Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling opener Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

If you don’t pre-prepare your images before adding them to a page in Dreamweaver, you’ll need to resize them in the program.

If you click an image and check the Properties panel, you’ll encounter your first problem. The selectors that let you adjust the Width and Height of the image do not do so proportionally so it’s perilously easy to skew your images out of alignment.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 1 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

One alternative for resizing an image is to click the image and use the sizing handles to resize it. Hold the Shift key as you do this to scale the image in proportion.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 2 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

There is also another way and that is to click the image and choose Commands > Optimize Image. This is the same dialog as you get if you click the image and click the Edit Image settings button in the Properties tab (it’s just difficult to work out what button this is because it is so tiny). This opens the Image Preview window.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 3 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

Click the File tab and you can scale the image to a fixed percentage or check the Constrain checkbox and adjust either the width or the height and both will be adjusted automatically in proportion.

Under the image are tools for moving around the image in the dialog, cropping it, zooming in and out of it and setting a magnification for viewing it in the dialog.

From the Saved Settings dropdown list you can select an optimization setting for your file, if you select JPEG – Smaller File the image will be saved as a low quality JPG. JPEG – Better Quality will result in a better quality but overall larger size file. For photos always select a JPG option and never GIF.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 4 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

With the Preview enabled you can read off how long it will take to download the image at the currently selected quality at a 56kbps download rate.

There is also a button in the bottom right of the left hand panel that allows you to optimize to a fixed size. Click it and you can set a target size for your image such as 20kb, click Ok and the image quality will be adjusted to give you file that is no larger than the size requested.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 5 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

In the Options tab you can select to sharpen the color edges if desired. When you’re done, click Ok to configure the changes for your image.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 6 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

Other image options include Brightness and Contrast and Sharpening both of which you can select by clicking the respective Brightness and Contrast, and Sharpen buttons in the Properties panel.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 7 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

 

These options can also all be found by clicking Modify > Image. Here are options for optimizing the image, editing with an external editor, editing the original with an external editor, cropping, brightening, adjusting contrast, resampling and sharpening the image.

 

dreamweaver image resizing scaling 8 Resize Images in Dreamweaver

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Transparency and the Gimp

 

transparent layer in gimp opener Transparency and the Gimp

One of the most confusing things for Photoshop users will be the concept of a transparent layer in Gimp.

Consider the situation where you open an image such as this hand drawn frame here. The image is a BMP image and what I want to do is grab the middle out of the frame so that I can put something behind it.

 

transparent layer in gimp 1 Transparency and the Gimp

 

If this were Photoshop, I would convert the background layer to a regular layer by double clicking on it and press Ok. Then I would target the Magic Wand tool and click in the middle of the frame to select the middle area then press Delete to make it transparent so I can drop an image in behind it.

 

transparent layer in gimp 2 Transparency and the Gimp

 

If you try this process in Gimp, all you get is an extreme level of frustration as nothing seems to work. Select and delete does absolutely nothing !

Here’s the solution. With the layer with the image on it selected, right click and choose Add alpha channel. This then allows you to select an area on the image using the Fuzzy Select tool, and press the Delete button. Then choose Select none and you will have a transparent middle to your image. It’s an easy process once you understand what’s happening but an extremely frustration one until you do.

 

transparent layer in gimp 3 Transparency and the Gimp

 

Helen Bradley

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

psKiss photogram before after e1331139627460 iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

If you envy your friends their iPhone Instagram app and their iPad grunge photo editing apps then PSKiss has the solution. PSKiss recently released its PSKiss Photogram which is the first ever (at least as far as I’m aware) app like extension for Photoshop. It has all the coolness of an iPad app and it works on the desktop.

PSKiss Photogram is an extension so it installs like any extension and, when running, you see an iPad style interface with Instagram like features all running in a panel inside Photoshop.

psKiss photogram 1 iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

You can download the extension from pskiss.com and right now the starter price is $9.90 which is comparable with many iPad apps. The extension is called Photogram and it has a distinctly retro look – it’s tag line is “Bringing the 70’s into Photoshop”.

Once you’ve downloaded the zip file, unzip it, fire up your Adobe Extension Manager and install the ZPG file. If you are using Windows 7 or Vista you may need to run the Extension Manager as an Administrator to install the extension in the correct location. To do this, right click the Adobe Extension Manager in your Start menu and choose Run as Administrator.

