Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Turn any Jpeg image into a repeating pattern in Photoshop

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in complex design solutions I forget the simple things. Like making patterns! So here is a quick and easy solution to turning any jpeg image (or indeed any image you can open in Photoshop) into a repeating pattern. These aren’t seamless repeats – but not everyone wants them to be seamless – sometimes all you need is to make a repeating pattern from something! So here’s how to do it – just make your selection – save it as a pattern and fill a new document with it – it is quick and easy.

I’ll show you how to do this with text and with a photo, they both work exactly the same.

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

JPEG vs RAW – what’s the difference and what should you use?


Learn the difference between capturing in jpg and raw and when to use each.

One key decision that every photographer needs to make is whether to capture images in jpg or raw formats. With newer and more advanced tools on the market for processing raw images, the incentive to move to capturing in raw is attractive. However, raw images will require additional processing and they are very large so, to help you understand the issues behind the question “jpeg or raw?” I’ll explain the difference between capturing in jpg and raw and why you might choose one over the other and when to do so.

What is in a format?

Before exploring when you might want to capture an image in jpg or raw, it’s worthwhile looking at the differences between these two file formats. The raw file format is a format which is a camera specific so the format of raw images from a Canon camera is different to the format of a raw image from a Nikon camera. The reason for this is that a raw format image contains the data captured by the camera’s sensor and it is unprocessed. Because each camera’s sensor is different, the basic raw format is proprietary to that camera manufacturer and it may even vary from one camera to another within a camera manufacturer’s own range.

Before you can use a camera raw image in a program such as Photoshop, you need to process it using either your camera manufacturer’s raw processing application or a tool such as Adobe Camera Raw. One downside of  capturing images in the raw format is that you need to do this preprocessing before you can use your images. If you capture in camera raw, you will be reliant on special software to be able to read your raw images in future in, say, 10 or 15 years’ time.

As a move away from the notion of a proprietary raw formats that are created by each camera manufacturer, Adobe recently released the dng or Digital Negative file format. This is an open format which can be used by camera manufacturers as an alternative to their own proprietary raw formats. It frees photographers from being tied to a specific manufacturer’s raw format and offers protection for the future simply because of the sheer number of people who will have images stored in this format. The format’s popularity should ensure that there will be programs available in future for most operating systems that can read and process these files.

Camera raw images, when captured in the camera manufacturer’s own format such as crw, cr2, nef or pef cannot be written to and can only be read from. For this reason, if you make changes to a camera raw image in a program such as Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom, then the changes that you make to the image cannot be written to the original image file. Instead, they’re written to what is called a sidecar xmp file which stores details of the changes that you’ve made to the image. Camera raw image processing applications read the original camera raw file and the sidecar xmp file and display the image with the changes you have made to it. However you need to be careful that you do not move a raw file to another location and leave its sidecar xmp behind – if you do, you will lose any changes that you’ve made to the image. The Adobe dng file format avoids this problem as it is a file format that can not only be read from but also written to so changes can be stored in the original file.

Differences in data

The advantage of recording all the data captured by your camera’s sensor in a raw file whether it be your camera manufacturer’s own raw format or Adobe dng is that you have a wider range of image data than you would have if the image was saved as a jpg image. When an image is saved as a jpg image by your camera, it is scaled down considerably so that it is no longer a 32-bit image but is now a 8-bit image with only 256 levels of brightness.

Other changes that are made to the image include sharpening the image and the camera will also apply any white balance setting you have selected to the image. If you have other “in camera” settings configured such as variations to the image saturation, contrast and brightness then these adjustments will be made to the image before being saved as a jpg file. In addition because the jpg file format is a lossy and compressed file format you will lose some detail in saving the image even if you opt for saving at the highest quality.

In contrast, a dng or raw image is not adjusted and all the data that was available from the camera’s sensor will be in that file. Situations in which this can save you some grief is where you have under or over exposed the image or configured an incorrect white balance setting. If you capture in a raw format then you have a larger range of exposure adjustments available to be made inside a camera raw processor than you would have with the corresponding jpg image. In addition, because the white balance setting is not applied to a raw image, you can change the white balance setting later on without compromising the image.

The tools in Lightroom make it easy to apply changes to a range of raw images all at once.

File size differences

Because jpg images include only a subset of the data that the camera captured and camera raw images contain it all, there are significant file size differences between images captured in the jpg and the raw format. For the equivalent pixel size image, a raw image might be around 20MB in size where the corresponding jpg image would be around 5Mb in size. The reason is, of course, that the jpg image has less data in it and the data is also compressed.

One drawback to capturing raw images in the past has been the difficulty of processing these images. Many programs simply couldn’t read the wide range of raw image formats in use by the varying camera manufacturers. This meant that you were either limited to using your camera manufacturer’s own software to preprocess raw images or you needed to purchase an expensive application like Adobe Photoshop to do so. These days the dng format and many proprietary raw formats can be read by a number of applications including the free applications: Picasa and IrfanView.

IrfanView is one of the popular free programs that can display and edit dng and some other popular raw format images.

However, operating systems like Windows Vista and Windows 7 still do not include native support for dng or other raw formats so, when viewing a folder full of dng images you will see icons instead of thumbnails. There are some downloadable codecs available from but they have limited application.

