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How Jim LaSala adds value to his photography business with Fluid Mask

We talked to Jim previously in the Vertus blog about how he uses Fluid Mask in the workflow for his fine art photography. This time we’re focussing on the kind of jobs that are a working photographer’s bread and butter. Let’s start with portraiture photography.  Over to Jim;

“…remember the days where we all ran out and bought the latest and greatest backgrounds? Let’s see. There was backgrounds for babies, seniors, engagements, weddings, high key, low key… the list goes on and on. We would spend a fortune just keeping up. So how do we work around that? What are some of the things that we can do to show our creativity. FLUID MASK!!!!!!

Portraiture Photography Cutout - BeforeHere we see a before and after that was shot just using a plain white background. Now, many people will say, well you put it on a background that was easy to mask (we will get to one that was more difficult in a minute). My answer to that is (duh) yeah!!!!! Part of the planning is understand what you want the final image to look like. If I know i’m going to shoot a young model with black hair and a black dress, you better believe I won’t being using a black seamless paper. The idea of masking and montaging is to make your job as easy as possible. Think ahead, pre visualize.”

See how Jim uses Fluid Mask in his commercial portraiture work in his Portrait Backgrounds Video Tutorial.

“My backgrounds are endless. I can go as far as my imagination will take me. “


Portraiture Photography Cutout - After

Here’s another job that Jim’s put Fluid Mask to use on, masking both foreground and background elements from 2 separate images to realise his vision:

20140706_camiolo_miata_006520110905_landscapes_0006“A client who’d just got a new toy (his car), wanted something other than a plain background. So, we went out towards the end of the day and found an empty schoolyard. I used a fisheye lens. Although it is a lens that has so much distortion, I put the subject in the middle of the lens as to lessen this effect. I then went into my background library and was looking for something that would compliment the product as well as tell a story. The camera angle on both subjects works nicely together, and just take note of the transparent areas (windshield), as well as the trees in the second image. The original sky was ok, but I was looking for a bit more drama knowing that I would be turning this image into black and white. So, once again, back into my bag of goodies and pulled out a sky.

20140706_camiolo_miata_0084This was a fun project to work on and would have been very very difficult without having the right tools.”

“The right tool for me is Fluid Mask. Thank you Vertus for a software that has changed the way I do business.”



Thanks to Jim for sharing his work with us, see more at www.jimlasala.com

For a limited period… click here to save 40% and get Fluid Mask for $89

See how far your imagination can take you…

Posted on: April 29, 2015 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Discounts & Promotions, Fluid Mask, Testimonials

Elmo, meet Maleficent!!

Photographer & Art Director Mark Magner uses Fluid Mask a his go to cutout tool in his role as Design Director at Sesame Workshop. He recently demoed on the Wacom stand at Comic-Con International in San Diego last month, where two very different characters met for the first time…

Elmo says hi to Malifecient, (with a little help from Mark!)on the Wacom stand at Comic-Con International '14 in San Diego last month.

Elmo says ‘Hi!’ to Maleficent, (with a little help from Mark)on the Wacom stand at Comic-Con International ’14 in San Diego last month.

HIs workshop was very well attended with an audience keen to see his workflow, and Fluid Mask plays a big role: “I have found that Fluid Mask is one of the best applications available for masking the kinds of textures that our characters have.”

Here’s Mark to explain a little more:

“Working with Sesame Street photography has one challenge that is unique, masking images of the characters while maintaining enough soft hair on the outside edges to still look natural…… There is no end to the masking software that’s available as well as methods that you can do in Photoshop alone. We’ve tried them all with varying degrees of success. Most do very well on smooth edged objects, human hair or animal fur, but the Sesame Street Muppets have very fine fur which is often so lightly colored it’s difficult to find the edges between the background and foreground…..

Another challenge we have is completely removing the white background that is visible between the hairs. If the masked photo is used against white or a light color it’s not a problem, but if the photo is placed against a darker background a halo of the residual background color often appears and this doesn’t look natural. I have found that Fluid Mask is one of the best applications available for masking the kinds of textures that our characters have. The program is intuitive and the process is reasonably fast. However, for best results, if the artwork is going to be seen large I tell people that the results are directly related to your patience and knowledge of the software.”

Here's Mark (center) with Diana Leto, Freelance Illustrator and Douglas Little, Sr. Public Relations Manager at Wacom

Here’s Mark (center) with Diana Leto, Freelance Illustrator and Douglas Little, Sr. Public Relations Manager at Wacom

Maybe it’s just the childhood memories the thought evokes, but we’re stoked that Elmo, Grover and the rest of the Sesame Street gang benefit from Fluid Mask!