Once installed, close Photoshop if it’s open and then re-launch it. Start by opening an image that you want to work with. I grabbed an image of some graffiti I shot this morning  with a view to using it with this extension.

Run the extension by choosing Window > Extensions > PSKiss Photogram. The panel opens showing a series of image effects including Holga, Expired Polaroid, PolaroidPZ, Wrong Velvia and others. They are a mix of faux retro camera effects which are guaranteed to give your photos a very different look.

psKiss photogram 2 iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

In addition to applying effects you can also crop your image to one of a number of crop ratios including No Crop, 1:1, 4:3, 2:3 and 16:9.

psKiss photogram 3 iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

The app also lets you add light leaks by turning on the Light Leaks switch and add a date stamp which is set using the image metadata.

psKiss photogram 4 iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

To apply an effect to an image, set the crop ratio, set the date stamp and light leaks switches then click an effect. You can wind back the processing using the History palette so click on Open in History to revert to the original image. If you choose a different effect it replaces the one you just applied and isn’t added to it so you don’t need to wind back your changes if you want to experiment with different effects.

psKiss photogram 5 iPad style Apps come to Photoshop – At last!

The light leaks are random so they move around each time you click to add an effect.

If you want the same effect but a different crop, select a different crop and then reapply that same effect to it. You can tell which effect is in use as it has a glow around it and the title bar of the image indicates which effect is in use.

When you’re done, you can save the image as you would any regular image.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

By Helen Bradley

Photoshop touch first looks opener Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

On Monday, Adobe launched its Photoshop Touch application for the iPad. This long sought after app runs on the iPad 2, and not on the iPad 1, and it requires that you have iOS 5 installed. The app costs $9.99 which is at the high end of the price range for photo-editing apps in general but Photoshop Touch seems to have got the feature set about right so most people will probably consider it worth the money.

I use the iPad a lot for working with photos I’ve shot using a digital SLR camera in raw and which I’ve resized, converted to jpeg and downloaded to the iPad. Those images I have on the iPad are there because they are funky or because they lend themselves to some artistic play. So, I looked at Photoshop Touch in this light – I wanted to see if it would be part of my iPad image creative workflow. For heavy duty work, Photoshop and Lightroom will remain my tools of trade.

When you launch Photoshop Touch you get two options, viewing the tutorials or doing some work.

Photoshop touch first looks step1 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

There are 10 tutorials that you can work through each of them is project based so you learn the program by learning a technique not by learning how individual tools work. These are text and image tutorials and not video ones, but they are interactive so you can learn as you go.

Photoshop touch first looks step2 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

The second option is Begin a Project which is where I’ll start. You get the choice of adding an image from your iPad, the Adobe Creative Cloud, the Camera, Google or Facebook. I chose Local Photos then the Photo Library and an image from my iPad.

Photoshop touch first looks step3 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

In the main editing area you’ll find the tools on the left, layers on the right and menus across the top. The program pays lip service only to Photoshop.  Some icons are familiar but others are more iPad than Photoshop so Photoshop users may find it a bit confusing where iPad artists will find it more familiar.

Photoshop touch first looks step4 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

You can add multiple images and multiple layers. I wanted to texture this image so I clicked the Add Layer button and selected Photo Layer.

Photoshop touch first looks step5 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

Once you select a second photo you get to size it as you import it – you can also rotate, flip or skew it too. Click Done to proceed to the editing area.

Photoshop touch first looks step6 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

Now, with the layer selected, you can apply adjustments to it.

Photoshop touch first looks step7 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

I chose Curves as this was a texture and I wanted more contrast. There are no adjustment layers so the Curves adjustment is being applied just to the targeted (top) layer. As you can see, you can adjust the RGB composite channel or the individual red, green and blue channels.

Photoshop touch first looks step8 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

With the texture layer still targeted you can apply a filter to it by clicking the FX button. There is a range of filters including Basic, Stylize, Artistic and Photo. Some add things like drop shadows, blurs and glows and others are more artistic.

Photoshop touch first looks step9 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

I chose Stylize > Old Photo, configured the settings and tapped Apply. Unlike Photoshop where the foreground and background colors need to be selected before you run a filter, here you can select the colors to use in the filter settings – this really is a feature that Photoshop should have.

Photoshop touch first looks step10 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

To blend the layers you click the Layer icon and you get a choice of blend modes and the chance to adjust the layer opacity.

