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

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 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. 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

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

pattern fill scale pattern photoshop opener Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

I use patterns a lot in Photoshop to fill backgrounds and to apply effects to my images. Problem is that ahead of time I never really know how big the pattern needs to be. If you fill an image with a pattern using Edit > Fill then you get the pattern in the image but at the size it is in the pattern swatch so you get zero control over it.

Instead, if you prefer to add your pattern in a scalable way, apply it using a fill layer. To do this, choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Pattern, click Ok and then select your pattern to fill the layer with.

pattern fill scale pattern photoshop 1 Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

You will see a Scale slider and you can use this to scale the pattern to suit the image.

pattern fill scale pattern photoshop 2 Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

If you don’t want it to stay a fill layer, right click the pattern layer and click Rasterize Layer to rasterize it so that you can then do other things with it.

While it remains a pattern fill layer you can double click the layer and rescale the pattern if desired.
pattern fill scale pattern photoshop 3 Scale a Pattern in Photoshop

Helen Bradley

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

By Helen Bradley

LR contact sheets opener e1331138212741 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Historically a contact sheet was a page of images each printed at the same size as the film negative – they were used as a reference for the images on the film roll. They were called contact sheets because the film was placed in close contact with the paper when printing them.

These days the term contact sheet loosely means an arrangement of multiple, small, same size images on a single page usually with some identifying information such as the image filename placed under the image. The purpose is to provide reference to a larger number of images. You may print them to keep or give to a client as a catalog of the images from a shoot, for example.

You can create a contact sheet inside Lightroom and here’s how to do it:

Select a template

Start by selecting the folder or the collection that contains the images that you want to add to the contact sheet.

Launch the Print module and, from the Template Browser, select one of the contact sheet options. There are a few grid layouts including two with square image cells – a 4 x 8, and a 5 x 8. There are two with landscape orientation cells – one 5 x 9, and one 5 x 11.

I chose the 5 x  8 one.

LR contact sheets 1 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Set up the print job

If you plan to ‘print’ the contact sheet to a jpg file, from the Print Job panel on the right of the screen, choose Print to JPG File. As contact sheets are just that – a contact sheet and not full scale images – select to use Draft Mode Printing to speed up their creation.

The page dimensions will be preset for 8.5 x 11in. You can set your own Custom File Dimensions but increasing the size of the page simply changes the page size not the size of the cells – you have to adjust them separately.

LR contact sheets 2 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Adding images

If you have only one image selected in the Filmstrip then the contact sheet will only display one image.

You’ll need to select all the images on the filmstrip to add them to the contact sheet. To do this, either click on the first image and Shift + Click on the last or select All Filmstrip Photos from the Use: list on the toolbar. If the Toolbar is not visible, press T to display it. You can also select Flagged photos, if desired.

The Toolbar shows you how many pages you will use and you can click the arrow keys on the toolbar to navigate the pages.

LR contact sheets 3 e1331138269451 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Add image captions

To add information below the images, from the Page panel on the right, select the Photo Info checkbox and choose the field to display. You can use one of the preset options such as Caption, Date, or Filename or click Edit to create your own field.

LR contact sheets 4 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

In the Text Template Editor, you can access to fields such as the filename, a sequential numbering or date as well as EXIF and IPTC data. You can also type your own custom text to create detailed photo info to add to the contact sheet. Here I typed some text, added a sequential number and the filename.

LR contact sheets 5 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Customize the Contact Sheet

The template contact sheets are a starting point but you do not need to strictly adhere to their design if you don’t want to and they can be easily customized.

For example, from the layout panel if you click the Keep Square checkbox you will find that in some layouts your images may change orientation so the page will be a mix of portrait and landscape images.

You can adjust the maximum cell size and width using the Cell Size Height and Width sliders in the Layout panel. As you adjust the cell size, notice that the Cell Spacing values will change.

You can decrease the number of rows and/or columns using the Page Grid options. By decreasing the number of rows or columns, you can increase the cell size.

LR contact sheets 6 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Adjusting margins

If you increase the Bottom or Top margin you can give yourself room to, for example, place an Identity Plate on the page.

Here I’ve reduced the number of rows and increased the bottom margin and added an Identity Plate from the Page panel options. In the Page panel, select the Identity Plate checkbox and then select the Identity Plate to use.

The Identity Plate will appear, by default, in the middle of the page so drag it into position on the page. Adjust its scale by dragging on the Scale slider.

You can adjust its Opacity if desired and, if it is a text identity plate (rather than a graphic), you can also select Override Color to make it any color you like.

LR contact sheets 7 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Print the result

When you’re done, you’re ready to output the result. If you selected to print to a JPG file click Print to File and type a name for the file and select a location for them. The pages will be printed to a JPG file and if there are more than one they will be sequentially numbered.