If you haven’t already, it’s worth spending a little time browsing the learning resources on this blog, and check out our tutorials in full on YouTube. Work smarter with Fluid Mask!

See more of Mark’s design and photography work on his website http://www.magnergraphix.com , or re-live your childhood a little, over at the Sesame Workshop.

It’s a sunny day, everything’s – A-Okay, and we’re off to where the air is sweet..

Posted on: August 12, 2014 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Testimonials, Tradeshows

Jim LaSala featured in LensWork

LensWorkCongratulations to Jim LaSala, whose documentary work in Haiti is featured in the latest edition of LensWork Magazine. As well as an interview with Jim, one of his images also made the cover. LensWork is a bi-monthly print magazine that’s also available as a digital version.. “about Photographs (rather than cameras!)” … how refreshing!

We’ve previously featured some of Jim’s work from Haiti on the Vertus blog, as well as his use of Fluid Mask. You can also see his video masterclass using Fluid Mask in his digital studio on our YouTube channel.

Posted on: May 12, 2014 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Reviews, Testimonials

The holy grail of camera attachment systems..?

Get 10% off any order over $20 at Peak Design by using coupon code: pdvertus.

Camera Straps. I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘standard issue‘ that comes with my Canon DSLRS’s. Does the job, but often too garish for my liking, there’s times when I’m trying to be unobtrusive, they scream ‘expensive camera gear’, and having spent many thousands on their lenses and cameras, they’d have to pay me if they want me to advertise for them (Canon, I’m open to offers).

Then there’s other specialist companies making camera straps, and I’ve tried a fair few of these. Their selling point is comfort. They’re both wider and thicker to achieve this and also will have some elasticated ‘give’ in the strap. For me that’s also their downfall. Even just walking at a brisk pace tends to start a bounce going within the strap, encouraged by the weight of your camera (worse when you’ve a zoom attached). I tend to carry a camera over one shoulder (so I can carry two), but end result is the camera bouncing off my shoulder, unless I catch it as it goes. Not good! (Can I also not recommend not using metal rings to attach straps to the camera body. Been there, done that, and have the erosion marks etched into the body of a 5dMK1 to tell the tale).

So it’s been a bit like a quest for the holy grail, (or the perfect camera bag, but that’s another, far longer story).. you know it’s out there.. somewhere… well that search maybe over.. Ladies & Gentleman, I give you… Peak Design 

I first came across their products on Kickstarter back in December 2012, looking for a hand leash for my Sony NEX-7 (above). I liked the look of the whole system enough to go for the complete bundle: cuff, leash and capture clip. The whole strap system is built around their anchor points (below, on a DSLR), a quick release system that actually works, removing the fear of accidentally unclipping mid-use which under tension, the old style rucksack buckles are prone to (this has also happened to me previously. Also, not good. At all).

Peak Design Anchor System

This is complimented by their Capture Clip, a reliable quick release system to keep their camera secure but at hand locked to your belt/ rucksack/ wherever.  I don’t do much shooting in extreme conditions, but good design realised using quality materials makes this the only strap and stow system I’ll ever need. For me, mission accomplished. Now I just need to find the perfect camera bag…

~ Sam Friedrich, professional photographer. www.acumenimages.com  

The good folks at Peak Design are offering Vertus customers a deal. There’s a 10% discount on any order over $20 waiting for you by using coupon code: pdvertus at their checkout.

Posted on: May 20, 2013 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Discounts & Promotions, Reviews, Testimonials

Focus On: Jim LaSala. How Fluid Mask helps him realize his vision

Jim was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and currently resides in Flemington, New Jersey. Inspired by photographers such as George Hurrell (the master of Hollywood glamour photography during the 30’s and 40’s) and Ansel Adams – “his ability to visualize how the final image will come alive, has certainly helped me in understanding how to take what he has done in the darkroom and apply it to my digital darkroom.” You can see this in Jim’s black&white work (below). As well as a Moab Master, Jim is a multi award winning fine art Photographer. His workflow setup sees him using Adobe Lightroom as a primary batch editing and file management tool and for basic correction…

“My next stop is Photoshop, where I spend the rest of my life (so addicting). It is here where I can take my fine art visions to a new level. There are some third party plugins that I have been using for quite sometime and have been an important part of my process.”

