PictoColor doesn’t get it

I bought a copy of PictoColor’s ICorrect Portrait for $99 less than six months ago following David Ziser’s excellent Digital Wake-Up Call workshop. I didn’t really need it but after David’s ravings I thought I’d give it a try. I works pretty well. I’ve used it maybe half a dozen times and find it does speed up the process of correcting for skin tones. So now I’ve changed over to MAC platform and I emailed PictoColor about transferring my license over to MAC. Well image my surprise when I got this little note:

“Dear Peter,
Thank you for your inquiry.  Our policy for platform switching is to have you purchase a copy for your new machine at the upgrade price located here:

http://www.pictocolor.com/upgrade_products.htm

– –
Customer Service
PictoColor

Partner for Success with our Affiliate Program
Earn 25% percent commissions on our award winning products with PictoColor’s Affiliate Partner Program!
http://www.pictocolor.com/Affiliates.htm

Notice how quick PictoColor is to promote their commission selling scheme but now they want an additional $49 to transfer the license. This is really poor practice not copied by reputable software companies (like Adobe which transferred my much more expensive copy of Photoshop CS4 from PC to MAC for $0 and even sent me a new disk. Cool and professional. Not so cool is PictoColor wanting another $49 (US).

Pictocolor claims on their Company Information page that “we believe in three things, helping you make the color right, making your life easier and saving you time. Why not add a fourth statement around providing excellent customer service. That would be most welcome.

So until PictoColor changes its policy I can’t recommend them anymore. And no you’re not getting an additional $49 and you’ve lost me as a customer until you make good at transferring my license from PC to MAC. That’s not too  much to ask.

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Our excellent Algonquin adventure

Marion  (BTW that’s her in the masthead photo 2nd from the left) and I took off Thursday morning for a weekend workshop shooting the autumn colours in Algonquin Park. We got into our room at the Algonquin Inn which is located on Hwy. 60 just outside the park just after lunch. After a short break, we got the cameras out and went off to shoot photos. As we drove up we didn’t see much evidence of fall colours but the park held a surprise for us. As soon as we approached the western gate the fall colours were all around us and they got better – way better – as the weekend progressed.

The main part of the weekend was a of Outdoor Photography Canada’s workshop hosted by publisher Roy Ramsey and led by Ethan Meleg. I will comment on lessons learned and lessons confirmed in future posts.

After a full-day of shooting (well we did sneak into Huntsville for dinner at the Tall Trees restaurant – four-star approval rating from both of us) we got back to the Inn for a welcome reception and to meet all our fellow students and shooters. Ethan brought along a couple of his pals so there were plenty of helping hands to go around. Photographers abilities varied from pretty basic and up but regardless of where they started the weekend I think it’s safe to say that everyone came away with great images and wonderful memories.

So are there things that could have gone better? Well the weather was terrific despite forecasts of rain all weekend long. Only materialized a little on Sunday morning. Algonquin area was expecting heavy winds and rain this week and that will likely knock a lot of the leaves out of the canopy.

So I’ll have more to say in the next post but for now: How’s this:

Algonquin-Fall-2009-868

How great are the Wacom digital tablets?

I like recommending photography equipment that works. So when it comes to working with a digital tablet, I have no hesitation in recommending the digital tablets from Wacom.CTH661S_1

Here’s why: I just got back from an extended weekend of shooting fall colours in Algonquin Park (This was organized by the nice folks at Outdoor Photography Canada magazine. I’ll have a multi-post review of the workshop and links to my images. I’ve got fall-winter-issue-09multiple gigs of images to edit down to something manageable.) and I took my new Macbook Pro (extremely happy with my decision to purchase the Macbook) so I could download my images every evening (I also kept the images on the memory cards as a backup).

I also took with me my Wacom Bamboo digital tablet. This smaller tablet easily fit into one of my camera bags and made simple edits on my images just so easy. It also served as my external mouse. The computer and tablet sat on small tablet in our motel room.

