Tag Archives: adobe lightroom

I cannot be trusted

How I Did It

I first started taking pictures in sixth grade when the principal, Miss Gustafson, asked for a volunteer photographer. She explained that the volunteer photographer would get in free to all sporting events, and the rest is history.

Even though I was using a Canon SLR in sixth grade, my first pictures really were just snapshots of the sports team and crowds.

In high school and college, my photography became more serious. I endeavored to understand the relationship between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Then throw in there film speed, film type, lenses, filters, and even film processing methods.

After college, I tried to develop a photographer’s eye for composition. Sometimes that meant sitting in the same spot for several hours waiting for just the right combination of things—light, weather, people (or lack thereof), etc. Sometimes I would take a picture and then go back several times over the next weeks and months, hoping to get a better picture.

Them days are gone………………………..

In today’s world of Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom, Corel Paintshop Pro, and many other digital photo software editing programs, I think I have come full circle, back to taking snapshots with my Canon 550D. I’m more interested in getting the picture and then making something out of it when I get back home. I think someone calls it “Photographic Art.”

For example, here’s a picture of two pigs sleeping at the San Diego County Fair:

Two pigs sleeping

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s a cute picture, but I thought it could be better if I removed the bars from their pen, not to mention the food dish and the butt of the black pig in the other pen. I even thought about that while at the Fair because I took a picture of sawdust which I thought would be good to replace the bars with:

Sawdust

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

First I removed some sawdust from the pigs, as well as a few pigskin imperfections, by simple cloning, which Photoshop makes real easy. I cloned out some feathers from on top of the sawdust as well.

Then I masked the bars and deleted them. That left me with a huge blank space behind the pigs’ heads, but Photoshop also makes it pretty easy to insert just about anything into a picture.

Here is the result:

Two pigs sleeping

Isn’t it a lot better picture without the bars in there?

Lets you focus on the two pigs, especially the smiling pig, obviously in the midst of sweet dreams.

What you see at Russel Ray Photos might not be what you get. I just can’t be trusted.

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Hibiscus cube

Digital photo editing software

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach, CaliforniaDisclaimer: All of the photos in this blog post have been significantly “photoshopped.”

I got my start with Photoshop with version 1.0 way back in February 1990. I was already entrenched into the PC world by then but my business had customers using the Macintosh, so I had a Macintosh in the office just in case a Client needed me to do some work in that computer environment.Silver Strand Training Complex

The Big Four software programs in my office were Word, Excel, Photoshop, and CorelDraw. With those four programs, I could do anything. In September 1994 (finally), Photoshop hit the PC environment and that was the end of any association for me with Apple computers. Word, Excel, Photoshop, and CorelDraw still are the Big Four on my computers, and CorelDraw isn’t even available for Apple computers.

Public art in Palm Springs, CaliforniaI know that Photoshop can do anything that CorelDraw can do, and it’s been my goal since April 2007 (Photoshop CS3) to force myself to use Photoshop for all the things that I’ve been doing in CorelDraw, which I have been using since version 1.0 hit the market in January 1989.

Adobe, however, made that difficult to do in one sense because Photoshop CS3 was a whopping $649.  The price for CS4 went to $699 where it stayed for CS5 and CS6. Unreasonable for anyone other than the extraordinarily rich, the über wealthy, and people like me who were willing to alter the family budget and do without 175 happy hour margaritas at On The Border.

African lioin at the San Diego ZooRecently Adobe has made Photoshop and its sister program, Lightroom, available on a subscription basis, which seems to be where the software market is moving. If you own Photoshop CS3 or later, you can get both Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 (the latest versions) for just $9.99 a month. How great is that? Well, let me put it into numbers.

For people who bought Photoshop and then upgraded when a new version was released, which was every 15-18 months, here’s the cost for CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6:

CS3, April 2007 – $649
CS4 upgrade, October 2008 – $199
CS5 upgrade, April 2010 – $199
CS6 upgrade, May 2012 – $199
Total over 61 months: $946

Happy ThanksgivingThe subscription cost for Photoshop and Lightroom for 61 months at $9.99 a month is $609.39. Quite a savings. There are arguments for upgrading every other time, which would save $398, and you could always buy the software at Amazon or Fry’s Electronics and sometimes get a discount. So there have been ways to save money over the Adobe retail price.

HibiscusA cool advantage of the subscription method of having software is that you get updates instantaneously. No more waiting 18 months for the latest and the greatest because you always have the latest and the greatest, providing that you let your software upgrade itself. You can turn that feature off, and there might be an argument for doing so. We all know that software has bugs in it, even upgrades and updates. Sometimes the upgrade/update fixes a bug but introduces a new bug.

Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ballA real life example that happened to me:

A couple of months ago I had lot of Actions and keyboard shortcuts set up in Photoshop CC (the latest version, available only by subscription, but you can still buy CS6 from Adobe). I had Photoshop set to automatically install updates. One update totally deleted every Action and keyboard shortcut, basically resetting it to the factory defaults. That was not cool, and I let Adobe know on their Facebook page. Within a couple of days they had another update that fixed that problem. Too late, of course, since all my Actions and customization had already been deleted, causing me to spend several hours re-recording the Actions and setting my keyboard shortcuts again.

