Paddling pictures - imaging

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Mark R
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Paddling pictures - imaging

Post by Mark R » Sun Oct 12, 2003 7:32 pm

Most of my photos are now digital (for convenience rather than quality)...I don't like to cheat around editting pictures beyond using the brightening tool in an old demo version of Photoshop Elements. But I still want to own a decent photo-editting/ -managing package.

Can anyone recommend a package for this? What might I go for if....

...money were no object (sadly untrue)
...I was on a shoestring (anything even available for FREE???)

???

Cheers,


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David P
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Re: Paddling pictures - imaging

Post by David P » Sun Oct 12, 2003 8:28 pm

Others will no doubt differ. But IMHO Photoshop Elements 2 - and if you've already got version 1, there are I gather few substantive changes - should be ample. I suspect there's rather little you're going to want to do, that can't be readily done in either that or PaintShop Pro. BUT you would benefit from learning about things like layers and stuff, which is where the creative possibilities start to blossom - I have a friend who teaches such stuff and her work is awesome. (I know just enough about layers, at least, to get started - but see eg the header at http://www.cssc-london.co.uk/barbados/index.htm which is made up of at least half a dozen independent layers.

In other words, I suspect playing with what you've got (and some instructions/tutorials) would be far more productive than buying anything new. Cheap, but not very satisfying in retail therapy terms...

Cheers,
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Re: Paddling pictures - imaging

Post by Mark R » Sun Oct 12, 2003 11:36 pm

Thanks David. The only catch with what I have got is that it's only a demo (I've been re-installing it every month for years!) and it's a bit cranky in terms of performance.

Are there any viable options to Photoshop and Paintshop? Preferably but not necessarily free?


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Re: Paddling pictures - imaging

Post by Steve B » Mon Oct 13, 2003 12:06 pm

I have to agree with David, Photoshop Elements or PaintShop Pro. Since I don't use either 'in anger' I can't recommend one over the other, but they both seem ok.

The full version of Photoshop is wonderful, but for the kind of use you'll probably put it to (brightening dull images, cropping/rotating, simple retouching, and so on) it is unlikely to be any better than Elements and is probably harder to use. However if you want the best and you want to spend more time learning in exchange for superior power, Photoshop is the only way to go. Expensive of course - even if I were to give you the old version 4 disk I happen to have lying around you'd still pay twice as much for the upgrade to version 7 as for a full copy of Elements.

Before you shell out for the software, find out what it would cost to buy a scanner with a bundled copy of Elements. Here's just one example: www.dabs.com/uk/productView.htm?quickli ... familyid=0 - £131.60 for an excellent scanner including a copy of Elements which would be about £80 bought separately. I don't know which version of Elements is bundled, I don't know whether 'Photoshop Album' is included (it's included in the retail version direct from Adobe), and of course you may have no use for a new scanner - but you get my drift.

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Jonathan Theobald
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Photography

Post by Jonathan Theobald » Mon Oct 13, 2003 5:55 pm

graphicssoft.about.com/li...ps5out.htm claims to be a free online Photoshop teach yourself course, and might be worth a look.

www.webphotoschool.com/ir/ might also be helpful.

I've yet to use either but bookmarked both in the hope of brushing up my own skills.


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Re: Photography

Post by David P » Mon Oct 13, 2003 7:32 pm

I'd forgotten about the "scanner" suggestion - it may even be that someone here, has a copy of "Elements" that came with a scanner or printer, that they'd prefer to shove Mark's way! I've only got an old disc of Photoshop 5 LE, though the serial number doesn't work. Oh - shopping around, both PSP 7 or 8 (8 is better but seems a little flaky at the moment!) and Elements 2, can be bought for £50 - PC World had offers on both recently. If I had to use just one, I'd be hard pushed to choose - but would probably go with "Elements" 'cos it's nearer to the industry-standard big brother Photoshop.

Certainly, I think Photoshop proper would be very much counter-productive: there seems little missing from Elements that people are likely to actually use, whilst I'm not sure whether a few things such as image browsers or web album wizards, are going to be in the full version! Oh - many digital photo mage regularly run "tutorials" in one package or the other.