LR contact sheets 8 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Print to PDF

If you want to print to a PDF on a Windows machine you will need to have a PDF printer driver installed such as Adobe PDF or one you have downloaded from the web.

Select Page Setup, select the pdf printer driver and configure the page size so it matches the template size – such as letter paper portrait orientation. Then set the Print to: option in the Print Job panel to printer and click Print to print to a pdf.

LR contact sheets 9 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Save the Template

If you have customized a template and want to be able to use it again in future, save the design as a new template.

Click the plus symbol opposite the Template Browser panel header and type a name for your template. You can store it in User Templates or create a new folder for it. Click to create it.

In future you can save yourself the time setting up the template by starting with your customized version.

LR contact sheets 10 Print Contact Sheets in Lightroom

Helen Bradley

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

lightroom presets in ACR opener Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

If you’re like me, you have some presets that you’ve created in Lightroom that you would like to use in Adobe Camera Raw. Unfortunately the format of the preset files in each program is different so you can’t just install a Lightroom preset in ACR. However you can make an ACR preset from a file that has had that same preset applied to in Lightroom. Here’s how:

Apply the Preset

To begin, open an image in the Develop module in Lightroom. Without applying any other changes to the image, apply the Preset that you want to take to ACR. Here I have applied one of the free Wonderland presets from

lightroom presets in ACR 1 e1331138958918 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Export the Image

Now export the image as a DNG file so that the changes will be written to the file. To do this, right click the image and choose Export > Export to DNG and export the image to folder of your choice.

lightroom presets in ACR 2 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Open in ACR

Launch Windows Explorer and locate the image on disk. Right click it and choose Open With > Photoshop CS5. Because it is a DNG file, it will open automatically in ACR.

lightroom presets in ACR 3 e1331139051961 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Create the Preset

Click the Presets tab and click the Create New Preset option at the foot of the Presets panel. Type a name for your preset and then select the options that you want to include as part of the preset. Type a name for the preset and click Ok.

lightroom presets in ACR 4 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

The preset will now be available from the Presets panel in ACR and will be able to be used to adjust any image.

lightroom presets in ACR 5 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Features not included

You should note that while most of the Lightroom adjustments that can be stored in a Lightroom Preset can also be saved as an ACR Preset, one exception is any Graduated Filter adjustment.

In Lightroom any adjustments you make using the Adjustment Brush cannot be saved in a Lightroom preset and in ACR those made using the Graduated Filter cannot be saved either. You will see the Graduated Filter adjustments that you made in Lightroom in ACR if there are any but you cannot save them in your preset as a Graduated Filter adjustment. What you can do however, is to save the settings for the Graduated Filter but not its placement as a separate setting. To do this, click the Graduated Filter icon in ACR to select the tool then click the Graduated Filter to save the settings for. Click the icon in the top right of the Graduated Filter panel and choose New Local Correction Setting and save it giving it a name.

You can apply this to an image in future using the Graduated Filter tool – just select the setting to use from this menu and drag to create the Graduated Filter for the image. The solution isn’t perfect but it can save you some work as shown here with the two Graduated Filters which are part of my Orton Preset for Lightroom. I can apply the preset then switch to the Graduated Filter and quickly apply the two Graduated Filter adjustments with their individual settings.

lightroom presets in ACR 6 e1331139121736 Use Lightroom Presets in Adobe Camera Raw

Advantages of taking Lightroom presets to ACR

One of the reasons you may want to take presets from Lightroom to ACR using this process is to take advantage of the free presets available for Lightroom. There are lots more of these than there are presets for ACR. If you use ACR as well as Lightroom then having your favorite presets available in both program will be useful.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Content aware resizing in Gimp

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale opener Content aware resizing in Gimp

In a previous post, I looked at content aware resizing in Photoshop CS4 which is the same as in CS5. I also mentioned the online application called Rsizr Today I’m going to show you a plug-in for Gimp that does pretty much the same thing.

The tool is called Liquid Rescale which you can download from here: Close Gimp, install the application and then reopen Gimp and you will see the application on the Layer menu.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 1 Content aware resizing in Gimp

This plug-in is an alternative to the crop tool. You use it to reduce an image’s size but, where the crop tool removes the data from one or more sides of an image, content aware resizing removes it from the middle of the image. This gives you basically the same looking image but smaller in one dimension. You might use this, for example, to remove some empty area from the middle of an image where the more interesting parts of the image are to either side of it.

The same tool can scale an image up to make it larger in one direction – and this time it will create extra data in the image to fill the space. You might use this, for example, where you have a rectangular image that you want to make into a square image without losing any detail.