Lonely sentinel with Topaz Adjust HDR collection dynamic brightness filterAfter that experience I set Photoshop NOT to do automatic updates. I would decide when to do updates, usually on weekends or holidays when the world’s not busy demanding my time. In writing this post, I went looking for all the ways that I could set Photoshop to update, and the ways that I used to use are completely gone, including Adobe Updater and the preferences from within Photoshop. Maybe they learned….

Many people seem to be upset at the subscription method but I think it’s brilliant. My Microsoft Office software is also via subscription; it’s called Office 365. With two very large companies going the subscription route, I think you’ll see more and more of it within the next five years.

Lonely day on the seawallIf you don’t like the idea of a subscription, buy Photoshop CS6 before it’s no longer offered for sale; currently $699 at the Adobe web site. There are other options, too:

      • Corel PaintShop Pro X6—This program can do 95% of everything that Photoshop can do and is its main competitor. The 5% difference is stuff that is unique to Photoshop, like some of its filters. Don’t worry, though, because PaintShop Pro has things that are unique to it that Photoshop doesn’t have, like a set of different filters. PsintShop Pro X6 is selling for $59.99 right now direct from Corel’s web site. This was my go-to program from May 1993 to April 2007. I still have it because I like many of its filters and frames, and I’m much more skilled at it than I am Photoshop.
      • St Andrew Catholic Church in PasadenaGIMP—GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is an open-source, freely distributed program. I have heard good things about it but have not tried it, mainly because all my time right now is dedicated to Photoshop, the de facto standard. However, GIMP doesn’t cost anything, so that’s a big advantage. I use two open-source programs: Audacity for recording and audio manipulation, and, of course, WordPress. Both Audacity and WordPress remind me of a comedian whose name I do not remember. He was talking about Wikipedia: “The great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute. The worst thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute.” That pretty much sums up open source programs, including, in my opinion, Audacity and WordPress.
      • Ocean Beach, CaliforniaPicasa—This is a Google program. I tried to use it once and it literally took over my computer for several hours looking for digital images; there was no way to stop it. Imagine what happened when it finally found my six external hard drives with 175,000 digital images on them. Yep, hours and hours and hours of cataloging. As soon as it finished, I uninstalled it. That was a couple of years ago. Maybe newer versions are better.
      • The Gear CatsAdobe Lightroom—If you’re looking for a great program at a reasonable cost, Lightroom is for you. This program is for photographers and doesn’t do the advanced graphics and image manipulation (such as compositing) that Photoshop does. It sells for $119 through January 11 at the Adobe web site. I also have this program but I’m not using it currently because of my time bias in favor of Photoshop.
      • U.S. Route 80Adobe Photoshop Elements—This program has “elements” of Photoshop. I call it “Photoshop Lite” because it can do all of the stuff that Lightroom does and some of the stuff that Photoshop does. I consider this a more powerful program than Lightroom but, interestingly, it costs less than Lightroom; $69.99 through December 28 from the Adobe web site.
      • For some other options, check out Photo Editing Software Review 2014.

Hibiscus cube

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ferris Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer,
Realtor Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Symmetry

Success! (which means it’s margarita time)

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You might have noticed that I like to frame my pictures. To me, it simply adds to the picture.

Currently I’m using five programs to modify my pictures:

  1. Lightroom 4.2 — About the only thing I use this program for anymore is to take my RAW picture files and convert them into JPGs that are 1000 pixels on the longest side. “On the longest side” is the key phrase here because in every other program in which I’ve worked you cannot set the preference for the longest side. You can only choose horizontal side or vertical side. So if you have a mixture of landscape pictures and portrait pictures, you either have to make two passes through your files, or you have to accept that, choosing 1000 pixels for the horizontal side means that the longest side on the portrait pictures, the vertical side, will be much bigger than 1000 pixels. Ultimately all of the pictures I use in my blog posts are 600 pixels on the longest side. That pretty much means that if someone wants to borrow my pictures covertly, about the only thing they can do with them is use them on the computer. They won’t be worthy of printing because the resolution will be too low.
  2. CorelDRAW! X5 — I have been using CorelDRAW! since its inception. I can do virtually anything with this program, making it my go-to program if I need to do something quickly. CorelDRAW! X5 is where I do the postage stamps at the end of each post that feature Zoey the Cool Cat approving the post.
  3. Corel Photo-Paint X5 — This program comes with CorelDRAW! as its complementary photo-editing program. I have been using it for as many years as CorelDRAW! and pretty much know it inside and out. This is the program that I am most familiar with, so I don’t use it at all right now. I am forcing myself to use a different program because I am trying to become an expert at the other program.
  4. Corel PaintShop Pro X5 — This program is Corel’s answer to Adobe’s PhotoShop, and I have found that it is equally powerful and equally as difficult to use. Thus I don’t use it at all because PhotoShop is that other program that I am endeavouring to become an expert at.
  5. Adobe Photoshop CS6 — I bought the first version of Photoshop at the same time I bought the first version of CorelDRAW! That was a couple of decades ago I believe. At the time I needed both programs. However, when I moved to San Diego in April 1993, I had no further need for photo editing programs and quit upgrading them. When I went to upgrade my various programs in 2008, there was a significant difference between my Photoshop 8 and the new Photoshop CS3. I felt like I was in kindergarten again. Photoshop CS6 is where all my photo editing time is dedicated right now.

