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Archive for September, 2008

Beginner’s Guide to Photoshop Plugins

September 22nd, 2008 3 Comments

 
 You probably already know that Adobe Photoshop is the magic wand of photo editing. But for more demanding image editing projects, Photoshop alone is not enough. There are tools out there that add more advanced capabilities like design blurring and color embossing to your Photoshop software. They are called plugins.

What are Photoshop plugins?
 
Photoshop plugins are supplemental programs that provide you with additional options to edit and enhance your photos, including actions or effects that are impossible to achieve with basic Photoshop commands. Also, they can make your work easier and faster by automating processes.
 
Photoshop is proud to have one of the largest collections of third-party plugins. Developed by Adobe and other independent corporations, plugins may require a fee, but there are also great ones that you can use free-of-charge.
 
What are the types of plugins?
 
Photoshop plugins fall into several types:
 

·         Filter plugin

It’s the most common type of plugin. It has an 8bf file format and normally provides special effects to images.

 

·         Import/export plugins

These plugins acquire or write image data from or to certain devices. An import plugin is also called acquisition and uses an 8ba file format. An export plugin uses 8be.

 

·         File format plugin

It opens and saves rare image formats that are not supported by Photoshop. It uses the 8bi file format.

 

·         Automation plugin

Like macros, this plugin that uses 8ly file type automates certain tasks in Photoshop such as a series of contrast adjustments you need to apply on your portraits shots.

 

·         Selection/parser plugins

Only Adobe creates these types of plugins. They use 8bs and 8by file formats, respectively.
 
How do you use these Photoshop plugins?
 
You need to install your plugins in graphics host applications or plugin hosts before you can use them. There are many graphics applications that support Photoshop plugins. Aside from Adobe Photoshop, some of the popular ones are:
 

  • Paint Shop Pro
  • Photoshop Elements
  • PhotoImpact
  • Corel PhotoPaint
  • Adobe Fireworks

 

To run the plugins in programs other than Photoshop, instructions are widely available online.

 
On the other hand, installing your plugins in Photoshop is fairly easy. First, make sure that your Photoshop is closed when installing new plugins. If your plugin package comes with an installer, you will be guided in the installation process and in a few clicks, you’re done.
 
But if you only have your plugin in, say, 8bf file extension, how will you install it? All you need to do is copy (or drag and drop) the file to the Plugins   subfolder of the Photoshop folder.
 
For Windows, your Photoshop software is usually located in C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop CS2Plugins; Mac OS stores it in LibraryApplicationsAdobe Photoshop CS2Plugins. If however you installed your Photoshop in another location, you should look for the plugins folder there.
 
The next time you start Photoshop, the new plugins will be available in the Filter menu, waiting for you to experiment on them to create your masterpieces.

Achieving a Dreamy Effect : Photoshop Tutorial

September 19th, 2008 5 Comments

 Photo credit: chylinski

 Have you ever wondered why some photos look ethereal and dreamy, like the swan photo above? It looks like it came straight from a scene in a fairy tale movie—softly lit, perceptive, fluid, vivid, and it touches something inside of you. You stare at the hints of light that gently touch elements on the photograph; you’re trying to convince yourself it’s a dream. But really, it’s not.
 
It’s just Photoshop.
 
Take a look at the original photo:
 

 
 
 It’s a good enough photo already, right? Although the story and composition can be improved (notice the badly cut reflection of the swan on the water), it makes a great photo of a swan spending her late afternoon dilly-dallying on the lake. To help you turn “simple” into “surreal,” here’s a tutorial on how to achieve a dreamy effect for your photos.
 

  1. Open your chosen photo in Photoshop. This effect works best with well-exposed pictures. You may first adjust brightness and contrast, or do any post-processing adjustment you wish to do with your photo.

 

  1. Create a new layer. From the menu, click Layer, New, and then Layer via Copy. Shortcut: Ctrl + J (Windows)or Cmd + J (Mac).
 
 

  1. A new layer labeled Layer 1 will appear on the Layers palette. This contains your foreground image, which is an exact copy of the background. You may rename your foreground layer if you wish to by double-clicking the layer name. In my case, I labeled it as Foreground.
 
 

  1. Making sure that the foreground layer is highlighted in the Layers palette, pull down the Filters menu and select Blur, then Gaussian Blur.



 

  1. On the Gaussian Blur dialog box, indicate the radius of the blur you wish to apply on your photo. The ideal scale value is when your photo is blurred enough to hide the details, but you should still be able to recognize the image behind it. Start with 5.0 and adjust from there. In the swan photo, I selected a value of 5.0 pixels.
 
 

  1. With the foreground layer still selected in the Layers palette, select the blending mode called Multiply. In this step, watch as your photo instantly turns into something new!
 
 

  1. From an ugly duckling to a glamorous swan, your photo has entered the world of dreams
This could already be the final image. However, depending on how heavily you want to apply the effect, you may change the blending opacity. By default, it is set at 100%. Move the opacity scale in the Layers palette to a lower value and see what you like best.
                 