Photoshop touch first looks step11 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

There are no masks but you can use a gradient to fade the effect – when you do the gradient is applied to the layer and you can only undo it by tapping Undo – you can’t go back and edit it.

Photoshop touch first looks step12 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

You can also add a new Empty Layer and fill it with a gradient.

Photoshop touch first looks step13 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

And then blend it using a layer blend mode as I have done here.

Photoshop touch first looks step14 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

I finished by cropping the image and then saving it.

Photoshop touch first looks step15 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

You can then email it or send it to the Camera Roll or upload the project to the Adobe Creative Cloud so you can access them from there.

Photoshop touch first looks step16 Edit and Create on the go with Adobe Photoshop Touch

There are limits to Photoshop Touch and one is the 1600 x 1600 pixel image size limit. The text tools are rudimentary and, as a long time Photoshop user, I’d like to see editable masks and editable text. That said, for fixing photos and tinkering with creative projects this program is a welcome addition to the Adobe family.

This app will appeal to a range of users. There are plenty of basic tools that are easy to use but also some more advanced features for working with images. The Scribble Extract tool does a reasonable job of extracting a subject from a background and you can tinker with gradients and fades to get some interesting effects. You don’t need to know how to use Photoshop to use the app but your knowledge won’t go astray.

Helen Bradley

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

Lightroom photo frame opener Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

One hidden feature of the Lightroom print module is the ability to add a frame to an image. In this post I’ll show you how to add a frame to an image before exporting it as a JPEG image ready for uploading to the web or printing.

In Lightroom 3 you can create an image and export it as a JPG image from the Print module – however before you set this up, it’s a good idea to create a frame to use. I’m going to use a hand drawn border but you can use anything of your own design.

Step 1

Start in a program like Photoshop and create a new image the size that you want to print from Lightroom. This is a critical step because the border image that you’re about to create cannot be resized any larger in any dimension than the Lightroom file dimensions that you plan printing to.

So, for example, if you want to print a landscape image on letter paper you need to create a frame image of the exact dimensions (or at least the exact ratio of dimensions) of an 11 x 8.5 inch sheet of paper. If you do this, the frame can be sized to the full size of the image in Lightroom.

Set the resolution of the new image as desired – I do this so it matches the resolution that I want to print from Lightroom at – so I use 300 dpi

Lightroom photo frame step1 Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

Step 2

Design your frame making sure the inside of the frame is transparent if you plan for your frame to be placed over the image in Lightroom.

When you are done, choose File > Save As and save the image as a PNG format file so that the transparency information is retained – the JPEG image file format doesn’t support transparency.

Lightroom photo frame step2 Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

Step 3

Close Photoshop, open Lightroom, select the image to print and click to open the Print module.

From the Layout Style panel select Custom Package. In the Print Job panel select Print To: JPEG File. Select Custom File Dimensions and set the size to the same 11 x 8.5 inches that you set the frame to be.

Set the File Resolution to the desired resolution – I’ve used 300 dpi.

Lightroom photo frame step3 Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

Step 4

You will add the frame as a graphical Identity Plate. So open the Page panel and select the Identity Plate checkbox. Click on the identity plate box and, from the menu which appears, choose Edit then select the Use a Graphical Identity Plate option button. Click Locate File, select the frame png file you just saved and click Choose. You will most likely be warned that the file is very large – if so, click Use Anyway and click Ok.

The frame will appear as an Identity Plate over the top of the image. Adjust the Scale slider to size it up to 100 percent which should ensure the frame fills the page size that you are working with.

Lightroom photo frame step4 Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

Step 5

As the middle of the frame image was created as transparent, the image underneath it shows through it.

You can use the Render Behind Image option to place the frame under the image if that’s the way you have designed it to work.

Once you’ve added your identity plate select to print to file and the framed image will be printed to a new file.

Before I am done, I click the Identity Plate box again and choose Edit and then from the Custom dropdown list I choose Save As to save the graphic frame as an Identity Plate I can use at any time in the future.

Lightroom photo frame step5 Add a Photo Border in Lightroom

Armed with Photoshop you can create any sort of frame and import it as an identity plate to add a border to an image in Lightroom.

 

 

Helen Bradley

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Faux HDR effect in Lightroom 4

faux hdr effect in lightroom1 Faux HDR effect in Lightroom 4

I just uploaded a new video tutorial on how to create a faux hdr image in Lightroom. This image really didn’t inspire me when I first looked at it, but clearly at the time I captured it something had caught my eye. When I applied this faux hdr effect to the image it just came to life. The process is very quick and very simple, and the video is very short – only just over 5 minutes and you’ll know all you need to know to salvage your own images.

