After-Before Friday Week 19

Prompts and Challenges
Pond

AFTER

The above After image was manipulated with the current version of Perfect Effects 8 that is being offered for free. There are 10 filters I used, one on top of the other. In January of this year I had been offered a free, promotional copy and grabbed it- not really knowing what I would get, only that I would get it for free. After putting this post together, I wanted to replace these images with something that showed a flashier transformation, not so subtle a change. But I had already submitted the photos and a short paragraph to Stacy. So at the end of this, I will add two more images. After and Before.

Pond Before

BEFORE

I love Perfect Effects 8. At least, I loved it until I mentioned that I would do a post about it. Big mouth me! Several people have checked out the free version (upon my recommendation) and can not understand what my enthusiasm is all about. That might be because the version they currently offer for free is a stripped down version of the promotional copy I received in January.

“…  download Perfect Effects 8 Free Edition – it’s yours to keep forever! With more than 125 free photo effects, Perfect Effects 8 Free Edition gives you a great way to instantly add subtle to striking effects to your photos.” 125 free photo effects? Well, sure. I guess. If you count the sliders that affect the 9 presets that are available you might be able to come up with 125 variables. But with such reasoning, the full version I have (which normally costs $100) would give one approximately 400 to 500 free photo effects. I can not say I am very pleased with what feels like bait and switch. And I’m sure they have very good reasons for no longer offering the full version for free. After all, they are a business and I do not begrudge them making a profit.

Though Perfect Effects 8 can be used as a stand alone app, I would not recommend doing so. The image above could not be straightened, nor are there the variety of tools such as Lightroom has. What I find very much to my liking is how PE8 improves the quality of sharpness of my images. I have an inexpensive Canon kit lens that I have never been happy with. Now, I feel as if a layer of gauze (I almost said a film) has been lifted from my images or my eyes. My photos are so much crisper and cleaner now. Yes, I know I went overboard quite a bit in the beginning. And I do not promise that from time to time I might not do so again. But with two such powerful processing tools now in my arsenal, I often feel as if I must push and push and push.

And then, push a little more.

My virtual friend Justin of J.T. Avery Photography wrote: “I also took a look at the Perfect Effects 8 software and can’t help but laugh at their marketing ploy, which is the same as many other software companies. I like how they always take great shots and make them look more appealing which gives a false sense that if anyone uses this software that they can make their snapshots look like professional shots with just the click of the mouse. It would be nice if they showed some decently composed shots before processing that look kind of so-so and then apply some settings from the software that make it pop.” He gave me permission to reprint that quote by telling me: “You can quote whatever you want as long as it doesn’t make me look bad. 🙂 “

So if he looks bad, I look bad, too, because I agree with him. Up to a point. I believe that what he is describing in their advertising is a ploy practiced by all companies when promoting their product! So I really don’t fault them for that. But they do show you what can be done with their full version of Perfect Effects *, not the free version. As I said, I love Perfect Effects 8. My full version. The free version I would have a hard time endorsing!

OK, now for dessert- if I may be so bold. An original, straight from the camera, image! The real reason we ended up at Cold Creek was for the wild horses that come down from the mountains each day for food and drink.

Before

Before

In Lightroom I straightened the shot balanced the whites and blacks, highlights and shadows, then exported to Lightroom where I used an HDR Look filter, then a Color Enhancer filter, A Sunshine filter, and a Tone Enhancer filter. All, gobbledygook, right? Take my word for it, They all work to improve the image. Then I transferred back into Lightroom and colored the water blue then added a vignette.

After

After

So thanks Stacy  of Visual Venturing for continuing to chaperone this dance week after week and I apologize if I do not attend every week. Still, you graciously allow me to come back again and again!

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38 thoughts on “After-Before Friday Week 19

    1. I didn’t get the entire suite, just the effects portion. When they announced 9 I had a moment’s hesitation. Should I buy it, or not? I decided not to because what I have now will do fine until I progress with it.

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  1. I had the same feeling when I bought my Paint Shop Pro software, you think you will do miracle but miracle start with the camera. I think that the quality of the lens you are using make a whole difference in what comes after. I guess it is like the rest, it is a tool and to be good with it, you need to use it.

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    1. Thanks, Nelson. To me the miracle is that I am now happier with the quality of my images. I am still saving up for a better lens, though. As for the Perfect Effects 8, I was pushing so hard when I first got it that my first images processed with it are almost embarrassing. I keep evolving and experimenting so there may occasionally still be some over processed shots that are posted. But for the most part I think I am learning to be more subtle.

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      1. I find that using properly a post-processing software is much more complicated than using the camera and even more in my case where course on Paint Shop Pro are non existant I have to learn everything by myself which is not the most efficient way to learn

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  2. I got the full version for free on a promotion they had in may. There are a plethora of editing choices and is quite intuitive to use but i was like Bleh. I only played with it and then went back to Niksoft and Topaz.
    I like the editing on the first image as it really made the image pop but I not a fan of HDR on animals and the Faux HDR effect just isn’t my cup of tea.

