I just googled this thing on photoshopping

I just stumbled on this:

Companies try so very hard top lodge their brands in our brains. They spend millions on getting them out into the memeosphere (yes thats a word, why not GOOGLE it).
When that brand is co-opted and becomes part of popular culture they then want to control it themselves. Sorry I should say THEY WANT TO CONTROL IT THEMSELVES???!!!
Hear Adobe and Google, it doesn’t work like that. And it smacks of tyranical power craziness to even try. Once the genie is out of the bottle you cant stuff it back in, but please keep trying its rather amusing.

But there is a greater issue here. You cant have your cake and eat it: Brands and trademarks are stuffed down our throats every hour of the day. You bombard us, lambast us, assail us and if we take control then consider it a victory and move on.
To paraphrase Banksy (http://www.thefoxisblack.com/2012/02/29/banksy-on-advertising/) its like owning the rocks you’ve been throwing at our heads.


windows home server is a steaming pile of poo

On paper the original WHS made sense as a backup solution. But note to self: in future research the restore process before investing time in the backup process.

WHS allows you to backup terabytes of data, but after trying to restore a 2.5tb backup and getting an ETA of 10+days, and a failed attempt to do a drive restoration (which involved buying to fresh 2tb drives and raiding them to create a drive large enough for the backup), I’m ready to boil my head.

Quick and dirty HDR shadow control

Its winter in the southern hemisphere. For my bread and butter, that means lots shots of houses with lots of contrast and heavy shadows. This one taken at 11am is typical. Now I usually bracket everything but sometimes – especially when shooting on my painters pole – the camera has moved too much for HDR to work – and sometimes it just doesn’t cut the mustard, or produces a result too different to the rest of the photos in the set. (See the very end for HDR output from my favourite HDR software – Oloneo).

This is how it looks in lightroom with no develop settings. Theres a lot of dynamic range to deal with and those shadows are blue – because the fill light is the sky.
1st stage in my workflow is to saturate everything and fill light those shadows in lightroom. Then apply a warm tone to the shadows.

So now you’ve got this:

Which is getting there, but those shadows are still distracting. Create a virtual copy and make the whole thing warmer. Get a good level of contrast in the shadows, the export both images to photoshop as layers…

Stack the lighter layer on the darker. Now you can use your blend-if sliders and layer mask to control where the new exposure should be seen:

(Double click on a layer in the layers pallette to access these). You can split the arrows by click alt/option and dragging.

This is telling that layer to make everything lighter than 196 completely transparent, and everything below 159 completely visible. (Where the numbers are the tonal value of the pixels ranging from 0 – black to 255 – white).

That gives us this

Which has warmed up the shadows. Its also not wanted in the rest of the image so create a layer mask and paint over:

To give this:

Now I want to apply extra lightening to the shadow area only. If I apply a curves adjustment layer and apply it only to this layer, it will alter the blend if parameters. A quick solution is to make a new layer, select it and layer 1, and then stamp to a new layer (ctrl+alt+E).

Which gives you this

This new layer combines the output of the blend-if sliders with the layer mask, but note: this is a quick and dirty process, its destructive – meaning that you cant go back and change the blend-if values later, you’ll have to recreate those steps and any others you’ve made after.

Now you can apply adjustment layers as clipping layers with gay abandon:

Finally a curves layer on top just to brighten the postbox area.

Now the concrete path looks flat, but you really want to draw the eye away from this anyway. Bokeh (or CS6’s focus blur) is your friend:

Total process time – about 5 minutes in photoshop, 5 minutes in lightroom.

And from Oloneo:

Which in this case has done well: There are no alignment problems in the 2 source pics, the tone of the green can be warmed and lightened using its hue controls:

However it still needs work in photoshop. You can ad an extra 5-10 minutes for processing – or about an hour per job.

The final shot: Its not art, but it pays the bills:

Canon is Rubbish

How one little thing can taint your perception of a company.