 

 

Helen Bradley

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

hand drawn frame opener Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

One technique I’ve seen used a lot lately on blogs, websites and even email newsletters is a hand drawn frame effect.

In this post, I’ll show you how to create an effect like this and save and use it for your images.

hand drawn frame step1 Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

Step 1

Start with a new image in Photoshop. A good size frame is important to create as you can size it down but not size it up as successfully. Start with an image around 4,000 pixels square with a resolution of 300 pixels RGB color and transparent background.

When the image opens, fill the background with a color of your choice, I’ve chosen a blue fill color.

hand drawn frame step2 Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

Step 2

Add a new layer and then select the brush tool and a smallish brush. You want something that is going to ‘paint’ looking a little bit like pencil marks so I chose the Chalk 11 pixels brush and sized it up to around 57 pixels.

Select black or a dark brown or dark gray color as the foreground color and hand draw your frame. It will help if you use a tablet to do this although that’s not necessary and a mouse can be used.

Draw the frame so it has closed inside and outside edges to make the next step easier.

hand drawn frame step3 Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

Step 3

Target the Magic Wand tool and click inside the frame. This selects the inner portion of the frame.

Choose Select >  Inverse to invert the selection.

Now hold the Alt key and click with the Magic Wand tool on the outer area of the image so you remove the outer edge from the selection.

To eliminate any anti-aliased edges, choose Select > Modify > Contract and contract the selection by around 12 pixels.

hand drawn frame step4 Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

Step 4

Add a new layer between the frame drawing and the background and fill it with white.

Return to the frame layer and select the inside again, this time choose Select > Modify > Expand and expand the selection by around 12 pixels.

Add a new layer and fill the selected area with a black/brown or dark color. This is the template for your image.

Save this image as a layered .psd file so you can use it anytime in future.

hand drawn frame step5 Hand drawn frames in Photoshop

Step 5

To frame an image, open an image to frame and this frame too.

Drag the background layer of the image into your frame image holding the Shift key as you do so to center it. Press Ctrl T + Ctrl 0 to size the image to size. Make sure the image layer is directly under the drawn frame and above the dark template layer.

Now, with the image layer selected choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask to clip the image to the size of the inside of the frame.

You can move the image layer using the Move tool so it is positioned as desired.

Now size and save the image for print or the web.

 

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

Fisheye effect Lightroom opener Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

If you don’t have a fish-eye lens or don’t have yours on hand when you need it, don’t worry. With Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) you can create a fish-eye effect with any photo. Here’s how:

Start with an image that lends itself to being made a fish-eye image. You want something that was shot with a fairly wide angle lens to begin with so you don’t want to be zoomed in very close on your subject.

Fisheye effect Lightroom step1 Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

With the image open in Lightroom go to the Develop module and select Lens Correction and then the Manual tab. You’ll see the Distortion slider at the top of the Transform tools. Drag the Distortion slider to the left to blow out the middle of the image.

Deselect Constrain Crop and decrease the value for Scale so that you can see the image edges very clearly. If you like the result you can stop at this point.

Fisheye effect Lightroom step2 Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

Alternately if you want to give the image a bit more punch, you can go one step further by exporting the image and importing it again and repeating the process. To do this, right clicking the image and choose Export. Export the image as a non-lossy format image such as TIFF, enable the Add to This Catalog checkbox so the image comes back into Lightroom automatically and select a folder for the image – the same folder that the original image is stored in is the best choice. Click to Export the image.

Fisheye effect Lightroom step3 Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

The exported version will then be automatically imported back into Lightroom. You can find it by returning to the Library module, open the Catalog panel and click the Added by Previous Export collection – it will be in that collection.

Fisheye effect Lightroom step4 Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

Select the newly imported image, return to the Develop module and again drag the Distortion slider to the left to increase the bowing in the image. Make sure Constrain Crop is not selected and decrease the Scale until you get a good result on your image.

Fisheye effect Lightroom step5 Create a Fisheye Effect in Lightroom

 

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

A “Happy Snap” Lightroom workflow

Lightroom happy snap workflow opener A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

At Halloween last year I was asked to photograph some kids I’ve shot from time to time since they were born. Basically their mum likes to have some up to date photos of the kids and Halloween seemed like as good a time as any to get some shots.

