My daughter and I were playing with one of her photos and, after a lot of experimentation, came up with this…
What are your opinions?
I have put a link to my stock site and set it as “live” I am working on putting more photos up for royalty free purchase. Of course my fine art images will still be available. I will try to keep the stock photography as more generic concepts.
Please have a look and let me know what you think.
Some things I need to do:
- Modify the theme to match the rest of my site
- Change the header to more of a logo (which means I have to design a logo…)
- change watermark to my logo (see point #2)
- upload more images…
- Market, market, market…
from my drive yesterday.
I have done the retouching for this image in Lightroom on my laptop. Of course the screen of the laptop is not the best, so I may have to revisit this…
This review will be broken into two parts, this one on the camera and and the article following on image quality.
I bought myself a new Nikon D600 last Thursday, and this weekend is the first time I have been able to “play” with it. There is lots to learn with this camera, the owners manual is the size of a small novel (and yes that is only the English). For these reasons, this will be an evolving review as I learn more….
Of course the first thing I did after I bought my camera was to charge the battery. I wish the charger displayed the battery level, but that is not a big deal, as the camera seems to be accurate (no I have not killed a charge yet, but I am not one for taking thousands of images on a shoot). Once I got home from work, I started reading the manual. The manual will take a couple of reads before I learn everything, but a quick browse gave me an idea of some of the things I wanted to customize. Since I am coming from a much older and simpler camera, I probably have more to learn than someone upgrading from a more recent model. I am not one for gadgets on my cameras…
Out taking photos, the camera handles well. Honestly I don’t think it feels as good as my old Fuji S2-Pro, but that might just be a familiarity thing. I know build quality is better on the D600. The viewfinder is nice and bright, and seems to show everything you really need. One feature I did not think about was live view. When shooting at an unusual angle, I did not have to contort to see through the viewfinder to compose. Again, I prefer using the viewfinder, but the live view was a help for a couple of shots.
One thing I did not like was the remote release. The cord can be plugged in backwards. It takes a very little extra effort, and I am afraid it could break some contacts or something. I will have to mark the plug somehow (I am thinking of a dot of bright red nail polish). I will also need to figure out a way to mount the release to the tripod. I tend to leave the camera on the tripod and carry it over my shoulder. If I leave the remote plugged it, it swings. In other words, it is not a well designed remote. There is available a wireless remote, but having used those in the past, I’m not a big fan…
When I got home to download the images I was in for another surprise. My Linux computer recognized the raw files fine, however my windows machine did not. A download from Nikon enabled me to see thumbnails, but that was about it. Lightroom 4 recognized the files, but Photoshop CS5 did not. Contrary to what seems like most photographers, I don’t really like Lightroom, and I don’t see a real need to update to Photoshop CS6. Thank goodness Digikam understands the files. I do miss some of the controls and ease of ACR, but I can work around that. I will have to figure out a workflow…
Back to the camera though, Image quality is amazing. I could get very good images with my old Fuji, but I felt like I was pushing it right up to, and even past, what it could provide. I often had to work pretty hard to get what I wanted. With the D600, I get the feeling I have room to spare. The image files just keep going, amazing detail, tons of dynamic range, and very malleable.
Of course the camera is new, and I have to justify the cost, but I think as I learn the D600, it will prove to be a versatile tool.
Why is software (and hardware for that matter) is such a moving target?
Years ago I did a lot of research to find a good on line gallery software. I tried a bunch and settled on Gallery2. As I learned the software, I grew to like it more and more. It was versatile, it let me do what I wanted, and it looked good. Unfortunately, software developers get bored with maintaining the same software, so they came out with Gallery3. Of course Gallery3 is not compatible with Gallery2. All the tweaks and customizations I put into my website would not work with the new system. I have been using Gallery2 anyway, but it looks like I may have to change. All the extras don’t seem to work as well as they used to, and the main integration with WordPress is not quite as easy as it once was….. Bummer….
