Category: Software

Capture One Pro 12

Capture One Pro 12

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Capture One Pro 12

Capture One Pro 12

The 29th November 2018 see the release of Capture One Pro 12, with the few days I have been trying this out it is clear that release 12 is a major release with some useful additional features.

Together with a neater interface Capture One now comes with the following:

  • Luma Range Masking
  • Linear Gradient Mask Tool
  • Radial Mask Tool
  • Plug-ins

As well as the above, there is also support for additional cameras including the new Nikon Z6 and Z7.

The standout additions for me are the new masking tools, the linear mask tool has undergone a complete overhaul and now offers much more control. The Radial Mask tool make life easier and will prove crucial to quick precise editing going forward.

The Luma Range Mask tool, allows the creation of masks based on the brightness of pixels, with complete and visible control on what you are masking.

The Plug-in feature should eventually open up Capture One to developers I tried this feature with some ‘Older’ Google NIK plugins, and it works slick, exporting the image, creating the copy, out to the NIK plug-in and the image back into Capture One Pro 12, all in a single process.

For me the biggest feature and noticeable difference is the slickness off use, Capture One Pro has always been fast, but now it is altogether much smoother, which when used on a 2012 Mac mini is pretty good going.

Visit Capture One Pro website for more information, download a 30 day trial, and if you wish to purchase, save with the discount code ‘AMBSEARS’

Capture One Pro – Low Key

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Continuing my learning curve with Capture One Pro I am amazed at the amount of control over an image I have available. Now at version 11 of this software from Phase One, the software become better with each release while still maintaining incredible speed on my 5-year-old mac.

A quick capture of some images of Tulips bought from the supermarket. Using only window light from the right-hand side and a plain ‘Mocha Brown’ wall with poor light shadows.

The light hitting the background looked wrong, with window light coming in from the right, the background was set back a couple of feet causing the right-hand side of the background to be much darker than the left-hand side. The Tulip was receiving a good light from the window and lit well on the right-hand side. My other problem was the light itself, a cloudy day, but late afternoon and had a yellow tinge.

The images looked ok(ish) in live view and I knew how I wanted the final images to look and knew I would be doing the post-processing to get what I wanted.

Firstly was to correct the white balance, and also reduce the vibrancy of the colours, The greens and pinks were separately lowered in saturation. An adjustment layer was added with a left to right gradient mask, and the exposure lowered to make the left-hand side darker, the colour saturation was also lowered.

A further adjustment layer was added this time with a short gradient from the bottom, to fade out the stem of the tulip by reducing the exposure.

The overall exposure of the image was taken down a touch and an adjustment to the curve to render the background to near black. Finally, a little clarity was added and a further adjustment layer with some slight highlights increased on the tulip.

The before and after images can be seen below.

 

 

Simple Asset Management

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SIMP - Simple Asset Management

Simple Asset Management

When embarking a new ‘Asset Management’ software project, some key areas were looked at from the very start to ensure the end result adhered to three main points.

 

Ease of Use

All too often, the complexity of systems meant the software designed to solve a problem, became the problem itself. User interfaces became a minefield, the initial data per asset was too in-depth and often not even available.

The time taken to collate and input the initial key data had to be kept to a minimum, too complex and the same old result of missing and unreliable data meant unreliable output.

Much of the data per asset is common data, with each asset type having a set of common parameters that could be applied to many assets.  Ensuring as much of the common data is populated for each different asset type ensured the keystrokes required when adding assets were kept to a minimum.

By collating and entering data from the very start of an assets creation or purchase key dates, costs and other data could also be recorded. Ensuring these are correct in the purchase systems meant the share data could also be used for assets. It does not matter what the asset is, it could be a car, an image or a piece of machinery.

 

Tracking

It should be remembered we are looking at physical assets, a single item. The single item may be made of many parts, and these parts themselves may need to be recorded. The important part is that we should not lose track of the asset itself. A single entity that is uniquely recorded. It does not matter what location this unique asset is placed, what the asset is used for or who the asset is used by, as all of these are secondary and recorded as such.

If an asset moves, or is resold the asset itself still remains, the unique entity must not change because it is in location B instead of A.

Recording changeable information against an asset is the next important area. The information recorded could be anything from where it is located, a sale or rental price and period, or just that it has been maintained and checked. When developing new systems it should be considered where all key data is going to be recorded and utilise the sharing of common data where possible.

Again ease of use must be considered, the easier and clearer it is made to record data the cleaner and clearer the end result is.

 

Presenting the data

Ensuring clean and easy presentation of our data is crucial to the system being both accepted and used.

We have our assets and we have our recorded data against these assets. We have to make sure that the data can be found easily, and the results are clear.

Again there are many systems that present user interfaces and data in such a way, that the time it takes to actually find what you want becomes the downfall of the system. The majority of the time most of the data is irrelevant to the person enquiring about an asset, all they want is some small or basic information but instead are present with charts, data, and numbers cluttered onto a screen. Some of this data may be useful, but most will not.