When I’m shooting like this, my aim is to get some good shots but nothing formal and I prefer not to use a flash because I get a better response from the kids without one. I captured the images in raw and I chewed through three small size camera cards in about an hour and a half.

My deal with their mum is that I get to use the photos for my work and she gets a disk of pictures. To keep this fun – so it doesn’t feel like work for me – I need a fast and effective processing workflow.  I need to get the images off my camera, sorted, processed, burned to a DVD and delivered to mum in time for her to enjoy them.

Thanks to Lightroom the process was simple and, in all, I reckon I spent less than 2 hours getting the photos from the camera cards to a DVD. Here is what I call my Happy Snap Lightroom workflow – it’s what I do to quickly process casual snapshots:

Step 1: Determine a plan of attack

To begin with I have some criteria I work by. I never give away substandard photos so anything blurry, out of focus or over exposed gets permanently deleted. Then I sort out the best of the images intending to give mum around 50-60 photos of the kids – it’s a nice range of images for her to use to scrapbook and post to Facebook and it doesn’t over burden her with too many photos to choose from.

Step 2: Download the images

Lightroom happy snap workflow step2 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

To begin, I download all the images from all three cards into a single folder on my hard drive (if there were only one card I would omit this step).

From there I import the images into Lightroom at the same time copying them to their permanent storage on my external photo drive and making a backup to a second drive. Copying rather than adding images to the Lightroom catalog lets me make backups and also add my metadata to the images so, when they popup on Facebook my copyright details are embedded in them.

Importing all the images in one step also means that when I’ve started the import process – which includes rendering standard previews – I can start working through the images and I don’t have to do it multiple times or switch out cards as I work – (the process works for me – your mileage may vary).

Step 3: Eliminating the duds

Lightroom happy snap workflow step3 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

The first time I run through the images I am looking for images to delete as well as getting a general look at what I shot.

As I work through the images I’ll press X for images to delete and use the right arrow key to move past everything else. I’ll select to delete all out of focus images, anything where someone has their eyes closed or similar, and anything I don’t want to put my name to!

Once I’m done I choose Photo > Delete Rejected Photos to delete the images from my primary external photo drive. There are still copies on the backup drive and my hard disk but not on my main photo drive.

Step 4: Sorting the usable images

Lightroom happy snap workflow step4 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

On the second run through the images I pick those I want to use. By now I have a rough idea as to what I have and what I might want to give mum. So this time I run through the images pressing P to pick an image and using the right arrow key to move past those she won’t be getting.

Step 5: Create a Collection

Lightroom happy snap workflow step5 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

Once done, I isolate the picked images by clicking the first of the filter flag icons above the filmstrip. Then with only the picks visible I press Ctrl + A to select all of them and then click New Collection > Create Collection and type a name for it. Because the images are already selected, I leave the Include Selected Photos checkbox enabled and click Create.

Step 6: Apply initial processing to the images

Lightroom happy snap workflow step6 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

Now I have a collection of the picks and it’s time to process them. I start out by selecting all the images in Grid View in the Library and from the Quick Develop panel I select Auto Tone. This gives me a head start on fixing them but, because of the lighting, pretty much all of them needed a white balance adjustment.

Step 7: Process in the Develop module

Lightroom happy snap workflow step7 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

Switching to Develop module with the filmstrip visible I selected the White Balance Selector and then made sure that Auto Dismiss was disabled. This allows me to adjust the white balance on one image and then click on the next one in the filmstrip and continue to adjust the white balance from one image to the next without having to reselect anything. Basically all that most of these images needed was some white balance adjustment.

For those that needed cropping, I cropped as I finished with white balance adjustment and then moved on to the next image. This ensured that each image was dealt with only once as I progressed across the filmstrip.

Step 8: Make one off fixes

Lightroom happy snap workflow step8 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

So, having fixed the worst of the problems I work backwards through the filmstrip to see if any of the images warrant special attention. If so, I make a call to fix them or simply remove them from the collection. To remove the image, right click it and choose Remove from Collection .

Here I had one issue with a couple of images where one child’s face was in shadow. For this, I used the Adjustment Brush tool at a small size with a large feather radius. I brushed over the areas where her face was in shadow and then adjusted the Brightness and Exposure to lighten to her face. In the same images other faces were overexposed so I added a second Adjustment Brush adjustment with the opposite settings to attempt to deal with this. The final result wouldn’t  stand up to close scrutiny but is just fine for the web and 6 x 4 printing.

