Andrew Macpherson


Free Photoshop Video Podcasts.

by on Feb.12, 2010, under Presentation, Workflow

There are a lot of Photoshop Video Podcasts out there, many directly brokered by the iTunes store.  I’m a great podcast fan for storing interesting speech for driving, for the train and tube, but the video podcasts are not such a great idea on any medium other than one’s laptop, or I suppose an iPad, though I’m not sure if the screen is big enough on that.

There are 2 axes they can be judged on beyond the simple quality.  One is how far away from the product they stray — are they about Photoshop, or are we in the 3D effects of Photoshop Extended, are we integrating with Adobe Illustrator.  The other noticeable dimension is the photo to artwork axis, with some of the talks being in a zone delineated by the advertising message, and using techniques that work only in relatively low resolution.

My needs as an aspiring amateur stop at presenting my photographs well, whether for club competition,  or as a gallery wrap canvas of a family portrait that someone’s prepared to pay for.  so I’m only going to point you at ‘casts which meet my needs most of the time, and don’t overwhelm the viewer with advertising — some is OK to pay for the content after all, but some casts are 75% advert 20%chat and 5% content.  I may be missing really good content because I haven’t found it (yet), but there are ‘casts that I’m deliberately not mentioning too.

So what shows am I finding Useful? (continue reading…)

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EAF Exhibition in Harlow

by on May.04, 2009, under Competitions, Presentation

Saturday saw the opening of the East Anglia Federation of Photographic Societies annual exhibition in the Gibberd Gallery at the Civic Centre in Harlow. It was due to be opened by a Harlow civic dignitary, but they were delayed, so eventually the show proceeded without them. If I heard it right there were over 1500 prints for the judges to select from, and a similar number of projected images, so the judges have to be congratulated on their stamina right up front. If each work had 10 seconds consideration that is about 5 hours on each category.

After the presentation of awards we went upstairs into the nicely air-conditioned council chamber to see the projected images (the few slides had been scanned for this).  It may have been an artifice of the usual low resolution of the digital projection, but to me the show had an extreme acutance that screamed too much shrinking, too much photoshop.  However I’m not anaesthetised to these effects by watching TV, having banned the haunted fishtank back in 1988.  Others may be less sensitive.

It was fascinating to see what caught the judge’s eyes.  The nature shots were mostly ‘doing something,’ along the lines of Terns fighting, Eagle with prey, birds with nest materiel…  There was lots of monochrome, which seemed to favour the grainier or higher contrast (lith) styles which certainly do nothing for me.  Almost completely missing were architectural shots and normal daylight landscapes.

Definitely worth a visot — 10am to 5pm weekdays, and Saturday mornings 9am till 12pm.  Parking at the Water Gardens is more expensive (and difficult) on Saturday, but if you need groceries from ASDA you can get a partial parking refund on your way back to your car.

Some of the EAF types running the projected image section had a splendid sense of humour.  They managed a completely straight face while maintaining that the projected resolution was completely irrelevant, and there would be no benefit from increasing to 1960 x 1080 from 1400×1050.  Quick, let’s enter some 72dpi black and white lithograph prints for next year — nope too late; someone’s already gone there

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Mount Board Cutters

by on Apr.16, 2009, under Equipment, Presentation, Workflow

Speaking of mount board as I did in the last note. I’ve just upgraded from the Logan Compact mount cutter to the Model 450 Intermediate Mat Cutter.

The Model 301 did the job, but it had 2 prolems as far as I was concerned

  1. The guide rail is sprung, rather than hinged. This turns out to be a major pest.
  2. The bed is too short to cut A1 mountboard along it’s length

Of these having my fingers eaten by the sprung guide rail was top of my reasons to change.  Didn’t lose more than the VAT when I sold the old compact on E-Bay they seem to keep their value well, and I’m very pleased with the upgrade.

Both versions come with the same very useful how-to DVD to get one going

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Competitions and Exhibitions

by on Apr.16, 2009, under Presentation

I admit it, I don’t understand photo competitions and club judges.  There’s an old camera club joke told by longer serving members:

The Heavenly Camera Club agreed to an inter club battle with Satan’s Snappers.  Saint Veronica’s view was “How can we lose? We have all the great photographers!” 

But as Satan retorted  “We can’t lose — we have all the Judges

Certainly it sometimes feels that way. 🙂  But it would be nice to know what they look for — sometimes it’s infuriating to get comments about one’s photoshop technique when the photo is a highly creative ‘as shot’ image, or remarks about distant sea when the image was shot in the mountains at an altitude od 2000 metres looking down into an enclosed valley.  So all right the photograph has to communicate unaided, but for the same photograph to get a 6/10 one week, after a 10/10 “possibly some commercial value” the previous week. Pfui.

While I’m having a moan let’s add antique, and possibly inadequately calibrated display technology to the set of sitting ducks to take pot shots at.  HDTV 1080i is here (1960×1080), projectors are available from  £999, yet clubs are only just moving to 1460 bits as the standard resolution for competition, Bizarre or what?

Anyway after my first year of club competitions I’m moving toward a few general guidelines which of course can be ignored for particular effect.  I really would like feedback and correction here, so please don’t hold back with your comments.  In no particular order

  • Eyes must always be in pin sharp focus
  • Use high gloss paper.
  • Photos with motion blur must have 1 sharp line across the direction of blur
  • Keep portrait format for prints, and photos that need the sharpening that you get from the massive shrinkage.  Digital projection is low resolution and not subtle.
  • Expect your near whites to be burned out, and near blacks to be black when projected, and to be criticised for these failings of the equipment / environment.
  • Never use more than a hairline to frame a projected image
  • Remember that the bevel in a standard mount frame gives you an edge for your print, and that mount board is available in black core, so you can delimit the edge of a light coloured print
  • When mounting prints, offset the cutout window slightly toward the top of the frame
  • Think very carefully before using coloured mount board, some judges can take that into account, also make sure the edges of the mount are not visibly damaged.
  • The judge is usually within 6 feet of a print.  It doesn’t have to look any good from the middle, let alone the back of the hall.

I feel better for that, but what have I missed, where have I grabbed the wrong end of the stick?  Over to you.

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