 
  

  1. Pull down the Layer menu and choose Flatten the Image. This will merge the two layers so that you have just one image.
  1. Finally, click File, save the image as JPEG and you’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project 365: Chronicle your life – one photo at a time.

September 18th, 2008 No Comments

Photo credit: balladist

Let’s talk about your blog. As much as possible, you write something in it every day: that déjà vu in the train, your lunch, your overly cheerful boss, your child’s questions, your favorite part of the day, anything at all.

 One journal entry a day, 7 entries in a week, 30 in a month, 365 in a year.

Now imagine doing that—chronicling your life—with photos. At the end of the year, you will quite literally see your whole life flash before your eyes. Like how they say near-death experiences cause the same thing. This time, you force it upon yourself.

Taylor McKnight started a photo endeavor called Project 365. On January 1, 2004 he took the first photo. 365 days after and 365 more photos later, the project served as a great way to remember the passing year, and on a more profound sense, helped him appreciate and understand the important things in his life. Apart from that, he became a better photographer.

Are you up for the challenge? Do you wish to look back to see actual scenes of olden days, recall the feelings and thoughts, see whom you met and what you learned? If nostalgia is your cup of tea, this project is a great way to save you from forgetting. Here are tips to get you started with Project 365:

Bring your camera everywhere

You should always be ready to capture anything as the day unfolds hour after hour. Make it a habit to pitch your camera in your everyday bag. Take it to the office, school, grocery store, restaurant, birthday party, movie house, meeting and dinner. Keep this mantra in your head: there are photo-ops everywhere. And you don’t have to lug those bulky DSLRs; compact point-and-shoots and camera phones are good enough.

Allow for easy posting

Get a great place to post your daily photos. Blogger and WordPress both have built-in photo posting. One entry, one photo. You can also post through Flickr. One week worth of photos can be uploaded in about 2 minutes.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Be creative. Today, take a photo of someone you meet. Tomorrow, perhaps get a snapshot of the restaurant you just discovered. Vary your themes. Take a photo of the adorable baby who made you smile. Take a photo of the yoga class you recently enrolled in. And don’t forget to take a self-portrait so you can see how you’ve changed.

Never give up

You may get tired of taking and posting photos every single day. It may be something nasty that happened at work or at home that would make you think of stopping halfway through. But hear this: don’t stop. Think of your goals. Achieving them is always worth the effort. Don’t think that there’s nothing left to take a photo of. There are always more things to photograph. Get out of the house. Take a short walk. Take a photo of anything. Just don’t stop.

Hang it on your wall

If you want to savor each year in your living room or right out of bed without having to turn on your computer, have your 365 photos resized to fit in a medium or large collage (we can provide this service at no charge). Get it printed as a canvas print. You now have a year in your life immortalized!

Advanced Guide to Flickr

September 16th, 2008 No Comments

As promised, here are more tips on how you can have more fun on Flickr. Now that you’ve signed up, uploaded your photos, added your favorite contacts and joined fantastic groups, let’s take a look at some of the advanced features you can explore.

(If you’re a Flickr newbie, you may want to first read Flicker 101: A Beginner’s Guide for basic tips when starting out.)
 
Citizens of Flickrville, let’s take a tour:
 
Browse most interesting photos
 
With a mechanism to track all uploaded photos, Flickr comes up with cream-of-the-crop shots every day based on favorite tags, comments, views and others—they’re the best of the lot, handpicked by the gods, the blessed ones.
 
These great photos should be useful if you are looking for inspiration and diverse perspectives. It’s every Flickr member’s dream to find his photo land a spot on the highly desired Flickr-loves-you list.
 
Click Explore from the Flickr top menu to see random interesting photos. Refresh the page to see the next one. You can also check out more awesome uploads in the last 7 days or see them in a calendar-view of the current month.
 
Blog your Flickr photos
 
Surely, most of you maintain a blog. Although blog platforms like WordPress and Blogger have their own photo-posting capabilities, Flickr takes photo blogging to a new level by allowing you to post your new sunset shot directly from your photostream. Flickr can talk to your blog.
 
Configure your Flickr account to allow posting photos to your blog. After you set it up, you can make a test post to see if everything’s working well.  You should be able to post to your blog by clicking the Blog This button at the top of the photo. Presto! You’ve just blogged it.
 
Get a personalized URL
 
One, it’s easier to remember. Two, it creates personality. When you sign up, your Flickr address looks too generic, not to mention a little robotic:
 

http://flickr.com/photos/93376967@N00675/

 
By setting up a personal name, you change it to something like:
 

http://flickr.com/photos/brilliantprints/
 
Be cautious though. Once you set your new URL, it’s locked. You cannot change it again.
 
