Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Lightroom – flagging in the Develop module

Lightroom 3 flag images in Develop module Lightroom   flagging in the Develop moduleAs you probably already know you can flag an image in the Library module in Lightroom using the Toolbar options.

But did you know you can also do it in the Develop module?

Check for the toolbar in the Develop module, if it is not visible press T to display it. Here you will find a series of options including some for flagging the image.

If the flags are not visible, click the down-pointing arrow at the far right of the toolbar and select Flagging from the menu. Click a flag to flag an image from here without having to go to the Library to do so.

The toolbars in the other modules: Slideshow, Print and Web while partially don’t have this same feature but it is a customizable option in the Library and Develop modules.

Helen Bradley

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

By Helen Bradley

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio before after e1331137464718 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

If you’ve ever tried to crop an image to a fixed ratio in Photoshop you may have run up against an issue. There is, it appears, no option for cropping to a fixed ratio such as 4 x 6, 5 x 7 or even 1 x 1. You can crop to fixed sizes like 4in x 6in and you can set a resolution for the image but you can’t on the face of it just crop to a simple 1 x 1 without specifying a unit of measure. Here I’ll show you how to do this, but first things first…

The risk you run if you don’t watch how your settings are configured and if you don’t watch what you enter in the dialogs, is that Photoshop will not only crop, but also determine the units of measure and resample the image for you.

Default Settings

The default units of measure and the default resampling method are set in the program preferences which you can locate by choosing Edit > Preferences > General (Photoshop > Preferences > General) and then read the image interpolation method being used. In this set up it is set to Bicubic:

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 1 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

The default units of measure are set in the Units & Rulers options or the Panel options for the Info Palette as the ruler measurements:

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 2 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

If you type a number in the Width and Height boxes when you select the Crop tool in Photoshop then the default units of measure are used unless you also type the desired units of measure. This might not sound like it is a problem but if the default units of measure are pixels and you type 6 x 4 and have the Resolution set to 300 dpi you might end up with a very small size image indeed!

It is not possible to type a number in the Width or Height box for the Crop tool without a unit of measure being applied to it. So, what do you do if you want a 1 x 1 ratio crop not a 1 in x 1 in image?

The solution is to type 1in or 1cm in each the Width and Height boxes and ignore the units of measure. Then, remove anything from the Resolution box. When Photoshop is told to crop to a fixed size/ratio and is not told the Resolution to use it crops to the size requested, it doesn’t resample the image, and it simply adjusts the Resolution of the final image to suit the image. It might sound weird but it works to let you crop to a fixed ratio. The problem is of course, that the resulting resolution can be very large indeed.

Here I cropped this image to 1 in x 1 in with no resolution set:

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 3 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

Here are the final image dimensions – the size is 1 x 1 but the resolution is very large:

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 4 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

Change Resolution but not Size

If the resolution of the image is important to you then you can change it by choosing Image > Image Size, disable the Resample checkbox and set the desired Resolution and click Ok to adjust this. This resizes the image to the chosen resolution but does not resample it in the process.

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 5 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

Crop and Resample

On the other hand, if you set a width and height for the image in the Crop tool options and if you set a resolution, Photoshop will crop the image to that size and resolution.

If the image is very large and the desired size is comparatively small then Photoshop will downsize the image and in the process resample the image. If there are insufficient pixels in the image to crop to the desired size and resolution, Photoshop will upsize the image resampling it as it does so.

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 6 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

An Alternate Method

There is an alternative method that lets you crop to a fixed ratio without altering image resolution. It is a little longer but it works well and is bypasses the crop tool entirely. Instead, target the Rectangular Marquee tool and select Fixed Ratio from the Style list and then set the Width and Height as values without measurements. Select the area to keep – if necessary, hold the Space Bar as you are drawing the shape to move it to a new position.

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 7 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

When you ‘re done choose Image > Crop to crop it.

Photoshop crop image to fixed ratio 8 Crop to fixed ratio in Photoshop

Next time you need to crop to a fixed aspect ratio, one of these methods will ensure you get the result you expect.