One of the tasks that I have been trying to learn in Photoshop is matting and framing a picture. Specifically I wanted to do it like they do it in photo galleries. Yesterday and this morning I spent a lot of time on the task and believe I have it down to a science now.

Here is the picture, unframed, that I will use:

Symmetry unframed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I think you’ll agree that it needs some work. First I straightened the picture. Then I cloned out the little branches at the center riight and cloned a couple of other imperfections. After that, I cropped out the gray sky and that little piece sticking up off the roof at the upper right, and then gave it some extra contrast and sharpness. That gave me the following, a much better picture:

Symmetry altered

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Of course, it still needs to be framed. Here it is with the frame that I’ve been using for the past several months:

Symmetry altered and framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That frame was created using an Action that I found somewhere on the Internet. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to edit Actions yet so that has been the essence of my ability to frame pictures in Photoshop CS6.

Yesterday I started working on learning how to do frames that are substantially more interesting. The culmination of my work gave me this:

Symmetry

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Just like you would find at so many modern art galleries. I’m so happy! Magarita time!

I’m going to work on this some more with my ultimate goal being the creation of a tutorial for my readers so that you, too, can create interesting frames for your photographs!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I’m gettin’ good

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For some reason I have this infatuation with wildlife that is either yawning, eating, grooming, or just letting that lazy tongue have a little look-see. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this past weekend, the three lions were up close and personal, about two inches away (or whatever the thickness of the glass is). I got what I thought was a great photo of one of the female lions:

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is not too much that is right with that picture — the lion gets lost in the background; there are flies at the corner of its mouth, on its tongue and on the top of its nose; there’s no contrast between the lion and the background…. Aaack!

Remembering what my wise old grandmother always said as she put together her photo albums and scrapbooks — “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with!” — I first went to Lightroom because I know it better than Photoshop. I didn’t really get anything much better.

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In trying to get some contrast between the lion and the background, the color cast got shifted. On to Photoshop.

After first working in Adobe Camera Raw, I got a little better contrast and color cast. At that point I took the resulting picture into Photoshop. After duplicating the picture, I applied a layer mask and then highlighted everything around the lion. Then I simply converted the background to black & white. Once that was done, I used a combination of the healing brush, the patch brush, and the clone tool to get rid of the flies.

Photoshop has an excellent feature called Content-Aware. After highlighting the flies, I simply hit the delete key. Photoshop doesn’t actually delete the flies. Instead it fills the area where the flies are, so up pops a Fill window with some options. The option I wanted was Contents, Content-Aware:

Content Aware

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

All of that gave me the result that I was looking for, and which the LCD screen in the bright sunshine at the Park indicated I had, but didn’t:

Female lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whaddaya think?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat

Poor resolution? You actually CAN make it better!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

How I Did It

Poor resolution? You actually CAN make it better!

 

If you don’t know it by now, whenever you edit a JPG (or JPEG) picture file and save it, it gets degraded. That’s because JPG throws away information that it deems not necessary. Of course, you and the JPG software programmers might have different opinions of what information is not necessary.

From July 2007 to January 2012, I was blogging on a different platform. I left that platform because it was a private web site run by basically two people who were heavily biased in favor of their good old boy club. I’ve never been a member of a good old boy club…. never will be. Just not my style. I believe in judging on merit and action.

I had a little over 3,800 blog posts, so when I chose to leave, I certainly didn’t want to lose all my words of wisdom, pictures, etc. Although I was able to save them all, I noticed that the pictures were very poor, basically unusable. However, being the picture pack rat that I am, I didn’t trash them. I just put them in a “SOMEDAY” file.

Someday might have arrived.

Back in February I went to a seminar and, while listening to the explanation of file formats — JPG, RAW, GIF, TIFF, etc. — which I already knew, I started daydreaming. Earlier this evening my daydream came true.

Here is a picture from the other platform of Zoey the Cool Cat that I retrieved:

Zoey the Cool Cat

 

I like that picture but it’s flat, washed out, and soft focus. It’s 800 x 533 pixels, which is the size of all my early pictures…. stupid me. It’s also a mere 281 KB. I took it to Lightroom and modified it to get this:

Zoey the Cool Cat

 

The tile has more contrast, Zoey the Cool Cat looks prettier, and the whole picture is sharper.

After modifying the original picture, I exported it from Lightroom as a TIFF using 300 ppi resolution and 16-bit color. Surprisingly, the TIFF file was a whopping 2.46 MB. Lots of new information! Then I opened the TIFF in Corel PaintShop Pro X4 and simply saved it as a JPG.

You could do the same thing in Photoshop or Lightroom but I find PaintShop Pro X4 easier to use for simple file conversions. The only reason I converted it to JPG was because WordPress here doesn’t recognize TIFF files.

 

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos