Saturday, July 30, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Contributing money to assist disaster victims is a good thing, of course, but contributions often dry up in short order, long before the devastation is healed. I've been wondering: what can we do that might have a more long-term effect? One of the ideas at the core of the Original Green initiative is that we do what we OUGHT to do only for a short time, but we do what we WANT to do for years.So how might you WANT to help the disaster recovery from, for example, the Tuscaloosa tornado, or from Hurricane Katrina? What if you developed a taste for products that would bolster the local economies? Like the barbecue sauce from Dreamland in Tuscaloosa? Or Tabasco Sauce from Louisiana? Here's a delicious recipe that includes both:
Slice up a panful of mushrooms of your choosing plus one bulb of garlic cloves and one medium onion. Pour just enough olive oil into a sauté pan to thinly cover the bottom. Heat on high until a garlic slice crackles when dropped into the pan. Now, pour the rest of the ingredients into the pan.
Reduce heat to medium-high and sauté until mushrooms have begun to caramelize and onions have just begun to become transparent.
Pour balsamic vinegar into pan so that it's standing about 1/8" deep around the other ingredients.
Stir until the vinegar has entirely caramelized. Reduce heat to medium.
Pour one can of black beans into pan. Pour a healthy dollop of Dreamland Barbecue Sauce over the beans. Don't be shy... This is supposed to be a savory dish. Next, shake Tabasco Sauce liberally into the pan as well... use a bit of caution because it's hotter than the Dreamland sauce. Top with your favorite meat spices as this dish, while completely made of vegetables, can nonetheless be as zesty as many a meat dish.
Cook on medium until the bean juice has cooked up, stirring continuously the last 90 seconds to make sure you don't overcook. Serve... and enjoy! And Tuscaloosa and Louisiana will thank you for it.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Photoshop is cool because it takes all the metadata in your RAW (DNG) files and embeds it into your JPEG files that you save from your DNG files. Here's what I do when I process my files: Open the DNG file by double-clicking in the Finder. This will open the file in Photoshop if you own it. Everything in this post assumes you own the version of Photoshop found in CS5. If you don't, upgrade. The Context-Aware Delete alone is worth the price of the upgrade (varies according to which version you have already.) Within Photoshop's RAW converter, here's what I do each time, and occasionally: Basic window (the first one): White Balance: set to Daylight, Cloudy, or whatever setting is most appropriate to your image. Click Default, just above Exposure. This will create Photoshop's best take on the exposure, which you'll modify. Often, I'll focus on the Recovery (which focuses on recovering detail out of the blown-out highlights) and Fill Light (which focuses on pulling detail out of the shadows) sliders. Only seldom do I modify the Exposure, Blacks, Brightness, or Contrast sliders. At the bottom of the window you'll find the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation sliders. I almost never mess with Saturation. For Clarity, you need to decide what's the defining characteristic of the shoot. For my Havana shoot, for example, the defining characteristic was the depressing decrepitude of the city resulting from the economic train wreck that is Cuban Communism. To highlight this, I generally bumped up the Clarity, which highlighted detail. For other shoots, you might go the other way. For example, the ruggedness of a male portrait is highlighted by bumping Clarity up, while the softness of a female portrait is enhanced by bumping Clarity the other direction. The Clarity setting may change somewhat from image to image in a shoot, but varying radically will make the images seem to be from different photographers. Go softer on one, go softer on all... just by varying degrees. For vibrance, I usually bump images upwards. Consumer-grade images bump vibrance upwards by 80-100 points. Because most of my images are meant to resonate with a broad audience rather than a small under-vibrance group, I test a few images in each shoot at +60 and decide where to go from there. If I settle on +60 as the baseline, the shoot might vary between +36 and +80. But I work with a highly valued client who wants to see a lot of paper through the ink, so vibrance on his work might be -30 on the average. So you really need to consider not only your own preferences, but your audience. Lens Corrections (the sixth Photoshop RAW tab): Look at the edges of the image. Do borders between dark and light look either green or red? If so, we'll come back to this later. Under Profile, I always click the Enable Lens Profile Corrections. This starts with Photoshop's best take on correcting spherical and chromatic aberration for my lens. It's a start, but not always perfect. Next, look at the vertical lines at the middle of the image. Are they plumb? If not, select the Straighten Tool in the upper left corner. Click at the top of an object nearest the center of the image that should be vertical and drag to the bottom of the image and release. This will create a crop marquee on the image that will straighten the image (if you've plumbed it correctly.) If you haven't plumbed it well, you can adjust by moving your mouse outside the crop and rotating the marquee. Next, look at the overall image. Do you really need to make all verticals plumb? You can, if you need to, by clicking the Manual lens corrections tab and correcting the Vertical (and maybe Horizontal) perspective. You may also want to make other geometric corrections under this tab. For example, if the image looks swollen or pinched, you may want to correct the Distortion slider. Finally, if there was a visible red or green fringe at the beginning of Lens Correction, let's revisit it here. Zoom to full-size by clicking Command-+ until the indicator in the lower left corner indicates 100% zoom. Scroll to the corners of the image. See red or green fringes between bright and dark areas? This is known as "chromatic aberration." Basically, different wavelengths (colors) of light bend in varying degrees. Fortunately, Photoshop's RAW converter can pretty much fix this for most images. For my camera and lens, if I drag the Fix Red/Cyan Fringe to negative values (between -8 and -36, according to the image) it'll fix the problem. Just use your judgment. Maybe it needs no correction at all. I generally don't manually-correct chromatic aberration unless I can see the problem at full-image (fit to page) resolution before doing automatic Lens Correction. Once you've gotten to this point, you're done. For most portfolios, I upload to Zenfolio. More on this later. But this is the end of the basic processing. The final step is to move the images to the outer folder "St. Michaels, MD" and delete all inner folders ("-6 Tag & Process," and whatever else is left.) Obviously, this is a lot of work. But as noted a long time ago, images that run this gauntlet are worth far more to you than random snapshots. There's no doubt they're worth the effort to me... I hope they're worth it to you as well.
