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Use Multiple Exposures To Reduce Image Noise

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Single Exposure / Multiple Exposures

Need to make an exposure at a setting that’s sure to produce noise? Make a bunch of them. Then watch the noise disappear.
You can reduce noise in an image by combining multiple exposures of the same composition in Photoshop. Photoshop can search for the differences between the separate exposures and then blend them, keeping what stays the same and eliminating what changes. Random noise between separate exposures of the same composition will be substantially reduced, even dramatically, or disappear altogether. (This technique won’t eliminate fixed noise; hot pixels or column and row noise. There are other techniques for that, like using dark slides.)
You’ll find having this option will greatly reduce the reluctance you have towards using high ISOs. This means two things. You’ll be able to make images in lighting situations you thought you couldn’t and you’ll be able to make hand-held exposures in conditions you ordinarily wouldn’t be able to without severely compromising quality.
So how do you do this? Take these steps.
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1      Shoot multiple exposures.
(Try to minimize camera motion as much as possible. It’s not necessary to use a tripod, but it can be helpful.)
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2     In Photoshop go to File >  Scripts > Load Files into Stack
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3     Click Browse and select the exposures to be used in the Stack and check Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images and Create Smart Object after Loading Layers.
(The resulting Smart Object will contain all exposures in a single layer.)
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4     Go to Layer > Smart Objects > Image Stack Mode > Median to blend the separate exposures.
(You’ll see the noise substantially reduced.)
5     Optionally, compare the Image Stack Mode > Mean.
(This works best for exposures containing no movement.)
So what is Photoshop doing? Photoshop first aligns a series of images as separate layers, converts them into a Smart Object, and blends them, reducing or amplifying the differences between the layers with a variety of rendering modes. You can choose one of eleven rendering modes; Entropy, Kurtosis, Maximum, Mean, Median, Minimum, Range, Skewness, Standard Deviation, Summation, and Variance. Few people will ever use all of them; most won’t use any of them; but I recommend you try two – Median and Mean. (Stacks were designed for analytical tasks in various scientific fields, like astrophotography or forensics and they’ve since been put to many other uses.)
Median and Mean select values in between the highest and lowest values, smoothing out the differences between aligned layers in a stack. Median works best for images with some motion, either subject or camera, to remove moving objects or noise. Mean works best for processing exposures without motion. (Astrophotographers typically make many exposures, sometimes dozens or more, of the same subject and use Mean to reduce noise.)
The more exposures you make and combine the better the noise reduction. Only practical limits apply. How many exposures can you make? How many exposures can Photoshop process on your computer? You can stack and process as few as two images. Three is my recommended minimum. Six is better. After that, you get diminishing returns. (Try using your camera in burst mode more frequently.) The most challenging part of this technique is identifying situations where it’s helpful and remembering to make multiple exposures. If you have the exposures you can take advantage of this great feature; if you don’t have the exposures you can’t.
Combine the recent advances in digital cameras that offer exceptionally low noise at high ISOs, with new exposure techniques, with new post-processing techniques by the latest software, and you’ve got a profound paradigm shift in photography.
Learn these techniques and you’ll find your photographic options will expand dramatically. The most challenging thing isn’t learning the techniques; the most challenging thing is redefining what’s possible and practical. You’ve got to experience it to truly understand it.
Read more on Noise here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How To Reduce Image Noise With Photoshop's Filters

