Exporting for Web in Photoshop Elements (Podcast 524)

Exporting for Web in Photoshop Elements (Podcast 524)

I’m dedicating this week’s episode to answering a listener question about adding copyright information, resizing images for the Web and adding watermarks etc. to your images using Photoshop Elements.

Listener Michelle D Salati sent me a voicemail via the widget on our site, about resizing images. I would normally just play you the message, but Michelle left the TV on as she recorded, and I’m not sure she meant for me to insert the audio, so I’ll just read out the gist of her message myself. Michelle said…

Hi Martin, I think your web site’s fantastic, your photographs are amazing. You’re inspirational. I’ve also read Tim Ferris’ book and you reinforce that help, so it’s not only about you, it’s about everybody, and I love that.

One question I have to ask is what is the best way to resize my photos so they are sharp and crisp (I’ve got Photoshop Elements) and the best way to add my name and copyright? Should I put a frame around them and add a watermark to the images?

So firstly, thanks for the kind words Michelle. I really appreciate it. I’ll go on to explain a little bit about resizing and exporting for Web, and we’ll cover adding your copyright information to the file and the dilemma of whether or not to add a frame or watermark. I don’t own Photoshop Elements so I’ve downloaded the trial version to help me explain this. Next week I’ll go on to explain how I export my images with one click, including a watermark, using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Before I talk about resizing and exporting, let’s look at the part about adding your name and copyright to your images. I want to talk about this first, because with pretty much everything in the digital workflow, the earlier you do things, the more time you will save. If you add your name and copyright information only as you export your images for web, you have to do this every single time you export an image. There are a number of ways to get this information into your images early in your workflow, but the absolute earliest is to save your details into your camera, so it’s added to your photographs in camera as you make them.

For example, on my Canon camera, there is an item in the menu called Copyright information, and under that menu I have options to Display copyright info, Enter author’s name and Enter copyright details. You can go ahead and enter your details right there in the camera, and it will be appended to the EXIF data of every image you shoot from that point on. I usually enter my name, and then under the Copyright information, I add my name along with the words “All rights reserved”.

This can be a pain to enter via the in-camera menus though, so I install Canon’s EOS Utilities application, that comes with my camera, and then connect the camera to a computer using the USB cable provided, and then in EOS Utilities I click Camera Settings, which then gives me an option to edit the Owner’s name/Author/Copyright information, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Canon EOS Utilities - Copyright Information

Canon EOS Utilities – Copyright Information

If you do this, all images you shoot will be tagged, but you cannot add a copyright symbol © to this information, either in camera, or via the EOS Utilities, and I like to add a more complete copyright statement, so I actually apply a metadata preset to my images as I import them in Lightroom, which I’ll show you next week. Also, unlike Photoshop Elements, once I’ve set up Lightroom to apply my preset, it just keeps doing it for every import until I change the settings again, so I don’t have to do this every time I import images.

For now though, if you are using Photoshop Elements as Michelle is, here’s what you’d need to do. When you import media from a camera or memory card, click on the Advanced Dialog button at the button of the Photo Downloader screen, and you’ll see something like this screenshot (below).

Photoshop Elements Import - Advanced Dialog

Photoshop Elements Import – Advanced Dialog

You’ll notice that I added my name as the Creator and in the Copyright field I entered “Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved”. You might want to add your name to this as well, although it will usually be displayed with the creator name. By the way, to enter the copyright symbol on a Mac, hold down the alt/option key and type a “g” on the keyboard. On Windows, hold down the alt key and type the number 0168.

The beauty of adding this information to your images as you import them, is that now, from this point on, they are all tagged with your copyright information, so you don’t have to add this each time you export them.

Note that I was not able to find a way to do this when importing from a folder, so if you already have your images on your hard disk, you’d need to import your images into the Organizer first and use to the method I’ll cover shortly to apply this information to images after that.

Adding Copyright Information to Individual Images

Adding copyright information on import is going to save you the most time, but if you haven’t been doing this so far, it is best to add this information to your original image files. That way the information will stay with the image in all future exports.

In Photoshop Elements, you can do this by opening the File Info dialog from the Edit menu. You’ll see a dialog like this (below) into which you can enter your details. If you have a web page that explains your copyright policy, you can enter the URL to that page at the bottom of the dialog as well.