When to use which format

Now that we’ve investigated the difference between capturing in jpg, raw or dng, it’s time to look at when you might opt for one in preference to the other. If you already use a program that includes built-in support for camera raw images such as Picasa, Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Corel Paintshop Photo Pro then you may opt to always shoot in raw or dng because of the ease at which you can work with your images – this is particularly the case with programs like Lightroom and Picasa.

On the other hand, if you typically shoot images to share online on sites like Facebook or Flickr and you don’t usually do much, if any, processing then jpg may be the best option as the files are smaller and you can quickly download them and then get them uploaded to your sharing site. For example, Flickr will let you upload full size jpg images but you can’t upload raw or dng images.

One advantage of capturing in jpg is that you have the flexibility of being able to determine the pixel dimensions of the image you will be capturing in the camera. Most cameras have varying size options available when capturing in the jpg format and also different compression options. If you’re only shooting snapshots for uploading to the web, then you don’t need very big images and you may find smaller jpg format images work as well.

That said, you need to accept that if you are capturing jpg format images you’re reducing the amount of image data that you have available and, if in the future, you decide that you want to do something special with a particular image, you won’t have the full range of image data there to do anything with..

If you’re shooting to sell images for stock, then you absolutely must capture images using the camera raw file format so that you have all the data in the image available to you. Many stock agencies will not accept images captured as jpg images because of the processing that’s applied to those images by the camera including the image sharpening. Stock agencies prefer unsharpened images so that the purchaser can then determine the amount of sharpening they want to apply in each specific case.

There is a way to “have the best of both worlds” and you can capture in both jpg and raw formats. Most cameras can capture jpg and raw or jpg and dng so you’ll get both files for each image that you shoot. You can then download both formats – use the jpg images for your day to day use and store the raw originals in case you ever need to work with those images in future.

 Picasa supports many raw formats so you can view and work with raw images in the same way as jpg images.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Trevor’s Photoshop Tip of the Week – Save a Path with your JPEG

(photo by: Amy Burton)

Paths can be a very helpful tool when editing and can be saved along with your image in .jpeg files. To do this create a path in the desired location on your image. Go to File > Save As choose JPEG as the file type.  Name your image and save it. When you open it next the path will be accessible in the Paths palette.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Converting PDF to JPG

pdf to jpeg jpg online conversion free

If you’re a follower of my blog, you’ll know that I often need to convert a PDF file to some other format. I’ve showed you in the past how to extract data from a PDF file direct to Word but today my problem was that I wanted a well laid out pdf document to retain its look.

Unfortunately, the way it was created I couldn’t edit it to add my signature but I could do this in Word if I could get it there.

The solution was to convert it online using This easy to use site converts from 120 or more formats to JPG which is exactly what I wanted. It even allows you to upload a hefty file – up to 100 MB which means that it’s pretty damn big.

All you need do is to either enter a URL of the file to convert or click Browse and grab a file from your computer. You can set the quality settings – I selected Best Quality, and then optionally set the final image size, color and even apply some enhancements such as sharpening, anti-alias, despeckle and so on.

For a simple PDF to JPEG conversion, I left everything as it was and clicked Convert File. In less than a minute I had a zip file ready for download.

I could also have opted to have it emailed to me. You can, once you’ve downloaded your file, select to delete it or download it up to ten times within a 24-hour period. I opted to delete my file which is a nice option when a file may contain sensitive information,

If you visit the home page at you’ll have lots more options for converting to and from different formats.

This site is dead easy to use and it does the job – you simply can’t ask for more than that.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Better Photos Tip #10 – Camera Raw vs, jpeg

Capturing in Camera RAW offers superior image adjustment options for your photos.

If your camera is capable of capturing images using the RAW format, this will allow you more editing opportunities later on.

It’s a good idea to capture JPEG when shooting regular snapshots simply because JPEGs are easier to process and use and to use RAW for more creative captures.

Some cameras have a button you can press which gives you a one shot RAW capture so you can shoot in JPEG but easily capture a single RAW shot when you need one.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Streets of Hong Kong

Some of the best photo opportunities in Hong Kong happened around dusk as the lights began to cast their magic on the streets. The time frame is tight, you need to be there, camera in hand, and catch the mix of daylight and night light. But the rewards are definately there for the taking as shown here. This shot, to my recollection was taken in the Temple street night market area.

My new Pentax K10D digital SLR was my companion for this trip. It was its first outing so I was interested to see how it would perform. True to some reviews, as I captured mainly in JPEG format, the images lacked saturation. I did boost it in camera slightly uisng the saturation adjustment but I opted to stop short of boosting it too much in the camera and fix the images myself later on.

I did take advantage from time to time of the K10D’s push button RAW mode which lets you press a button on the case and take one RAW image. I did this when I had time to take two shots and when I had something I thought would lend itself to working with in Camera RAW.

However, and this is a big thing, in Photoshop CS3 you can open any JPEG image in Camera RAW and work with a subset of the Camera Raw functions on the image. This is a very powerful new tool and makes it easy to apply some fixes that would take more time in Photoshop – and, because you’re working in Camera RAW, the fixes aren’t saved to the image so they can be undone any time.

Curious? Open Photoshop CS3 Bridge, find your JPEG image and right click it. Instead of choosing Open, choose Open in Camera RAW and go play!

Helen Bradley