Show off photos on your website        
 
Add a strip of Flickr photos on your blog or website. Let your visitors see—the instant you upload them—your recent Paris trip or your last gastronomic adventure in Melbourne. You can also choose to display the photo pool of a Flickr group that suits the purpose of your website, or simply show random photos from the whole of Flickr.
 
To do so, create a Flickr badge, copy and paste the generated HTML into your website’s source code and start showing off those photos.
 
Explore and discover
 
Flickr continues to evolve both in functionality and playfulness. There’s just a lot that can be done. Discover more Flickr treasures yourself and share it with us here. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comment section. Be assured that we’ll continue to post interesting finds as we go along.
 

Flickr 101: A Beginner’s Guide

September 15th, 2008 3 Comments

From its minimalist layout to its user-friendly functions, Flickr offers heaps of features that attracted hobbyist and professional photographers alike. Easily, it grew into a place where people can comfortably share their work, interact and learn.

So if until today you’re not yet Flickring then it’s about time you start. Registration is free. And to guide you on your Flickr baby steps, here are some beginner tips to help you move around.
 
Sign up using your Yahoo! mail account
 
And that’s it—no long bio forms to fill out, no secret password questions and no codes to confirm your being a human.
 
Upload photos with ease
 
The first thing you need to do—fill your photostream with as many photos as you want. There are a handful of ways to upload your photos in Flickr.

 Add titles
 
After uploading, the filename of your JPEG file (e.g. IMG_076) automatically becomes the title of your photo. Change it to a more descriptive or artistic title like “Angelli sipping her coffee” or “Tonight I’m leaving my sky.”
 
You can also write a brief story behind the photo in the description box. Some users write (or paste) famous quotations that somehow describe their photo.
 
Use tags
 
Tags will help you search photos within your photostream, especially those belonging to the same theme. For example, you may choose to put the tags “travel” and “Sydney” on photos from your recent trip to Australia. Also, tagging allows other Flickr users who search for “Sydney” photos to discover yours.
 
Adding contacts
 
One of the great things about Flickr is its community. You’ll connect with photographers of varying expertise from all corners of the world. Some of whom would become your favorites, whose work you would want to follow and stalk. Here’s how you can add another photographer as a contact:

  1. Go to his or her photostream page, say AusPhotographer’s.
  2. Click Profile in the menu under AusPhotographer’s Photostream.
  3. On the upper right hand part of the Profile screen, click Add AusPhotographer as a contact.
  4. On the confirmation screen, you’ll be asked to add AusPhotographer as either friend or family. If the photographer is neither, leave the tick boxes unchecked.
  5. Finally, click Add.

Join groups
 
Flickr is home to thousands of interest groups you can join. They usually have a field of expertise in photography.
 
You can find groups on portrait photography, Canon cameras , Nikon gadgets, beaches, insects, lomography, macro, kites, and just about anything you can take a picture of. Some also form groups based on their country or city. There are also groups specifically created for themed photo competitions.
 
Advanced Flickr Tips
 
There are more fascinating things you can do on Flickr and one post is not enough to lay them all down. But the above tips should be enough to give you a jumpstart. Come back soon for more tips on Flickring! In the mean-time make sure you check out our advanced guide to the Flickr photostream.

 

The Non-Rules of Photography: How You Can Enjoy the Experience More

September 4th, 2008 1 Comment

Long ago, Lomography.com listed ‘8 Golden Rules of Lomography,’ rules which may very well apply to photography in general. Technically, they are labeled rules but to those who practice photography, they are more like guides to breaking the formulated rules in taking pictures — right composition, accurate lighting, sharpness, what-have-you’s. They focus more on enjoying the experience of shooting and capturing.

So let’s go with the non-rules.

Take your camera wherever you go. In the park, the flea market, your school, your office, your friend’s bridal shower, in the laundry shop — everywhere. As long as you have your camera in your hand, everything around you starts to have a different color and story about them that just craves to be captured on film.

Use it anytime — day and night. They say that the best times to take a photo is at dawn or at dusk because it offers fantastic lighting. But anytime of the day is just fine. Don’t worry about night photography for the darkness of the night has its own charms.

Photography is not interference in your life. On the contrary, it’s a significant and integral part of it. The results of your photography are wonderful signs that you are alive.

Try the shot from the hip. You don’t need to always look through the viewfinder to get a good picture. Have more freedom in terms of perspective and you just might be pleasantly surprised. Hand it up in the air or lower it down to the ground. No one’s stopping you!

Approach your objects as close as possible. One of the most striking photographic themes includes photos shot on macro. It’s great if your camera has a good macro feature, but if it doesn’t, who cares? Get close. People show more soul up-close, so does your pet, for instance.

Don’t think. Just shoot.

Be fast. Sometimes your money shot will only last a quarter of a second. Always be prepared to shoot and do it fast. Don’t worry about getting the right settings.

Don’t care about any rules. Actually forget about the rules. Discover your own kind of photography and define your own rules. Just do it, do it the way you want and do it now.

Do you follow any rules in your photography? Share it with us.

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