Welcome to the first digital group of the 2011-12 season.
The beginners’ lessons in Photoshop Elements / Photoshop will be as follows;
Sept/Oct (this meeting) - Opening, Viewing, Saving and Organising Images
Nov – Image Resolution and Quality
Dec – Printing
Jan – Tone and Colour Correction
Feb – The Toolbox
Mar – Selections
Apr – Layers
May – Filters and Sharpening
Hardware and software requirements are relatively simple;
- a medium or higher spec PC desktop or laptop. A Mac is equally acceptable but support can be an issue. 95% of APS members use a PC
- a good quality screen. Laptop users will also benefit from a better external screen
- a recent version of Photoshop Elements; not necessarily the latest unless taking Raw images with a new camera. Recent versions of Photoshop CS are equally acceptable but are certainly not necessary.
- a printer, if required. This should have five inks or more for photo printing.
Faststone is a highly recommended free image browser which out-performs many commercial programs (PC only). If you have Photoshop CS, Adobe Bridge is included in the package which is an excellent browser.
Photoshop Elements 10 has been announced and will retail for £70 - £80 (a small reduction for upgrades). Unfortunately this contains no new features of interest to the photographer. It may be a good time to pick up a cheap copy of Elements 8 or 9! Elements 10 will only be an essential purchase if you plan to take Raw photos with a new camera in which case the cynical policy of only supporting the current release of Photoshop/Elements with new versions of Adobe Camera Raw will hit you.
A new sensor format, Nikon 1, has been announced for mirrorless system cameras. This sits between compacts and micro-four thirds mini SLRs and is aimed at the Facebook generation, rather than keen photographers. See this interesting article on the corporate thinking behind this new down-market format for Nikon.
A new JPG algorithm, JPEG Mini, would not normally attract my attention but another interesting article reveals some hidden issues with the Photoshop JPG quality slider. It seems that 6 is better than 7 and 10 is as good as 11 and 12 which are merely bigger, not better.
Richard Franiec makes a range of beautifully machined grips to improve the handling of small cameras. Several members have found that they radically improve camera handling and their cost, shipped direct from the USA, is very reasonable.
Combining images, music and sounds can produce powerful presentations that require much less resource than video. Many programs can produce slideshows with music eg Powerpoint or the Photoshop Elements Organiser but the full set of features for sophisticated audio-visuals only exist in a few programs. The two most popular are;
PicturesToExe from WnSoft ($75) which invented the genre and is very popular. APS members can email me for a free club licence.
ProShow Gold from Photodex ($69) which I much prefer, and I demonstrated.
Within ProShow Gold are features to add music, sound effects, image transitions (such as fades, wipes and page turns etc) pans, zooms, video clips and effects such as the movement of image layers across the screen. Music can be burned from CDs within the program and the finished show can be output in a wide variety of formats such as DVD, YouTube, EXE and video.
For those who get ‘hooked’ on the format (and many do), there is a big brother to ProShow Gold called ProShow Producer which adds some more sophisticated features such as keyframes, masks and control over transparency.
Although very capable audio features are included within Proshow Gold, a dedicated audio editor is required for more complex or delicate audio work. The free open-source program Audacity is widely used and recommended. I have used it in the past to mix multiple sound effects and to shorten music tracks by extracting whole choruses whilst maintaining the beat.
Feel free to ask me any questions that you may have on digital photography, either at the regular Monday meetings or by email.
Meeting Notes March 2009 to 2018.
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