Archive for the ‘Photoshop’ Category

Why Not Use DNG?

January 9, 2010

Adobe DNG LogoI read an interesting article on Adobe’s Digital Negative (DNG) format on Scott Kelby’s Lightroom Killer Tips blog here. I’m surprised that DNG has not become more widely adopted and disappointed (but not surprised) that more camera manufacturers have not supported/adopted it. I don’t think camera manufacturers should be competing with proprietary file formats. If I were them I’d be like Leica and get out of the software business entirely.

I made the following comment on the article:

I have been using DNG almost since it was released by Adobe. Initially I was cautious. After all, what if Adobe is acquired, goes out of business or decides that DNG isn’t “strategic” any more? But since Adobe opened the DNG specification I figured that even if they do abandon it there will always be software around that supports it.A while ago I did some tests where I used Adobe Camera Raw on an original RAW image and then with the same settings on an equivalent DNG file. The images were bit-for-bit identical.

But the thing that really convinced me that DNG is rock solid is that both Leica adopted it as their RAW format for the M8, M9 and X1. If it is good enough for Leica it is surely good enough for me.

I hope that manufacturers like Canon and Nikon will adopt it, but it does not seem likely.

Funny Story

November 17, 2009
Ice Coffee

Ice Coffee

Last week a friend asked me to photograph some wheatgrass healthy drinks for his company. I gave him a CD containing all the pictures.

Yesterday evening he called me to say that one of the pictures was missing. How could this be? I put copies of every picture I took on the CD. Then I realised … his assistant gave me a cup of ice coffee and I did not know it was another photographic subject. So I drank it!

No harm done – I went back this morning and took a picture of another cup. Then I drank it.

Wheatgrass with Collagen

November 13, 2009

Wheatgrass with Collagen

Wheatgrass with Collagen


I had a busy day doing another product shoot for a friend in Huay Khwang. He had a range of wheatgrass products and drinks to be staged and photographed.

As before I used the Canon EOS-30D outside on a tripod with a single flash to provide some fill light. We used a simple white web board as a backdrop.

I used my Canon EF 50mm F2.5 Compact Macro Lens set to F8. It’s a nice sharp little lens and I was pleased with the results.

Most of the work was in Photoshop where I had to separate the product from the background and put it in a separate layer. That makes it easy for a designer to incorporate it into an advertisement, brochure or a banner.

I wish I was more adept with the Lightroom pen tool so I could make proper paths. But results using selections were fine on simple shapes.

I saved the pictures for delivery as a layered TIF file with a 50% grey background. I saved a Levels Adjustment Layer for the product so a graphics artist or designer can adjust the picture easily. I also delivered JPEG files for use on the web.

The only embarrassment came when I printed the label for the CD. One of the ink cartridges on my Canon MP610 printer silent ran out of ink so the customer’s logo is discoloured. It’s not vital but I prefer everything to be perfect.

Kate Winslet doesn’t like Photoshop

September 29, 2009

GQ - Kate Winslet

PhotoshopNews: Photoshop News and Information » Archive » Kate doesn’t like Photoshop – Digital Ethics.

To prove there’s nothing new in all this controversy about altering published pictures with Photoshop, here is an article from April 2005.

I think it is a good summary and draws the distinction between fashion or glamour work and photojournalism.

Sometimes I think the prohibitions on any manipulation of a “journalistic” picture are excessive. But I understand the reason: once you permit some “fixes” it’s impossible to draw a consistent line.

Note that the article only talks about practices in Western countries. I would be very interested to read of how photojournalists, their editors and newspaper owners treat the subject elsewhere. I have a feeling the standards are not as strict elsewhere.

Lifting the Veil of Mere Pixel Perfection – NYTimes

September 28, 2009

Lifting the Veil of Mere Pixel Perfection –

This is one of the silliest ideas I have heard in a long time. I don’t know how you could possibly have a rating system for retouched pictures that ordinary folks – the people the British and French governments want to protect – could understand.

Surely better to educate people. Entertainment, show biz and the associated magazines are about fantasy, not reality.

Focusing on Photoshop is also so short sighted. Humans have been perfecting their appearance and concealing their flaws throughout history.

Of course, none of the people here in Thailand need Photoshopping. It is  full of natural human beauty. And that wasn’t a joke.

Black Dress on Silom Road

Guaranteed - no Photoshopping!

HDR : a tutorial guide

September 24, 2009

HDR : a tutorial guide

Originally uploaded by Ray Wise

Flickr isn’t an ideal way to present tutorials but I think Ray Wise did a great job.

I am going to try his techniques. I only have the “Merge to HDR” tool in Photoshop and I don’t really understand the complex terminology and concepts it uses.

That’s often the trouble with Photoshop. It is so powerful and does so many things that it is often hard to do something simple.

Temple “HDR” Experiment

September 24, 2009

Temple "HDR" Experiment

I did an experiment merging two exposures of a temple called Wat Kunnatriruttharam in Din Daeng, Bangkok.

At top right is the result of a “Merge to HDR” in Photoshop. It looks unnatural.

At top left is a combined image where I overlaid the two exposures in Photoshop and then revealed the sky and other features from the darker image using a mask.

