November 2013 - Digital Group - PDIs, Sharpening, Misc.

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November 2013 - Digital Group - PDIs, Sharpening, Misc.

Post by spb » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:28 am

Little news this month except the launch of the retro-styled Nikon Df. Camera makers need to find new markets in the light of the huge loss of revenue to smartphones. Clearly this is aimed at the top end of the market, being priced at over £2,500.

Did you purchase the Nik Collection when Google acquired Nik Software and slashed the price of their plug-in filters? I did. If so, you may have found, like me, that the Nik Collection has recently disappeared from the computer and Elements has refused to open, citing 'MSVCP110.dll missing'. This has been caused by an unrequested and invisible Nik update from Google (very naughty). The solution is to re-download the Nik Collection from Google. A new version should install normally and the previous registration will be maintained.

Having produced a finished image at full resolution, here is a suggested process for producing a PDI-ready version;

a) resize a copy of the image to fit within 1400 pixels width and 1050 height. So - a portrait-oriented image will only be 1050 px high and square image will be 1050 by 1050. Many people get this wrong!
In Elements use Image>Resize>Image Size and tick the Re-sample Image box.
In Lightroom use File>Export. For Image Sizing use Width and Height, not Dimensions.

b) zoom-in to 100% (or more) magnification and check that every pixel is as it should be. This will reveal small faults that are often invisible at lesser magnification.

c) sharpen appropriately (see below). Do not sharpen before re-sizing as the amount of sharpening required varies depending upon the output medium and resolution.

d) check that the colour space of the image is sRGB ie Image>Convert Color Profile should have 'Convert to sRGB' greyed out. If not, convert the image to sRGB here and consider changing your camera and Elements to sRGB (Edit>Color Settings>Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens').

e) if required, create a narrow border of one or two pixels width;
Select>All then Edit>Stroke Selection, choosing Inside and the required width and colour. If you have layers, it may be necessary or advisable to create a new blank image layer at the top to receive this border. This also has the benefit of making the border reversible.

f) save as a JPG with maximum quality and a filename of IMAGE TITLE by Your Name.jpg The upper case 'IMAGE TITLE', lower case ' by ' and mixed case 'Your Name' are important for the competition software. There must be a single space between each word and it is advisable to avoid punctuation.

g) email to

Fashions in sharpening come and go, but my current default method is described below. However, it does require a little knowledge of layers. If this is too advanced for you, Enhance>Adjust Sharpness is OK.

a) create an additional new top layer which contains the finished image. If you only have a single layer this is simply a copy of it (Layer>Duplicate Layer). If you have two or more layers, it's convenient to create an additional Stamp Visible layer which is a composite of all of the visible existing layers. To do this select the top-most layer and press Alt+Merge Visible.

b) with this new layer selected, change it's Blending Mode from Normal to Overlay

c) choose Filter>Other>High Pass. The value of the Radius will directly determine the amount of sharpness applied. For PDI images a low value around 2 may be appropriate. For prints a higher value around 5 may be appropriate but your preferences and equipment will be different.

d) if required, the amount of sharpness can be increased by changing the Blending Mode from Overlay to Hard Light or decreased by choosing Soft Light. The sharpening can also be reduced by reducing the opacity of the High Pass layer.

It is usually appropriate to avoid sharpening image noise, or areas of the image that should be soft eg clouds. This can be achieved by erasing parts of the High Pass layer or better still, using a layer mask.


I am finding that I can achieve pretty consistent results for a wide range of images with the following settings;

PDI images (when already downsized to 1600 x 1200 px);
High Pass at 2 pixels and blended with Soft Light

Full Resolution images for printing slightly less than A3;
High Pass at 4 pixels and blended with Overlay or Hard Light

These settings work for me if the original image had a small amount of pre-sharpening in the camera (JPG) or in Adobe Camera Raw. If the effect looks too strong on a particular image when viewed at 100%, reduce the opacity of the High Pass layer to suit.

Browsers usually offer to sort images, and other files, by Modified Date but it's sometimes useful to sort them by Capture Date and Time. This information is encoded inside each image file by the camera, but the browser needs to be able to extract, and use it.

Needless to say, Microsoft Explorer is useless at this (like most things) and unfortunately my preferred image browser Faststone can't do it either.

However there are plenty of programs that can do it;

Adobe Lightroom can sort by 'Capture Time'
Adobe Bridge can sort by 'Date Created'
Elements Organizer can sort by 'Date View'
and the excellent free image browser XnView can sort by 'EXIF Date'

Some programs such as Lightroom can also alter the capture date and time eg to retrospectively correct a camera clock setting.


Every week brings a hoax virus scare but this week Cryptolocker seems to be a genuine threat to all of the personal files on our computer.

Time for another reminder to establish a regular backup routine. An external hard disk is likely to be part of this, due to the cost and size limitations of the alternatives. I recently purchased a Western Digital Elements 2TB USB3.0 Portable HDD and can highly recommend it. Extremely small, powered through the USB connection, reasonably fast, silent and without any bloatware, this is a bargain at around £85.

FYI I use SyncBack Free to synchronise a small number of folders containing all of my data and Windows 7 Backup and Restore to create a C: disk image. It is not good practice to keep the external HDD plugged-in and powered up at all times as it will be vulnerable to viruses. Ideally it should be unplugged and removed from site in case of theft, fire or flood.

Now and again prints can suffer from ink blots and marks. This is caused by surplus ink somewhere in the paper path within the printer. The visible part of the path can be blotted with kitchen paper but the head itself is a little more difficult. It's necessary to unlock the head so that it can be slid away from it's docking station. The process to do this varies from printer to printer. On an Epson Photo R2400 press the Ink Change button and then unplug the printer. On an R3000, turn it on and as soon as the head moves to the left, unplug the printer.

Once the head has been slid to the left, the docking station pads can be blotted. The underside of the head can be wiped by a thin roll of kitchen paper laid along the track. When an automatic Head Clean is performed by the printer, this is achieved by means of a vacuum behind the docking station pads. Consequently these need to be free of dried ink so it's beneficial to dampen them with a Q Tip dipped in warm water and then blotted. Do this several times.

The R3000 also has a tiny rubber blade beside the docking station which can be swivelled out, cleaned and pushed back into place.

The paper feed roller can get covered in paper fibres and a wipe with a slightly damp cloth when it is rotating will restore grip to the paper feed. Don't let the cloth be drawn into the printer! It is located at the bottom of the paper feed hopper on the right hand edge.

Ryan Brenizer, a New York Wedding photographer has invented a method of taking wide angle shots with extremely shallow depth of field.

In principle, this involves using a short telephoto lens (eg 85mm equiv.) and taking a panorama of many tens of shots which are stitched together by photo stitching software such as in Elements at File>New>Photomerge Panorama.

The lens must be set to maximum aperture (for minimum depth of field) and the camera set to fixed focus, exposure and white balance. For ease of processing, small JPGs are adequate as an extremely high resolution image is produced after stitching.

There is a tutorial here.

Cheers, Steve
Last edited by spb on Thu May 09, 2019 8:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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