June 2017 - Digital Group - LEDs, Epson, Olympus, File Place

Meeting Notes March 2009 to 2018.
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June 2017 - Digital Group - LEDs, Epson, Olympus, File Place

Post by spb » Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:11 pm

Google purchased NIK software in 2012 in order to acquire Snapseed. In 2016 they decided to make the NIK plug-in filters available for free download as the Google Nik Collection. From this point on, the writing was on the wall and Google have just announced that there will be no further support for the NIK Collection. For the time-being they will continue to be available and they mostly still work OK. The black and white conversion filter Silver Efex Pro is extremely popular. Maybe it can be rescued by someone.

Meanwhile the similar, but more extensive set of plug-ins from Topaz Labs continues to be available and I would highly recommend it, though not at the unreasonably high full price. Wait for the periodic offers of 40% or 50% discounts.

Have you noticed how good domestic LED lights have become recently? Economic, bright, long-lived, instant-on, robust etc. This got me wondering how good they are for photographic lighting. Apparently a Colour Rendering Index (CRI) gives some idea of the quality of the light output although it is only likely to be quoted for dedicated photographic lights.

Daylight and Tungsten lighting give a full spectrum and would be CRI 100%. The fact that the colour temperature of tungsten lamps is very warm is not significant because it can be corrected. Fluorescent lights would score very low because they only emit light in narrow bands. A CRI of above 90% is the target for LED lighting and many photographic lamps achieve this. The result of a low CRI from a domestic lamp could be poor (desaturated) rendition of certain colours. Worth a try though, especially where colour accuracy is not important.

Last time, I mentioned that I had performed a firmware update to cure endless head cleaning cycles. This despite opinions that it might block my Permajet Eco-Flow continuous inking system. Well – guess what? I came to reset an ‘empty’ cartridge this week and the printer refused to recognise it. I have not cured this despite trying a long list of supposed fixes and opinion on the ‘net is that once firmware has been updated and third party inks are blocked, this cannot be overcome. I have always admired inkjet engineering. Another excellent example of it then. Back to expensive Epson ink.

I have tried selling equipment through Ffordes Photographic recently instead of eBay. The experience has been largely positive. Although they priced the kit slightly higher than the going rate on eBay, they charged higher commission of 20% (vs approx. 15% for eBay + PayPal costs). It has taken a couple of months for all four items to sell but there was zero hassle. They charged £15 to collect the kit and £15 to clean the camera sensor – which I had already done.

We also heard a couple of very good reports of MPB who buy-in your equipment and pay a good price immediately without any deductions for posting etc.

I reported that I was having trouble getting to grips with the configuration of my highly customisable M10 and that my nose was deciding the focus point on the touchscreen. In anticipation of an overseas trip I spend a lot of time studying these problems and have now successfully tamed the camera. Olympus Owners are invited to get in touch to share experiences and configurations.

In short, the problem of customisation centred around the definable system of presets called ‘Mysets’ in Olympus-speak. Nothing new there, except that I came to understand that these can be invoked in three different ways via menu, mode dial or button and each method has a different behaviour with respect to modifications on-the-fly and cancellation. This complexity could be off-putting to potential purchasers but I would say that once the camera is set-up it can be re-set to different shooting situations extremely quickly. I set up five scenarios;
- Default RAW settings
- JPG snaps
- Night tripod use
- HDR settings
- Back-button focussing

Although the camera functions are described in a 170 page manual, this concentrates on what they do, not how to use them and the internet has been an invaluable source of tips on the latter. I only fully solved the ‘nose-focussing’ problem by turning off the touchscreen but I see that new firmware for the M1 and M5 models specifically addresses this problem.

We continued last month’s examination of best-practice with Photoshop editing using non-destructive techniques. Users of Lightroom may be tempted to feel smug that their workflow is inherently non-destructive. However Lightroom is not an image editor and the more extensive alterations that Photoshop can make are more difficult to handle in a non-destructive way to make later changes easier without starting all over again.

Non-destructive use of Image Layers, Adjustments Layers, Layer Masks, Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, Blur, Sharpen and Smudge tools are described in the Notes of April 2011 Meeting.

Non-destructive use of Dodging and Burning, High Pass Sharpening, Layer Styles and Cropping (CC) are in the Notes of the May 2011 Meeting.

RAW files are inherently protected in that it is not possible to edit and re-save them. If you want to save edits to a RAW file you have to re-save it in another format such as .PSD or .JPG. Of course you can delete it, but you always have a backup don’t you?

Many people (me included) have completed missed the significance of the File>Place command in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. One of the most common questions that I get asked is how to incorporate two images into one image file eg to replace a sky. The copy and paste or drag and drop options each involve a non-obvious step, so it’s handy to have a third way. Having already opened the first image, a second image can be opened straight into a new layer in the first image with File>Place.

Interestingly, this creates a Smart Object (a layer which can be re-sized or rotated without loss of quality) but Photoshop Elements doesn’t normally support Smart Objects. It can be converted into a normal editable layer with Layer>Simplify Layer.

Here's another handy use for File Place; convert and open a RAW file and then use the Place command to import another copy of the same RAW file but processed differently (eg for shadows instead of highlights). A layer mask would then enable the best bits of both layers to be used.

Cheers, Steve Brabner

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