• Information

    Click on the How To link, here or at the top of the page, for information on joining our club or if you are already a member, for information on how to do things like resizing and submitting images.

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  • Meetings

    Please refer to our programme for specific dates.

    Club meeting
    19h15 on second Wednesday of each month.

    BWI meeting
    (Black & White + Information)
    19h15 on first Wednesday of each month.

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    Audio-Visual meeting
    19h00 on last Wednesday of each odd-numbered month. Held at a private home, use contact link above to request details.

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AF-ON & Back Button Autofocus: This may just change the way you shoot forever

20140201-205219.jpgFrom Petapixel,

Still autofocusing by pressing halfway down on your shutter release? Well, suppose I told you there’s another way that you might even like better? Sound interesting? Read on.

The technique is called Back Button Autofocus and it can really change the way you use your camera. Rather than autofocusing with your shutter release, you move the autofocus function exclusively to a button on the back of the camera. When you first hear about this technique, it’s natural to greet the idea with a bit of uncertainty, but once you get used to focusing with this method, you may never go back.

Read the full article

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Display Calibration

In the 2014 edition of his Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows, Scott Hanselman points out that Windows 8 and 8.1 include a number of utilities that third-party ones you needed previously. One of these is a display calibration utility.

So if you use Windows 8 or 8.1, don’t have a Spyder or other hardware calibration tool, but still want to get your monitor calibrated as well as you can, follow these instructions from Scott.

Display Calibration – Another app I once had to install, now built-in. Type calibrate from Start, and get all your monitors’ colors correct and clear. Crucial for those who work on the web or in PhotoShop.

Lightroom ate my photos!

One of our members sent me an email with a question and while replying I thought this may well be a problem that others have so I should blog the answer. This was the question.

I have Lightroom 2, but have not really got my head around to understanding it – but then I don’t spend much time trying I suppose! The one thing that I find frustrating, is that images seem to “get lost”  – if I try to open some of my older images, it says “file missing or offline” – I don’t know how to get them back? Can you please help me if you can?

Lightroom is as much an image management system as it is an image processor. It uses a database to keep track of your images and the non-destructive changes it makes to them. There are several options for importing images, some of which reference an image where it is on your disk and others that copy it from a memory card to some place on your disk and then reference it from there. They key here is that Lightroom doesn’t have the actual image in its database, but a reference to it at some location on disk.

I will talk only in terms of Lightroom on Windows below but I believe the Lightroom functionality will be the same on the Mac and references to Windows Explorer can be substituted with Finder there.

Let’s say you have an image portrait01.jpg in a folder C:\Pictures\Portraits (no significance to the names, just chosen for demonstration) and import it to Lightroom. A record is made in the database, including the location of the file on disk (C:\Pictures\Portraits\portrait01.jpg). If you later move the image using Lightroom’s own management features, it knows where the image moved to and can update the reference to the disk location accordingly. If however, you were to use the image outside of Lightroom using Windows Explorer or some other tool, Lightroom will not know this. When next you use Lightroom it will look at the location it has, and not finding the file there will report the file missing or offline message. That covers the file missing aspect of the message. The offline aspect is a bit different. Let’s say your image is on an external USB drive that is mounted with a particular drive letter (G: for instance); Lightroom will record the location on the G: drive (say at G:\2011-06-17\photo04.jpg). Later when you run Lightroom without the drive connected, or if it is connected but mounted under a different drive letter, Lightroom will not be able to find the file  G:\2011-06-17\photo04.jpg and so the photo is missing. In either case you will still have access to many of Lightroom’s features; the database contains a low-res preview version of the missing images, along with all the metadata, keywords etc. so you will still be able to look for images, add keywords and so forth. No functions that require access to the actual photo file will work though.

The way to ‘get images back’ depends on whether the file is missing or offline. If it’s offline because the external drive containing it is not connected, just connect the drive making sure that it gets the same drive letter it had before, and Lightroom will now find the file. If you had moved the file outside of Lightroom you will need to use the locate function to point Lightroom to where the file is now. The image thumbnail will have an icon overlay showing the file is missing.

lrmissing01

If you click on it you will be shown a message box asking it you want to locate the file.

lrmissing02

When you click on the Locate button you are shown a standard file open dialog that you can use to select the new location of the file.

lrmissing03

Unfortunately you need to know where the file is now, but Lightroom does give you a little help. On the confirm dialog the full path the the file, including the name is shown, so we see in the screenshot above that the missing file is called Colours of Light.jpg so if you don’t know where it is now you can at least use a search utility to help you find it.

Both Windows and Mac have built-in search utilities but I prefer to use a free third-party Windows utility called Everything for this. I can run Everything and type in all or part of the file name from the Confirm dialog to see where the file might be now.

lrmissing04

We can see that I moved the file to the folder C:\Users\Steve\Pictures\Moved Files so I simply need to navigate there in the Locate dialog, select the file and Lightroom will once again have full access to the file. If you have not only moved but also renamed the file then you are not going to be able to do this if you don’t remember what the new name is and you may have to resort to deleting the image entry from the Lightroom database, but then you will lose any processing or keywording you’ve done on the file too.

It’s better never to have to do this; I know I don’t. But how is this possible? Simple. I never use anything but Lightroom to manage my photos. My advice is this; once you have imported your photos into Lightroom, don’t ever use Windows Explorer, Finder or anything else to manipulate your image files. If you need a copy of the photo at a different size, in a different folder or with a different name; export it from Lightroom so your original file remains untouched. It you want to move your files around, use the Library module in Lightroom to move them.