I think the manual method is more effective in this case.

What do you think?

It isn’t correct to call either approaches “HDR”: they are both 8-bit images. However I don’t have a better name.

Descreening in Photoshop

August 31, 2009

I found a Photoshop recipe to remove the moire patterns that result from scanning magazines and books. See here for why I need this.

Here is an article on on the subject.

  1. Scan the image at a resolution approximately 150-200% higher than what you need for final output.
  2. Go to Filter > Noise > Median.
  3. Use a radius between 1-3. Typically the higher the quality of the source, the lower the radius can be. Use your own judgement, but you will probably find that 3 works well for newspapers, 2 for magazines, and 1 for books.
  4. Go to Image > Image Size (Image > Resize > Image Size in Elements) and resample to the desired image size and resolution using the bicubic resampling option.
  5. Make sure you are zoomed to 100% magnification.
  6. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask.
  7. Exact settings will depend on the image resolution, but these settings are a good starting point: Amount 50-100%, Radius 1-3 pixels, Threshold 1-5. Use your eye as the final judge.


  1. If you still see a pattern after applying the Median filter, try a slight gaussian blur before resampling. Apply just enough blur to reduce the pattern.
  2. If you notice halos or glows in the image after using Unsharp Mask, go to Edit > Fade. Use settings: 50% Opacity, Mode Luminosity. (Not available in Elements.)

I did an experiment to follow these instructions with a picture of a Chinese ‘Bullet Train’ I scanned from Fortune Magazine Asia-Pacific.

  • I did three scans at 150dpi, 300dpi and 600dpi. (I can work out how to do that using my Thai user interface to Scan Gear).
  • I tried using the technique to make a better 300dpi picture from the 600dpi scan. Here is a crop of the file as scanned:
Descreen test 1 - 600 dpi before

Descreen test 1 - 600 dpi before

  • That’s a good example of a moire pattern!
  • Here’s a screenshot after I applied the Median filter, radius 2:
Descreen test 2 - median filter (radius=2)

Descreen test 2 - median filter (radius=2)

  • Much better.
  • I kept the file the same dimensions but reduced it to 300dpi with this Image Resize setting:
Photoshop Image Size Options

Photoshop Image Size Options

  • Which left the picture looking like this:
Descreen test 3 - Resampled

Descreen test 3 - Resampled

  • Finally I applied the Unsharp Mask Filter with the following empirically derived settings:
Photoshop Unsharp Mask Settings

Photoshop Unsharp Mask Settings

  • Here’s a screenshot of the picture after I applied the Unsharp Mask Filter:
Descreen test 4 - Unsharp Mask

Descreen test 4 - Unsharp Mask

  • Finally, here is a before and after comparison using Lightroom’s Compare View:
Descreen test 5 - Before & After

Descreen test 5 - Before & After


The recipe worked well. If I can work out how to use Thai language Scan Gear I will compare it with using the descreen option provided with the driver.

I’ll Fix it in Post

August 30, 2009

“Post” is another of those jargon words that make me wince. It’s short for post-production or post-processing. I.e. fiddling around in Lightroom or Photoshop to correct the mistakes I made whenI took the photo.

I think it is most used in the film and video industry but still photographers use it too.

I agree with the article most of the time. No amount of “sharpening” in Photoshop will correct an out-of-focus picture, or one where I didn’t get the subject’s head in the frame …

Damn, Damn, Damn!

But there are a two things I don’t worry about when I am taking pictures in RAW format:

  1. White balance. I use “auto” on the camera and I can change it at will in Lightroom with no penalty.
  2. Canon Picture Style. I use “standard” all the time. Lightroom emulates Canon’s Picture Styles for Raw and DNG files – again without penalty.

I know I can fix these in “post”.

Within limits I don’t worry too much about framing or exposure.

If I have plenty of high quality pixels I can crop the picture in Lightroom or Photoshop.

It’s hard to judge a correctly exposed picture on the camer’s LCD screen. Raw files have a lot of exposure latitude and I can adjust a picture a stop plus or minus with little quality penalty. Yes, it is always better to expose correctly the first time. I’ll bracket exposures if I have time.

But I don’t always have time and so I think it is best to get an in focus shot of what I want even if it is badly framed and a bit over- or under-exposed than miss the picture altogether.

Lightroom External Editing Preferences

August 30, 2009

Lightroom External Editing Preferences

Chris Orwig’s Lightroom Training drew my attention to Lightroom’s External Editing Preferences. I wondered if I had the best setup. I opened the dialog box and was bemused by Adobe’s explanations.

I find it surprising that a) PSD can be less efficient than TIFF with respect to metadata updates and b) If I don’t use the ‘maximize compatibility’ option when saving a PSD file in Photoshop Lightroom won’t be able to read the file.

What’s up? Aren’t Lightroom and Photoshop from the same company? Are there secrets that the Photoshop team keeps from the Lightroom team? How can a generic format like TIFF be more efficient at metadata updates than PSD when Adobe controls both ends?

What do I lose if I maximize compatibility in Photoshop? If it is an option there must be a downside to using it. Perhaps a performance penalty next time I open the file in Photoshop. Is this explained properly anywhere?

Inquiring minds need to know!