Helen Bradley

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Edit images on the iPad with PhotoPower

Download: PhotoPower on the iPad – 2.99

This is an iPhone app that runs on the iPad. It totally rocks and it’s an example of what a photo fixing app should do. It is simple to use but extraordinarily powerful it even includes a curves tool!

photopower image editing on the ipad 1 Edit images on the iPad with PhotoPower

Open an image, crop  it and then adjust it. There are tools from Exposure to Vibrance and in many tools you can adjust the separate color channels or the composite channel.

photopower image editing on the ipad 2 Edit images on the iPad with PhotoPower

Tap any of the Adjustments, Effects or Filters and you’ll see a long list of options to choose from. This is a seriously awesome program with heaps of cool features. It’s a pity it isn’t available for the iPad at full screen size but that gripe aside it is well worth looking at as a tool for adjusting your images.

photopower image editing on the ipad 3 Edit images on the iPad with PhotoPower

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Create spot color effects on the iPad with ColorUP Lite

colorup spot color on ipad opener Create spot color effects on the iPad with ColorUP Lite

Download: ColorUP on the iPad – Free

This free program will only let you adjust images captured by the iPad – if you want to be able to use images from your camera roll you have to upgrade to a paid version.

Here, because I wasn’t online to get the upgrade, I just shot the cover of a copy of Vanity Fair which I was reading on a flight home from Washington DC!

The app turns the image into monochrome and you then paint over the areas of the image to bring back color.

You can adjust the brush size and see the mask. If you make a mistake just erase the brushstrokes.

You can blur the background, adjust its contrast and even change the color in the image by adjusting the hue.

If you like the effect it is worth shelling out for the full version as not many programs let you do this as easily as this one does and the extra features for adjusting the background are great.

Helen Bradley

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Quickly adjust color in a photo on the iPad with Auto Adjust

autoadjust opener Quickly adjust color in a photo on the iPad with Auto Adjust

Download: Auto Adjust in iTunes – 0.99

This is a no nonsense tool that has a few sliders and not much more. You can adjust Brightness, highlights, midtones, shadows and color saturation. The app won’t scale your photos so you don’t see everything on the screen and you can’t move the image around.

The tool really doesn’t do enough to warrant using it – there are plenty of other tools that have a broader feature set.

This program would have to be gobsmacking great to justify opening images in it since you’ll generally want to do more than just these adjustments.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Quick and easy grunge effects with TtV PS Lite

Download: TtV PS Lite on the iPad – Free

This app doesn’t do much at all but it’s pretty nice none the less. It comes with 4 camera effects, three colour filters, an opacity adjuster and brightness and contrast adjusters.

ttvlite ipad grunge 1 Quick and easy grunge effects with TtV PS Lite

It is simple to use and can be upgraded to a paid version. For that you get 30 viewfinders and full resolution output.

The grunge effects are pretty nice while limited.

This isn’t a fancy app but it is easy to learn and to use.

ttvlite ipad grunge 2 Quick and easy grunge effects with TtV PS Lite

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Age an image on the ipad with OldPhotoPRO

Download: OldPhotoPRO on the iPad – Free

This free app doesn’t promise much and doesn’t disappoint, in fact quite the opposite. You simply open an image and it applies an old photo effect to it. Click Edit and you get a heap of edits you can make from Brightness, Contrast, Tone and Color intensity and a couple of options for Sepia and Cyanotype.

oldphoto1 Age an image on the ipad with OldPhotoPRO

Tap Papers / Edges and you can add edge effects and scratches.

oldphoto2 Age an image on the ipad with OldPhotoPRO

This is a no frills app. It is simple to use and can crank out some fun effects for aging images.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Photo editing with Snapseed on the iPad

snapseed photo editing ipad opener Photo editing with Snapseed on the iPad

Download: Snapseed on the iPad – 4.99

Snapseed comes from the folks at Nik Software. It’s an interesting app but can leave you more confused than enlightened regarding what you did to your image.

When you open the image there are selectable options all down the left of the screen – big icons to click on. Then everything gets really small and not a little confusing.

snapseed photo editing ipad 3 Photo editing with Snapseed on the iPad

Some features let you add a control point to the image that you use to adjust just that position on the image – in others you swipe across the image to apply a change.

In the brightness fix, for example, you will drag across the image to adjust the brightness.

snapseed photo editing ipad 1 Photo editing with Snapseed on the iPad

In other cases you swipe down to reveal different options. In Tune Image this means that options for Brightness, Ambience, Contrast, Saturation and White balance are all hidden from view and you have to ‘discover’ them to use them.