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    1. So what you’re saying is you don’t like my processing on the horses? I can understand that, though I felt the HDR effect gave more detail to the fur. Now I’m going to have to go back in and play some more to see what I can get without using that one effect. Maybe I’m so enamored of Perfect Effects 8 because the free app I was using online to process my shots was woefully (to me) inadequate. I appreciate positive, as well as negative remarks on my images and processing. So thanks for your honesty!

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      1. Really it is a taste thing, I like HDR but not so much on animals and people as the detail contrast. A possibility could be to use the mask on that effect in Perfect Effects to reduce the intensity on the horses.

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  3. i have the free version. I like some of the filters and they seem to suit what I want to do. What I didn’t like is that I needed to save each new filter before adding onto that image. That is annoying. It just seems like other apps I have – rather limiting but useful at times. 😀

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    1. I know. That was one of the main things I didn’t like but thought I was getting too long winded for the post. I also don’t like that it doesn’t keep a list in memory of the changes you made once you download your image.

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  4. Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik Efex, Perfect Effects, Topaz – a veritable alphabet soup of post-processing tools. It is definitely overwhelming! On the other hand, it’s interesting to see them in action and hear what others have to say, so thanks for the information. Unlike Ben, I happen to like the horse photo – the HDR effect makes it look very much like an oil painting to me, and I think that look works. Then, again, that might not have been what you were going for. As for the first photo, love the reflection and the bright blue sky – so much more appealing than the original!

    You can pop in and out of ABFriday as much as you want, Emilio – you’re always welcome 😀

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    1. Alphabet soup. I used to spell dirty words with alphabet soup! Bet it wouldn’t be as much fun anymore. 🙂 Unlike Ben, I happen to like the horse photo, too. But I like that he didn’t just say something perfunctory. His taste is valid and I already told him I would try a horse shot without the hdr type effect. I think I’ll submit it to After Before next week, since you said I could drop in anytime! As to attempting an oil painting type texture I never even thought that way. I was only trying to accentuate their fur- so unlike a well groomed horse.

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      1. Emilio, on more than one occasion I have reworked a photo based on feedback I’ve received, and 9 times out of 10, not only do I end up liking it better, but I end up learning something wonderful in the process. As much as we all love receiving feedback that tells us our work is wonderful, I appreciate those who will voice otherwise. So hats off to Ben (and to my favorite critic, Jaime Perez), who push us to think differently and try new things! I look forward to seeing that new edit and reading about your thoughts in ABFriday.

        As for shenanigans with alphabet soup, I must have been too much of a goody-two-shoes. I got a kick simply out of spelling my name 😉

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  5. Well, Emilio, I don’t like HDRs actually, but, instead, I DO like the transformation in your first landscape photo. I really love the warmth of the color temperature and that magic-film-picture aspect of the image. Excellent work!

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  6. Thank you for the link. I’m going to try the free version before I think about paying for anything. I have the full set of NIK filters and I’ve tried a couple of others that left me unimpressed. Never tried these, so I’ll be interested in how it does with my pictures.

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  7. Interesting post, Emilio!

    I don´t like to use readymade filters or effects on my photos. I blend them in photoshop via cloned layers, tweak blending/pixel values, copy/paste merged result and repeat the process, sometimes adding up to 10+ layers.

    Your first image improved a lot, but the horse picture looks better without processing, imho. (I´m not a big fan of the “instant HDR”-look…)

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    1. Thanks for the not-so-positive comment on my post. I really do appreciate both positive and negative comments as long as you still show respect when you’re cutting me to pieces! 🙂 Sometimes I use ready made filters, most times varying them with sliders to a more individual feel. The hdr Iook often opens up the shadows and reveals more detail, at least in my mind. To my eyes. As for the horse photo looking better without processing, well, you’ve now set back my photo processing by a year or so. I’m going to have to rethink my entire approach!

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      1. Don´t be so hard on yourself. I think your individual style is amazing, and I´ve come to appreciate your view and constant improvement. it is more what you see in the horse picture than my subtle disagreement on its impact.

        Greetings from Kronberg im Taunus,
        j.

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        1. Oh, between the two photos! It says right on the photos which is before and which after. But as far as truest color, the before is too dark. The after is a truer representation of the color of the horses and their hides. They are much shaggier than domesticated horses. Lots of scars and such, sometimes down to the bone. A sad sight!

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          1. Fair enough then.
            I can see which is before and which after: I was seeking your input as the photog. on which is truer.
            As you knew all along, you … you …
            😉

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            1. The “After” is more the way I remember them. Though this particular image was shot in April of 2011, we were there two weeks ago and they were there again. This time they looked to be a family unit, a mother, father, and young colt!

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  8. First image looks really great, especially the reflection in the water, you did a really good job on that. As for the horses, I adore the look of them against the water. One thing I would do different is cropping, I would leave just the horses and the water, so the image would truly look like an oil painting. This way the sky and the mountains distract too much. But overall, you did great.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I plan on revisiting this shot and will take into account the cropping as you mention. I tend to like placing my photo within a context. The clouds seem to place the time of year, the mountains, where the horses come down from to find food and drink.

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  9. I’m a fan of clouds and reflections in the water, so I especially like the first photo. I don’t ‘get’ all the photo processing lingo, but I like how the colors are more pronounced in the ‘after.’

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"I take anything other than 'you big pig!' as a compliment." ~ Albert Brooks

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