Archive for July, 2007


Redecorating the office

Right now we are in the process of redecorating the office/guest room. The couple we bought the apartment from liked to hang stuff on the wall, and the office looked like the scene of a mafia shootout. I guess we’ll be finished on Wednesday, or Thursday. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to get my printer up and running again.


The fighter

This is my third attempt at this root I found in the forest behind my home. The first time, when I discovered it, I took just a couple of plain macro shots, but when I came home I realized that this would be a suitable subject for Helicon focus. Back up the next day, and the light was better, but since I had practically no experience in working with that software, I did some technical errors. I adjusted the focus too much between the shots leaving some unfocussed slices in the middle of the focussed areas. It didn’t look good, so today I went up again and now I took plenty of shots. This one is a blend of 15 shots with slightly different focus. I am quite pleased with it, but I haven’t worked enough on it yet. Just a quick and dirty run through the akvis enhancer and converted to BW.


Image changes when flattening layers in Photoshop

When I process an image in photoshop I use many layers. Working non destructive means I use adjustment layers, and merge layers into a new layer to run filters on them. The advantage is obvious. When I have overdone an effect, it is easy to just turn off that layer. or to reduce the effect with the opacity slider. But when I prepare for print or web, I always take a copy of the psd file which I resize and flatten to save disk space. Some times when I flatten the image, the tonality seems to change. I’ve done a lot of searching on this, finding nothing. Then, by coincident, when I tried to figure out how to flatten an image without changing it, I flattened while viewing the image at 100% zoom. To my surprise there was no change at all. I zoomed out to “fit on screen”, and the image seemed to change when flattening.

So, the image doesn’t really change when flattening, only the screen rendering may change. It seems that any odd number zoom factor may cause this effect. It also seems to be more visible when you got a lot of small high contrast specs in the image. I was happy for a while, but then I realized that the Photoshop view could not necessarily be trusted, even when using a calibrated screen.

I’ve read this regarding evaluation of output sharpening, but now it seems to me that it also applies to tone adjustment, and possibly all kinds of adjustments you can do in photoshop. Thinking of it, I’ve also seen color changea. Don’t edit, or evaluate results unless you have zoomed to 100% or any 2 division of that (50% or 25%).

Just something to be aware of when photoshopping using many layers.


Some words about the Photokit sharpener

Third post of the day, I’m really in a writing mood.

For the last 6 months, I have been using the Photokit Sharpener from Pixel Genius for all my sharpening. With the Lightroom 1.1, this has changed. The capture sharpening capabilities of this version is far better (in my opinion), but I still use the output sharpening capabilities, and sometimes also the creative sharpening brushes.

The output sharpener for inkjet printing is very good. Most of the times I am happy with the default results. The web sharpening is another story. Most of the times, close to always, the sharpen effect is way over the top for me. I usually end up adjusting the layer opacity of the sharpen layers to somewhere beween 20-60%. Can it be that they designed the kit by watching the result on CRT monitors, creating a oversharpened result on my LCD.

Anyway, I would still reccomend the plugin to anyone, but just check the result. It won’t work magic every time, and being so automated as it is, it is quite easy to just trust the result unconditionally.


Reflection in water

Another walk in the forest yesterday. The light was really good, even thou it was in the middle of the day. The sky was partly clouded, and the light changed constantly. I could just put the camera on a tripod, pointing it at a promising subject, and wait. Within 10 minutes I could get 4-5 shots in very different light. Since many of the shots included water, the changing breeze changed the water surface constantly.

This is an image from that trip that I find promising. The symetry and oval shapes makes some fairly strong graphical elements. The composition is not by the book, and may be a bit disturbing, but is also right. Looking closer at the image, I like the contrast between the sharp details of the rocks and plants against the blurry details in the reflection.
Still not sure whether it will be a stayer.


A praise to modern fine art paper

Over at photostream, Colin is complaining about inkjet papers. All sorts are getting it, and most of the distress is caused by the fact that coating is hiding the paper structure. This is rather funny, considering that he also is known to advocates for the old silver-fiber papers used in the wet darkroom.

Old fashion fiber based silver paper is in fact worse than most inkjet papers. First of all, the paper seems to be very smooth and hard pressed. Then they are coated with an opaque paste, also known as baryta or barium nitrate. The purpose of this is to cover up the paper color and make the base whiter. Last the paper is covered with a thick jelly, also known as the emulsion, which also finish of the surface structure. Most of the matte fine art printer papers shows much more of the paper structure than any silver paper I’ve seen. And yes, I’ve been there in the darkroom too. I have seen it first hand. The think I enjoy most about many modern fine art papers is the feeling when handling them. Some of them are thick and stiff, with a slightly soft surface on the back. Then there is the Somerset Velvet, which makes me think of a soft cloth running between my fingers. the first time I felt these kinds of paper, it was almost a religious moment. The feeling was so much better than any silver based paper I’ve touched.

When it comes to the semigloss fine art papers, I have only tried Hahnem├╝ehle Fine Art Pearl. The surface of that paper can hold a lot of detail, and the tone range and color gamut is great, but t is kind of lifeless to touch, much like the old fiber-silver papers. I’ll use it when the need for gamut and tonality demands, but it will not be my first choice.

I know that much of what I’ve said about the old baryta papers may upset a few people, but get real. These papers are very smooth hard pressed surfaces, coated to death. The surface that so many people love, is made by how the emulsion is applied. I really don’t think there is so much special about these papers. Many of the old masters were able to produce some extraordinary results on these papers, but the same is happening with inkjet today. I think the main reason why many of the old-timers are whining, is the same reason why old-timers have been whining through all ages, they don’t like changes no matter what.

— Added comment
Oh by the way, this started out as a comment to Colins post, but ended with me ranting about how some people are hung up in the past. Even if it may have sounde like that, I did not mean to offend Colin at all. First of all, I do not know him, hence I don’t really know if such a description fits, and second, he clearly stated that it was his own subjective opinion, and you can’t really blame someone for that.


Making a portfolio box

There is an increasing number of prints I want to keep, and most of them looks best when printed a bit larger than A4. One good way to store these prints is to get a box made of acid free materials, which I really don’t know where to find. The other option is to make one. Being who I am, I chose the last option. In fact, I’ve buildt a few boxes over the last year, and my skills are getting better, but it is still a challenge. I still haven’t settled on a good basic design, especially when it comes to folding the fabric I use for cover and side walls. And glue, I use non toxic, archival friendly glue which works very fine on the paper and cardboard, but I still haven’t found a good glue that won’t seep through the fabric when I glue it to the cardboard plates. For this box I used spraymount, and it worked ok except for being very hard to apply in a controlled manner.

Anyway, I got a decent box for my A3 prints which is robust enough to be used every day, and nice enough to be shown to strangers.

Maybe I’ll try to write a small tutorial on how to make such a box. It’s realy fun and rewarding, and you don’t need any expensive tools or equipment. The next step for me now is to try and bind my own book. I just ordered a book on how to bind a book from single sheet pages (most books are made from folded papers). I think it may be a nice way to make small one of a kind photo books.

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