October 2009

Is it Worth More Than a Cup of Coffee?

stylus4packcoffeeBy Robert Lachman
It must be Friday so it?s time for, ?Is it Worth More Than a Cup Coffee??

This week I found a Belkin Stylus 4-Pack tucked away in one of our drawers. I can remember how important these were when I was an avid Palm Pilot user. I seemed to lose those things at an amazing clip. Now, this opened Stylus 4-Pack, minus one, can?t be worth too much so I?m going with the cup of coffee today.

I decided I needed to take a break from writing on Fridays. I need some exercise, so I have started, ?Is it worth more than a cup-of-coffee, Fridays??

Any outside submissions would be greatly appreciated. I just need two photographs (cell phone quality is perfect. That?s what I use). Take a close up of your old technology and any drink: wine, soda, tea or coffee. It couldn?t be any easier. The email address in the left sidebar. Have a nice weekend!

Checking Out the Camera Bag iPhone App


Original iPhone Version

By Robert Lachman
I always find it necessary to try out all the fancy applications which are supposed to improve photographs. I really never know if it adds or subtracts to the final process. The Camera Bag application from Nevercenter Ltd. Co. for the iPhone which costs 99-cents is a perfect example. The iPhone software really has some cool-looking effects. Check out a few of the options below. The photo above of Disney Hall in Los Angeles is the original version. Let me know what you think, improvement or distraction.



It’s Time to Start Thinking About Holiday Photos

pumpkins1PumpkindecorateBy Robert Lachman
It?s time to start thinking about those holiday photos. I always try and take the holiday family photo on Thanksgiving Day. It just gives me time to have our Christmas card made at Costco and in the mailbox on time. Actually, it?s my wife that gets them in the mailbox on time. It?s really never too early to get started on this project. So, my number one holiday tip is: start thinking about taking the family holiday photo now. Be the first one done and surprise your family and friends. This year, be the first to get those cards out.

My Random Thoughts: No Magic

magicmouseBy Robert Lachman
I?m trying to figure out what the new Magic Mouse looks like. Any thoughts or suggestions? It sure is streamlined and at the $69 price point it sure is tempting…

I didn?t feel the magic yesterday at Best Buy when I tried out Apple?s new smooth, sleek, touch-top Magic Mouse. It just felt and looked flat. I guess I need a little more substance with my mouse and a scroll wheel. I?m still waiting for a scroll wheel Apple, not a tiny scroll ball like the last mouse, or a flat top-like the new one….

Apple score one point for their computers and Microsoft scores one point for their variety of mice.

I haven?t tried Windows 7 yet…

Just when I was all set to buy the Kindle ebook reader for my wife for Christmas, Barnes & Noble introduced Nook, their entry into the field. Kindle or Nook? I hate making decisions….

Back to work for me after being sick for four days and having my regular days off. Have a nice week…

Review: ColcaSac Laptop Sleeve

macsleeveBy Robert Lachman

This week I am going to review the MacBook sleeve protector made by Colcasac which works with the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and a smaller version for the iPhone.

The distinctive sleeve which uses a simple velcro closure to secure the laptop, includes a small pocket on the exterior to hold the charger or a couple of CDs or DVDs.

This case has an old-school feel. It?s almost seems like you might find an old photo of a young Steve Jobs or Woz back in the day using a sleeve case like this if they had just invented the MacBook laptops a few years earlier.

The exterior of the sleeve (in top photo) is made from a basket weave canvas materials. The interior of the sleeve is lined with a very warm and fuzzy polyester sherpa fleece. It certainly will keep your MacBook Pro or MacBook protected with it?s woolly feel.

macsleeve2The Colcasac sleeve doesn?t have any handles or shoulder straps so it?s best designed for added protection in your brief case, shoulder bag or backpack. It wouldn?t be great for carrying any long distances by itself.

Ok, Why do I need a case like this? It?s perfect for those who are looking for something different than the typical Neoprene form-fitting style case or translucent hardshell case. Remember there?s only room for your computer and the power adapter but, not much else.

The Colcasac sleeve is definitely a niche style product. So if you?re looking for a softer, more friendly looking sleeve style protector for your laptop, be sure to take a look at it on their website: www.colcasac.com. The ColcaSac sleeve I tried sells for $33.

My Dad’s Kodachrome Images (#19)


Check out the photo of Bob Hope taken with 35mm Kodak Kodachrome film by my Dad in 1962 as he take a break to play golf during one of the Christmas trips entertaining the troops.

Topaz Detail Software Review

Topaz Detail interior strong detail preset with a little added saturation

By Robert Lachman,
Topaz Labs always seems to be working hard to keep new Photoshop plug-ins at a reasonable price. One of my main complaints about most plug-ins is the high price, but Topaz seems to make them at a more modest cost.

Topaz Detail bold detail preset

So what can Topaz Detail, the latest offering from Topaz Labs, do for you? Let?s say you just have a photograph that looks flat, maybe low on contrast or you need the subject to pop off the page. Maybe you want that new-school, HDR, specially-lit composition. You know it, the Dave Hill or the Lucis Arts look.

Topaz Detail interior strong detail preset They?re the portraits that have the grunge look that just flies off the page or landscapes or interiors that are 3D masterpieces.

According to the developer, ?Topaz Detail is uniquely designed to give the user full creative control over all aspects of detail enhancement without creating edge artifacts. It internally separates the image into three detail sizes – small, medium, and large details – and offers exceptional control over the precise manipulation of each detail type.?

Ok, let?s try and break it down into what this means. Topaz Detail lets you add sharpness and contrast without adding the noise usually associated with the process. While the Detail software is similar to Topaz Adjust it does a much better job of creating the enhanced effect without the increasing edge artifacts or over-sharpening.

Topaz Detail uses the normal Topaz Labs software interface with presets down the left side with examples, a large window for the preview of your photograph and sliders at the bottom to make adjustments.

I usually click on one of the presets and then make minor adjustments from there. Presets include: creative detail accent, micro-contrast enhancement, edge softener, soft looking, deep-blue sky, black-and-white contrasted, bold detail, and interior strong detail.

Topaz Detail softlook preset
Topaz Detail softlook preset

With the Topaz Detail software, you do have a choice of making the images more contrasty, softer or even changing to black-and-white, so plan on spending some time working with your photographs. This is one of those software programs that gets addictive, once you get started, it?s hard to stop.

Topaz Detail works on Intel-based Mac OS with either 10.4 or 10.5, older PowerPC processors are not supported. It works with Photoshop CS3 and CS4 and Elements 6 and 7. They do support Aperture 2 by Apple but not Lightroom.

Topaz Detail bold detail preset

They do offer a free 30-day full function trial on their website or you can buy it for $39.99. They are offering the newsletter subscriber price at $19.99 until August 31st with the coupon code “SODETAILED” so check the Topaz Labs website to see if it is still available.

I think Topaz Lab has really come up with a fine piece of software at a great price. The software is comparable to others that cost over ten times as much. I won?t mention any other names. Topaz Detail is a little slow when working with large files. I tried it with a 41M Photoshop file and it took Detail about 2 minutes to load on my older model G5 Intel iMac. But, once it?s loaded, it works very quickly when you click from preset to preset or make adjustments.

It does look like Topaz Labs has a winner with Detail at an affordable price. Also available on their site is a bundle price for a limited time which includes, Adjust, DeNoise, Simplify, Detail, Clean and DeJPEG for $149. (It works with Windows and Mac OSX)

Topaz Detail interior Strong detail preset
Topaz Detail interior Strong detail preset

All photographs by Robert Lachman ? 2009 taken with the Canon G10 camera