“I guess now I can talk about a subject that always comes up when I am doing programs and workshops. Extraction, masking, removing the background or whatever else you want to call it. I have tried them all. They all seem to have there good points and unfortunately they also fail in other areas. Photoshop’s extraction has come a long way and although they want to be able to be the best in everything, it falls short. OnOne’s Perfect Mask is another program that I just have a hard time mastering……(Fluid Mask) is my weapon of choice. I remember being blown away while watching a demonstration on how Fluid Mask was making extractions painless. My fine art photography may call for replacing a sky or photographing a model with a specific background in mind…This is why Fluid Mask has played such an important role in my imagery. It helps me to realize my vision. The power to handle transparent objects is just incredible. I wish I could tell you that all you have to do is push a button and poof it’s gone, but Fluid Mask is the closest thing to just that.”


“One of the questions I’m always asked is why I always use the plugin version and not the standalone application. Well, its very simple. By using the plugin I have the power of using my history brush to make my extractions as perfect as possible. Another thing to remember is after extracting  your image and you are looking to now use a second file (for ex: a new sky), make sure that you bring the sky into your extracted image. If you move your extracted image into the new sky, you lose the ability to use the history brush…… Lastly, have a plan in mind when extracting. Although I use a powerful tool like Fluid Mask, I’m still going to plan on making my life a little easier. I will be thinking about what the final image will look like. What type of background will I be using. It is then I can determine how to photograph my subject.”

As well as Still life and fine art images, Jim has been passionately involved in documenting the people and their lives in Haiti.


I first became involved with documenting Haiti by accident. I was asked to donate one of my pieces of artwork for a benefit. One Heart for Haiti became involved with helping build a school in a place called Grand Vincent. ….. Well, I found out that they were making a trip there in June of 2010 which was just a few months after the earthquake disaster. The rest is history. I am making my fifth trip there this March. The country and people of Haiti have touched my heart and have given me a whole new look on what hope, love and faith is all about. It has been a tough few years trying to keep the needs of the people of Haiti in the news. I continue to have hope that through my images I can help keep the story alive.”

“Let us not forget the unique profession that we are blessed to be part of. With just a click of a shutter we have the power to make a lifelong statement.”

Wise words indeed. Thanks to Jim for taking time out to talk to us, and sharing how Fluid Mask works for him. See more of Jim’s work at jimlasala.com,

We love to hear from Fluid Mask users and share their work and masking tips. Want to be ‘focused on’?? Drop us a line on focus@vertustech.com

All images © Jim LaSala

Posted on: March 17, 2013 Discussion: 2 Comments Posted in: Fluid Mask, Further Tips, How to..., Photoshop, Reviews, Testimonials

Danielle Skerman testifies for Fluid Mask

Danielle Skerman is a professional photographer based in Australia. She creates artistic photographs of horses with beautiful lighting. Here she tells us why she uses Fluid Mask.

“I first came across Fluid Mask in 2008 at the Photo Imaging conference in Brisbane Australia. I, like many in the crowd watched in amazement at a seemingly effortless demonstration of masking. I was suitably impressed – however ever skeptical as many like to claim greats but perform in the averages. I went home and thought about it, and decided ‘What the heck I’ll give it a go!’  Three years later and literally hundreds, if not thousands of edits, have involved Fluid Mask. Hence to say [sic], I have a great love for Fluid Mask; It’s fantastic and saves me so much time.

“This shot with the white stallion cantering towards the camera was shot in the stallions’ paddock. I used Fluid mask to separate him from his background and create a black background.” As you can see Danielle has cut out the horse’s hair beautifully. Says Skerman, “This stunning 22 yr old stallion was so striking in person; I wanted to create the same charisma in the photo that he is in life. Masking all that fine hair would have been painful and time consuming normally but with fluid mask it literally took about 1 minute to do so.”



Skerman doesn’t only photograph horses as you can see in the image below…“To shoot at this time of day to get it lit correctly just isn’t possible, as it would take so long to get the lighting right and the light continually changes. With fluid mask I was able to use a shot with a darker exposure for the sunset, going that extra mile in a professional image without the stress and time taken normally to create such a look.”

She says of the image of a black stallion in a blue background, “The original shot was unexciting and normal; I wanted to create an artistic image – something to put on a wall. I had this great background and only took seconds to mask the stallion out, enabling me to spend more time in the process and editing of the new image as a whole.”

“I had taken this shot of the white stallion being ridden but just wasn’t that happy with the existing background and I had this other great image that would work better.  So all I had to do was to cut the rider and stallion from original shot and carefully place into alternate background I know I take on more technical work knowing the time fluid mask saves me, allowing me to keep to being creative and to worry less about the tedious job of masking!”

