Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Photoshop CS5

I'm upgrading Photoshop from CS4 to CS5 - received the software today. I've used Photoshop (not so expertly by any means) for a long time now. I think I got in on Version 4. My first thoughts today were about how much the packaging has changed. Not so long ago, Photoshop came in a much larger box with a large printed manual and many loose sheets of paper with special offers. This upgrade package was very light and consisted of a paper box containing one DVD. I expected to find, but did not find, a “Start Here” piece of paper. Finally, I just stuck the DVD in the reader and let it run; about 20 minutes later it was installed. Oh, don't throw away the small box that has the serial number on it!

For now, I'll be using the 32 bit version of CS5 in hopes that most of my plug-ins can be plugged in.

Strangely, the installation procedure did not automatically create a desktop shortcut but that was easily done from the Windows 7 Start Menu. On opening, the CS5 workspace looked about as expected. Clicking around a bit, there is a workspace named “Photography” so I selected that one.

Opening an old RAW file, Adobe Camera Raw seemed to work and to remember the previous settings for that file.

So far, so good. Now to change the defaults to my own preferences and begin installing those plug-ins.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Blurb Book

No, not mine this time. I've made several print-on-demand books using the Blurb service and blogged about it here. About this time the past two years, I've been busily finishing my entry to Blurb's annual photo book contest but decided to stay away this year (not that it would matter). Instead, I'm working on a book for the Louisiana Photographic Society.

I've been a member of the Louisiana Photographic Society for several years now. Our club is very active and it seemed a good idea to make a brag book. Blurb offers many book sizes and formats. The best size book for this project seems to be the 8x10 inch landscape format. An 80 page book would cost about $30 in soft cover or $45 in hard cover. This price includes a quantity discount and shipping based on an initial order of at least ten copies. That price does not include any profit for LPS. After the initial order, the book can be made public and additional copies ordered directly from Blurb.

In our 80 page book, 6 pages will be used for title, introduction, LPS history and LPS group scenes. This leaves 74 pages for LPS member photographs. Each participating LPS member will be allowed at least 2 pictures so up to 37 LPS members can participate. The acceptance criteria is simply “First offered, first accepted.” We have about 100 members and I'd consider a 37% participation rate to be very good.

Although the Blurb quality is pretty good, there are sometimes complaints about black and white photos so our book will have only color photos. Even though the format is called “8x10”, the landscape photos are really 7.6x5.3 inches (actually 2271 x 1588 pixels); portraits are 5x6 inches (actually 1500 x 1796 pixels). The book design is very simple: Each photo will have only a caption and photographers name.

In addition to the picture size and resolution, all photos must be in the sRGB color profile in order to have some hope of reasonable color management. I've asked that files be submitted without final print sharpening so that I can add print sharpening consistently.

This is meant to be a fun project and not a fund raiser although everyone participating must purchase a copy of the book. We'll make the book public but don't expect to sell many (any?). As the project progresses, I'll post updates and links for a preview.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Visual Science Lab

There are a few photography sites that I check every day.  One of these is Kirk Tuck's Visual Science Lab;  I check regularly because his site is updated regularly.  Check it out.  (Notice that I managed to use "check" in every sentence!)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fireworks and Flash

It almost worked. I had imagined an outdoor self portrait with a huge burst of fireworks above my head and decided to try for it. I could do this in my back yard because several neighbors go all out with their own fireworks display every July 4th and New Year's eve. Last year, I got a nice fireworks picture by adding a little flash. This year I would use my 7D and two flashes off-camera. A 580EX II with Lumiquest Softbox III would be the main light. A Yongnuo YN460-II with Lumiquest snoot would be opposite the 580EX to provide separation from the background. The 580 EX II would be triggered by the on-camera flash of the 7D. The Yongnuo would be used in optical slave mode. Both the main and background flashes would be placed very close to me. The 7D would be triggered by a Yongnuo remote trigger, the RF-602. I'd stand over my mark and watch the sky behind me for a burst of brilliance. I'd then quickly turn around, smile and press the remote trigger. But what camera settings to use?

Checking DOFMaster, after a few trials, I decided to set the 7D for manual focus at the hyperfocal distance of the Canon 15-85mm zoom at 35mm focal length. With an aperture of f11, the hyperfocal distance at 35mm is 18.8 so everything from 9.4 feet to infinity should be in focus. I guessed that the 580EX II would have enough power at f11 even shooting through the Lumiquest softbox because it was close to me (it did). I set the flash ratio at 4:1 and let the Canon ETTL system control the flash. The Yongnuo 460-II was set at it lowest flash power setting.

The 7D would be shooting at f11 for depth of field. I choose manual exposure and dialed in a shutter speed of 1 second. The combination of flash at ~ 1/1000 second and shutter at 1 second might seem odd but the flash exposure was for me and the longer exposure was to catch the fireworks.

After setting up the equipment, to my aggravation, the 7D did not trigger the 580EX II. Finally I realized that with the 7D in portrait position the on-camera flash was on the left hand side and the zoom lens was blocking the triggering flash from the view of the 580EX II which was on the right hand side. I then moved the 580EX II from the camera right hand side of the scene to the left hand side and also moved the background/hair light from the left to the right. Suddenly everything worked as planned.

Unfortunately I missed most of the fireworks activity because of having to set up the gear twice. The introductory picture was the only one captured with any significant amount of fireworks in the sky. Wait 'til next year!