The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: Photoshop World

Topaz ReMask2 Video Tutorial

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Webcast, Workshops

Monday Morning Tip – 12/07/09

If you’ve ever tried to cut a person or pet out of a photo and found it to be an exercise in frustration, you need to watch today’s Video MMT. Topaz Labs has released ReMask2 and it is an order of magnitude improved over the first version. Here’s a quick example of what ReMask2 can do for you.

The initial pass took about 3 minutes and I spent another 3 minutes cleaning up the edges. It’s still not perfect but much, much better and faster than previous manual methods. Click here to read the rest of this MMT

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Monday Morning Tip – 11/09/09

by on Nov.08, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements, Webcast, Workshops

Photoshop Elements Webinar is Saturday, 11/14

On Saturday, 11/14 from 9AM to 1PM PST, Rob Sheppard, editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine, NANPA Fellow (North American Nature Photographers Association) and author of over 2 dozen books on all aspects of photography, will teach a 4-hour webinar on Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers. In just 4 hours, you’ll learn how to use Photoshop Elements (PSE) to get the most out of your digital images. Rob strongly believes that PSE and Lightroom are the best combination for digital photographers and he’ll show us how and why.

Students will be able to hear, watch and ask questions as Rob edits and enhances images on his PC desktop using PSE. All 4 hours will also be recorded so students can review the videos for free for 60 days.

Did I also mention there’s a pot full of “door” prizes? “Door” is in quotes because there really isn’t a door as such. Maybe I should call them URL prizes? Anyway, one of the hot prizes is a bundle of Topaz Labs plug-ins (Adjust, Clean, DeJPEG, Denoise, ReMask and Simplify). Today’s video MMT happens to be a quick overview of the first module I’ve tested, Adjust 3. See the video below.

Video Monday Morning Tip – Topaz Adjust 3

Topaz Labs plug-ins were demonstrated at Photoshop World last month and I can honestly say it’s some of the most amazing software I’ve seen in a long time. At the same time, to get the most out of the software, you have to read the manual and practice (There Ain’t No Free Lunch). Like almost any software, you can use the preloaded presets for good results or you can learn how to create your own effects and get some amazing results. It’s all up to you and how much effort you invest.

Video Monday Morning Tip, 11-09-09
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In the future, if there’s interest, I’ll cover the other modules in more detail. Also, if enough people request it, I’ll ask Topaz Labs to conduct a short free webinar using my webcast system. So, if this looks interesting and useful, leave a comment.

If you’re new here and want access to over 100 past MMTs, register using the form to the right. Most MMTs are behind a password to keep web scrapers and other creeps from taking everything off this site and fooling people into thinking they’re visiting a legitimate site.

Quick Tip

If you have a laptop or desktop PC with a biometric authenticator and want to upgrade to Windows 7, I’ve got a great tip for you.

A biometric autheticator is a device on your PC that you wipe or lay a fingertip across and it identifies you by your fingerprint. As with any computer device, there’s a hardware portion (the scanner) and a software portion (the analyzer).

My Fujitsu laptop came with an Authentec scanner and Softek software. Together, the system allowed me to use long, nearly impossible to hack passwords like “yDBr5#228%nN4” without breaking my brain.

When I upgraded to Windows 7, the Softex software no longer worked but it turned out to be a good thing because Microsoft has standardized biometric systems with a handy protocol called Windows Biometric Framework.

Fortunately for users, we don’t need to understand any of this. All you need is the make and model of your biometric scanner. If your scanner meets WBF standards, you’re golden because you can use any WBF compliant software. In my case, when I contacted Softek about upgrade pricing, they blew me off and tried to charge me for a whole new package. After a bit of poking around, I discovered a company called Upek (where do they get these names?). For US$19.95, I was a bit skeptical but decided to give the free trial a spin. It’s a bit more complex than the Softex program because it does more but, overall, I’ve been pleased with it.

Bottom line, if you have a biometric scanner and want o upgrade to Windows 7, search for “windows biometric framework scanners” and you’ll find lots of programs that now work with your scanner. You’re no longer stuck with whatever software that originally came with your scanner.

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Win a Photoshop World Workbook – Photo Contest

by on Oct.21, 2009, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips

It’s time for a new photo contest. This time, the theme is holidays. Being American, I’m partial to Thanksgiving during this period. For readers from other countries, the photos must reflect some sort of national celebration. The contest is open to registered readers of this site. Registration is free. The contest is open now and submissions will be accepted until December 8, 2009. The winner will be announced in time for them to receive the prize by Christmas 2009 unless they happen to live outside the USA in which case, all bets are off as to ETA.