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Photoshop offers several filters designed to reduce noise – Despeckle, Dust and Scratches, Median, and Reduce Noise. They’re all useful for modest amounts of noise. They may be all you need for an extra pass of noise reduction after Raw conversion.
Build yourself a safety net when using these filters. Don’t apply them to the Background layer. Apply them to a duplicate of the Background layer. Then you’ll be able to redo noise reduction at any time in the future. Noise reduction tools will surely improve as time passes. You’ll also be able to mask the effect to affect only selected portions of an image, use Layer Styles Blend If sliders to restrict an effect to shadows, midtones, or highlights, and use Blend Modes to target luminosity, hue, or saturation.
A deeper look at these four filters will benefit every Photoshop user.
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Despeckle. It’s a bare bones simple filter. There’s one strength and setting. There’s no dialog box. You can apply it multiple times for stronger applications. You can apply it to individual channels (i.e. if the blue channel has more noise than the others) or selectively (to low frequency smooth areas) to make it more targeted. That’s it. It’s that simple. How well does it work? Well enough to become familiar with it. It does a reasonable job for modest amounts of noise. It never performs miracles. But it can be a final touch worth applying to many images. It’s also useful for reducing noise in masks and effects layers.
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Median. It’s simple. There’s only one slider Radius. Radius controls the amount of blurring. The blurring is Median provides is substantially more aggressive than Despeckle. Only very low settings are useful for photorealistic images. Be very careful with this filter. With even modest applications it can subdue important textural detail. With moderate applications, it can even smooth and reshape contours. Apply it aggressively to see just how far it can go. You’ll see it quickly goes too far.
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Dust and Scratches. It’s classically used to reduce the amount of retouching needed by images as it removes small artifacts, like dust and scratches, but it can also be useful for modest amounts of noise reduction. There are two sliders. Radius controls the amount of blurring; with higher Radius settings subdue more noise and may compromise detail. Threshold restricts the number of tone levels the filter is applied to, making the filter selective with respect to luminosity values; very high Threshold settings may introduce sharp transitions in texture between blurred and unblurred areas. Used aggressively, this filter will subdue small textural detail and compromise image sharpness. Used carefully, this filter can effectively reduce modest amounts of noise.
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Reduce Noise. It offers the most control of the Photoshop filters. It can deal with moderate amounts of noise relatively well. Strength controls the intensity of the filter. It’s the blurring effect. Preserve Details reduces the effect of the filter initially targeting contours and later by targeting higher and higher detail frequencies or image texture. The settings you use are entirely dependent on Strength settings and image content. Higher frequency detail merits higher settings. It’s not a panacea. High Strength and Preserve Detail settings can make some areas of an image look synthetically smooth and yet still fail to remove small artifacts, especially near contours. Reduce Color Noise blurs color without affecting luminosity. You can be relatively aggressive with this slider, but if you use it this way, guard against reduced saturation especially along dramatic contours. Sharpen Details attempts to restore image sharpness after blurring. Use it conservatively. More sophisticated sharpening can be performed with other filters in Photoshop. Remove JPEG Artifact is somewhat effective for reducing JPEG compression artifacts, such as blocky color and jagged edges. Use this check box only on JPEGs that contain artifacts. (Don’t use it on TIFFs from Raw files.) If you can’t remove all of the JPEG artifacting in a file without compromising image quality, turn to third-party plugins. While it’s the most advanced Photoshop filter for noise reduction, like all the others, when used for major noise reduction, it may compromise image sharpness.
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The best tool in Photoshop’s arsenal for noise reduction is Adobe Camera Raw. While the best place to use this tool is during Raw conversion, you can also apply it after Raw conversion as a filter. Try it first; consider these other tools as offering different blurring methods that are useful in specific situations, like Dust & Scratches. I cover this Adobe Camera Raw’s Noise reduction features in great detail in a separate article.
None of these tools are up to the task of industrial strength noise reduction. Applied too frequently or too aggressively they will compromise image sharpness unnecessarily. For aggressive noise reduction, turn to third-party software, like Imagenomic’s Noiseware. (I cover this plug-in in a separate article here.)
Let me offer you a final word of caution. Whenever you blur an image to reduce noise, don’t overdo it. Blur enough to reduce noise but no more. If you go too far with blurring effects you’ll spend a lot more time trying to restore image sharpness and may never achieve optimum results. Just as there are limits to how much apparent sharpness you can restore to a poorly focused image, there are limits to how much more apparent sharpness you can reintroduce after blurring. Use a light touch. Sometimes the noise is more desirable than reduced sharpness. Sometimes the presence of noise is even desirable; it can keep images from seeming synthetic and even make some images appear slightly sharper. (I cover this in a separate article here.)
Read more on Noise here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