- There was a plugin, for example, for Linux that let me upload photos directly from my desktop by right clicking on an image. Now that plugin seems to have disappeared. I can still upload photos, but it is not quite as quick and easy↵
I came across someone asking for help for his website. He has lofty goals, but I think he has bitten off a bit more than he can chew. I will come back to this in a bit…
Whenever I talk to someone who wants to start a small business, I ask a few basic questions:
1) What makes your business unique?
Too often the answer is either, “People will come to me because I am great” or “I am the only one selling this exact product”. No business is without competition, and there are good people everywhere (admittedly, there are “bad” people out there too). There may be no one selling widget “A”, but widget “B” does 99% of the same stuff, and it costs half as much.
A related answer is, “I will do it better than any competition.” This is a tough one, because you are fighting a real uphill battle. First you need to define “better” then you need to determine if enough other people will agree that this is in fact batter. Finally you need to hope that your competition, with their established customers and “business momentum” will not learn or implement your new better way.
2) What are you really selling?
This is the old sizzle and steak sales adage. Know what problem you are solving for your customers. And possibly more important, are there enough people with this problem to become potential customers.
It is surprising how many business owners don’t really know what they are selling…
This brings me back to the website I started with. This person wanted:[gn_quote style="1"]to provide photographers with a set of unique, functional abilities within a custom portfolio, custom online store, and unified social networking systems.[/gn_quote] (Note: typos corrected)
Now I don’t want to be too hard on this person, but….
To add to the problems, the person (and no I will not add a link so I don’t embarrass the web developer more than I have to) is trying to create a site to appeal to visual people, yet he still seems to be struggling with the basic layout of his site, as evidenced by this screen shot:
Sorry, but before you can start marketing you need to get a product. If your purpose is to learn HTML and CSS, that is great, but if you want to attract people, maybe it would be worth taking a shortcut with Drupal, WordPress, or some other content management system.
EDIT: I originally found this site while at school, where the network is quite locked down. Viewing the site on a more open network looks a lot better, but it is still not really appealing to it’s target market. And of course, since the site doesn’t degrade well, if anyone were to look at it from work, or on an under powered tablet, the impression would be pretty bad…
- Yes I just made up the term “business momentum” I define it as the comfort customers have in staying with an established company, or conversely, the reluctance customers have in changing companies.↵
- Sales people will say that people don’t buy things, they buy solutions to their problems. If someone is hungry (the problem) they don’t want a slab of dead cow (the steak) they want the aroma, the flavour, and the feeling of satisfaction after eating a meal (the sizzle). Of course this analogy breaks down if you are talking to a vegetarian….;)↵
In one of the LinkedIn groups I follow, Davesh asked for help with this image taken with, I am guessing, a cell phone camera with a dirty lens:
with a couple of minutes in Photoshop (or any other retouching program)
I found the original a bit pasty an flat, in addition to the light flare from the dirty lens, so the first step was an overall contrast and saturation adjustment.
Next I tackled the faces covered with flare. I simply made another curves adjustment layer, matched the tone of the “flared” area to the unflared area, then masked off everywhere else.
Last step was to darken the background. Again I used a curves layer with a mask to control what was adjusted.
As a final last step, I was not happy with a couple of the faces, so I touched them up a bit more.
All in all, it took me much longer to write this description than to retouch the photo. Yes I could fix the photo quite a bit more. There is a lot of fine tuning I could do, but sometimes a quick “down and dirty” job is good enough…
PS. One of the responses in the above discussion mentioned that the background light is distracting. I agree, but removing it with the clone tool for example was a bit more work than I was willing to put into the image. Another poster had a better suggestion anyway, just crop off the top… makes a better composition anyway…
I have seen a question asked in a number of forms (and forums). The most common variant seems to be along the lines of, “Why does my super expensive uber-camera only record 72 DPI?”