PhotoshopWorld Workbook

800+, 8.5" x 11" pages

The prize is a Photoshop World Workbook from Photoshop World 2009 in Las Vegas. It is 800 pages of PS tips, tricks and hints from virtually every class at PSW. For a peek at the contents, see this description on my site. Because the book is heavy, I’m asking the winner to pay US$10 via PayPal for shipping.

Photos will be judged on three criteria:

  1. Exposure – is the photo correctly exposed. Correctly does NOT always mean right edge of histogram at right side and left edge touching the left side. Many photos look better when one side or the other is pulled in to achieve a specific “look”. Color balance will also be evaluated.
  2. Focus – is the photo in focus or was blur used artistically. If your portrait has a sharp ear but blurry eyes, it will be noticed. Not only must the important parts be in focus but the unimportant parts must not be distracting. Controlling DoF is an integral part of good photography, it will be evaluated.
  3. Composition – what is the emotional impact of the photo? Does it tell a story or do the colors/shapes/lines/negative space evoke an emotion? Does the photo engage the viewer? Does it create tension through unanswered questions? More than anything else, I’m looking for photos that have impact, that makes me sit up and notice.

Since I am the sole judge and arbiter, here are some of my biases. As much as you think your kids/grandkids are precious, I rarely find any redeeming artistic value in photos of children or pets. On the other hand, I love landscapes, portraits, wildlife, birds, flowers, still life, architecture, old things, new things, shiny things, rusty things and just about anything. See photos on this site to get an idea of what yanks my chain, floats my boat, tingle my toes and, in general, makes me happy, sad, excited, thrilled, thoughtful or otherwise emotional. BTW, I’m also not a fan of street photography unless your name happens to be Henri Cartier-Bresson.

All photos must be resized to 640 pixels along the longest side and no larger than 1MB. Send it to me via e-mail or post it on your own website and send me a link. If you send a link, it should be a link to one photo. In other words, don’t link to a page with a gazillion photos and expect me to figure out which is your entry. The photo must have been taken with a digital camera (any type, make, model) and the only edits allowed are crop, color correction, levels and sharpen. No composites or collages will be considered. HDR will be accepted but the more it looks like a single frame, the better your chances. Each person is limited to three (3) submissions. Once a photo is submitted, it can be withdrawn but not replaced.

The purpose of this contest is to promote photography as an art. I want people to elevate their photography beyond snapshots of Fluffy & Rover at the backyard barbeque. I want more people to see the potential within themselves. Even if all you ever take are photos of your kids/grandkids, I want you to make them into art, not simple snapshots.

Legal stuff – By entering a photo(s) in this contest, you affirm that you are the photographer with all rights appertaining including, but not limited to, copyright. You agree to hold harmless the owner and publisher of this site and contest promoter from any claims, past, present and/or future arising from any actions related to the photo(s) submitted by you or in your name. By submitting a photo(s), you agree to convey an irrevocable, non-exclusive 5 year license to The Digital Photo Guy (Lee Otsubo) to display the photo(s) and use them for teaching purposes. All other rights remain with you. Any part of this agreement/contest may be modified by The Digital Photo Guy without notice.
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Monday Morning Tip – 10/19/09

by on Oct.18, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop Elements, Workshops

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I wrote my last full MMT. (A full MMT is a separate article that’s archived as a PDF or video in the password protected MMT area.) The closest was my Depth of Field Calculator video back on Sep 23. Speaking of which, I’m going to renew my FREE DoF Calculator offer but I need some feedback regarding what lens focal lengths you need/want. Tell me via the poll to the right.

This week’s MMT is a review of a boring but necessary device for photographers, a monitor calibration system. It’s called a system because you need both the hardware (colorimeter) and software to calibrate your monitor. The reason you need to calibrate your monitor is because different monitors display the same color differently. In other words, you want the fire engine to look the same color red on all monitors. More importantly, if your monitor is off, how can you identify the problem point? When that fire engine print comes out looking like an orange, how do you know you sent the correct info?

It used to be that monitor calibration was expensive and tedious. Today, there are several choices well below US$100 that are a snap to use. Read my review of the Pantone Huey Pro monitor calibration system.