Finally, there are plenty of kosher "freeware" copies of Paintshop Pro 5 available - I'm pretty sure I've got one or two lying around, if you want one, Mark - not sure, though, what you miss compared to the latest versions.

Oh - and worth remembering that full versions of Paint Shop Pro include "Animation Shop" which is a very simple solution to making or editing animated .gifs if that takes your fancy. I use them as a crude solution to rotating "banner thumbnail images" on a web site front page.
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Edited by: David P at: 10/13/03 7:46 pm

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Jim
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Paint Shop Pro

Post by Jim » Mon Oct 13, 2003 8:56 pm

Jasc have been giving Paint Shop Pro 5 away with magazines and given that I already have it I don't need the disc I have in front me. If you have broadband I might be able to send you the file, otherwise e-mail me a postal address (I might have it somewhere if I look hard enough) if you are interested in it. It has layers and lightening darkening tools and is way more sophisticated than I have ever needed!

Apart from that I haven't used much, the stuff that comes with windows is pants, I wasn't impressed with the Ulead suite I got with some hardware a while back although some people seem to think it's good.

JIM

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Re: Photography

Post by Mark R » Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:25 pm

Somebody has mailed and generously offered to solve this problem for me...the internet is a wonderful thing.

Here's another question - what kind of manipulation of digital images is appropriate/ worthwhile/ accpetable?


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Re: Photography

Post by David P » Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:42 pm

Mark - great! Good news.

Jim - in general I'm no fan of basic Ulead stuff - it's just "Photo Explorer" that I like! I've preferred alternatives for sticking pictures on CD slideshows, but the Ulead version is well acceptable. I'd not in general use their stuff for editing images.
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Jim
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Re: Photography

Post by Jim » Mon Oct 13, 2003 9:42 pm

"What kind of manipulation of digital images is appropriate/ worthwhile/ accpetable?"

That all depends on the idea behind it. The image of you (or was it one of the others?) running that huge fall with the flake in it, is quite acceptable because it is an obvious joke.

If you are manipulating the images for artistic benefit and are not going to pass them off as documentary you can get away with whatever you feel is tasteful.

For documentation, improvements to the image like brightening and sharpening can be useful or perhaps essential if it is done to make the image more clear. Putting a Californian sky onto a grotty overcast photo of the Spean gorge to make it look friendlier would be unacceptable, but as the overcast day would cause shadows and highlights in a very different way the picture would probably be an obvious hoax putting it back in the first category.

As for removing thumbs (not from the subject unless they have the wrong number to start with) or branches or trying to alter the exposure in different areas of the image (high tech stuff using layers) - they make the photo clearer and to my mind are acceptable. You won't turn a bad picture into a good one, but you can turn a picture with a mistake into what you intended, well in theory - I've generally failed in practice :-)

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Re: Photography

Post by David P » Mon Oct 13, 2003 10:32 pm

Not entirely relevant - but we successfully "painted out" a glass in the hand of a friend, in a wedding picture - an eminently acceptable enhancement!!
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Re: Photography

Post by Steve B » Tue Oct 14, 2003 1:46 pm

"Here's another question - what kind of manipulation of digital images is appropriate/ worthwhile/ acceptable?"

Oh goody another philosophical question (i.e. all answers however diverse are 'correct').

All recorded images are, to a greater or lesser extent, artistic representations of the subject, and there has been a fascinating evolution of the process over thousands of years and especially the last few hundred.

Cave drawings were little more than symbols, but we mustn't make the mistake of thinking that prehistoric man believed they looked life-like - he was as intelligent as us but his culture simply hadn't learned how to represent things more accurately. But it didn't matter - the stick man with the big round head was an unmistakeable illustration of the visitor from outer space he'd just seen. Or did he employ artistic licence? Who knows.

