Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Using Photoshop Alpha Channels To Control Composition

Today’s image demonstrates what happens when you screw around with an image too much.  I was trying to get rid of the people in the background but give a hint of people “in the stands”.  The fact that it didn’t work out well doesn’t subtract from the point of today’s discussion.  Typically when I do something like today’s image the mask is one big thing with all the elements selected.  The ball, the batter and the catcher picked out as one Alpha Channel.  Today’s image has four separate Alpha Channels.  In this case, an Alpha Channel is a Saved Selection.  The Selection process is not important.  Make your Selections any way you’re comfortable with.  If you’re reading this and using Adobe Photoshop Elements, keep reading.  PSE has the ability to save Alpha Channels.  The big difference between Adobe Photoshop whatever and PSE is the fact that PS gives you access to the Alpha Channels and PSE doesn’t.  The question would be: “do you really need to have that access?”  Hit the “Read More” to find my thoughts on the subject.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just A Quick Phone Camera Shot

Yesterday we were down in NYC.  On the way home we heard on the radio that there were thunder storms on the southern shore of Long Island.  As the crow flies it couldn’t have been more than eight or ten miles from where we were on the West Side Highway.  Above us there was nothing but blue sky.  The radio was talking about torrential rains, lightening and high winds.  We were headed north, so we looked over our shoulders and in the mirrors.  Nothing.  We live about sixty miles north of the city, in Connecticut.  For the entire drive the sky was clear, until the last mile north.  We made the turn onto Route 84 going into our home state.  To the north of us were serious clouds.  South of the highway, clear skies.  It wasn’t like going from clear, to overcast, to cloudy, to serious clouds.  Today’s image is off my phone’s camera.  The white’s are blown out, but it gives a fair interpretation of what we saw.  What appears to be a right angle is actually a right angle.  You can see the clear blue sky with a distinct edge. 

I just thought you might get a kick out of an interesting weather phenomenon.  Have a good day.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Q &A: Privacy? Are You Kidding?

Frequent readers of the blog know I’m retired from a little west coast startup named Intel.  (Yea, that Intel.)  All this flap over privacy cracks me up.  Let’s go back to “the old days” of 1999.  Intel had just come up with a great technology for the “new” Pentium III processor.  Each chip would have (basically) a serial number.  This would be a great boon to large companies for the management of computer assets.  The IT Department could do all sorts of things to keep the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) down, manage the software on each computer, target updates to specific machines and streamline troubleshooting problems.  Only problem was that every chip, not just the ones in large companies, would have the serial number (identifier).  Conspiracy theorists went nuts and claimed “Big Brother” had arrived and everything you did would be subject to being tracked.  Intel backed away from including the ID'r code.  Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, was asked by a reporter (Stephen Manes) to weigh in about the noise.  His quote was (and remember this was 1999) “You have zero privacy anyway.  Get over it.”  Things haven’t changed.  You have zero privacy.  Every time you make a phone call, send an email, tweet what you had for lunch, post an instagram, or use a credit card, someone is gathering information.  To see an example of what can be done and why you have no privacy, hit the “Read More”.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wednesday Q & A: Does LR4 Have Alpha Channel Masks?

The easy answer to today question?  No.  The harder answer would be yes.  The first thing that needs to be discussed would be what is an Alpha Channel, and the second would be how are they used.  I did a post a while back about a similar topic.  It was about Alpha Channels in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  The answer is very close to the answer to today’s question.  Full blown Adobe Photoshop CS XX (whatever) definitely has Alpha Channel.  The big difference between PS CS and PSE and I’d think LR5B is that you have access to Alpha Channels in PS CS.  If you have the default Layers Panel open, take a look at the tabs.  It goes Layers/Channels/Paths.  A Channels Panel is available to you.  The first thing you see (if you’re working is an RGB mode) is four “Layers”.  RGB/Red/Green/Blue.  RGB is the composite of the other three.  The Red Channel is a B&W (there’s also an option to see it in color) representation of everything that contains even a little bit of red in the RGB image.  If you click on only the Red Layer you’d see a B&W image.  Full Blacks, full Whites and shades of gray.  Same thing happens when you click of the Green and Blue Layers in the Channel Panel.  As you click through, the B&W representations will change.  If you think of it as a painter would view his/her paints, you see which colors and what amounts the painter would have to mix her/his colors in to get the desired end color.  If you were to put a big old X (make one leg Black and one leg White) across the Red Channel (any Channel you choose) and then look at the RGB Layer you’d see a rainbow of colors.  What’s going on?  You’ve changed to amount of Black and the amount of White in the Alpha Channel.  To find out what happens in PSE and LR, hit the “Read More”.
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Monday, June 3, 2013

105 Shots Of A Stick And One Bird

How much of your camera do you actually use?  I’ve had my Nikon D300 for five or six years now and I’m still finding new things it do to play with it.  I’ve played with Auto Bracketing for years to create HDR images.  I have multiple Nikon speedlights so I can use Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System).  My latest thing to play with is the built in Interval Timer.  We put a bird feeder out in back of the master bathroom over the winter.  (It wound up being much more of a squirrel feeder rather than a bird feeder.)  It was about four feet away from a window, just slightly above the level of the upper pane when opened.  We set up a stick for birds alit on before dropping down to the perch on the feeder.  All was set.  I put the camera on a tripod on the counter and focused on the stick.  With the focus set to manual I knew it wasn’t going to “hunt” and would stay on the stick.  With the Interval Timer on the D300 I could set the number of shots, the time between shots and when I wanted the sequence to start.  Well, I wanted the sequence to start immediately (and that’s an option), so I clicked the shutter and walked away to do other things.  What happened to all those shots?  Hit the "Read More" to find out.

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