Photoshop Elements - File Information Dialog

Photoshop Elements – File Information Dialog

We obviously don’t want to have to type this in for all images though, so before you click OK, select Export from the Template button at the bottom of this dialog. Because I added the year to my Copyright statement, I called my template Martin Bailey Copyright 2016. I will need to update this at the start of 2017. If you think you’ll forget to do that, leave the year out of the copyright statement, or a much better option would be to leave the year in and set a reminder in your calendar.

Update Copyright Info for Multiple Images

Using this template, you could then import the same settings to other images in the future. The problem with this method though, is that you have to do it for every image individually, and that’s too time consuming.

Alternatively, you can go to the Adobe Elements Organizer, and select all of your images by pressing COMMAND or CTRL  and the A key on your keyboard, then right click your selected files and select Show File Info, or hit the Keyword/Info button in the bottom right corner of the screen, then click the “Information” label at the top right. After that, click the Edit IPTC Information button in the middle of the right sidebar. You can then enter your details into the Author and Copyright fields in this dialog and apply them to all of the selected photos, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Photoshop Elements - Edit File Information

Photoshop Elements – Edit File Information

Notice how I chose to Overwrite the IPTC Contact, Author information. This is to stop the field being populate with “Martin Bailey; Martin Bailey” or similar, as it would be if I simply Appended the new information.

Resizing and Adding a Watermark in Photoshop Elements

Michelle also asked about resizing images for the Web and adding a watermark in Photoshop Elements, so let’s walk through this. Shortly we’ll use an option to process multiple files, both resizing and adding a watermark at the same time, but to do that, we need to either open all of these files, or copy them to a new folder. If you only have a few files to export, then just opening them and then proceeding to the next step is fine. If you have more than a handful of files to export though, it’s best to make a copy of them first.

Select all of the files that you want to resize and watermark in Elements Organizer. Then from the File menu select Export as New Files. Select Use Original Format as the File Type, then Under Location click the Browse button and create a folder called Temp or something like that on your Desktop, then click the Export button.

Photoshop Elements - Export Originals

Photoshop Elements – Export Originals

Then in Photoshop Elements Editor, not the Organizer, select Process Multiple Files from the Edit menu. You’ll then see a dialog box like this one (below) into which you can enter the size of the images you want to export, and add a watermark at the same time. Under the “Process Files From” pull-down you can select Folder, Import or Open files. If you already have the files that you want to export open in Elements, that will work. Otherwise, click the Browse button next to the Source field, and navigate to the Temp folder that you just exported your Original Files to, as you can see here (below).

Photoshop Elements - Resize and Watermark

Photoshop Elements – Resize and Watermark

For the Destination folder, click Browse again and create a folder called Web on your Desktop. Under the Image Size section, turn on the Resize Images checkbox. For the size, you need to decide how big you want your images to be. If you make your images too small, people won’t be able to appreciate them, but if you make them too big, it would be easier for people to use them for their own purposes without your permission.

For a number of years now, I’ve resized my images to 1440 pixels wide, and 960 pixels high for portrait oriented images, which is a good size for the Web. Not quite big enough for people to do much with, but plenty big enough to appreciate the photographs. Whatever you chose,  select Pixels from the pull-down, and enter that number into the Width field. Also, change the Resolution to 72, which is still pretty much the standard resolution for Web use.

Unfortunately, there is no way that I could find to handle exporting vertical orientation images at a smaller height when selecting 1440 pixels as the width. From Lightroom, I can automatically resized horizontal orientation images at 1440 pixels, and vertical orientation images at 960 pixels high. In Elements if I select 1440 pixels wide then portrait orientation images are exported at 2160 pixels wide, which I obviously don’t want. To overcome this, you’d need to batch process your horizontal images separately from your vertical images, and enter 640 pixel width for your vertical images, which would make them 960 pixels high.

When you’ve done that, under File Type, turn on the “Convert Files to” checkbox, and select JPEG High Quality, and under the Quick Fix box turn on Sharpen. This will ensure that your images are sharpened a little during the export. Even if your images are sharp full size, you need to turn this on, or they will look soft after they have been resized.

Then under the Labels section, select Watermark, then under Custom Text type what you’d like to add as a watermark, and select the position, font and font size. You also need to select a color for the text. If you just leave this as black, then it won’t show up against a dark photograph, so it’s perhaps best to select a mid-gray or even a brighter color if you really want it to stand out, and then make the Opacity between 30 and 50 percent.

