Amersham Beyond Group - 6th Apr 2023

Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
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Amersham Beyond Group - 6th Apr 2023

Post by spb » Sat Apr 08, 2023 11:20 am

All our Challenge images can be seen at Amersham Beyond Group on Flickr.

For APS Members only, the images are also available for viewing and commenting on Facebook here.

The current Challenges are;


… and the latest Challenge,


This Challenge proved to be ‘challenging’ for some of those who were brave enough to give it a go. Tutorials online (also search for Pop Out Effect) were helpful but often chose a complex solution involving clipping masks/layers which are more sophisticated but harder to grasp if never encountered before. They are not necessary - in simpler images just two layers are required; on the top layer, the subject, selected and cut from the original image and on the bottom layer, a smaller rectangle cut from the centre of the image and surrounded by a border. The subject will then extend beyond the lower layer and over the top of the border thus giving the pop out effect.

I found that the hardest part was finding an interesting image that lent itself to the effect.

Myra reminded us that there is an Out of Bounds Guided Edit available in Photoshop Elements.

The next Challenge is;

An image in which film grain adds visible character and feel. The film grain may be a digital overlay, a grain filter, or from a genuine film image
In the days of film we bought high ISO films which, apart from light sensitivity, had the added benefit of large, visible grain. This grain would add an interesting feel to the image and break up hard edges and surfaces. The images were made from the grain itself.

Today, digital noise also arises from small sensors and high ISO but is less appealing because it is a fixed size (the pixel size), is regular, and may be in a pattern. Noise may also be brightly coloured whereas film grain is a variation of the local colour in the surrounding area. We tend to deprecate digital noise and try to minimise it.

There are many ways to add genuine or simulated film grain to a digital image as detailed below with their advantages and disadvantages;

In Photoshop CS 2023/Photoshop Elements 2021;

- Filter>Noise>Add Noise. This produces a dreadful mush all over the image – the Gold Standard of how it should NOT look. However it can be much improved by adding the noise to a 50% grey layer above the image layer and blending it with Overlay mode
- Filter>Filter Gallery*>Artistic>Film Grain. Produces more controllable mono grain but benefits from a grey layer as above
- Filter>Filter Gallery*>Texture>Grain. Coloured grain with many controls including sizes and (rather big) clumping. Benefits from a grey layer as above
- Filter>Blur Gallery>Noise>Grain. Gives good control with five sliders. NB Does not work if the blur slider is at zero so it may be better to add this grain on a grey layer as above which is not affected by blurring (Not Photoshop Elements)
- Camera Raw>Effects>Grain. Decent mono grain without a grey layer. Control over size and roughness (Not Photoshop Elements)
* Not available in Photoshop CS in 16 bit colour - but do you really need 16 bit colour?

Other good sources of film grain include;

- Topaz B&W Effects. Simulates 21 B&W films although the defaults are quite fine grained.
- Topaz Adjust AI / Topaz Studio. Decent colour or mono grain effects.
- Nik Silver FX. 39 B&W film grain simulations apparently (not used it myself).
- Many apps such as Snapseed or Mextures include grain of variable quality – often combined with grunge textures.
- Film Grain Overlays can be downloaded to be blended with an image. Some are genuine overlays from Kodak etc. A few are free.

Remember that the image will probably need to be downsized for projection. This is likely to affect the size and quality of the grain so it may be best to downsize before experimenting. We need the grain to be visible when projected. Another advantage of adding the grain to a blended grey layer is that it can be transformed larger or smaller to change the grain size.

There are many good tutorials on adding Film Grain including;
PIXimperfect – 3 Incredible Ways to Add High Quality Film Grain in Photoshop
dphog - Best Photoshop Film Grain Tutorial with no Plugins!


Stable Diffusion has been recommended as a quick source of AI images with no registration or payment. I made some attempts at recent Challenges and the results were always strange or amusing.


Weds 24th May in the Pottery Room.


Amazon Scam – The Consumers Association Which? Scam Alert notified me of an Amazon scam too late - I had already encountered it! I ordered a £220 item on Amazon and was sent a unique one-time password to give to the van driver. It was the first time I had experienced this and wasn’t sure that I would be at home, so I had it delivered to the local Waitrose. When I picked it up, the packaging was crumpled, and the labels were damaged and torn. At home, the package contained a cheaper item of a similar size. It was clear that my package had been intercepted and swapped.

I notified Amazon by Text Chat that the wrong item had been delivered. They sent the correct item the next day and UPS picked up the wrong one. Then it got strange. UPS tracking showed that the wrong item was accepted by Amazon three days later, but they never acknowledged receipt. A month later, despite a text chat and a voice call (during which they refused to discuss it further until a month had passed and they hung up on me) they charged me a further £220 for non-return of the item.

During a further text chat Amazon eventually and reluctantly agreed to refund my second payment ‘on this occasion’. Although unspoken, it was clear that they were investigating it as a fraud and I was not entirely absolved of blame. I have since read that this new delivery password has been the cause of a large number of deliveries in the USA being readily identified as valuable and stolen - the Law of Unintended Consequences.

It’s difficult to know how to counter this scam. You could open the package in the presence of the delivery driver but they won’t give you the parcel without the code and as soon as they have the code, delivery is automatically deemed to be complete. It’s hard to fight an algorithm. I took photographs of everything before sending it back and kept all paperwork. I will certainly refuse to accept any valuable item when the parcel appears to have been tampered-with.

Cheers, Steve

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