As artistic techniques developed it became possible to record highly life-like portraits and scenes - well, life-like maybe, but true to life? Generally not. Eyes larger, noses smaller, complexions improved, costumes embellished, completely fake backgrounds painted in, important people painted larger and brighter, groups of people who had never actually met, and old paintings brought 'up to date' by painting fashionable clothes over the old ones. All this was routine work for the painter, and nobody would have considered it in any way dishonest.

Then along came a new technique - photography. Overnight it became possible for an image to be created of things as they actually were, which changed everything. Or did it? Not really. People put on their finest clothes, wore make-up, stood in front of theatrical sets and posed for the photograph. The picture which adorned granny's sideboard was just as much a half-truth as any renaissance portrait. The difference was, all the fiction had to be set up before the plate was exposed. Ok, some ground-breaking work was done by a few photographers who wanted to show things as they really were, but even these were highly creative, because that's what makes for interesting images.

Commercial photography introduced another powerful reason for photographs to lie - profit. A whole new skill of photographic retouching was developed, so that by the time a product appeared in a catalogue or advertisement it was half photograph and half painting, and very much more perfect than the real thing. But at what point did cleaning up an image become deceitful? Tough question to answer.

No discussion of this subject would be complete without reference to the fact that every front cover of Vogue for decades has shown a heavily retouched image. Every time a supermodel drops round for coffee I am reminded that they don't really look like that - I'm sure you've all had the same experience - but I don't think anyone would argue that people are actually misled by fashion magazine covers. And in the same field - is it acceptable for a model to have a nose job, yet not acceptable for the retoucher to create a smaller, shapelier nose in software?

I suppose the one area where photographs have a duty to tell the absolute truth is in journalism. There was a major fuss earlier in the year because a photographer in Iraq had added extra people to the bystanders in a shot to make the crowd look bigger. It didn't change the essence of the picture, it just improved the composition, and he was only caught out because he rather stupidly put the same person in twice. Most of the time we don't know it has been done.

Well this is all very interesting, I hear you say, but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of photographs are taken by ordinary people using simple cameras and the photographs we take are never retouched. But why is that? Is it because you have a moral compulsion to show things with saintly honesty? Or is it because you never had access to the tools which would allow you to improve your pictures? I wouldn't presume to answer that question on your behalf, but what I would do is ask you to regard Photoshop and the rest as tools which you have the option of using if you wish. If you add a Californian sky to Jim's picture of the Spean Gorge, is it a damaging lie, or is it simply part of the process of creating a representation of the moment in a favourable light?

Photographers have always exaggerated, distorted and 'improved' the truth, whether by setting up a shot, using an orange filter to make the sky look moodier than it really was, or by painting the glass out of the wedding guest's hand. Retouching is a process which was previously available only to the professional, and now anyone can do it. The biggest difference that will make, is that we can expect to see some truly awful retouching!

Of course it is just as easy to create a photograph which tells a wholly unacceptable lie. There was a well documented case quite recently of a fisherman who faked a photograph to 'prove' that he'd caught a huge fish, and one of the magazines was deceived by it and published it. It was a lie, in exactly the same way that he could have created the lie using words. And it was he who told the lie, not the image editing software he'd used. To use a similar technique to depict yourself running a river you haven't run (humorous renditions excepted) would be just the same.

In a sense, the creation of images and how it is acceptable to represent the appearance of someone or something has come full circle. Originally the entire image was fake and 'truth' was a matter of expression and interpretation. The camera - in the hands of amateurs at least - introduced the idea that the exactness of the image could be assumed. This matter-of-factness has been around for so long that it has acquired the de facto status of a virtue. Now digital imaging and the ready availability of powerful editing tools has allowed us a level of creative freedom not known since images were created with a brush.

So go ahead and use the tools available to you. My advice would be to use them judiciously, sparingly even, but as long as you use them with the same integrity you would apply to your writing the limits are up to you.

Steve Balcombe

"If you want to be in the picture you'll have to sit this side of the table"
Leonardo da Vinci at the Last Supper

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Jim
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Re: Photography

Post by Jim » Tue Oct 14, 2003 3:27 pm

Steve's reply is quite thorough but seems to imply that the amatuer can't fake (for want of a more accurate adjective) images with film. I'd agree that it isn't easy, especially if working with colour (few amatuers do), but it is possible.