This can get quite complicated, but I will try to keep it simple. Before we can even start, though, we need some definitions:
DPI or Dots Per Inch is an often misused printing term. For ink jets printers it refers to the number of distinct drops of a specific colour of ink placed on the paper. As a simple example imagine a 3 colour printer that has 300 holes in an inch wide print head, 100 for the cyan ink (C), 100 for the magenta (M), and 100 for the yellow (Y). This printer has 300 dots per inch. But remember that each of these dots can only be one colour (we will ignore black and other colour inks used in higher end printers, this is a cheap make-believe printer just to demonstrate a point). Additional colours can be made by mixing different numbers of dots of these inks, along with the white of the paper, in a very small area (look at a print under a magnifying glass sometime). The way a printer does this is to place a number of dots of each required colour (CMY) within a matrix.[gn_spoiler title="click here to see some simple 4 x 4 dot pixels" open="0" style="2"]
Now, back to our original 300 dpi printer. Imagine that this print head used a 100 dot matrix to make each pixel. It takes 100 dots to make up one colour. It may take 27 cyan dots, 56 magenta dots, and 7 yellow dots while leaving the rest of the matrix white to make up the required colour . Each colour matrix represents ONE pixel. Therefore, this theoretical print head can print three (3) PIXELS per inch (PPI).
This is why some printers say they have 1200 dpi or more. This is NOT the same as 1200 PPI. The number of pixels, and the actual resolution has nothing (ok, very little) to do with the DPI. A higher dpi may mean a higher ppi, it may mean a larger range of printable colours, but it could also mean absolutely nothing!
So now we know what printed dots are, but what about resolution? Resolution is the number of pixels in an image, usually measured along the horizontal and vertical axes. 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall as an example.
So where does ppi come in? Let’s say we want to print an 8 inch by 10 inch picture. We know from experience that we need about 300 ppi to make a photo realistic image. We multiply 8 inches times 300 ppi for 2400 pixels and 10 times 300 for 3000 pixels. We need an image of 2400 x 3000 pixels.
A lot of the confusion comes when printing programs or graphics programs use dpi when they mean ppi. People also get confused when they are re-sizing images. If you don’t change the number of pixels in an image (which is what affects the file size) you can specify any dpi you want. An example I used in a forum was, ” Which has more resolution, a 10 ppi image, or a 1000 ppi image?” The question is unanswerable unless I also tell you either print size, in which case you can calculate pixel dimensions, or pixel dimensions directly.
So keep an eye on pixel dimensions, and make sure your software isn’t changing the pixel count when all you want to do is print your image.
Note: If you have any questions or comments, please contact me so I can incorporate them in future articles.
- The 72 number may vary. This post was inspired by someone asking about 200 DPI vs 320 DPI. Another common question is, “What dpi should I print at?” hence the title of the article↵
- It is also been used to describe the number of each red, green or blue elements on a monitor. In common usage, dpi and ppi (pixels per inch) are often used interchangeably, which leads to much of the confusion.↵
- This printer doesn’t exist of course, and most print heads have fewer holes than their DPI rating. This is accomplished by the head moving across the print surface and “firing” multiple times per inch during that pass.↵
- One of the differences between a good photo printer and a regular colour printer is the way these dots are arranged. Some laser printers put down a very regular and rectangular grid. This can be visibly distracting in a photograph.↵
- For some reason Great Britain (not sure about the rest of Europe) measures images opposite to North America. What we call 8×10 they call 10×8. I guess they think we also drive on the wrong side of the road…↵
- The ppi required (often also called resolution – see where all the confusion comes in?) is partly dependant on the printer you are using, and partly on the viewing distance. For a regular print you are going to be looking closely at, use around 300 ppi. I may write on this topic in more depth at a later date…. or maybe not….↵
- as an aside, note that this is a 7.2 megapixel image. If you are willing to go to 200 ppi, which a lot of people find more than acceptable, you can get away with a 3.2 megapixel camera. Yes you can make decent prints with your cell phone, as long as it has good quality pixels (another topic, and rare in a cell phone) and a good lens (very rare).↵
I have finally gotten off my butt to put some of my workshops on line. Well actually I have gotten ON my butt at the computer… let’s move on….
