Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Software Review: Kubota Pro Pak - Part 1 From Kubota Image Tools

The Kubota Pro Pak is a bundled package of products that contains six of the most popular tools from Kevin Kubota's professional image enhancing tools for Adobe Photoshop. This package includes the four Artistic Series of actions, his Production Tools, as well as his Formula Book which contains 42 separate recipes to get just the look you want.

Who is Kevin Kubota and what makes his actions so special? Well first off he was named one of the top ten wedding photographers of 2007 by Popular Photography Magazine for giving his customers more than they expect by capturing fresh, expressive images. He has now taken that philosophy to Photoshop processing by providing the same techniques to you via his image tools.

Today Kubota Pro PakI will look at the four actions sets known as the Artistic Tools. In case you are not familiar, a Photoshop action is an automated series of steps that have been recorded to provide an effect or series of effects. Some of these actions are totally automated, while others have stopping points that request you to perform some action, usually to paint in where you want some sharpening to occur. In all cases there is a pop-up window that tells you what you need to do.

Artistic Tools Vol. One: The "Classic Film Effects" Pak
In this pak you will find a variety of Black & White Actions, organic film grain, cross-processing effects, sepia effects, and monochrome toning. This set contains over 40 Actions and it includes Skin Cream, Fuji Snappit, Vignette, as well as Eye and Teeth Enhancer.

The black and white effects include conversions that give nice film grain effects without introducing digital noise. In this way they look much more organic and have a better feel. There is not a loss of sharpness and in fact many times the sharpness appears enhanced. There are actions that smooth skin, add glow to the image, add a Hollywood effect, as well as other creative effects for a vignette, giving a romantic feel, and adding vibrancy to the image.

There are color actions that can add a bright sunny effect, a cross processed look, and a contrasty Fugi Velvia film look. There are also image correction actions that raise the shadow values, lower contrasts and saturations, adding warming gel filters to add mood to an image, as well as a mid-tone brightener. There are even actions that will attempt to fix images shot with the wrong white balance. There are examples of "Classic Film Effects" Pak on the Kubota Image Site.

Artistic Tools Vol. Two: The "Modern Chic" Pak
This pak includes what has been known as Lord of the Rings series and is one of the most popular of the Kubota Actions and is what helped make it a HOT ONE award winner. Also it also contains enhancements that give your images color pop, colorful toning, soft glowing and innovative black and white effects. This pak contains over 50 enhancements including Daily Multi Vitamin, Radiant People, Radiance Landscape, Edge Burner, Digital Fill Flash and Smokeless Burn.

Kubota Pro PakThese actions under Black and White will give you the ability to work with a modern antique look that will have the user wondering if it is really black and white or color. There are some that will tone your black and white to blue, green, red, and other tones as well as ones to create a more traditional black and white image.

The color effects will help you add 'Life' to everyday images. The Lord of the Rings series aims to mimic the deep, romantic feel of the movie by adding color richness, a soft glowing effect, and contrast. There are several variations on this one.

The Creative effects include one that gives a painterly effect, another with a canvas texture, one that gives an angel glow, one that burns the edges, and one that performs an edge blur. The Image corrections include one to eliminate posterization problems, one that adds digital fill flash, a smokeless burn that works just the opposite of flash fill, one to work details, one to reduce noise, and one that works skin tones.

There are also a set of image bordering actions that will create 4x6 images with borders for printing proofs. There are examples of "Modern Chic" Pak on the Kubota Image Site.

Kubota Pro PakArtistic Tools Vol. Three: The "High Fashion-Edgy" Pak
In this pak while there are a lot of enhancement tools that can be used to work on "everyday" images, you will also find a series funky high fashion looks, glowing and deeply romantic black and white effects, and color styles. This pak contains over 45 enhancements, including Fashion Passion, Kiyoko Punch, Tea Stained, Anime Soft, Anime Bold, Doll Face, Skin Powder Genie and Eye Color Enhancer.

The black and white actions include ones that lighten up the skin tones, add rich warmth to the shadows, have some bronze toning and combine velveteen with a black satin look.

Color effects include a Hollywood glow effect is works for fashion and outdoor scenes, a cross processed look that has more pleasing skin tones than the traditional, a dramatic old world look, a high key contrast that is bold and sassy, a tea-stained look, and a 'Look' that is gentle enough to use every day, but has the punch to make your images pop.

Creative effects include a glow that is made for children, graduates, and fashion images, a look that emulates half photo, half painting, a rich and moody forest look, a soft wash, and a wash-out look. The image corrections include a dark line eraser to remove things like shadows from eyes, an eye color enhancer, a skin powder genie to get that cover girl smoothness, as well as an overall helper to restore detail on a slightly overexposed image.

Again there are also a set of new image bordering actions that will create 4x6 images with borders for printing proofs. There are examples of "High Fashion-Edgy" Pak on the Kubota Image Site.

Kubota Pro PakArtistic Tools Vol. Four: The "Cutting-Edge" Pak
This is a collection of modern image enhancing tools for producing unique looks in the marketplace. There is a three-dimensional "Enter the Dragon" all the way to a cinematic "300-esque." Also, there are new interactive B&W converters for the attempting the perfect tonal blend and richness within your images. This pak contains over 50 enhancements, including BW Full Moon, Highlight Enhancer, Dark Darkener, Popsickle, Punch Drunk, China Doll, Comic Relief, Vignette 2 Auto and Ragged Edges.

The black and white effects include ones with an infrared feel, one with deep blacks, one that allows you to fine tune the tonality of different colors before conversion, one gives a more edgy bold look, and one that you can give a subtle hint of color.

The color effects include "Enter the Dragon" series that gives a three-dimensional, edgy, bold look with lots of texture; one that is more soft and romantic; one that enhances details and removes haziness from your image; the "300-esque" series that attempts to capture the movie's warm perpetual sunset and soft film grain look; and there is one that gives an old London town look.

The image corrections include a contrast brush to paint contrast into areas that need that oomph, highlight rescue where you paint to bring out the highlights that are not there, a Dark Darkener for painting on areas that need to be darker, and a Luminizer for opening up the shadows.

In this pack you also get a series of edges and vignettes for darkening edges and bringing out the focus of your image. There are examples of "Cutting-Edge" Pak on the Kubota Image Site.

Obviously there are too many actions to do more than highlight what each pak contains here. You can get online to evaluate everything for yourself, but with the fact that you have over 40 actions per pak and you can combine them with each other, using multiple actions to create different looks, you really have a limitless array of effects that you can create.

The biggest problem I see with having all of these effects is knowing what to use and when to use it. Obviously, the final results will come from experimentation and trial and error. One thing that helps is that the samples from the Kubota site are a great starting point. It appears that there will eventually be tutorials as well, which will be even better. In part two, along with looking at the Production Tools, I will look at the Kubota Formula Book that gives you 42 step-by-step recipes for getting that certain look and, to me, that is something else that will help the learning curve tremendously as well.

If you are a professional photographer, especially one who does weddings, portraits, or graduations, you really owe it to yourself to check into the Kubota Pro Pak, or any of the Kubota products for the photographer. They will allow you to get the maximum productivity with the least amount of effort. Even if you only use a small portion of the effects, they will pay for themselves in time savings and customer satisfaction over and over again. I highly recommend this product.

 

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2 comments:

SBL Image process outsourcing said...

Absolutely stunning post. Thanks.

T. Michael Testi said...

I appreciate the comment and glad that you enjoyed it.

Thanks -- T.