Take for example the common process of sepia toning a black and white print. Or the more extreme example of very carefully masking background and later foreground areas of a photograph on your enlarging easel so that you can print a different background by exposing the areas with different negatives. Tricky but possible - I haven't tried it yet but in pursuit of art I might have to give it a go sometime!

Come to think of it I manipulate a good B&W image all the way through the process, by using a filter to alter the tonal range (need more practice) initially, and then by burning in different areas of the print to even the exposure or achieve detail in highlit areas. A cunning photographer can adjust the development time on the film and/or push and pull the film to use it at a different effective speed than the one printed on it (I've never tried either, you have to remember what you are doing when taking the exposures and during developing, I'm sure I would get muddled up and I have never had a need to do it).

I'm guessing that most paddling photography is documentary so only very basic manipulation will be required. You will notice that catalogues and ads use heavily manipulated images in an artistic way (I'm thinking of speed blur, solarising and other such things that make the original almost unrecognisable but still imply kayaking in the theme), I reckon it is best to supply normal photos and the graphics people do all this if they want to, although I have to admit to trying a few things of my own (the series of Andy Warhol inspired slides of Bob's Hole where I used B&W filters with colour slide film for example - yellow works, green doesn't, red I don't know how I feel about!)

JIM

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Re: Photography

Post by Mark R » Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:47 pm

Marvellous, Steve - best thing I've read whilst marking A level coursework in years.


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Alex Masters
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Re: Photography

Post by Alex Masters » Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:53 pm

Steve said: we can expect to see some truly awful retouching!

I can't agree with him more, some people are actually trying to make a living out of their truly awful Photoshopery (is that a word?)such as this chap

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Re: Photography

Post by Mark R » Tue Oct 14, 2003 6:07 pm

Alex, I asctually quite like that stuff....totally seamless, as the artist claims.

I might add a few bikini-clad women to my photos of the Upper Dart this winter.


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Re: Photography

Post by Steve B » Tue Oct 14, 2003 7:26 pm

Jim> "Steve's reply is quite thorough"

<snigger>

Jim> "... but seems to imply that the amateur can't fake ... images with film"

Yes I did inadvertently imply that and of course it's not true. What I meant was that that overwhelming majority *don't* rather than can't.

Steve

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Re: Photography

Post by Steve B » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:27 pm

If your pictures don't need any improvement, here is the software to do it: NaDa 0.5. It's a free download so it should suit Mark's budget just fine.

Steve B.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Photography.

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:34 pm

As I am not taking pictures for forensic purposes I have no hesitation in using Photoshop to tweak a picture, straighten the horizon and get a good tonal range into the shadows and highlights.

After all what is reality? 10 witnesses of the same accident will give 10 different accounts. My photos are my perception of what I have seen.

Elements is really good but I usually use Photoshop because the layers allow me to work on the sky, the subject and the shadows separately.

I also use Panavue photo stitching software to assemble panoramas or to build up an extremely high-resolution image of a scene from perhaps 16 different images. For publication this produces an image resolution considerably in excess of even the best transparency film.

Here is one I had published as a centre spread in the colour sports supplement of Scotland on Sunday.

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...ne_two.jpg

Combining 9 35mm images created this scene and a further 4 images added Max the subject. So time lapse of a moving subject can be brought to a static image.

On the one below I used three layers to adjust the levels (exposure) on the subject, the foreground white water and the background.

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...7davie.jpg

Our colleagues on "sea and surf" have already seen this one.

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...horn2b.jpg

I did it in about 10 minutes in response to an active discussion about secret tide races on the West coast of Scotland. Photoshop allows you to blur the distinction between illusion and reality. If I had spent some time on it, that distinction would be very difficult. Do tabloid photographers use Photoshop?

Photography is like boating, it should be fun!

Douglas :)

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Re: Photography.

