DxO Labs is applying for bankruptcy in France but their software business is reported to be sound and they still plan June maintenance releases of their respected DxO Photo Lab raw editor and the popular NIK filters which they acquired from Google last year. Both will be free (which seems to be a flawed method for avoiding bankruptcy). A full update to the NIK filters will follow and will not be free.
NORTHERN LIGHTS BEGINNER
An acquaintance asked me for advice on taking pictures of the Northern Lights from a Hurtigruten ship. She had no camera and no previous experience of photography. I advised her that I had found this to be the most difficult photographic challenge possible from the point of view of camera operation. The movement of the ship adds further difficulty to what is already a challenging endeavour in the cold and the dark. Nevertheless she was determined. Researching compact cameras we found that models at the less expensive end of the market do not allow high ISO with exposures of more than one second and/or manual focus. We finally hit on the Sony HX90 which is an economy version of the popular RX100 series and does allow full manual control (albeit with no RAW files).
To her credit she put in the work to learn the camera and did come back with some acceptable Northern Lights shots that she was overjoyed with. Of course a big, serious camera with all the features would steal the show (especially in terms of image noise) but that’s another order of cost.
My two Epson R3000 printers have been discussed here numerous times. Here’s another chapter in this long-running saga; Despite there being no sensors that detect blocked nozzles or reduced print quality, the firmware can somehow respond to potential trouble. I suspect that it detects repeated non-standard cartridge changes in a short period of time. Whatever the reason, the firmware can trigger repeated head cleans – one before each print – for as many as 20 prints or more in succession. This behaviour cannot be stopped.
A couple of months ago, after messing the printers around by swapping the Permajet CIS and Marrutt re-fillable cartridges, both printers went into this sulky mode and were apparently wasting large quantities of ink. I say ‘apparently’ because it’s possible that the wirring and buzzing is actually ink agitation rather than head cleaning. In any case it was pointless as both printers were otherwise printing faultlessly. I was curious to know, so I purchased and fitted two Printer Potty kits which connect to the internal pipework and divert waste ink to an external box. I could now see how much ink was being wasted – if any at all.
Thankfully (but frustratingly) after a couple more cleans, the strange behaviour ceased and has not been repeated for 20 or more prints. So I’m none the wiser but ready for the next time it starts up.
My Photoshop/Elements tutorials can be found to download from the Digital Group page of the APS main website, Having presented the Layers tutorial I made the point that the only way to lock-in this knowledge is to use it ASAP on a photographic project. With this in mind, here is some Layers Homework for anyone wanting to practice layers skills.
Open an image (Image 1) in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
Duplicate the Background Layer.
Alter this new layer significantly eg with the Clone Stamp or other tool or filter of your choice
Apply an overall adjustment to the image with an Adjustment Layer
Create a new empty top layer, select it and create a border in a suitable colour with the Stroke command
You should now have four layers. Give them all a meaningful name (except Background).
PART B (Optional)
Open another image (Image 2) in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
Transfer this image across into Image 1 as a new layer
Select a significant part of that new layer
Use a Layer Mask to hide the rest of that layer
Move and/or resize this new image part appropriately
You should now have five layers. Ensure that they all have a meaningful name.
APS members are welcome to contact me by email to find out when I will be in a position to receive and review the finished .PSD as an attachment. Resize the image to keep the file size under 10MB (eg 1000 pixels on the longest side or less) and save it as a .PSD file. Don’t worry – the content of the image is not important – only the technique.
NB Most of what you need to achieve this homework is in the updated Using Layers (April 2016) notes on the Digital Group page of the APS website.
STAMP VISIBLE LAYERS
By far the most useful hidden feature in Photoshop/Elements is Stamp Visible. I use it every time I Photoshop an image.
I often want a single composite layer containing all of the visible layers eg to apply a filter, sharpen or just to consolidate a complex image made of many components. To do this, hold the Alt key down and simultaneously choose Merge Visible. A new layer will be created containing a composite of all visible layers. This is called a Stamp Visible layer. The original layers remain in place. Normally, the Stamp Visible layer is created above the current layer but there are a few proviso’s;
a) if the current layer is not visible, Stamp Visible does not work
b) if the current layer is blank, the Stamp Visible layer will replace it
c) in some older versions of Photoshop the Stamp Visible layer will always overwrite the current layer in which case, create a new blank layer first
d) image layers usually grow upwards from the Background as my image develops so I usually create Stamp Visible layers at the top of the current stack, however this doesn’t have to be so
e) stamp visible layers increase file size but this is a price worth paying
f) it’s always good practice to name the Stamp Visible layer as such to avoid later confusion.
There is a ridiculously complex 4-key shortcut; Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E. Why this incredibly useful feature is not, and has never been, a Photoshop menu item is a mystery to me.
The above Stamp Visible layer is a fixed snapshot in time but in Photoshop CC, Stamp Visible can be made dynamic. Select the required layers and choose Layer>Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object. This creates a replacement composite layer but the original component layers are still contained within it. This Smart Object composite can be filtered, transformed or masked without losing the ability to dynamically edit the component layers from which it was created. You can’t edit the Smart Object directly but you can double-click it, edit the component layer(s) and re-save the smart object. This is a bit mind-blowing initially but can by very powerful once mastered.
Meeting Notes March 2009 to 2018.
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