All these features are hard to discover when you first start working with the program and eave you wondering just who designs iPad interfaces and why they think that  hiding features is smart? There is plenty of room on the screen to put some sliders or options which would make this program much easier to use than it is.

snapseed photo editing ipad 2 Photo editing with Snapseed on the iPad

The Grunge fix has thousands of Styles which all tend to morph into each other – they aren’t different enough to even care too much about. I’d settle for 20 really different effects to choose from than this range of thousands of similar ones. Worse still, if you choose Shuffle to apply an effect you can’t easily see what number it is so you can reuse it. When applying styles you can also apply textures but the preview shows nothing about what that texture will look like!

snapseed photo editing ipad 4 Photo editing with Snapseed on the iPad

The program doesn’t really seem to be too clear as to whether it is a serious fixing tool or a fun one for applying effects – it tries to take a bet each way and misses a bit on both counts.

At first looks it appears to be serious and the sample image is very attractive and well shot so grunge and vintage aren’t the first things that come to mind when you open the app. The tools however, lend themselves more to the fun side with the Vintage, Grunge and Tilt shift features.

In the scheme of things, this isn’t an app I’d use much. It is a bit too messed up for me and doesn’t do anything well enough to be a tool of choice for general day to day work. Perhaps for the occasional photo it might offer something but this will be occasional only.

I don’t dislike Snapseed I just don’t really understand the point of it – it seems a bit haphazardly put together. I think if you used it a lot you could grow to like it, I just don’t want to put that much effort into something that isn’t feature rich.

Helen Bradley

Friday, April 13th, 2012

iPad Photo editing and sharing with Instagram

instagram for the ipad opener iPad Photo editing and sharing with Instagram

Download: Instagram on the iPad – Free

Instagram is more about a photo sharing community than fixing photos per se. It is also an iPhone app so it’s tiny and runs in portrait orientation on the iPad.

Instagram crops everything to a 1:1 crop and offers 13 filters with a range of removable borders.

There is a one click contrast enhancement and you can apply a soft focus effect or a faux tilt shift and that’s about the sum of it.

This app is ridiculously popular with iPhone users and probably better used on the iPhone where you’ll be able to share images online from there and where the tiny interface makes more sense.

Behind Instagram is a web site for sharing Instagram photos. You can share your images so others can view them and you can view other people’s photos too.

If you are into photo sharing this is a great app. If you love the Instagram look then this is the app that gives it to you.

If you want to be more creative with your images then look elsewhere – this app is free and it is good but it is far from great as a photo enhancing tool.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

photoshop express ipad photo editing opener Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

download: Photo Express on the iPad – free

When it comes to apps sometimes you get great value in free apps and other times you get rubbish. Photoshop Express falls somewhere between the two extremes – it isn’t rubbish but it’s far from great.

Photoshop Express has a very strange interface which left me tapping furiously on the screen trying to get it to do something – anything!  The problem is you have to swipe the screen to adjust the intensity of the edit? So, to increase saturation you choose the Saturation option then swipe across to the right to increase it or to the left to decrease – Ok – where exactly did that interface metaphor come from? I feel like I missed class that day and there is nothing  on the screen that makes this behaviour easy to discover.

Interface complaints aside this app lets you crop and fix your images and apply some effects to it.

Here is the crop/straighten/rotate/flip options:

photoshop express ipad photo editing 1 Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

Here is the image with contrast and saturation improved:

photoshop express ipad photo editing 2 Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

The noise reduction tool requires you to buy an add-in – OMG Adobe just gets some things sadly wrong and this is one of them! Either give the program away or don’t but why do they make one fix a pay for feature? It makes no sense – and they could just have easily left out noise reduction altogether. If you want this feature, expect to pay a hefty $4.99 for it.

photoshop express ipad photo editing 3 Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

In the border area there are a handful of free borders and others you can buy but which you can preview on your image first – this is useful so you get to see how they look before you commit to buying them. They come as an all in pack of 22 borders for $1.99.

photoshop express ipad photo editing 4 Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

There is also a small range of effects you can apply by selecting the effect to add to the image.

photoshop express ipad photo editing 5 Photo editing with Photoshop Express on the iPad

A lot of folks will download this app because it is from Adobe. Lots of these same folks will be wondering why they bothered to do so. This app is competent but it is hard to look past the silly in-app purchases and the screwball interface – Adobe is better than this – this app damages the company’s reputation – why not do something like they have at photoshop.com?

