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Artist Profile

Why I 🖤 Optics: Don Schaffer, Photographer

4 minute read

The enthusiast shares his favorite effects so far, how it's changed his workflow, and top reasons why you should use the Photoshop plugin.

Don Schaffer is a Los Angeles-based producer, and video editor of branded media and narrative entertainment whose expanding list of clients includes Honda Powersports, Dunlop Tires, ABM, Johnson & Johnson, etc. Away from the demands of work, photography serves as a creative outlet for Don, where he can express his own creativity free from contracts and agreements. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter, and find him on LinkedIn.

Schaffer is an Optics plugin newbie we discovered thanks to him tagging us on Twitter (#borisfxoptics). 


How did you get into photography? 

I’ve always been intrigued by stories captured by the lens, spending hours learning about geography, history, and science through resources like National Geographic and The Smithsonian Magazine. Beyond this, our family spends considerable time exploring the outdoors, so most of the time, I’ll take a DSLR or my iPhone to capture intriguing elements and memories.

Where do you draw creative inspiration from? 

In many ways, I’m a purist, seeking merely to highlight subtle nuances in a location or a scene that generate a sense of wonder or curiosity (light rays, the flow of a river, etc.), BUT I do have a whimsical side that drives to reshape perspectives — influenced by a dear Aunt’s artwork that tastefully pushes boundaries — so I tend to find myself tinkering with tools and simply having fun.

How did you first discover Optics? How long have you been using it? Do you use it in Photoshop only? Lightroom? Standalone?

I purchased a license for Optics (version 1) following a Boris FX live online demo, but I have only just recently been able to dive in and really start using it; therefore, I consider myself a novice. At the same time, I’m already enjoying all that the plugin offers! My typical process starts in Photoshop and incorporates Optics from there, though I have also used Optics standalone.

Before and After -  Side By Side Collage - Facebook copy-1

What type of photo editing/photo manipulation tasks do you look to a plugin like Optics to help with on a daily basis?

Achieving realism with speed is a staple to my work, and Optics has really expanded my palette! Whether focusing on a masked object or the entire image, the layering of looks without degrading the original proves extremely useful.

Which Optics effects do you use most — and why?

Staple effects include lens flares, light rays, optical filters, color grades, and/or film stocks. On occasion, there are particles (and I look forward to building some cinemagraphs with this!).

Before Optics was available, how did you create effects like glows and lens flares? Have you used other photo plugins? 

Before Optics, I created lens flares, rays, and glows by importing my images into Adobe After Effects and applying effects from Continuum (Optics sister product) since these were already a part of my video editing/motion graphics workflow. I laughed when I saw an early demo of Optics since now I could stay in Adobe Photoshop!

If you could have only one Optics effect, which would it be?

Only one Optics effect? Light is something I am completely enamored with, and it is often an emphasis in my work, so it’d be a tossup between light rays and lens flares. The realism and ability to finely tune them are simply amazing!

Mono Lake with Optics

What are your top 3 reasons why photographers like yourself should use Optics?

The top reasons to incorporate Optics are realism + speed/efficiency + variety. There’s a bunch of power under the hood, which can be daunting at first. But after a little time playing, most users should find it quite a rewarding experience. 

What’s your best pro tip to artists new to Optics?

Here are a couple of pro tips for new users of Optics (I am one of them):

  • Watch the training videos provided by Boris FX! These are HUGE in helping you to get off the ground. Still somewhat of a novice, I return to these myself.
  • Play and experiment. It’s easy to get locked into what we know, but through exploring the tools, we can all grow.

Have you ever used other Boris FX plugins (Continuum, Sapphire, Mocha, etc) for video editing or motion graphics? Any thoughts to share? 

I’ve been slowly adding plugins as work provides the opportunity, currently having access to Continuum, Sapphire, Mocha, and Optics — Sapphire being the newest. The fact that I can work within much of the Boris FX ecosystem on both stills and motion provides for greater consistency and quality for each of my clients/partners.

What’s your favorite project or image that you’ve ever worked on — and why?

Most of my work incorporates subtle effects, but I recently took some time to experiment with a landscape photo I captured in Nevada’s Valley of Fire that I felt could take on a “Lord of the Rings” type of feel by replacing the sky, deepening the shadows, and adding Optics ReLight, Ultra Zap, UltraGlow, and particles for both added texture in the light rays and some low rolling fog. I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out, and IT WAS FUN, too!

Learn more about Optics and download a free trial.


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