Saturday, December 10, 2016

CTPPA 2nd Quarterly Print Competition - Tom

Four of Tom's images scored well at the CTPPA 2nd Quarterly Print Competition of the 2016-2017 year. 

Below are the entry results :

Tom Cuchara “A Fairie’s Story” - Third place

This next image is part of Tom's new wide angle off camera flash portraits project. Tom has a way of connecting wth the subject and creating some very intimate wide angle portraits

Old Car City, Nature reclaiming...

This next image is one of my all time favorite images of Tom's... 
As a scientist there is so much in this image related to disease prevention, epidemics, infection, etc. I love how he used Topaz Texture Effects for the final image.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Lisa and Tom have 6 images accepted into the top 100 images in Connecticut Association of Photographers competition

Four of Tom's images and two of Lisa's images were accepted into the TOPS in CT.

We are proud to have six photographs selected to be amongst the best 100 entered.

"The Tops in CT 2016 judging is complete. We received 636 images from 107 Connecticut photographers for judging. Of the 636 images, 101 were accepted into the show."

"The 101 accepted and medal winning photographs will be organized into the Tops in Connecticut 2016 program and shown at the CAP Dinner on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at the Whitney Center, 200 Leeder Hill Drive, Hamden, CT 06517. This will be the only time to view the photographs and hear the commentary on this exceptional work by Connecticut photographers. Judging from the quality of the images selected it will be an outstanding show."

Monday, December 5, 2016

CTPPA 2nd Quarterly Print Competition - Lisa

Four of Lisa's images scored well at the CTPPA 2nd Quarterly Print Competition of the 2016-2017 year.

Below are the entry results :

took Best in Show in the Art/Electronic Image (aka Creative) (scored 80, challenged, rescored to 82)

"Baseball" 1st Place in the Unclassified Category (scored 81, challenged, rescored to 86)
1st Place

Hanging with the Frogs 1st Place in the Art/Electronic Image (aka Creative) category, (scored 78, challenged, rescored to 81)

"Have Moor" scored an 80 in the Portrait Category

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Heads or Tails

We just got back from a photo workshop that we led in Chincoteague. Great people and lots of fun and lots of learning!

We saw the wild horses (ponies) at Chincoteague and also at Assateague. Here are two horses, a mother and foal, which I titled "heads or tails" lol.

We were treated to a "surprise" newborn foal, umbilical cord still visible. The mother, Giggles, tested negative in the spring when they did the pregnancy tests on the horses; she surprised everyone by giving birth last week, very late in relation to the usual Spring and early Summer births.

The father, JOY, lol, was happy defending his harem.

Newborns have a 30 foot do not approach zone, longer than the "usual" zone which is no closer than ten feet away from a wild horse at Assateague (the horses are fences in at Chincoteague, although they do sometimes escape and you can see horse poop on the wildlife loop, etc).

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

1. Topaz Plugins 50% off  the complete bundle until 11/30
  • We just love, love, love their products. Both Tom and I use Clarity or Adjust on the majority of my images.
What's Included? All 17 Topaz Labs Products!
B&W Effects
Lens Effects
Star Effects
Texture Effects
and all Free Resources!

2. Vanguard Tripod -- this is a great tripod for Marco, product, flowers, critters and Urban Exploration!  promo URL to $60 off Vanguard 263AB100 tripod.

3. Hunts Photo Black Friday / Cyber Monday Specials. 

They expire end of the day Monday.

If you see anything you like, please call me, Alan Samiljan, and I'll make sure your order is taken care of. My voicemail is 781-462-2383, leave me a message and I'll return your call promptly. My hours are Monday, Tuesday, Friday & Saturday, 8:30-5:30pm eastern. As always, UPS Ground shipping is FREE in the Lower 48 and there is no sales tax except for orders shipped to MA, RI and ME.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Alan Samiljan

4. Sale on 2 Lil Owl Textures

Just a quick note to let you know that the 2 Lil Owls textures are on sale Click here to visit 2 Lil Owls Studio

Until Nov 28th - you can take 50% off your entire purchase using the coupon code: Blackfriday50

50% off the whole site once a year - so if you have had your eye on some goodies - then this is the time to grab them. *Excludes Texture Club memberships.

2 Lil Owls -- Textures, Templates, Brushes -- Click here to visit 2 Lil Owls Studio

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tom and I are holding five workshops at the Nature Vision Photo Conference

Tom and I will be in Manassas,Virginia this upcoming weekend for the annual Nature Vision Photo Conference.  We have two workshops on Saturday on flower photography and three worekshops on Sunday (two are sold out) with our frogs. Sign up here

There is so much to see and do, so even if you are not taking one of our five workshops please say hello anyway.

Saturday, November 19, 2016, 2 Sessions available - see Schedule
Occoquan Hall - Frog/Flower Workshop Room
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, AdvancedLisa and Tom will work with participants, exploring background choice, obtaining optimal exposure, adding impact, composition, creating high key images using a lightbox, and capturing flowers in water drops using RainX.

Sunday, November 20, 2016, 3 Sessions available - see Schedule, 2 are sold out
Occoquan Hall - Frog/Flower Workshop Room
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Lisa and Tom will work with participants for the duration of the macro workshop photographing frogs and flowers, exploring exposure, depth of field, tripod use, lens choice, lighting, and other tips.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lisa's "Frog on Calla Lily" photograph was awarded the Kodak Gallery Award!