You don’t have to reinvent interfaces for the iPad and you don’t have to make up new interface gestures for adjusting images when a slider will do just fine – if you use sliders folks can see the slider and work out quickly how to use it – instead here with the swiping you really have to guess how to make the thing work and you shouldn’t have to do that.

Helen Bradley

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Grunge an image with Pixlr-o-matic on the iPad

pixlromatic ipad photo editing opener Grunge an image with Pixlr o matic on the iPad

Download: Pixlr-o-matic on the iPad free

I love this app but wish it worked in landscape and didn’t force me to work in portrait. It is from Autodesk who are the unsung heroes of the iPad photo editing app world. They do great stuff – way better in general than Adobe when it comes to iPad stuff.

Not only that but this app is also available online so you can use it on your desktop in a browser or download a standalone version – all cool and all free! You can buy extras if you like so you can buy extra frames and effects and you get lots for your money.

Start by capturing an image or import one from your gallery. Then click the first of the options across the foot of the screen – these are filters. Here you can browse the gallery of options – you can instantly view the filter on the image or keep scrolling to try something out if you don’t like the result of your first choice. I chose Lucas for this image:

pixlromatic ipad photo editing 1 Grunge an image with Pixlr o matic on the iPad

Then select the Lightbulb icon and apply a lighting effect to the image. I added Bubble to this image.

pixlromatic ipad photo editing 2 Grunge an image with Pixlr o matic on the iPad

Then click the frame option and add a frame – I chose Flowery.

pixlromatic ipad photo editing 3 Grunge an image with Pixlr o matic on the iPad

I would like a tool for cropping the image as I really prefer to use square images for these types of effects and you cannot do it in Pixlr-o-matic so you  have to do it before you come to this program.

The icon in the top right of the screen lets you apply a random mix of settings to your image – it’s a sort of “I feel lucky solution” – worth trying if you just want to see what the program can do.

Your save options are to the Photo Gallery or iTunes – it would be nice to see some integration with, say, Facebook or Twitter too?

I love Pixlr-o-matic on the desktop and the iPad. I have bought all the extras because you can never have too many cool features and I am willing to overlook some minor frustrations like no crop and portrait mode for the sake of art!

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Here at Projectwoman we’ve been busy with our sketchbooks creating some great looking hand drawn frames for Photoshop. These frames are available for Photoshop, Gimp and Photoshop Elements and we’ve included instructions for all the applications.

The frame sets sell for ninety-nine ¢ which is way less than your morning coffee — in fact you could buy three sets and have change left over.

We’ve created two sets of square frames because we think you just can’t get enough of square frames. We have a luscious floral set and a great set of speech bubble frames from our newest illustrator all ready for your photos.

There are circles, rectangles, simple frames and complex frames. Every one of them is hollowed out in the middle so that you can easily place your image in it and they are created as PNG files with opacity built into them. All you do is open your image, drag it in and it all works! And just in case you need a little more help, the step by step illustrated instructions will get you going instantly.

All the frames are lusciously sized at somewhere around 2,500 pixels in length or height so they’re a perfect size for framing all your images. Digital SLR images will pop straight into the frames and if you’re shooting with an iPhone or your brand new iPad 3, just size them down a little bit and you’re ready to go. Here are the framesets that we’ve got linked to the shopping cart page. Click a set and you’re ready to go.

Floral Frame Set

set floral 300x300l Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Simple Frame Set

set simple 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Square Frame Set

set square 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Circle Frame Set

set circles 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Heavy Line Frame Set

set heavylines 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Speech Bubble Frame Set

set speechbubbles 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Rectangles Frame Set

set rectangles 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Square #2 Frame Set

set squaretwo 300x300 Cool hand drawn frames for Photoshop

Helen Bradley

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

photopad ipad opener Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

Download: PhotoPad by Zagg for the iPad free

This app is interesting and would be useful if it were more functional. It has a few problems and most annoying is the inability to preview changes on the image before you select them. So you have to apply the effect and then undo it if you don’t like it. It just seems a whole lot more cumbersome to use than many other apps of this genre.

The rotate tool has no grid so lining up a rotation is total hit or miss. And worse still the program adds a colored matt background around the rotated image – wtf? Most photographers won’t want an image on an angle with a colored background showing up just what you did to the image. In reality what we need and want is the option to rotate the image and, at the same time to crop or resize the image to get rid of this skewed background.