I rate all images from 0 stars to 5 stars using Photo Mechanic. 0 stars means it's not a good enough image to ever use for any reason. 5-stars, as you might guess, are my best work. That also means I can go ahead and delete 0-star images and save the disk space. To rate images, I double-click the first image and unclick the Zoom box in the right panel so I can see the entire image in the window. The easiest way to set the stars for me is by holding down the Control button and clicking 1 through 5 for a 1-star through a 5-star image. If it's easier for you, there's a "star box" in the lower left corner of the image where you can click on the number of stars you want. For 0-star images, you can either leave them alone if you want to take one final look after rating all the images, or you can just go ahead and click the Delete key if you're sure about them. I generally take a second pass to make sure I've rated them properly. To do this, I close the Preview window that has been showing me the images large, so that I'm back to the main window showing just thumbnails of all images in the shoot. Look at the bottom bar of the main window. Near the bottom right corner, there's a box of stars. Click on the 1-star and it will turn grey... and all the 1-star images will be hidden from the window. This lets you selectively look at only certain star ratings. So you can look at all the 3-stars at once, all the 4-stars at once, etc. This helps me determine if I've rated everything evenly. It also helps me see if I've been too easy or too tough on this shoot. I then adjust the ratings accordingly. FWIW, I generally don't rate "on the curve." In other words, there are quite a number of shoots with no 5-stars, because if I'm saving that rating for my best work, I want people to be able to count on that. Once you're done adjusting the ratings, move the images on to the "-4 Set Classes" folder using the same Command-Y method noted earlier. And as noted earlier, you can delete the "-3 Rate" folder once it's empty if you like. Step 9: Set Classes
A Class, in Photo Mechanic, is a color... that has a meaning to me. Here's how my Class system works: 1 Private - Command-1 - Red - images I don't want anyone else to see, for whatever reason2 Problem - Command-2 - Orange - images that would be useful, but need serious PhotoShop work for some reason3 Polemical - Command-3 - Yellow - images that have story-telling value4 Publishable - Command-4 - Green - general useful (publishable) images that don't fit into another category5 Particulars - Command-5 - Blue - images that illustrate useful details6 Personal - Command-6 - Purple - images that include people I know
7 Pattern - Command-7 - Grey - images of textures (wood, stone, concrete, grass, etc.)8 Put Away - Command-8 - Brown - images I'll likely discard. Maybe they're not necessarily bad, but very similar to others, and that aren't quite as good. Whereas I discard blurry images instantly, I sometimes keep these (for now) because they're good, but just too similar When you use Photo Mechanic for the first time, go to Preferences. You'll see the Classes in the middle of the General preferences window. Here, you can name your classes (Private, Problem, Polemical, etc.) As with ratings, I make my first pass by double-clicking on the first image to bring up the Preview (large-screen image) window. The Command-keys noted above are the most convenient way (to me) of setting each image's class as I scroll through them. But as with star ratings, there's a Class window at the lower right corner of the image window if you'd prefer to set the Class by clicking there. As opposed to star ratings, I'm more comfortable with my Class settings on the first pass. I mean, an image either has someone I know shown prominently in the image (6 Personal (Purple)) or not. Once you're done setting the Classes, you need to move the images to the folders corresponding to their Classes using the same Command-Y method noted earlier. And as noted earlier, you can delete the "-4 Set Classes" folder once it's empty if you like.
I use A Better Finder Rename 8 to rename my files. It's $19.95 and well worth it. First, select the name of the folder you're working with ("St. Michaels, MD 11JUL12" or whatever.) Copy. Select all the images in the "-1 Scratch Fuzzies" folder. Drag them to the A Better Finder Rename 8 icon in your dock, or into the A Better Finder Rename 8 file list window, if it's already open. Select Category: Text in the top left of the window, and Action: Replace Text just below it.