41 Great Quotes On Finished

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on the state of being Finished.
“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.” – Francis Drake
“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.” – Marcus Aurelius
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Painting, sculpture and architecture are finished, but the art habit continues.” – Robert Smithson
“A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.” – Richard M. Nixon
“It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated… it is finished when it surrenders.” – Ben Stein
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin
“A finished person is a boring person.” – Anna Quindlen
“I long for my garden to be complete. Working in it is one of my joys, but it will never be finished because it’s forever changing with the seasons.” – Mary Quant
“In many ways, theatre is more rewarding for a writer. I used to think it was like painting a wall – that when the play is finished, it’s done – but now I realize it’s more like gardening; you plant the thing, then you have to constantly tend it. You’re part of a thing that’s living.” – Lee Hall
“I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, ‘No. No, I’m finished. Bye.’ And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won’t do that.” – Maya Angelou
Read More

New Series – Interference

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A new series of images surprised me during our recent DPD Project Death Valley Workshop. While developing another iPhone initiated project Land In Land I discovered Interference and these images ran away with me in a new direction. I anticipate both series will be expanded with DSLR exposures soon. The iPhone is a wonderful laboratory for experimentation. There is no finer sketchbook or journal. Sometimes what you thought were sketches turn into finished works.
View more images in my Gallery.
View my related series here.
Find out about Print prices here.

How To Use Noise In Images Creatively

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Noise happens. Most of the time you want to lose it, but sometimes it’s better to use it. There are many reasons to use noise in your photographs.

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Detailed areas look sharper with less noise reduction.

Make Images Look Natural & Sharper
Be careful not to reduce noise so much that your images begin to look synthetic like they’ve been rendered by software rather than captured by hardware. When you need to aggressively reduce noise, you’ll find there will be times when adding back a little noise will produce more satisfying results. You can also use noise to restore a more naturalistic appearance to highly retouched areas and even synthetically rendered elements. Surprisingly, adding a touch of noise will make even slightly out of focus images appear sharper.
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Reduce Banding
You can use noise to reduce or eliminate banding. Don’t confuse the linear banding sometimes produced by different output devices; this kind of banding can only be removed by maintaining the machine. However, irregular banding that follows color or tonal transitions in digital files, usually the result of aggressive image editing, often in 8 bit instead of 16-bit mode, can be substantially reduced or removed altogether by adding a little noise. Before you try this, try to identify where banding was introduced during your editing and redo those edits so that banding doesn’t occur; prevention is the best cure. Consider adding noise as a solution only when this is either unavoidable or impossible.
Unite Images From Multiple Sources
You can use noise to unify images from multiple sources with varying noise structures. One day, you may find you need to composite images with different noise characteristics, either from multiple sources (different resolutions and capabilities) or from one source used under very different conditions (different ISOs or exposure times).
First, reduce noise in each source separately, as much as possible without compromising image quality adversely. Next, using the noisiest element as a baseline, add noise to the other elements to make them seem as if they were all drawn from a single source used under the same conditions. In some cases, you may decide to have variances, small or large, in noise between different elements for creative effect. Textured elements, like the foreground in a landscape, hide noise better than smooth ones, like skies, so consider treating them differently. How far should you go? There are no formulas here as different people have different tastes and many different solutions will work within a range of acceptability. Look carefully and use your best judgment to create an effect that is pleasing or convincing to you; that’s the best way to ensure it will be pleasing or convincing to others.
Build Creative Effects
You can use noise as a creative effect. Many great photographers have used noise for creative effect. Shiela Metzner, Michael Kenna, and Robert Farber are three. Images may become more evocative because they contain noise. Many people use words like rough, gritty, nostalgic, impressionistic, mysterious to describe the effects of noise. For some, noise can be merely a gimmick (a meaningless distracting stylization unrelated to a way of seeing or relating to images) for others, noise can be a truly compelling artistic device (a meaningful element that enhances or creates a way of seeing and relating to images and thus a useful clue to artistic intention). In your images, one way or another, noise will either be there or not. Either one is a choice and a statement. So think carefully about what level of noise is most appropriate for your images.
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Imagenomic’s RealGrain