If, after reading the MMT, you decide you want to calibrate your monitor, check the Tips & News page for a screaming deal on colorimeters. Since I only bought these as tests and don’t need them for daily use, I have the original Huey and the new Huey Pro for sale along with a bunch of Canon gear I need to cull from my inventory. I recently sold my Canon 100-400 so now I’m motivated to thin my excess equipment even more.

As always, MMTs are here. You’ll need to register to get into the password protected areas where about 100 MMTs are archived.

Quick Tip

In Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Elements 7 (may apply to earlier versions but not tested), in the past if you wanted to unlock the Background layer, you double-clicked the lock icon and dismissed the dialog box that appeared with a suggested new name Layer 0. It wasn’t a big deal but a minor annoyance. It turns out you can simply click the lock icon and drag it to the trashcan. Whoulda thunk? It’s a lot quicker and more efficient.

More Eastern Sierras Photos

This is a hokey way to display photos but I just haven’t had time to figure out how the gallery software works. Like most anything in WordPress, I have a choice of about 10 gazillion photo gallery modules and they all seem to be written by Martians so bear with me.

Elephant Tree   Nature Big, Man Tiny   Life Is Hard

Skull Rock   Hurry Up Sun   Tufa Morning

Breakfast at Tufannys   Animal Tree   High Desert Fall

Artist at Work   War Stories, Beatty, NV

In case you missed them the first set, here are some of my favorites in an earlier post.

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Photoshop World Workbook Contents

by on Oct.16, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Workshops

I thought readers might be interested to get a peek at what’s inside the 800+ pages of the PSW Workshop that will be given away during the November 14 webinar by Rob Sheppard. It’s one thing to see a photo of an 800+ page book but a completely different thing to see and read some of the contents.

There were 77 classes at PSW proper broken down into 13 tracks: General Photoshop, Photoshop 101, Photoshop Design, Photoshop Fixes, Productivity, Lightroom, Techniques, Creative Suite, Creativity, Photo Studio Live, Motion Graphics, Digital Photography and Print/Prepress. There was another 20 classes (fee and free) before and during PSW. Some were inside the PSW Expo (trade show) and others were extra cost, several hours long seminars called Pre-Cons (pre-conference) before PSW. Also, many vendors in the Expo Hall (about 30 companies) had their own classes and demos where a serious amount of information was sprinkled in among the sales pitch.

All classes are taught by well known NAPP Photoshop and digital photography experts like Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Dave Cross, Joe McNally, Ben Willmore, David Ziser, Russel Brown, and Lesa Snider. Some are superstars like Jay Maisel, Katrin Eismann, Kevin Ames and Vincent Versace.

One of the classes I sat in was Fixing Common Image Problems by Dave Cross. This was a mix of old materials with new twists as well as a few new fixes. Let’s face it, there are a limited number of fixes that can be applied to a photo before it’s easier to just reshoot the scene. Dave’s notes for the class comprises 14 pages in the Workbook. Because Dave is an excellent teacher, he starts with a general concept that he recommends for all PS fixes: don’t try to make a perfect fix in one swell foop. Almost every PS/PSE instructor, including yours truly, recommends that you use a combination of tools to arrive at the final fix. For example, don’t try to use just the Magic Wand to make a selection unless it’s a simple job like selecting a white cue ball against a green pool table. Use the Magic Wand or Quick Selection Tool to make a gross selection first, then refine the selection using the Lasso Tool, Magnetic Lasso or Polygonal Lasso to select small areas that weren’t selected by the gross tools. This is where knowing keyboard shortcuts like Shift, Alt/Option, Control/Command can pay off big time in efficiency.

Dave covers Fixing White Balance, Changing Text Background to Transparent, Colorize White Objects, Changing Black to White, Removing Harsh Shadows, Extending a Photo, Fixing Distortion from Glasses, Recovering Blown Details and Fixing Group Shots in the 14 pages. More importantly, he finishes most tips with a tip on how to avoid the problem in the first place. For example, under Fixing White Balance, Dave recommends the use of a Gray Card which makes applying a white balance adjstment a snap. But, what if you’re not in a studio or someplace where a gray card is convenient? In that case, try to get something white, gray or black in the scene. You can issue your kids white index cards before an outing to the zoo or park. For the first photo in every different light condition, ask them to hold up the card. If they’re won’t cooperate, staple the card to their forehead (just kidding).

Check back often for more tips from the PSW Workbook or, better yet, subscribe via RSS so you’ll know as soon as I post new material. Even better, register for Rob Sheppard’s Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers webinar for a chance to win your own copy of the PSW Workbook.

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