By structuring the output and displaying only key information on initial result screens, it makes it easier for the user to identify the asset they want. Separating further data into key areas ensures that each page displayed is relevant to the users’ request.

It is also important to be able to extract the required data, whether this is required electronically or in printed format, the same applies, key relevant data that the user has requested, if this is the date due for the next MOT, then they do not need the last five years of repair data and similarly if a stock image of a red pepper is required, then those green peppers can be left where they are.

The user is key, they need to get the asset information they want from the system, quickly and easily, they only need relevant information and the need to be able to share, send, record and act on the information, ensuring this will also ensure the system is accepted and used to its full potential.

Capture One Pro 10

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Capture One Pro 10 by PhaseOne After many years using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom the Capture One Pro software from PhaseOne caught my eye. I had used programs on both mac and pc for tethered capturing and most programs were at best ‘flakey’ with lost connections, or connections to my Nikon cameras just not happening at all.

I downloaded the trial of Capture One Pro 10 and on first looks, it appeared daunting, confusing and with a steep learning curve that could easily scare users off.  The options and menus in this program are enormous, the file management features different but it does have a look of professionalism that made me persist.

On a test tethered shoot, this program came into its own, fast, reliable connection to my Nikon D7200, total control of my camera from the user interface and a stable usable live view.

I next spent some time setting up the image catalogue, export folders and general where to put my images. This was not the easiest of tasks, but again once done was good to work with. Importing images from cards is quick, I can get rid of any junk during the workflow, leaving me with my ‘clean’ images.

Processing images is again quick with everything you need to process raw files and more. The colour options alone are just huge. You also have the option of layers and selection brushes to work on smaller defined areas with the ability to ckeck back and re-adjust as required. I found a lot of the processing changes delicate and soft allowing the smallest of tweaks to an annoying element of images. You can also copy adjustments and apply to many images which again is a massive time saver.

Exporting images allows you to export both the original RAW file or a processed file ‘Variant’ in various formats, again I found this very easy to use with a great option for saving filenames and image sizes, particularly useful for creating images for social media.  Where I have cropped heaving and wanted a bigger output file, the upscaling also produces decent images.

Capture One Pro - User Interface

There is much more to Capture One Pro 10 to explore including preset styles, black and white conversions and those colour tools to name but a few.

Overall I would not look back to Lightroom, I now find Capture One Pro easier to work with, my images are catalogued and organised and ‘in my view’ my images are that much cleaner. I still use Adobe Photoshop especially for spotting and clone tools and it is quite noticeable the speed and sluggishness of Photoshop compared to Capture One Pro when switching between the two.

360 Degrees with Google Street View

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Looking all around

360 degree views are becoming more and more popular and are in widespread use particularly within the Google and Street View offerings.

The Google Street View App for Android, not only allows you to explore the various 360 views available, but also make it possible to take your own 360 view and publish them up to Google Street View.

Once you download the app, you need to give the app permission to access the camera on your phone and also the image. From there it is easy to create your first 360 view.

When taking the images the app gives you a circle and a dot which when aligned the image is automatically taken as you move around in a circle your gather the images, making sure you look down and up to get the complete view. Once finished the image are processed and saved as the 360 degree panorama with a resulting image like the one below.

2016-11-09

Next the app can publish the captured panorama up to the Google Street View systems and at the same time turning your capture into a complete 360 degree view that you can move around and zoom into as you wish.

For the test image above the whole process took less than 20 minutes, to download the app, capture the images and publish to street view. Which although the images I captured for test were not the greatest, it does show you what is possible with a free app and a phone camera. The Google Street View App also allow images to be uploaded that have been created via other 360 degree cameras.

To show you the final 360 VR image with WordPress I have used the ‘WP VR View Plugin‘ which again is simplicity itself to use and allow an easy way to show off your 360 degree panoramas.

The end result, although not perfect for the time taken and the dullest weather prove to be of an acceptable quality (with just a couple of glitches), and showing my garden in its autumnal state.

 

 

Passport Photos to Success

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You may only need to renew a passport once every ten years, but when renewal is required or indeed your first passport, you  have that dreaded ‘Passport Photo’ to contend with.

It is pretty fair to say that photography and photo technology moves on at a fair pace and in ten years things change quite a bit. A recent article by Amateur Photographer Magazine even tells you have to take and make perfect your own Passport Photos. While this does make things a little easier, you still have to make sure you get the right size, make sure the background is neutral, and get a decent print. There are still stringent rules if going down this route. See Passport Photo Rules

With an upcoming trip to make and an expired passport, it was time to make my own renewal application. Once on the Gov website I started the process and noticed a link to an online service that allowed the uploading of digital photographs which you can take yourself and even use a mobile phone to take the image. There was certain criteria attached, i.e. You should be recognisable form your previous photo, and you passport had to have expired after 2012, which meant it would have had the digital signature on previously and chipped.