There are a range of paint tools which let you sample colors from the image or select your own color and paint onto the image. This paint goes on a layer above the image so you can erase it if desired. There are 4 brush types – soft, hard, square and line but they’re not really different enough or a wide enough range to do much – you’d go to another program if you were serious about doing real painting of an image. Here I just did some fun brush lines.

photopad ipad paint Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

The fixing tools are limited to color levels, saturation and hue, contrast and brightness and things like redeye.

photopad ipad fix Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

There are a few filters but the thumbnails don’t indicate well enough what they do so you have to apply them to the image to test them. Basically they’re a pretty lacklustre range of filters which just about sums up this app – lacklustre and hardly worth bothering with – there are far better apps out there which do all this does and more and way more to boot.

photopad ipad filter Photo fixing and painting with PhotoPad

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Find the best photo and graphic editing software

find the best graphics programs Find the best photo and graphic editing software

If you’re in the market for some new graphic software the first thing you’ll want to know is what’s the best for you. The folks at findthebest.com have done a lot of the work for you.

Visit the website and you can select to compare a range of applications. I’ve selected Photoshop, ArtRage and Lightroom – 3 very different applications, and then I ran a compare on them. You’ll get a heap of information including the Smart Ranking, what the purpose of the software is, the latest version and all sorts of details including ratings from the key sites such as PC World, PC Magazine, CNET and MacWorld. There’s plenty of information about supported file types, color spaces, help and online resources and whether or not the application runs on Windows or the Mac.

Findthebest.com is a great resource when you’re looking to compare different programs. Use the slideshow tab to view simplified information about each selected application and click the chart to see how the applications compare.

There’s plenty to like about this site when you need to get an overview of the kind of programs that you may want to use.

I think the interface looks a bit similar to those airline ticket site where you can sort by price, category and all sorts of things. Only here, you’ll get the best photo editing programs not a ticket to London!

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Photo-editing in Photogene

photo editing ipad photogene opener Photo editing in Photogene

Download: Photogene for the iPad $2.99

I have had Photogene now for a while but just cranked it up today to see just how it performs. I have to say it has some cool features – sort of an all-round app that could be all things to some people but which hasn’t a huge amount of depth.

It doesn’t have layers but it does have a mask you can paint on to paint on features such as the dodge and burn fixes. I got a bit confused with the presets – they are great for applying effects but they seem to have been added on rather than integrated with the program itself. It’s a minor complaint but you feel like filters and frames appear  in two different places – as regular tools and as presets. Problem is that if you use the presets you get access to some frames that you can’t get to elsewhere – which is a little frustrating if you are a DIY person and like to have better control over your images.

This image was shot in NY and I shot it specially to use for iPad editing. Here I gave it the treatment in Photogene. The image wasn’t perfectly straight so I started with the rotate tool and straightened it.

I cropped it using a 1:1 crop with the Crop tool.

photo editing ipad photogene1. Photo editing in Photogene

Then I added a vignette using the Burn brush which is a Retouching tool. The built in vignettes didn’t give me the control I wanted and being able to paint the vignette on is great.

photo editing ipad photogene2. Photo editing in Photogene

When you are dodging and burning you can change from paint to erase by tapping twice on the screen and there is an Intensity slider you can use to dial down the effect.

photo editing ipad photogene3. Photo editing in Photogene

You can also choose to see the mask overlay which helps you when you’re trying to work out where you painted.

photo editing ipad photogene4 Photo editing in Photogene

I used the Dodge brush retouching tool in the middle to lighten the image and then applied an effect from the effects collection.

photo editing ipad photogene5 Photo editing in Photogene

Then I applied a cross process effect. You can do this to the entire image or it can be painted on using the retouch tools.

photo editing ipad photogene6 Photo editing in Photogene

To finish some adjustments were made to the image saturation, vibrance and clarity.

photo editing ipad photogene7 Photo editing in Photogene

This was the end of the process in Photogene but I felt the image needed a little something extra. I saved it out of Photogene to the Photo Library.

photo editing ipad photogene8 Photo editing in Photogene

Then took it to Scratch Camera to add the final touches you see here.

photo editing ipad photogene 9 Photo editing in Photogene

Helen Bradley