Customize The Look And Feel Of Noise
Noise can come in many forms. Organized or random patterns. Small, medium or large sized or some combination of all three. Hard-edged or soft-edged. Monochromatic or polychromatic, of any hue and saturation level. Light or dark. Targeted in specific tonal ranges (shadows, midtones, and/or highlights). You can customize the look and feel of noise in your images with a relatively simple digital imaging toolset.
Photoshop offers two filters that are particularly useful for noise effects.
Noise (Filter: Noise: Add Noise) offers simple controls; Amount controls the intensity of the effect; Uniform and Gaussian control the random pattern generated; and a monochromatic checkbox. (The color of noise can be controlled more precisely with an adjustment layer. Apply noise in full color to an effect layer – 50% gray set to a Blend Mode of Overlay. Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer clipped to the noise layer. Use the Saturation slider to control saturation. Use the Hue slider to control Hue. You can even use the Edit pull-down menu to control a specific color of noise. For instance, to have only red noise, you can change all the blue and green noise to red.)
Grain (Filter: Texture: Grain) offers more control over the patterns generated; Regular, Soft, Sprinkles, Clumped, Contrasty, Enlarged, Stippled, Horizontal, Vertical, Speckle. All of them are useful. Horizontal and Vertical create patterns that are so regular that they are the least likely to be chosen.
After exploring these two filters, if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, consider third-party plug-in noise generators such as Imagenomic’s RealGrain or Nik’s Color FX and Silver FX Pro.
Try Multi-pass Noise
Noise applied multiple times adds up differently than noise applied once. This is true of all filters that involve an element of randomization. In rare instances, when one application of noise won’t do the job, consider applying a filter (or filters) multiple times at reduced intensities. There are three ways you can do this. One, use a lower filter setting and apply it multiple times to the same layer. Two, apply the filter at full strength and then reduce the Opacity (or Blend Mode) by fading it (Edit: Fade) – and repeat. Three, apply a reduced application of noise to multiple effect layers. Multipass applications of noise can be particularly useful when trying to reduce extreme banding. If one pass won’t do, try two.Noise_Layer
Add Noise Effects On Separate Layers
When you add noise to digital files, place it on a layer that is separate from the image(s) so you can control both independently of one another. This way you’ll have extraordinary control and flexibility. When noise is placed on its own layer you can eliminate or change it at any time in the future, reduce its opacity, localize it with masking, desaturate it, target it into specific channels, move it, scale it, blur it and much more. Here’s how to do it in Photoshop.
1     Create a new layer (Layer: New Layer) set to Overlay blend mode filled with 50% gray.
2     Filter the layer with noise (Filter: Noise: Add Noise or Filter: Texture: Grain).
3     Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer clipped to the noise layer to reduce the saturation of the effect only.
4     Optionally, double click the layer to activate Layer Styles. Uncheck specific Channels to remove the noise from them. Use the This Layer sliders to reduce the amount of the dark and/or light noise. Use the Underlying Layer sliders to remove the effect from shadows and/or highlights.
5     Optionally, add a Layer Mask to the noise layer to localize the effect using either a selection,brush or gradient.
6     Optionally, use Edit:Free Transform to resize the effect.
7     Optionally, use Filter: Blur: Gaussian Blur to soften the effect. (Or use any other blur filter, like Motion Blur, to add unique distortion effects.)
You can modify the effect at any time in the future, without compromising the original image information. You’ve got a lot of options. That’s the point. You’ve never had so much control over noise – until now.
Let’s go into some of the finer points.
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Noise can be clipped to a single layer.

Make Noise Layer Specific
You can clip noise effect layers to a single image layer. Simply press the Option/Alt key and click the line separating the two layers in the layers palette. Photoshop will then apply the noise only to the pixels on that layer. When a layer has transparency, like a retouching layer, no masking will be necessary once the noise layer is clipped to it.
Build FX Layers That You Can Use Again And Again
It can take some time and experimentation to create a custom noise you like, but once you find it, you can use it again and again. Noise on effects layers can be quickly and easily dragged and dropped between open files.
Try Noise On Image Layers
Noise builds up differently on the varied tonal structure of image layers than it does on effects layers whose pixels are all 50% gray. In most cases the difference is not significant or useful. In rare cases, it can be. In some extreme cases of banding, filtering a duplicate image layer multiple times (at lower intensities) may be helpful.
Avoid adding noise to the Background layer as long as possible. Instead, try duplicating the Background layer and then applying noise to the copy. If you have multiple image layers that you’d like to apply a single noise effect to multiple layers, you have two options. One, merge them into a new layer. Hold the Command/Control key before selecting Merge Visible from the layers palette submenu. Make sure adjustment layers are turned off and that the noise layer is moved to an appropriate position in the layer stack. Two, place the layers you want to affect into a group; pressing the Shift or Command key highlight them all and then select New Group From Layers in the layers palette submenu. Change the blend mode of the group from Pass Through to Normal, so the noise layer will only affect the layers inside the set. Finally, add the noise layer inside the group.
Explore Your Options
Take a little time to explore your options here. This toolset is relatively easy to master. The key to applying it masterfully is in looking carefully and responding sensitively to what you see. Use noise consistently in your images and you can mimic any other preexisting noise structure or customize a unique look no one has seen before. Noise is an essential quality of photographic images. With a little preparation and effort you can virtually have as much or as little of it as you like.
Read more on Noise here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

