After a beginners tutorial on Selections, we discussed the assembly of images from component parts. This was prompted by the excellent talk by Barbie and Rusty Lindsay who use this technique quite often. Both of their websites are well worth a visit for more than just the photography but Rusty, in particular talks about his approach of having an idea first and then photographing the component parts to execute it.
Yin Wong described an alternative approach which is to photograph a good subject and then search for a suitable background image for it. A third approach which I often use is to take several shots of a promising subject and then assemble the ‘best bits’ of several of them. The components must have matching lighting conditions to look realistic ie similar illumination source and shadows
Such assembled images rely upon the use of accurate selections to isolate image components and combine them. Yin described his use of a layer mask to achieve this, the benefit being that the position of the selection edge can be adjusted at any time. Note that users of Elements 8 and earlier need to use a work-around to achieve this (see February 2011 notes) or download a free layer mask plug-in. If beginners are not comfortable with the use of layers yet, a simple selection followed by cut and paste (or drag and drop) from one image to the other will be much easier to understand.
As well as the positioning, the feathering (softness) of the selection edge is critical for a realistic result. The exact figure will vary from one image to another but somewhere around 2 pixels is a good starting point for images of 10 Mpx or thereabouts.
On the subject of making selections, the traditional tools of Magic Wand, Lasso, Selection Brush etc are now challenged by the Quick Selection Tool which unlike most previous automated tools actually works! If the initial automated selection is not perfect, it can be manually extended or reduced (Alt key) by brushing with the same tool. Remember that accurate selections are rarely created all at once and usually need to be built up in incremental steps, perhaps using several different tools to adjust the position of the edge. If you have spent a lot of time on creating a selection, don't forget that you can save it using Select>Save Selection in your .PSD file for later re-use.
Epson have announced a new A3+ pigment ink printer – The Epson Stylus Photo R3000. This has a couple of notable improvements – the ink tanks are increased to 25ml from 11ml and moved to a fixed position in the printer with pipes connecting them to the head. The minimum droplet size is also down to 2 picolitres from 3pl. The printer will also feature wifi connectivity but there’s no change to the underlying resolution of 5760 x 1440 pixels per inch.
Unfortunately anyone expecting to save money with this printer will be disappointed. The RRP will be £700 (vs £450 for the current R2880) and the per-print ink costs will be similar. It will undoubtedly produce stunning prints – but so did the R2880 and R2400 before.
Here’s something off the wall – Check out the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic. This is like an inkjet printer which can fabricate solid objects! Some are claiming that it will be a game-changing technology of the future.
In the past I have recommended XnView as a free general purpose image viewer. However I have been having problems with this crashing repeatedly in both XP and Win7. If you have the same experience, FastStone is a great alternative – and equally free.
Cheers, Steve Brabner
Meeting Notes March 2009 to 2018.
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