Welcome to a new season at Amersham Photographic Society’s Digital Group.
Just a couple of software items;
Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 is yet another routine update but with a couple of newsworthy aspects;
Firstly, there is a new De-Haze slider, but be aware that this is only visible to Creative Cloud monthly subscribers. Users of Photoshop Elements 14 also get the de-haze option but it’s within the editor, rather than the raw converter. Secondly this is the last ACR update for Photoshop CS6 users.
Users with newer cameras and older Adobe software who want to open Raw files, have always had the two-stage DNG conversion option. Although this continues, you should be aware that apparently, lens profiles will no longer be updated. Of course Adobe would just like you to reach for your credit card and sign up for the Creative Cloud subscription.
I would still strongly recommend that newcomers use Photoshop Elements and/or Lightroom rather than the full CS6 or CC Photoshop which is not aimed at beginners.
Most will be aware that APS won a new Canon WUX 950 projector in the Photography News Camera Club Of The Year competition this summer. This is already proving to be a success with excellent clarity and definition. There are a few implications for those submitting images to PDI competitions;
Image Size – the new size for PDI images is a maximum of 1600 pixels wide and 1200 pixels high. Instructions for re-sizing your images in Photoshop and Lightroom are on the Competition Rules page of the APS website. This also covers sRGB colour space and other recommendations. Remember to also tick the Keep Aspect Ratio option ticked or your image may become stretched like one that we saw in the first competition last week!
Smaller images than 1600 x 1200 are acceptable but will not be re-sized by the competition software and will appear smaller on screen. Images in portrait format must be no taller than 1200 pixels.
Sharpening - I always sharpen an image before projection or printing using the High Pass method see Nov 2013 Notes (and see also the subsequent update below the notes). Prints benefit from a greater amount of sharpening than PDI but I have found that PDI images at 1600x1200 pixels can benefit from a slightly more sharpening than the previous 1400x1050 pixels. For example try High Pass at 1.5 pixels and Overlay blending rather than Soft Light blending.
Banding – the new projector reveals more shadow detail than the old one and this has already caught me out. An almost-black sky which I lightened slightly, split into visible bands of dark grey which were revealed on the screen. Banding is usually caused by over-processing an image ie adjusting the same area of an image several times, or making an extreme adjustment. These problems can be minimised by making any major tonal adjustments in the Raw convertor (if it’s a Raw image) rather than in Photoshop where it’s destructive. If you use the full version of Photoshop (not Elements) or Lightroom, you could also consider working in 16 bit colour but this will dramatically increase your file size. I have not routinely taken this step, to date.
Before we won the projector, we were considering buying one and were investigating the issue of aspect ratios;
In the days of 35mm film, our images were 3:2 in aspect ratio (36mmx24mm). Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras followed suit as did their smaller offspring APS-C etc.
When computers came along, the screens were a squarer 4:3 (eg VGA). Digital compact cameras subsequently followed this lead which was also adopted by the more recent Micro Four-Thirds format. There was a film precedent for this in the form of medium format (645).
Then we started watching Hollywood films on our computers and TV screens and everything went widescreen with the 16:9 HD format. Meanwhile metric papers (A4, A3) are 14:10. No wonder nothing fits together!
Our last projector was 4:3 (1400x1050 pixels) but we wanted something of higher resolution. The only high resolution projectors now available are all widescreen 16:9 (1920x1080) or 16:10 (1920x1200). Given that the former is only 30 pixels taller than before, the latter was the obvious choice. Luckily that is also what we won – a Canon WUX 450.
To maintain the existing 4:3 aspect ratio for competition purposes we will be using the full 1200 px height of the projector but only the middle 1600 px of the available 1920.
1400 x 1050px has been a near-universal size for several years in national and international PDI competitions. Whilst 1600 x 1200 px is not yet widespread, there are signs that it is growing in popularity. This is likely to continue unless the makers of projectors change the game again. One other possible disruptive technology is the viewing of digital images on high quality large-screen TVs. I understand that the RPS has taken delivery of just such a system.
It is important for us to be able to run the laptop screen at the same time as the projector (especially when doing Photoshop tuition!). In order to do this the laptop needs to have at least as high a resolution as the projector and a decent graphics card. That gave us another problem as there are no longer any 1920x1200 laptops on the market! Consequently we have had to buy an insanely high resolution (3840x2160) laptop for use with the new projector.
I was asked by members to talk about the thought process during the development of an image for competition purposes. I chose an image, Brooklyn Pier One, which had gone through a difficult birth. It’s not really possible to describe that process in these notes but I did pull out some general pointers;
(Attachments will only be visible if you are logged-in)
- The concept for the image will change as you develop it and see it’s strengths and weaknesses
- If you show, and talk about, interim versions of the image to others (for example at Café Africa on a Weds Morning) the direction of the image will probably change again.
- Having taken two exposure-bracketed images of the scene, the early decision to combine them in HDR software (Photomatix) may not have contributed to good quality in the final image. Working directly from the original Raws would have given much more control over the quality of the final composite.
- Sharpening should always be the last step (except for adding any 1px border) and should be done appropriately for the output medium. So why did I do it half-way along?
- Repeatedly lightening and darkening and adjusting and saturating and desaturating (etc) the same bit of image wrecks it!
- Given the good shadow detail of the new projector, don’t try to lighten an almost black area (eg a night sky). It will split into hard-edged bands of tone that are visible on screen.
- If you have hard-edged bands of tone in your image (!) you can fudge a surprisingly acceptable result by blurring the area and then adding back some noise to match the rest of the image.
- Be prepared the abandon the image that has evolved messily and start again with a now-clear objective (do as I say not as I do).
Meeting Notes March 2009 to 2018.
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