New Range Masking Features In Lightroom CC & Camera Raw


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Adobe’s Julianne Kost and Photoshop Cafe’s Colin Smith demonstrate Adobe Lightroom Classic’s new Range Masking. (Remember, what works in Lightroom also works in Camera Raw.) Range Masking, by luminosity or color, is a significant step forward in selective or regional image adjustment during Raw processing.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

40 Great Quotes On Integrity

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on Integrity.
“Be as you wish to seem.” – Socrates
“Integrity is your destiny-it is the light that guides your way.” – Plato
“Our character … is an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be.” – George Santayana
“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny … it is the light that guides your way.” – Heraclitus
“Living with integrity means…not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships; asking for what you want and need from others; speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension; behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values; making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” – Barbara De Angelis
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” – Douglas MacArthur
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” – Zig Ziglar
“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” – Samuel Johnson
“When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity – regardless of what others may do – you are destined for greatness.” – Napoleon Hill
“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
“Character is much easier kept than recovered.” – Thomas Paine
“Lead your life so you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.” – Will Rogers
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” – Spencer Johnson
“Integrity is conforming reality to our words – in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.” – Stephen Covey
“Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed.” – David Jeremiah
“The glue that holds all relationships together … is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” – Brian Tracy
“People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach.” – David A. Bednar
You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.” – Zig Ziglar
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” – Malcolm X
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” – Rosa Parks
“Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied.” – Eudora Welty
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” – Abraham Lincoln
“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.” – Mark Twain
“In any area of our lives where we fail to act from integrity or violate our own understanding of what is right or wrong for us, we fall prey to putting the outside world’s needs before our own. We then disconnect from the enormity of our power and our ability to create what we want.” – Debbie Ford
“The strongest thing that any human being has going is their own integrity and their own heart. As soon as you start veering away from that, the solidity that you need in order to be able to stand up for what you believe in and deliver what’s really inside, it’s just not going to be there.” – Herbie Hancock
“Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep.” – Denis Waitley
“Laws control the lesser man… Right conduct controls the greater one.” – Mark Twain
“Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are. Let it be the Truth.” – Oprah Winfrey
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” – Marcus Aurelius
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“One person of integrity can make a difference.” – Elie Wiesel
“On personal integrity hangs humanity’s fate” – R. Buckminster Fuller
“If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
“If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless.’ – Moliere
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” – Alan K. Simpson
Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.
View The Essential Collection Of Creativity Videos here.
Discover more quotes in my social networks.

Free Printing Seminars At Photo Plus NYC 2017 10/26-28

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PhotoPlus Expo brings together over 200 of your favorite international brands under one roof. See all the latest imaging products, previews, and more. PhotoPlus offers a wealth of seminars, panels, and reviews. Many manufacturer’s booths offer free seminars.
I’ll be presenting at the Epson booth.
Thursday, October 26
11-11:30    Julianne Kost
12-12:30   Mac Holbert
1-1:30       John Paul Caponigro
2-2:30      Mac Holbert
3-3:30      John Paul Caponigro
4-4:30      Vincent Versace
Friday, October 27
11-11:30    Julianne Kost
12-12:30   Mac Holbert
1-1:30       John Paul Caponigro
2-2:30      Matt Koslowski
3-3:30      Vincent Versace
Saturday, October 28
11-11:30   Matt Koslowski
12-12:30  Vincent Versace
1-1:30      Matt Koslowski
2-2:30     Vincent Versace