Adding a border to your images

When we project images at club meetings, the screen around the image appears black. or near-black. If your image has large dark areas running to the edge of the image these tend to blend into the background and viewers’ eyes can wander out of the frame. The same is true in inverse when images are presented on web sites against a white or other light background.

The solution to this is to add a narrow border in a contrasting colour to the image, which is enough to keep eyes from straying beyond the frame. This was mentioned in our latest newsletter with this link to a tutorial on one way to do it. That method involves increasing the canvas size and could lead to problems for those of our members already having problems in sizing their submissions for meetings. Here I provide an alternative way to to this that does not increase the image dimensions. The benefit of this is that you can export or save your club-ready image in the correct size then open it and apply this technique without affecting the image dimensions.

I am going to demonstrate using Adobe Photoshop, in this case Elements 7. The technique uses no advanced features and can be done with any version of Photoshop released in the past decade, as well as many other applications, though steps (and terminology) will differ.

Lets start off by looking at our sample image on a dark background.

border_tut_01

We see that there is no definition at the edges of dark areas of the photo and light areas like the light streams appear to end suddenly in mid-space. In this case, and it varies from image to image, a narrow light-coloured border would be most suitable, so let’s see how to add one without affecting the image size.

Open the image in Photoshop and select the entire image using the Select | All menu or by pressing Ctrl-A (Cmd-A on Mac). You will see the marching ants indicating the entire image is selected.

border_tut_02

We could shrink the selection, invert it so the outer edge is selected, then fill the selection with colour to create the border, but there is an easier way. Click the Edit | Stroke (Outline) Selection… menu to reveal the Stroke dialog.

border_tut_03

If this is not the first time you are doing this the settings in the dialog may be correctly remembered from before, but we should check them anyway.

In the Stroke group, set the Width to 1 px (one pixel); use a larger value if you want a wider border. Click the Color swatch to open the Select stroke color: dialog and choose a mid-grey colour. The easiest way to do this is to grab the little circle and drag it down the left edge of the selector until the R, G and B values are all 127. Or you could just type 127 into each of the R, G and B fields.

border_tut_04

Why don’t we use white for the border? A white border is in high contrast to the dark background and tends to distract from the image itself so it’s better to use a darker shade. It will be less distracting but still keep the eye from straying beyond the frame.

Click OK to dismiss the colour selector and return to the Stroke dialog. Location controls where the border will be drawn; Outside will draw outside the marching ants for the selected width and Center will draw along the marching ants drawing half the width inside of and half the width outside of the marching ants. What we want here is to select Inside so the full width we selected is drawn inside the marching ants.

Blending can be left at or reset to the defaults. Mode should be Normal, Opacity 100% and Preserve Transparency should not be available as your image has no transparency.

Having clicked OK to dismiss the Stroke dialog you won’t see that anything has happened as the border you just drew is hidden by the marching ants. Press Ctrl-D (Cmd-D on Mac) and you should see it. Depending on the size of the image and the magnification of the Photoshop view you may still not see it but id you zoom onto a corner or edge of the image you’ll see the border we created.

border_tut_05

Now save the image and you’re done. When projected at the club on a dark background it will look like this and provide a better viewing experience.

border_tut_06

Sometimes we may want to create a more complex border consisting of two or more lines in different colours. This can also easily be achieved with this technique, again without affecting the dimensions of the image. All we have to do is repeat the stroke operation for each different colour, starting with the innermost. Lets look at the case where we want to create a one pixel mid-grey border as we did before but also want a five pixel border inside that using a colour from the image. Repeat the steps we did before to the point you have the entire image selected.

We want to use the orange colour from the image for the inner border so we’ll use border_tut_07the eyedropper tool to pick it up from the image. Notice that the foreground colour swatch is now orange. Now click the Edit | Stroke (outline) selection… menu and notice that the selected foreground colour (orange) is automatically set in the dialog.

border_tut_08

We want to draw a five pixel wide orange border but there is going to be a one pixel border around that so we must add 1 + 5 and make the width 6 px. Click OK to dismiss the dialog and we see the orange border, as it’s wider than the marching ants. Now, without deselecting, repeat the Edit | Stroke (Outline) selection… action, choosing Width as 1 px and Color as the mid-grey we used before. Now we have a border that looks like this, as it turns out not a very pleasing colour combination, but luckily this was just for demonstration.

border_tut_09

Sorting Images

Just a reminder; when you send in images, other than competition and evaluation ones, for display at the club you have to control the order they are displayed in. It isn’t enough to attach them to your email in a certain order; there is no guarantee that they will display in the same order, in fact it’s likely that they won’t.

You can make sure your images will be displayed in the order you want by adding prefixes to the file names; when displaying images we sort them by name so this will make sure that they are sorted correctly. Numbers usually make the best sorting prefixes although alphabetic prefixes, or a combination can work too. If you do use numbers make sure that you pad them with leading zeros; for instance if you have from 10 to 99 images, prefix the first nine with 01-09 rather than 1-9 as 10_Title sorts before 1_Title.

Helpful Photography Cheat Sheets to Make Your Life Easier

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned professional, sometimes we all need our memory jogged. It’s never a bad idea to have some convenient references handy just in case. I have listed what I think are some helpful cheat sheets to keep in your camera bag.

Helpful Photography Cheat Sheets to Make Your Life Easier

Memory Card Tips

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but one of the worst feelings in the world (photography-wise at least!) is discovering that your memory card has become corrupted and you’ve now lost all the photos you recently took. It happened to me on my old point and shoot card but I was really lucky in that there were only about five or six photos on the card and they weren’t particularly important to me.

It can, however, be a disaster to lose your photos before you can remove them from the card. While you can’t prevent all problems, here are some memory card tips to avoid as many issues as possible.

Memory Card Tips