I got the image taken on a mobile and followed the upload procedure,  the system advises no cropping or alteration of the image. They gov system run some checks on the image and came back with the image cropped correctly. (The first image failed as too dark).

On completing the rest of the form, I was instructed it would take up to three weeks and I should send back my old passport to the address given.

I was kept up to date through the process with email and sms updates, and just 7 days later received my new passport. No photo booths involved, no photoshop and printing involved. What can I say a fantastic service and a great move forward.

One thing that has not changed and that it passport photos still seem to be the most hideous ever.

 

Photoshop – Teaching Myself

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While I have been using Adobe Photoshop for many years, it is only recently i see myself delving further into the software. With each new release comes a bundle of improvements and new features. With the advancement in RAW image processing I even find myself revisiting older images maybe even a good few year old and reprocessing them to bring them to life.

Recently I have been using the new ‘Select and Mask’ feature which has been refined and make the process of cut-outs that much more easier. A selection first made with the quick selection tool, which when use carefully makes a pretty good job of selecting a background, or the foreground object you want to isolate.

Once you have made you basic selection, you can use the Select and Mask tool to refine the edges in various ways, using the ‘Edge detection’, ‘Refine Edge Brush Tool’ and much more. once your happy with the selection, you have various options on what to do with it next, add to a new layer, keep as a selection etc.

With nothing in my mind on what I wanted to achieve I open various recent images and started to compile a composite within Photoshop. It was surprisingly easy to cut-out and select items from the various images, and put onto the various layers. The end result is the image below. All they layers excluding the ladybird were converted to black and white. A little touching up was carried out in various parts, i.e. the Seagulls wing going beneath the cotton thread.

Abstract Composite - Photoshop

 

The finished composite does not really mean anything and took around 30 minutes to complete, but did prove a good way to get to grips with various areas of Adobe Photoshop tools.

The Google Nik Collection – Now Free

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Google Nik Collection for Free

The Google Nik Collection is now available for absolutely nothing, free, gratis.

Analog Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, Silver Efex Pro and many more have been made available as a free download, to help you create artistic stunning images.

Available for both Mac & Windows, the Google Nik collection is a great way to bring you new and old photo images back to life.

Google Nik Collection for FREE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can download the collection here – www.google.com/nikcollection/

Trying Out Helicon Focus

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Focus Stacking with Helicon Focus

I have had a few half hearted attempts at focus stocking using Adobe Photoshop, the results pretty poor. I decided to try out Helicon Softs – Helicon Focus. I purchased the Helicon Focus Lite version for approximately £22.00.

I took some test images and did not use any focusing rail,  instead  I adjusted the focus at small increments, giving me 10 images to play with.
Helicon Focus Screen Shot
After launching the software, it was a simple case of opening up the images, (Helicon Focus lets you open raw files direct). I set view to vertical split view so I could see what was happening during the process. Opting for Method A, I pressed Render and set Helicon doing its stuff.

Purple Lilly - Visart - Helicon Focus Stack

A couple of minutes later and I had my first stacked image, I was not hoping for much but was pleasantly surprised at the quality and depth of the resulting image. The result was not perfect, but considering this was a quick out of the box try out of the software, the image was acceptable, actually more than acceptable.

I had also taken a couple of images, where the focusing on each was not great, but stacking just two images in Helicon actually improved the image, and rescued the focus of the image.

You can export the stack into a 3D model.  The Helicon 3D viewer in the lite version has some text over the image, but still gives a good idea of what can be achieved.

You can try out Helicon Focus for free, with a 30 day trial available form the HeliconSoft website.

The software interface is basic, and east to use without having to know too much about what the software is doing. I look forward to experimenting more with this software and putting in some time and effort with some better imagery, and maybe also trying out the Helicon Remote to give me a live view on a laptop to help with somoe of those focusing issues.

Revisit your RAW files

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Revisit your RAW files

When I first started to shoot using RAW format for the photo files, the processing of the files was daunting, I could get near the results I wanted but a lot of the files were saved to archive never to see the light of day again.

As I have learnt more and become more confident in all the adjustments I can make, Exposure, White Balance, Clarity, Sharpness, Cropping and much much more. Add together RAW processing and the multitude of options in photoshop, you can soon see that that discarded files can often be saved.

rawThe options of converting to black and white with an adjustment layer, can change a poor colour balanced file, in a dramatic mono one. Crop and Rotate allow you to be more selective on the final view. The possibilities are endless.

Of course the final image still needs to look good and be believable, trust you instinct, most of the time it is quite obvious when the processing has overstepped the mark.

Drag out some of your older files and give it a go, after a few months learning RAW processing, you will now know how to lift them colours, make your blacks black and your whites white. Crop out the bits you do not want.

Spending  little time on some past images that you thought were not good enough, may surprise you, and will add to your learning of RAW processing.