Post by David P » Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:17 pm

Elements is really good but I usually use Photoshop because the layers allow me to work on the sky, the subject and the shadows separately.
Just to add a final note, I'm pretty sure that Elements 2 allows you to do pretty much as much with layers, as an ordinary user is likely to want to do with "full" Photoshop? Though I have to say I haven't used it that much... I've used layers more for text overlays and stuff rather than for tweaking pix as such.
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jay
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triple steps

Post by jay » Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:29 am

Douglas,

Your triple steps photo looks very nice. Needed to look twice before realising that all four paddlers are the same one.

Forgive my ignorance but why did you need more than the 4 shots of the paddler to build that picture?

jay


Laurence
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Free Image Editing

Post by Laurence » Thu Oct 16, 2003 2:41 pm

The Gimp (a free linux photo editor) is available for windows from www2.arnes.si/~sopjsimo/gimp/

It's a bit tricky to get to grips with, but no more so than photoshop really (If you know photoshop it's not too bad)

Laurence

Tim
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use photoshop

Post by Tim » Thu Oct 16, 2003 5:22 pm

Have a look at this photo taken in norway this year.

www.thamesweirproject.co....nortt2.jpg

Appart from using multiple images, as with douglas', I used a sky from another photo. The original sky was dingy and I felt this one worked a lot better.

Steves right, With photoshop your granny could manipulate images. What is manipulation. Is it cropping the image to remove some idiot mooning on the bank? is it pulling it a few stops at the labs? Manipulation has allways been going on we just havnt been aware of it.

I think as long as the finished result is good it really doesnt matter.

TT

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Re: use photoshop

Post by Mark R » Thu Oct 16, 2003 7:37 pm

The great pictures of multiple paddlers...from Douglas, Timm etc...

Are these sections of several pics stuck together, or a single pic with extra cut-out paddlers glued on?

Cheers,


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Douglas Wilcox
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triple falls

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Oct 16, 2003 9:53 pm

The background was taken separately from the 4 action pictures of Max on his run down the first 2 drops. The 4 of Max were all taken from the same spot and the camera looked directly at him in each case.

The background was also taken from the same spot with the zoom focal length set to the same as the action pics (35mm film camera equivalent). This scene is too close to the viewpoint to get everything into a 35mm lens view so was taken as 3 rows of three with a 3.3 megapixel camera, then combined using panavue software giving an image size of approx 25mb to keep the printer happy. The 4 images of Max were cut out using a feather lasso tool including a little piece of rock and pasted onto the blank scene in exactly the position that the little piece of rock matched the background. Using levels and colour balance controls on the pasted layer, it was matched to the background.

The only other "shocking" thing about this is the background was shot 2 weeks after the action shots by a different photographer, in similar weather/lighting, same time of day and fortunately identical river levels. I was not even there when Max ran the Etive!

You have to be prepared to sweat to get a good shot.

Max's story is at:
www.news.scotsman.com/top...02&tid=608

He refers to a flat landing because he thought they were going to use this pic of rightangle:

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...angle2.jpg

My friend Mike took all these pics and I assembled them.

Douglas :)


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Mark H
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Etive

Post by Mark H » Thu Oct 16, 2003 11:01 pm

Ok slight change of subject..... 8 metres ???....

I have always refereed to Right angle falls on the Etive as 6 metres, does anyone know the true height ?, anyone actually measured it ?, what difference to height to water levels make ?

What can I really tell my mates at work without exaggerating too much ??

Cheers,

Mark H



Tim
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montages

Post by Tim » Fri Oct 17, 2003 12:29 am

I used the clone stamp tool on photoshop. It was a selection of 10 shots on the s602z. I took one as the background and simply cloned the others onto the background in the same places they appeared in the individual photos. It took about 1/2 hour.

Photoshop is still considered to be the best and is fairly easy to work with. If you dont mind pirated software you could allways download v7.0 off kazaa for free.

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Re: montages

Post by Mark R » Fri Oct 17, 2003 7:17 am

Right Angle Falls, Etive - only 18 feet high, give or take. Look at a photo and use a paddle as a rough measure (roughly 6 feet long)


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