Amersham Beyond Group - 6th Feb 2020

Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:04 pm

Amersham Beyond Group - 6th Feb 2020

Post by spb » Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:14 pm



It is gratifying to see more than 100 photo paintings submitted over the last couple of months. It is certainly a quick and easy way to produce a difference image. Members might also try a more subtle use of the technique eg on a part only, such as the sky, which would also be more likely to pass muster with judges in club competitions who mostly favour a photograph over a highly manipulated image.

Several members admitted to me that their ‘creative silhouettes’ were actually old back-lit exposures straight off the hard disk. In the spirit of creative exploration, more members could experiment with graphical silhouettes in the coming weeks by using techniques such as the Photoshop Threshold function. Furthermore, silhouettes don’t have to be black and white. They can be of other colours and blended with other photographs. Have a play. Go ever-so-slightly wild!

And then next Challenge is;
#11 TEXT
- an image containing text ie letters or characters
- the text will have been created by the author and should be a meaningful feature of the image
- the text could be hand-written script (pen and paper, drawn in the sand etc), mechanical or electronic type
- images that you have previously captured can be incorporated but not any featuring existing text
- any subject, any design – feel free to do whatever you like.

Be warned I will reject;
- pre-existing text such as signs, graffiti, shopfronts, posters, labels, printed material etc.
- your old home-made Christmas cards!
My hope is that you will create something new.

There is no requirement to use it for this Challenge but all versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements do have a versatile type tool. Elements may not have all of the professional features that a typographer would demand but is perfectly suitable for our needs.

T on the keyboard brings up the Type tool. Pressing T again cycles around the different variations of the tool. The default is usually Horizontal Type. This works as you might expect, to create normal linear type on a new layer. A few notes are;
- firstly dragging out a text box creates an area within which text wraps around and can be justified left, right or centre.
- the size of the text (in points) might seem arbitrary from file to file but in fact it is linked to the notional physical size of the image shown in Image>Resize>Image Size. So, 12pt type on an image 5cm wide will appear larger than 12pt type on an image 100cm wide. Note that the notional physical size is otherwise pretty irrelevant until you actually print it.
- In order to edit the text, change it’s colour, italicise it etc you need to select it first. To do this double-click in the text or double click on the text thumbnail in the layers palette.

A large number of fonts come with Photoshop and are joined by others that have arrived with other applications. You can quickly preview what your text will look like by selecting it and running the mouse over the drop-down list of fonts in the tool options bar.

In Windows 10 you can also see a few phrases of text in each installed font via Windows Settings>Personalisation>Fonts.

A huge range of other fonts can be downloaded from the internet from sites such as Google Fonts, 1001 Fonts, Font Squirrel. Many are free and installing (in Windows) is simply a matter of downloading it, right-clicking the downloaded file and selecting Install. You may need to re-start Photoshop before the font is found. It would be prudent to scan the downloaded file with a virus checker before installing it, particularly if from an obscure site.

Apparently, a subscription for the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan includes 10 free TypeKit fonts.

- Once selected, the text can also be warped into bizarre shapes or made into a vertical column with the relevant buttons in the tool options bar.
- By default the text is a vector graphic which means that it remains of high quality whatever it’s size or shape. If you want to treat it like any other image, simply made of pixels, go to Layer>Simplify Layer (or Layer>Rasterize>Type in Photoshop CC). This would enable the text to be filtered or manipulated like any other image in Photoshop. Of course, the text can then no longer be edited.
- Text can also be made to follow a shape (eg a mountainous skyline) with the Text on Custom Path tool.

For ultimate creativity it might be useful to create a selection (marching ants) of the letters rather than normal filled letters themselves. This would, for example, enable the letters to be cut-out/masked from a layer (thus showing the layer below) or enable the letters themselves to be made from an image layer.

To do this, select one of the Type Mask tools and the end result will be marching ants in the shape of the letters.


Windows 10 Free Upgrade. Despite not advertising it, Microsoft are still offering a free upgrade to Windows 10 to legitimate owners of earlier versions.

Windows 7 is no longer supported and is now vulnerable to attack. It should either remain offline or be upgraded. From what I have read, there is a 90% chance that an upgrade on an adequately specified PC will be trouble-free, 5% impossible and 5%, possible but problematic. Are you feeling lucky?

Image Sort Order for Presentations. It’s been an annoyance since the beginning of computer time (the 1980’s) but different programs sort filenames in different ways. For example 10 tree.jpg may be sorted before or after 9 tree.jpg. Some programs look at the entire number and some sort letter by letter. This becomes particularly important when putting together a presentation that you want displayed in a given order but you be sure of the application that will present it.

I have tended to add one alpha and one numeric character (eg a4 tree.jpg) to the front of image names to ensure that the sort order will always be consistent but allow some room for re-arranging things. I generally use Faststone for sorting and presenting images and this is quite well-behaved. It will always sort 9 before 10.

Faststone has a nifty feature whereby if you display the thumbnails of a set of images you can drag and drop them into the required order. It will then remember the order for this folder as a Custom Sort Order. You can still switch between any other sort orders and back to Customer again. To forget the Custom Sort Order permanently click on the Delete Custom Sort icon alongside the Sort Order drop-down box. In order to guarantee this new sort order in other applications you can then rename the images; Select them all then Right Click>Tools>Batch Rename. In the template for the new file name put ‘### *’ This will create a three digit number with leading zeros followed by the original file name. The leading zeros should ensure that all programs sort by filename in the same way.

In this latest Beyond Group meeting I simply trusted to Faststone’s Custom Sort Order and it performed perfectly. However I wouldn't expect the custom sort order to still exist in say, a year's time as the cache is likely to be lost or overwritten over time.

Cloud Storage. I know I am slow to the party but working across three computers and two iPhones, a greater adoption of Cloud Storage has made life a lot easier to see and utilise the same folders of files on all devices. I have used iCloud for sharing contacts and diaries for years, but it only has 5GB of free storage which wouldn’t go far with images. Dropbox only has 2GB free for three clients and then gets expensive very quickly. However I recently realised that I had I had 1TB of OneDrive storage included with my MS Office subscription so I have been using that much more widely. The clients are a bit quirky but worth persevering with. I also have 20GB of cloud storage with the Adobe CC Photography subscription but haven’t needed to use that yet.

I guess I was initially put off by perceived complexity but actually using Dropbox (when it was cheap) made me realise that in essence the concept is simplicity itself – a folder in the network. That’s it. As a bonus it’s backed-up for you.

Cheers, Steve

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