Canon is amazing. I’ve used their cameras for 20 odd years: I’ve loved most of them. As a company they’re huge, innovative, have pretty good attention to detail and seem to look after their customers reasonably well (which in the current unreasonable climate is reasonably complimentary).

Canon have – for years – not allowed you to download their camera utilities and bundled software unless you have the original disks that came with the camera.
The problem comes when you are out in the field, or have simply lost or misplaced or – in my case – thrown away the disks because
a) most of the software is useless
b) you simply think that – in 2012 – you can download utilities for software that has no use to anyone other than people that own a particular piece of hardware.

Lets just go over that last bit again. The software is useless – it has no function whatsoever – it is bereft of purpose – the sum total of its point is ZERO – if you do not own a canon camera. Canon could send the CD to every Nikon user on the planet without affecting their business one iota.

So every time I need something from their support site I write them a little reminder of how such a profoundly stupid policy can colour peoples perception of a company. Companies spend millions on attempting to inject their brand into the crowded meme space in our heads and imbue it with positive characteristics. With this policy they ensure that tagged onto that meme is a little postit note that says “these guys are rubbish”.

Heres my latest email, and I encourage everyone to do the same:

I am writing again to complain about your policy of not offering downloads of your supplied software. This policy is completely devoid of sense. It creates frustration and brand disloyalty. I do not understand how your management cannot see this – the level of myopia here continues to confound me, and that the policy is still in place in 2012 – when applications, let alone drivers, are now commonly free – is stupefying. The eos utility: what do you expect non-Canon users to do with the software exactly? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m actually curious. I’m curious what you are protecting yourself from, whilst happily annoying the crap out of time-poor professionals from around the world. And I’m wondering how Canon’s management structure can be so poor as to allow policies like this to continue year after year. Policies like these project an image loud and clear: you don’t give a crap about your users and your attention to detail is poor. Please revise this policy.

Get some rest. I you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything

Anyone else find that they cant sleep after working late? Takes an hour or to wind down? This lovely bit of software will play havoc with your colour balance, not recommended if you’re doing photographic or design work, but should mean you can answer a few emails before bed without becoming an insomniac.


winsxs folder (yawn)

If you dont know what this is or what it does don’t ask. Its not interesesting, but its important. Sort of like your spleen.

In windows 7 it can get pretty large – Mine was 11.2gb, significant on a 64gb ssd. This wonderous hack brought it down to around 6gb: http://www.iishacks.com/2011/06/23/reduce-windows-7-winsxs-folder-size/

reccommended πŸ™‚

windows essential software

I have about 8Tb on my system. Sometimes I know I’ve left a file somewhere. And sometimes I’ll let windows search for it.
Windows search is really truly a disaster area. It might work OK for people searching a few hundred megabytes in my documents. I doubt it. The most offensive part is the need to right click and open a file in its location. If you double click on a file you will lose the contents of the search and have to start over.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I’ve been using windows since version 3. I’m used to its rubbish search. Which is why I pepper my filenames with keywords and synonyms, and this habitual redundancy has finally paid off courtesy of my new favourite windows utility. I need to get out more.


“Everything” searches every drive you tell it to search. After I downloaded it I expected it to take a few hours, maybe half a day, to index my drives. I set it up and seemingly seconds later it was complete. I incredulously typed something obscure into the search box and it immediately found it. I do mean immediately. Yes it found the one file I was looking for out of 22 million in no time at all. It runs in the background – or you can do what I do, just start it when needed and it will update its database on start.

The question it begs of course is WHY? Why is this not implemented within windows? Why is there not a quick search? Why is there not a metadata component of the file system? Why are we still saving things in millions of identical little yellow folders? Why Microsoft WHY?

web design: in your face, png transparency!

Heres a section of a traditionally nightmarish image to convert to a png. Its that complex transparency that increases the file size.

In photoshop…

Step 1: remove as much colour information from the image as possible. Seeing as its basically just black with this image you can select the transparency

and create a solid colour fill…

Already its a little better:

2. Posterise the transparency: alt/option click on the layer mask. Goto image>adjustments>posterise. I chose 6 levels for this image.