How exciting!
I just got an email that my "Frog on Calla Lily" photograph was awarded the Kodak Gallery Award!
It will be eligible for the Kodak Elite award at the annual PPA Imaging convention in January

Presenting the Annual KODAK Gallery

The KODAK Gallery Awards were introduced in 1985 as a way to honor
and promote the importance and value of excellence in professional photography.

KODAK Professional products and services have always represented imaging excellence for professional photographers. We will continue to work to elevate the importance of professional quality imaging within the industry. It’s a connection we’re pleased to make. Therefore, we are delighted once again to salute and support outstanding professional photography and photographers by presenting our annual Gallery. 

The Gallery Awards are judged on a state or regional basis, with winners going on to compete at the national level for the Gallery Elite Award. Gallery Awards will be presented, throughout the year, at the annual Professional Photographers of America (PPA) district and state conventions — in addition to those events’ customary awards. The annual Gallery Elite Award will be judged prior to the national PPA conference and trade show and those winners will receive a KODAK Gallery Elite Award representing the “best of the best.”

A district and/or state organization may award one (1) trophy. Each entry must have achieved the minimum 80-point criteria to be considered for a KODAK Gallery Award. The primary purpose of the awards is to recognize and further the use of professionally-printed photography, especially if it utilizes KODAK PROFESSIONAL Media. Therefore, Gallery and Gallery Elite trophies are intended to be awarded for prints and printed albums. Digital-only images and video albums (e.g., CD, DVD), are not within the scope of these awards.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

fun with patterns and textures

At the recent third annual Mike Moats Macro Tom went down to get the luggage cart and was inspired by the patterns and textures of the matching rug and luggage cart.

“One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time.” — Annie Leibovitz

Sooo...when you are waiting at the elevator what do 'you' do? Well, early Sunday morning at the Mike Moats conference I was waiting at the elevator with the luggage cart.  I noticed the flat bed of the cart happened to be carpeted with the same carpet design as the floor.  

Cool...and started to maneuver the cart so it would line up with the carpet.   Took me a few minutes...when an employee saw me and assumed I was struggling with it and offered advice, but I told I was ok and just composing a picture. She roared with laughter!  I'm sure she thought me a fool, but I bet I made her day.  
I didn't have a 'real' camera so I used my cell phone.  
Enjoy!  Tom

Monday, October 31, 2016

Gaussian Blur followed by Textures

We showed this technique at the Mike Moats Third Annual Macro conference during our "Rust" program....

Our approach to photography is to always take the best possible photograph that we can (there is no "unsuck filter" in Photoshop). More than 50% of our photographs are processed in ACR and then sharpened, so basically SOOC (straight out of camera), but we love the tools that Photoshop and Layers and Masks and Blend Modes and Plugins and Textures provide us as well so the remaining images are processed in Photoshop and we like to pre-visualize what we will end up with as our final artwork.

Sometimes you can change your camera angle and/or aperture to get a pleasing background. But sometimes the subject is not movable is close to the background. For those instances you can apply a Gaussian Blur and a Texture and create your won Artistic interpretation of the scene. Below are two examples of the SOOC and the post-processed versions.


  1. Duplicate layer
  2. Filter --> Blur --> Gaussian Blur
  3. Blur to taste to get rid of the background
  4. Add a mask
  5. Paint with black over the subject, zoom in (100-500%) to go close around the edges, switch to white to unmask background. 
  6. Add a Texture (or two)
  7. Change the blend mode of the texture (often to multiply for these types of images)
  8. Alternatively, use Topaz Texture Effects. Enter the discount use code breaphotos for 15% off Topaz products 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Download 10 Free Grunge Paper Backgrounds

Download 10 Free Grunge Paper Backgrounds

10 free abstract photos or backgrounds with grunge paper theme. Can be used for both personal and commercial purposes, for yourself or on behalf of a client, on their own, or as part of new work.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Topaz Texture Effects 2.

Topaz Texture Effects 2Topaz Texture Effects 2 will be on sale from September 27th through October 30th and retails for $69.99. However, it can be purchased for only $59.99 ($10 off) until October 30th by using this coupon code: TFX2.

Textures can be used to deal with bald sky days, and to make your artistic spirit shine through. 

This was the three image HDR version below, textures above and below allowed me to be more creative in my expression of this great unique truck. 

Topaz Texture Effects 2

Friday, September 30, 2016

Working a composition...

Working a composition...

At our recent trip to the Silk Mill we captured the iconic elevator with the iconic spools inside. You can see our thought process and what we created and the progression below...

The first image (5 exposure HDR) was taken wide-angle from the top floor. 24mm

The next image came about from walking in closer and zooming in more 62mm

The third image came about from walking in closer and zooming in more 70mm

The four image was a 20 image vertorama composite (4 horizontal compositions, 5 exposures each)

The fifth image was a 35 image vertorama composite (7 horizontal compositions, 5 exposures each)

and the last image was a 50 image vertorama composite (10 horizontal compositions, 5 exposures each)

 Then we closed the door near that stairwell, it did not close all the way, allowing a ray of light to come in

Noticing that the left side of the door was not included we created a stitched image using two vertical HDR captures 

I love stitched images, and they give you room (and pixels) to composite as well.