This is a beautiful image, which like all of Skerman’s work, highlights her ability to create magical imagery with the use of light and tone. The girl on the white horse gives a fairy-tale feel to the image as they travel through the brilliant patch of light breaking through the forest canopy.

Woman bowing with Friesian stallion                                                                                  The original image of the stallion actually had the owner standing behind the stallion assisting him in bowing, which you can see below. As this can be a very brief moment, and to gain the best results, it’s better to shoot images such as this, separately, bringing them together seamlessly using Fluid Mask. (See below for finished image).

“I just about use Fluid Mask on a daily basis. I use it from simple masking, to altering a background, add blur or colour effect, as well as major manipulations, which  involve  wild hair strands of a horse and design work. Fluid Mask is without a doubt a piece of software that I could not do without.”

Danielle Skerman is a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers and her work can be found at www.directshots.com.au/

Posted on: June 4, 2011 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Reviews, Testimonials

Fluid Mask on Flickr

Here’s a quick look at some of the creations people have been making with Fluid Mask 3. Recently we trawled through Flickr to find that these images were all made in part with the help of Fluid Mask 3. A number of the images we found were produced by those experimenting with the Fluid Mask Trial and keen to show off the results. We think that’s a great testament to the ease of use and versatility of Fluid Mask 3, but more importantly we love seeing the amazing work people have been creating.

Here are five we thought were pretty great and worth bringing to your attention, but there are many more on Flickr for you to find yourself.

This is a subtle but fun image, as the balloon rises out of the frame bringing it and it’s spectators to life. A simple enough concept, but achieved beautifully.

This one I love, as it looks like a real-life scene from a Hayao Miyazaki movie. The HDR effect is exceptional, and the lines in the sky mirror the length of the dirt pathway and it’s tire tracks, giving the image real depth.

‘Steel Vertorama’ by Marty.FM


Both of these next two images are by the same artist, of which we are a fan. I like the first for it’s imaginative collaboration of images to compose a very surreal subway scene in striking detail.

‘Ny subway 1 am friday’ by ed7929

Hot Rods have always been cool and this second image from ed7929 seems to prove it. The vibrant colors are electrifying against a sky-scape and stylized stretch of Tarmac that help give a classic style and a little sense of awe.

‘HotRoded HDR’ by ed7929

Below, szeke’s image of Vienna is regal, utilizing Fluid Mask to join two differrent exposures, plus some additional treatments as he goes on to discuss on Flickr. Clearly a gifted photographer, and his first attempt in Fluid Mask 3, we hope Szeke find many more uses for it in his work.

‘Hofburg, Vienna’ by szeke

In all of these, the eye catching imagery is a result of some great photography work to start with, but also the additional effects, like the HDR treatment, produced through Photoshop and in some cases some additional plug-ins. Meanwhile, Fluid Mask 3 goes unnoticed if not for the admission of the artists themselves, which is exactly as it should be – a great mask maintains the illusion no matter how contradictory or unlikely the composition might seem.

We continue to enjoy the images shared on Flickr. So, if you’d like to share any of you own images created with Fluid Mask, we suggest you post to Flickr and tag your creations with Fluid Mask to share with us all.

If you haven’t used Fluid Mask, please do, a trial version can be downloaded on our website.

Vertus HQ

Posted on: June 4, 2010 Discussion: 1 Comment Posted in: Fluid Mask, Reviews, Testimonials

Mr Steven Rorabacher

“In over twenty years, using over a hundred pieces of software, I have never met a company who goes to this extent to make sure their users become experts with their products.  You guys are outstanding!!

Posted on: August 16, 2007 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Testimonials

V. Maranta, Photographer

“Just wanted to commend all you guys at Vertustech, Fluid Mask is one awesome program. It is so user-friendly and the amount of time you save even when doing fairly complicated masks is well worth the price. I tried working with one of the competing programs “Mask Pro” and that seemed a bit problematic in accomplishing what I had set out to do. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. When I tried Fluid Mask for the first time I was blown away by how it lets you pick and choose the pieces you want to keep or discard. What could be easier?

Simple to use, great results. Again thanks Vertustech and the team behind Fluid Mask “

Posted on: August 14, 2007 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Testimonials

Matt Hoyle, Professional Photographer

“I’m a professional photographer who has used every mask plugin known to man, all with varying levels of disappointment. I very cynically downloaded your trial of fluid mask… and thought I’d be proven right yet again. But I have to say that from the moment I revealed the cutout of a guy whose hair I had to extract from the background, I immediately went to your site and bought your product.”

Posted on: August 14, 2007 Discussion: No Comments Posted in: Testimonials


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