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Achieving Dramatic Photography & Magic


Flip thru the pages of any magazine in the world today and there are just some images that stop you in your tracks. You know the ones. They arrest you. They make your heart skip a beat.  They stop you in your tracks. They cause you to wonder what the story behind the image might be.

At Macphun, we call this dramatic photography. And we love it. A lot.

Photography careers are made on developing specials looks or styles that can deliver a story in a split second and draw a viewer into the world of the image. Some photographers work for years to craft a look that will delight and amaze, carrying them to dizzying heights - think Annie Leibovitz, Platon, Joel Grimes, Ansel Adams.

How can YOU achieve that look with your images?  Well… we’re going to show you in a very special free training session on Tuesday, April 22nd from 10-11am PST!


Macphun’s resident trainer, Dan Hughes, will combine one part art, one part science, a dash of inspiration and a sprinkle of magic fairy dust to inspire you to turn your everyday photos into dramatic masterpieces. 

In this special live training session, Dan will tap into years of professional photography training and experience to deliver tips & techniques that will make your images stand out. You’ll learn how subject matter and composition are just the starting point for dramatic photos, discover different approaches to editing, and see how tools like Intensify can enhance emotion and elevate your images.

Don’t miss this special training session - register now!



Pro photographer and host of the popular website, John Arnold is also sharing some of his popular tricks using Snapheal.  His next session on Wednesday April 23 from 3-4pm PST will guide you through the magic of removing unwanted objects in your photos.

One part art, one part science, John will show you how to make imperfections vanish, restoring old photos, healing skin blemishes and more. The end result? Pixel-perfect images that everyone will enjoy

Register for this webinar here.


Earth Month: Shooting in the Golden Hour

by Joe Farace

In photography, the “Golden Hour” is the time shortly before sunrise or after sunset when the light is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. These are fleeting minutes when the quality of light provides you with the opportunity to make photographs, not snapshots. The term “hour” is used loosely because the actual time to shoot may be less and will vary by season and latitude.

During the golden hour contrast is less, shadows not as dark and highlights are less likely to be overexposed making exposure easier and even a point-and-shoot camera will be able make “good” exposures. For landscape photography, the warm color of the low sun enhances the colors of the scene.

In Acapulco, I carried a Leica D-Lux with me all the time and the image above proves you can also make great sunset images with a point-and-shoot camera. The D-Lux lets you capture images in 16:9 ratio, so this is the uncropped image made on the beach was shot using the camera’s Landscape scene mode.

Tip: Farace’s Law: Be sure to bring your camera with you—everywhere.

The Boy Scouts are right; you should “be prepared.” A sunset can happen rather quickly, so it’s so it’s a good idea to visit the location ahead of time to determine the best spot to place your camera.  You should know what lens, aperture and ISO setting you’re going to use. Doing your planning before the golden hour arrives leaves you free to concentrate on the proper composition of the scene as the sun drops or rises—it happens fast!

This photo of a beach in Acapulco is a two-shot panoramic combined using Adobe Photoshop’s Photomerge. Made with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN and EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens with an exposure of 1/20 sec at f/10 and ISO 800.

Tip: When shooting images you plan to stitch together always use the same exposure for each shot. Yup, that means shooting in manual mode.

Macro Madness II: Upping the Ante

by Joe Farace

In the last installment of Macro Madness, I showed you how to get started in macro photography by using inexpensive close-up filters. In part II, we’ll look at another tool that will let you get even closer and costs less than $100 but as always in photography you can spend more—if you want.

Stage II up the macro-focusing ladder is accomplished by adding an extension tube to a lens. Extension tubes provide the additional separation between your lens and imaging chip that’s required for close-up photography. You might think of it as an alternative to the more complex (and expensive) extension bellows sets that many camera manufacturers offer as a close-up accessory.

A typical extension tube set like the Pro-Optic set I used consists of three tubes of different lengths (31mm, 21mm and 13mm) that can be used individually or in combination to obtain different magnifications based on the total extension length. These tubes couple with your camera’s TTL metering mechanism and, depending on your camera, will provide auto focusing capability.

In the photo at the  top of the post, I photographed a sunflower in a North facing kitchen window using a Canon EOS 50D and an EF 50mm f1.8 lens. A sheet of white paper was held at camera right during the exposure to provide fill. Exposure in Aperture priority mode was 1/4 sec at f/16 to maximize depth-of-field at ISO 200 with a plus one-stop exposure compensation to brighten the colors.

This image was made using the identical set up and exposure as the previous shot but a 13mm extension tube—the smallest in the set—was attached to the lens and mounted on the camera. The extension tube provides perfect coupling to both TTL metering and my camera’s autofocus mechanisms.