The good news about the Wacom Bamboo is it’s around $100 here in Canada. You can buy it from Henry’s Cameras right now. The Bamboo Fun model even comes with a copy of Photoshop Elements. Cool.

Now comes word that Wacom is introducing a new Bamboo tablet. Here’s a link to their website.

Capture NX2 and Silver Efex Pro Workshops

Why am I promoting a possible competitor’s workshops? I mean I can teach NX2 and Silver Efex Pro myself (and in fact I have plans to do so. Email me for details). So why would I go out of my way to let you know about Jason Odell’s upcoming webinars? It’s because that’s the nature of social media. I don’t live in a cutthroat competitive world. I think when I see something worthwhile I should celebrate and share it with my friends, students and colleagues. (BTW There’s an article in today’s Globe and Mail about a new business book coming out from – wait for – The Dalia Lama. He says much the same thing with increased happiness the goal and not just increased profits.)

So what’s up with Jason Odell’s webinars? Well Jason is “the guy” who literally wrote the book on NX2 and Silver Efex Pro. I bought both (actually all three as I bought the early NX Capture book as well) online books from Jason and I can highly recommend them. Jason writes in a clear, non-technical style that makes learning Capture NX2 or Silver Efex Pro easy for anybody.

So who should consider NX2? Easy answer is anyone who shoots RAW with a Nikon DSLR. NX2 was specially made to work with Nikon Raw files and many professional photographers use it exclusively to edit their NEF (Nikon’s proprietary RAW format) files. I use it all the time and even prefer it to my favourite Lightroom 2 or the standard “must-have” Photoshop CS4.

And who should consider Silver Efex Pro? Anyone using Lightroom 2 or Photoshop as Silver Efex Pro works an external editor in those two programs as well as Photoshop Elements and Aperture for Mac. Silver Efex Pro is just so much better in converting your colour images to black and white than other software programs. It’s insanely easy to use and produces stunning – and I mean stunning – results.

I’m going on a photo shoot soon where we’re heading up to Algonquin Park and trust me I’ll be shooting colour like crazy but I’ll also be shooting with an eye out for how the image will look in black and white. And when it comes to converting to black and white I don’t use anything other than Silver Efex Pro.

How to brighten up your day

My partner Michael Willems was shooting two lovely young ladies at the Toronto Island Beach and he’s put up a really excellent before and after shot that illustrates the proper use of flash. Now many new photographers will say they don’t like using flash (too artificial) but when pressed will admit it’s because they don’t know how to use it.

Flash, any flash with perhaps fill flash as the only exception needs to be modified to work.w_honlphoto_grids

You can use an umbrella (difficult to do when shooting at the beech as the breeze will knock it down) or softbox (same issue only worse) or a reflector (better but needs an assistant or you can use smaller light modifiers.

In this category I can recommend the HONLPHOTO line of small modifiers for shoe mounted and wireless flash. If you’ve never used a snoot (concentrates the flash so the light doesn’t spill out all over and create theatrical type lighting) or a grid (narrows the beam of light again) you owe it to yourself to give them a try. When I did the Small Flash Big Results Workshop in Buffalo with David Tejada he used lots of small light modifiers to direct the light precisely where he wanted it or didn’t want it to go.

One of the best features of the Honlphoto system is the snoots and reflectors velcro themselves to a strap you put around your flash. So in this way, they’ll fit any flash. When not in use, they can be folded or rolled up and thus take very little space in your camera bag. It’s no good having light modifiers that are sitting back at home or in your studio when you’re shooting on location.

w_honlphoto_opensnoot

Adobe comes through

In today’s email I got an email message from Roxanne from Adobe who tells me everything will be taken care of and Mac platform CD is on it’s way.

YEAH Abode.

Even though it took a couple of days (which I’m sure you’ll get better at) it looks you’ve done the right thing and come through for the customer.

Why Roxanne’s letter is in perfect English (I know I’m being harsh here) and it appears that in a few days all will be well.

That’s great news because you guys make world-class products and I own four of them. World-class service should be a given.

Correcting an issue like this is well….priceless. Thanks Roxanne and thanks Adobe.