Cameras typically put a prefix on every image, and then a serial number afterwards. What we're wanting to do is replace the prefix with the name of the enclosing folder, so it's immediately obvious just by looking at the file name where the picture was taken and when. But we want to keep the serial number so that each file name is unique, and in the order they were shot during the course of the day. Just below that, you'll see a Replace window. Enter the prefix your camera puts on all your images. In my case, it's "SAM_" "DSCN_" is a common prefix. But whatever it is that is at the front of every file name your camera turns out, enter it here. Just below that, there's a With window... tab or click into that and paste the folder name ("St. Michaels, MD 11JUL12" or whatever.) Add a space after the name, so it'll put a space between the name and the image serial numbers. If you don't do this, it will be harder to read. In other words, you want "St. Michaels, MD 11JUL12 7447.jpg", not "St. Michaels, MD 11JUL127447.jpg" See what I mean about being harder to read? Below that, there are four radio buttons... set it to "The entire file name and extension" or "The file name without the extension"... both will get the same result. Click Perform Renames in the bottom right corner. All your files will now be renamed with "St. Michaels, MD 11JUL12" in place of the original prefix.
I've just discovered a cool app for geotagging photos. Click here to read how gps4cam works, and so you'll understand the rest of this step. It has a quirk that can show up while processing the images... if the QR code you photograph is too blurry, it won't read it... but it doesn't know it can't read it until it's logged all the photos, which can take several minutes. So copy the last 4-5 photos (including the QR code photo, which will be the last image) into the "test in" folder. IMPORTANT: copy the photos, don't move them. Open the gps4cam desktop app. Select "test in" as your Pictures Input Directory. Select "test out" as your Pictures Output Directory. Click Go. If it can read the code, it'll process the images in a few seconds. If not, then take a clearer photo of the QR code on your iPhone and replace the other one and test again. Repeat if necessary until it works. FWIW, once you figure out the quality of image it's looking for (it's pretty forgiving) you'll probably get it on the first try nearly every time. Once it works, delete the "test in" and "test out" folders. Step 3: Run GPS Tagging
With gps4cam still open, select "GPS in" as your Pictures Input Directory and "GPS out" as your Pictures Output Directory. Click Go. Then go get yourself a cup of coffee or something. Depending on how long the shoot took and how many images you have, it can take up to 10-15 minutes (or possibly more) to geotag all the images. Once it's done, delete the "GPS in" folder. You'll see a folder inside the "GPS out" folder where gps4cam has put the QR code, which you don't need any longer. Don't select this folder, but select all of the images. Move all the images in the "GPS out" folder to the enclosing "-1 Scratch Fuzzies" folder. Delete the "GPS out" folder, which now only contains the folder with the QR code you don't need any longer.
2. Test GPS Tagging
3. Run GPS Tagging
4. Rename Files
5. Convert to DNG
6. Scratch Fuzzies
7. Set Base Metadata
9. Set Classes
10. Set Finder Color
12. Process Step 1: Copy Images
I have a master folder outlining all my processing steps to help me remember where I am with a batch of images in case I can't get them completely processed in one sitting (a very rare occurrence except with very small shoots.) The master folder is named ***Master Folder so that it sorts to the top of an alphabetical list. The first step is to duplicate the master folder and rename it for the current shoot. I name the folder for the location and date of a shoot. For example, if I'm shooting in St. Michaels, Maryland on July 12, 2011, then I would duplicate the master folder and rename it "St. Michaels, MD 11JUL12". The date gets deleted from the folder name later, but it's useful for two reasons now: it helps clarify that this is a new shoot if I've shot there before so that I don't save a new folder on top of an old folder with different images, thereby losing them. The date is also used in Step 4 to rename the images. I use this date convention" The year is the first two digits so images from the same place sort correctly into the years they were shot when you put them all in one folder. The next three characters are the month (JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, etc.) This doesn't sort chronologically, but it's immediately obvious to anyone that the middle is the month. I could do the whole thing as numbers (11-07-12 instead of 11JUL12, for example) and it would sort fully, but then is 11-07-12 in 2011, 2012, or even 2007? It's not self-evident. And It's somewhat unusual to do two separate shoots of a single place in one year, but in different months. I do that in Miami Beach (where I live) and in New Orleans (where I travel often for work) but not so much anywhere else. So clarity is more important than occasionally mis-sorted months, IMO. The master folder structure mirrors the steps above, and looks like this: *** Master Folder
-1 Scratch Fuzzies
-2 Set Base Metadata
-4 Set Classes
-5 Set Finder Color (empty)
-6 Tag & Process
2 & -
3 & +
8 Put Away The last part of Step 1 is to copy the files off my camera's memory stick into the "GPS in" folder, which is inside -1 Scratch Fuzzies, as you can see above. I just do this in the Finder, like copying any other files. No special software needed.