To see how this can be done, I’ll take this beach image and size it down from 3571 pixels wide to 3000.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 2 Content aware resizing in Gimp

Open the image in Gimp and choose Layer > Liquid rescale. When the dialog appears, click the Output tab and set Output Target to a New Image. Enable the Resize image canvas checkbox and click Ok.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 3 Content aware resizing in Gimp

Set the new image width – I set this to 3000 but made sure that the link icon was disabled as I don’t want the height altered. Click Interactive and wait as the image is resized.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 4 Content aware resizing in Gimp

The program resizes the image by removing unimportant details from it and keeping what it understands to be the important bits. This is the result:

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 5 Content aware resizing in Gimp

If you find that some elements in the image are squeezed or damaged by the process, you can create a mask to prevent this from happening.

To do this, click the original image again and choose Layer > Liquid rescale and set up the Output tab options.

Click Feature Masks and, to create a protective mask, click the Feature Preservation Mask option and click New. The paint color will be set to green so select a brush, enlarge it to an appropriate size and paint over anything on the image that you do not want to change as the image is resized.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 6 Content aware resizing in Gimp

In my case, that is the swimmer at the front of the image and the lifeguard and boards at the back. I’ve added some other bits I don’t want skewed out of alignment like the vertical poles too. Anything else can be adjusted except these elements. When you’re done, click Ok.

Type the size for the new image and click Interactive and wait as the image is resized. Here I chose for the image to be reduced from 3571 to 2500 pixels wide, and the surfer, boards and flags have all reduced well. The protected areas have not been touched.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 7 Content aware resizing in Gimp

The plug-in also has a tool that you can use to remove elements from the photo. In my image let’s take out the large pole in the foreground. In this case you use a Feature Discard Mask – and paint in red over the area that you want removed from the image. Adjust the strength to the highest value, set the width value by clicking Auto size: Width so that the image is scaled to the appropriate width for the item you are removing and click Interactive.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 8 Content aware resizing in Gimp

In this case, the flag has gone but we’ve got a bit of a repair job to do with the rest of the image to fix it up. It would require some work with the clone tool to fix up the image but Liquid rescale has got us some part of the way towards where we are headed.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 9 Content aware resizing in Gimp

You can also use the plug-in to enlarge an image. In this case, we’ve enlarged the image to create a square image.

gimp content aware resizing liquid rescale 10 Content aware resizing in Gimp

The rescaling process isn’t perfect but generally you’ll get a good enough result that with a small amount of cloning afterwards using the clone tool you’ll be able to produce a realistic result.

Helen Bradley

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Deleting catalog backup files

I’ve been talking to a few people lately about deleting catalog backup files. If you backup and optimize your catalog every time you close Lightroom then, over time, you will end up with a lot of excess catalog backups.

Each of these backups will consume disk space so the question becomes – what is in these backups? What use are they? And can they be deleted safely?

Backup your catalog

When you set Lightroom to make a backup of the catalog what it does is to make a backup of just the catalog and not your images, or your previews, or the sidecar xmp files for your raw files, or your presets. While having a catalog backup is undoubtedly a useful thing, it is incomplete so you will need to have a system backup system in place to backup what Lightroom does not.

In fact, because Lightroom’s backup is only a catalog backup, some people don’t do a backup this way and instead rely on their regular system backup to take care of backing up everything – catalog included. I prefer to at least have Lightroom do a regular catalog backup but that’s my personal preference.

Which backups to keep?

Because the catalog backup files are all stored in different folders by date they will build up over time and keeping them all is not a necessity.

Delete lightroom catalog backup 1 Deleting catalog backup files

You can be selective about which ones you keep – you should, at least, keep the most recent backups because if your catalog is corrupt you will want to be able to recover using these. If the most recent backup has issues then you would progress backwards until you get one which isn’t corrupt.

Delete lightroom catalog backup 2 Deleting catalog backup files

So, if I use Lightroom every day, I would keep the backups from this week and then one from last week and one from last month and beyond that I could feel pretty safe about deleting the others.

Delete a catalog backup

To delete a backup, locate the backup folder and identify the backup folders to delete and go ahead and delete them.

You will find your catalog backups, if you didn’t change the default location for them, in a folder called Backups inside your Lightroom catalog folder.

If you changed its location you can find the location you selected when you’re next prompted to backup Lightroom – the location is reported in the dialog prompting you to backup. Here too you can change that location if desired.

Delete lightroom catalog backup 3 Deleting catalog backup files

One issue with the Lightroom catalog backups is that the location, by default, is inside the folder that contains the Lightroom catalog. So, if the disk containing the catalog becomes corrupt you could lose your Catalog backups too. You may prefer to backup to a different disk to protect against this likelihood.

Every one of us will have different preferences for how we backup, where we backup to, the frequency of backup and what we backup. It’s over to you now – do you use the Lightroom Catalog backup tool? If you do, do you store your backups in the default location? Do you delete excess backups regularly?

Helen Bradley