PhotoProX by Optrix

As you might imagine, a lot of us on Team Macphun have iPhones (we can’t name anyone who doesn’t). And we know a lot of you do too!  After all, it’s the most used camera in the world.  

Our friends at Optrix know that sometimes the best shots require you to get a little dirty, a little banged up and have just the right lens. Enter the PhotoProX, the world’s first and only case to give you waterproof, rugged and interchangeable lenses all in one compact solution.

We met these guys at CES and fell in love with the elegance and versatility of their product. Knowing you all would like it to, we talked to them about extending their very best price to Macphun customers. Until the end of March, you can save $50 on the PhotoProX by using code Macphun2014 on their site:  Pick it up for only $99.95!

Make sure your iPhone can handle anything you can throw at it with the PhotoProX!  Your action shots on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr will never look better!


Macro Madness: The Cure Costs Less Than You Think

By Joe Farace

The classical definition of macro photography is that the image projected onto the film plane or digital sensor is the same size as the subject. For a full-frame (24x36mm) sensor camera you should be able to produce life-size magnification and focus on an area as small as 24×36 mm at a 1:1 ratio. These days, the term “macro” has come to mean being able to focus on a subject close enough so the image is life-size or larger when viewing a 4×6 inch print. If you’ve done the math, this only requires a magnification ratio of approximately 1:4.

Conventional wisdom is that close-up photography requires lots of expensive, specialized equipment but it doesn’t have to be that way. Cokin, Hoya, Tiffen, Sunpak as well as camera and other filter manufacturers offer what are called close-up “filters” and many cost in the neighborhood of $50. They’re not filters in the traditional sense but pass the “duck test”: They look like filters, act like filters and quack like filters.

Close-up filters are really supplementary lenses whose magnifying optics shorten a camera lens’ close-focusing distance allowing you to get closer to the subject and produce a larger image. Close-up filters are usually available as a set in three different strengths (or diopters) that are labeled +1, +2, and +3. The lenses are double-threaded and can be used in combination with one another but to get the sharpest results place the strongest filter closest to the lens’ front element.


[top image] I made this flowerbox photo outdoors in the shade using a Canon EOS 50D and a EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Exposure at ISO 800 in Aperture priority mode was 1/30 sec at f/16 to maximize depth-of-field.

[lower image] This image used the identical set-up as the previous image but a Tiffen Close-Up +3 filter was attached to the lens allowing me to get much closer to the flower.

1 million ColorStrokes downloads (and we’ve got presents)

The day we had been hoping for has finally arrived! ColorStrokes for Mac has been downloaded over 1 million times. Everyone here at Macphun is super excited: we are dancing, screaming, breaking things and blowing bubbles. 

We’ve also launched a cool little giveaway, where you can win 1 of 3 awesome Foffa Bikes (probably the best city bikes for color lovers), plus your ColorStrokes images printed on canvas by our friends at Canvas Pop.

Here’s one of those cool bikes.


How to join the fun: If you don’t have ColorStokes yet, you can get it for free until the end of March. Of course we’d love you to buy it on the Mac App Store for $2.99 and support future development, but it’s entirely up to you!  ;-)

Enter the giveaway by clicking the link below. It’s absolutely free. We’ll draw the winners at the end of March.  Good Luck!

Enter to win a bike and canvas prints here.

Iceland in Focus

Earlier this week we announced the winners of the Iceland Trip giveaway. So the choice for this week’s featured place in focus was easy. 

Enjoy these pictures of Reykjavik and the rest of Iceland. As always, we would love to see the images of your favorite places, edited with Focus app. Post them on our Facebook page or tag #madewithfocus on Twitter. 

If you don’t have Focus yet, learn more and get it here: Have Phun!

Resize Sense to the rescue


We love to partner with software developers who make our photo lives more efficient.  This month, we’ve teamed up with our friends at VeprIT to offer their super-handy batch resizing tool, Resize Sense, at a cool 20% off.

The reason we love it? After editing photos in Intensify Pro or your favorite processing software, you can use Resize Sense to easily crop, resize, rename and export your graphic images in a variety of formats all at once. A lot of times we know want a version for our website, email, a gallery and the regular high-resolution version. That can be a head-banging, dull, repetitive thing to do. 


Not so with Resize Sense! To be able to save off different sizes, resolutions and format — whether it be one image or hundreds — is just awesome and saves tons of time. gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, as did Macworld. We give it an enthusiastic “two thumbs up!”

If you don’t have Intensify Pro yet, this is a great time to save 20% on the bundle of our best image editor and Resize Sense. Click here to purchase this combo.  If you already have Intensify Pro and want a terrific batch image tool, pick up a copy of Resize Sense here.  Not sure? You can even learn more and try it out free first from their site and then save by purchasing back here at

Enjoy all the time off you’re going to have now when you pick up Intensify Pro & Resize Sense!