Step 9: Export and burn

Lightroom happy snap workflow step9 A Happy Snap Lightroom workflow

Once this was done it was time to export the images. Because they’re all in a collection, Ctrl + A selects all the images. I chose File > Export and then exported them as JPG images, 80 percent quality at the largest size and I added sharpening to them in the process. I made sure these images all went to a new folder so that they would be isolated from everything else and easy to find.

From there, it was a matter of launching Ashampoo Burning Studio, grabbing all the images and burning them to a DVD.

This workflow is one giant step better than simply burning the images direct to a DVD. It takes only a little more time with Lightroom to sort and apply some basic fixes to the images and it also means that only the best of the images get circulated and those that do have my copyright information embedded in them.

So now it’s over to you. What’s your “happy snap” workflow? Do you capture snapshots in raw? Do you process using Lightroom? And how do you get your images processed quickly so you’re not spending hours on images that are really just family snapshots?

Helen Bradley

Friday, May 11th, 2012

5 top tips for working with Gimp

I know that a lot of you use Gimp and, in the interests of taking a step away from Photoshop for a minute, here are 5 of my top tips for working with Gimp.

gimptips 1 5 top tips for working with Gimp

Rounded corners

Gimp makes it dead simple to round the corners of an image. To do this, choose Filters > Décor > Rounded Corners. A dialog will open. Select the Edge Radius, which is the amount of curve, and if desired, click to add a Drop Shadow and then set the Shadow Offset and Blur Radius. You can select to work on a copy of the image (rather than the original), and select whether or not to add some background behind the curved corners – the current background color is used for this. Click Ok to round the corners of the image.

gimptips 2 5 top tips for working with Gimp

Reassign keys

When I use Gimp, I sometimes forget and use Photoshop keys for things like deselect. Unfortunately in Gimp, the Photoshop deselect keystroke duplicates an image! You can, however, remap your keyboard shortcuts by choosing Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. So, for example, to map the Ctrl + D keystroke to the Select > None option, click to open the Select menu, locate the None option and click it so that the words New Accelerator appear in the Shortcut column. Then press the keystroke to use – I chose Ctrl + D, which is the Photoshop equivalent. Because this key combination is already used a warning appears – if you are ok with replacing the shortcut, then proceed to assign the new shortcut key.

gimptips 3 5 top tips for working with Gimp

When you change or reassign a shortcut, Gimp is smart enough to add the new shortcut to the appropriate menu so the Select menu here shows the newly assigned shortcut.

gimptips 4 5 top tips for working with Gimp

Move the selection mask

It is so much easier in Gimp than in Photoshop to move the actual selection marquee once you have made it. To see this at work, make a selection, then click the Move tool. Make sure that the Move option is set to Selection in the panel and you can now drag the selection into a new position. This works for circles, rectangles as well as selections made with the free select tool. Once you’re done, return to the tool to perform another task such as Ctrl + Alt + drag to move the selected area or Shift + Alt + drag to copy it.

gimptips 5 5 top tips for working with Gimp

Merge to a new layer (and keep the original layers)

One command that is useful when you need to flatten an image but where you don’t want to lose the layers you have already created is the one which flattens the visible portions of an image to a new layer. This layer is at the top of the stack but is created in a way that leaves the original layers still in place. In Photoshop you do it by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E. In Gimp, choose Layer –> New From Visible. Now you can, for example, sharpen the image but, if you need to make changes to the image, you can delete the top merged layer, adjust the image on the layers below and then remake the new merged layer and sharpen it.

gimptips 6 5 top tips for working with Gimp

Crop Tool Smarts

The Crop tool in Gimp includes a range of cool options. When you select it, check out the panel options. You can, for example, crop just the current layer (or all the image) or you can select the crop area from the middle out (rather than drawing from one corner). You can crop to a fixed aspect ratio or a fixed width (height is variable), fixed height (width is variable), or set both height and width. From the list which shows No Guides, you can choose to display a Rule of Thirds overlay, Center lines or Golden Sections to help you create a well composed image. Enable Highlight to see a dark border around the area you plan to crop to.

gimptips 7 5 top tips for working with Gimp

So, there are my 5 top Gimp tips. It is over to you. What is your favorite Gimp tip to share with others?

Helen Bradley

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