I needed to buy a new microphone so that I could do some videos explaining some of the concepts, so I went into Boomers because I had a bit of a store credit. It turns out they sold a bit more of the stuff I got when Office Depot shut down. I was able to get a much better microphone-headset for nothing.
Must be a sign…
I have been watching videos at Kahn Academy (khanacademy.org) and I started to wonder if I could put up something similar, but photography or art related. I have researched video software enough that I can start experimenting. Hopefully I can get something up soon..
I know one of my weaknesses has been accounting. That is one of many reasons I am back in school. And one of the reasons my brain has been hurting lately, however, I am trying out a few open source accounting solutions I can use if I become a consultant.
For a small business, gnucash is ok. It is more fully featured than the cheaper versions of Simply Accounting, but nowhere near the ease of use of the expensive versions. But there is the rub. For a small business, is costs over $400 to get what you need, as well as a bunch of stuff you don’t. $400 may not seem like much, but it is an expense with no return that repeats every year. If you were to take that same $400 and buy inventory that you can sell with a 25% margin, in 5 years, you will have made an extra 3 grand. (see that is some of my new accounting/financial planning knowledge) I have also been exploring LedgerSMB and FrontAccounting. These program are very powerful, can be run off a server to be accessible anywhere, and can be quite customizable.
LedgerSMB is ugly, but since it is html template based, it may be possible to make a prettier face on it. It also feels a bit dated and awkward to use. It was also much harder to install (mind you email support was very friendly and fast).
FrontAccounting is quite easy to install on any basic Linux server. It does take a bit of work to set up a complete set of books, customers, vendors, and inventory, but with a bit of patience, and a very little bit of bookkeeping knowledge it is possible. I do wish you could add things “on the fly”, such as adding a customer from within the invoice screen. Instead you have to exit the invoice, go to “add and manage customers”, add the customer, then go back to the invoice screen. Reprinting invoices is also a bit convoluted, as you have to go in through the journal entry screen.
As a techie, FrontAccounting is not bad. I am not sure if I could recommend it to a small business owner, only because it doesn’t have as much hand holding as Simply Accounting. If you have a bit of bookkeeping knowledge (I only have three courses under my belt) and are comfortable with computers, you can save your $400 per year, and I am sure that as I get more familiar with it and use it more, FrontAccounting will become easier. This software also seems to be under active development, so improvements will continue to make it better. Here’s to open source…..
I guess I will have to write more stuff now.
1. Do I have the right to destroy beauty?Lets say, for argument sake, I create something that is beautiful, for some definition of beauty. Do I have the right to destroy the original (either negative or digital file)? If I created it, it would be quite selfish, but I think I should be able to delete it. In the same way that if I purchased the Mona Lisa, I do have the right to burn it. Some people might be quite pissed off, I would be depriving human culture of a great work, but I do have the right.
2. What gives me the right to artificially inflate prices by artificially limiting the number of copies of a piece?If I create a one of a kind something like a painting, any extra copies will not be as good (or at least the same) as the original. The piece with the original brush strokes is unique. The whole argument falls apart for photography*. Each print is the same as the last. Now I know that in 20 years it will be very hard to copy the same printer settings, especially if I am printing on a newer, better printer. but for a short time I should be able to reproduce any print exactly. All I need to do is print the final file. Why should I tell someone that I just sold the last copy and I do not want to print any more? Again it is a decision on my part to not print another copy, not any limitation in the media. To me that sounds selfish. But again, I guess I do have the right to not sell a print. Digital media has changed a lot of things. Copies are no longer expensive. The only way to create a limited market is to decide to create a limited market. Is this morally right? Is it morally wrong? I don’t know, but I think I will still produce prints from an image for a while, and then no more once I get bored with it…. *An argument could be made that a print from an analogue negative is more unique, especially if there is a lot of burning and dodging of the final print. Other photographic processes may have random uncontrollable elements as well, but I am more concerned with digital, since that is what I shoot.