by the best smartphones. The optics designed by DxO is also exceptional. Our Benchmark activity allowed us to make all these comparisons and the results obtained by this device are fabulous. We are also working on the Android version that will allow us to reach an even wider audience. The future looks bright for DXO ONE.

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