And bingo:

Lets see if it works for a messy graphic with a gradient.

Photoshop save for web is saying 59.6K

And after: 45.95K So – not great but it’s the gradient here that the png doesn’t like. Take it away and you get before and after values of…

51.3K and 35.8. You can also try posterising the image.

This one has 11 levels and no gradient, bringing it to 24K

photoshop cs6: time for a big idea

Layers. Remember photoshop before layers? Hard to imagine isn’t it? This was the last major ground shaking, game changing innovation brought to photoshoppers around the world and everyone went nuts, apart from the few people who claimed Adobe pinched the idea off Corell.

Since then we got clipping layers, adjustment layers, groups – not small improvements by any means – but also quite a while ago (we got groups in 2004). Ok so smart filters arrived in 2008, but can you get the same result without smart filters? Absolutely.

So I’d like to see a few big ideas in PS6 and here are a few that have occurred to me as photoshop till I drop every day:

Routing layers to a mask.
I’d like to see some nodal action in photoshop: its simple really – route the output of a layer – especially a smart layer – to the mask for another layer. This would make smart layers come into their own – you could non-destructively change your mask, and if you linked it to the idea below there’d be some happy mask junkies out there. This would also allow you to essentially apply adjustment layers to a mask – apply an adjustment layer via a clipping group and route the output of the whole lot to a mask of another layer. You could also do it in groups so the output of an entire group gets sent to a mask.

Colour range adjustment layer (or maybe its needs to be a node πŸ˜‰ )
lets have a whole panel for it please, where you can select colours, or luminance, and then apply the mask adjustment tools… and THEN route that output to the mask of any other layer.

Focus blurring that’s worth bothering with
Alien skins Bokeh is so much better than photoshops lens blur its not funny, and blurring a layer is a pixel destroying trial and error pain in the bum. Lets have a lens blur adjustment layer please where the layer mask describes the amount of blurring (complete with lens types and presets would be nice).

If the node stuff is a step too far, please can we just have the clipping group adjustment layers applying to mask or to image data? Please?

EDIT: CS6 beta is out, and whilst Adobe obviously look at my suggestions (for sure), they only implemented one – and failed to read more than “Alien skins Bokeh is so much better than photoshops lens blur its not funny…” so decided to errrm, “borrow” it.

Make windows explorer open my computer instead of libraries view

Microsoft obviously thought libraries was a nifty enough idea to replace the those bog standard yellow folder view we’ve all grown to hate over the last 20 years.
They failed to adhere to the basic tenet of developing any user system: if you’re going to change something – especially a core user feature, make it BETTER.

Libraries offer a new ways of looking at and organising your data – but could I find anything quicker? Nope. Did it annoy the crap out of me when looking at project folders my ai files and PDF files were in different categories. Yep. Were the categories visually highlighted so you could at least see where you might want to look for you file, No? Are you still faced with thousands of yellow folders that tell you nothing about how often they are accessed? YES! The devil himself is Microsoft’s usability tester.

Finally fed up with it I found this page which describes how to fix it. http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/windows-explorer-defaults-libraries-folder-windows-7/ (my version tweaked from the comments on that post)

This means when you click on the explorer icon (mine is pinned to my task bar) it opens my computer by default. I will probably change this so it opens recent folders or something slightly more useful. Heres how:

With all explorer windows closed, right click on you “my computer icon” whilst pressing the shift key.

In the dialog box that opens change the target…

replace explorer.exe with…

explorer.exe “”
EDIT: this works if the last explorer window you had open was in the computer view. If the last window was another view then it *may* open at that view.

To get it to open to recent places…
%windir%explorer.exe “%userprofile%LinksRecentPlaces.lnk”

There’s an alterative here: http://www.windows7hacker.com/index.php/2010/02/how-to-pin-folders-in-windows-7-taskbar/


January 2023