Once you have done all that, click the OK button and wait for your images to be resized, sharpened, watermarked and exported all in one go.

Disclaimer

Before we move on, I’ve got to tell you that at this point in time, May, 2016, this process actually doesn’t work for me. It should, but I can only assume that there is a bug in Photoshop Elements that is preventing the watermarks from being applied during this process. I spent a couple of hours troubleshooting it today, but I’m out of time, and frankly I’ll never actually buy Photoshop Elements, so I’m going to give up on this for now.

Exporting for Web – Photoshop Elements

If you are not going to watermark your images, you can also simply use the Save for Web option in Photoshop Elements, after you have opened your file for editing, by selecting Save for Web from the File menu. Select JPEG High from the Preset pull-down, then type in 92 for the Quality. This will approximately halve the size of the image file, but show absolutely no digital artifacts in the image. Ensure that Embed Color Profile is checked too, and then click Save to save a resized copy of your file.

Photoshop Elements - Save for Web

Photoshop Elements – Save for Web

Want More Control?

If you want to export with a watermark, but you want more control over process, or maybe want to place it manually over your image, there’s a relatively easy way to do this too. First, let’s create your watermark and save it as a brush. Click create a New Blank File from the File menu, and let’s use a size of around 7 x 1 centimeters, and a resolution of 72. Select RGB Color for the Color Mode and Transparent for the Background Contents, as you see here (below).

Photoshop Element New File for Watermark

Photoshop Elements – New File for Watermark

Then, select the Type Tool in Photoshop Elements, and type in the text that you want to use as your watermark. Make the color of your text black as you will be able to change it with the color palette each time you use it. You can also add a logo or other graphic by selecting Place from the File menu if you want to. If necessary, use the Crop tool to crop down the image so that it only leaves a little bit of space around your new watermark text or logo, then select Define Brush from the Edit menu, and press OK.

Photoshop Elements - Create Watermark Brush

Photoshop Elements – Create Watermark Brush

Save your brush in PSD format to a location that you’ll remember, so that you can reload it to the brushes list later if you have to reinstall Elements, or to load on a different computer.

Photoshop Elements - Image Size

Photoshop Elements – Image Size

Then, open the file that you want to save for Web with your watermark, and let’s resize it right now, because we also need to change the bit depth to 8 bits, and it’s probably better resize your image while you still have more image information.

Select Resize > Image Size from the Image menu, then turn on the Resample Image checkbox, and type in 72 under the Resolution and type the new width that you want under Pixel Dimensions. I’ll use 1440 pixels wide again. Select Bicubic Sharper (best for reduction) from the pull-down at the bottom of the dialog box, and click OK.

The Bicubic sharpening there is plenty to cover the softness introduced during resizing, so you won’t need to do this again when you save the image later.

Before we can apply the watermark as a brush, the image has to be converted to 8 Bits/Channel, so select this option from the Image > Mode menu. Then select the Brush tool from the Photoshop Elements toolbar or by pressing COMMAND/CTRL + B, and you should now be able to select your watermark from the bottom of the Brush pulldown at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see an outline of the brush as you place your mouse over your image, and you can make it bigger or smaller with the Size slider or the square bracket keys [  ] on your keyboard.

Give it a try by stamping somewhere on your photo, and adjust the opacity and color as well if necessary. Here you can see I went a bit crazy trying this out, but this screenshot will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Open up your browser window and click on the image to see it larger.

Photoshop Elements - Applying Watermark with Brush

Photoshop Elements – Applying Watermark with Brush

As we’ve already resized this image, and it’s been sharpened as we reduced the size, all you need to do now is save a copy for the Web. Make sure you don’t accidentally over-write your original image, especially if it was a JPEG, as you need to keep your full sized master copy. If you select Save As from the File menu, you can then select JPEG as the format, and ensure that you turn on the check box to Embed the Color Profile, which should be sRGB, then a string of letters and numbers. This helps browsers to accurately display your image.

Photoshop Elements - Save As JPEG

Photoshop Elements – Save As JPEG

Once you click Save, you’ll see another dialog to select the compression for your image. I’d recommend between 8 and 10 for the compression, although you can try smaller if you need the image to download quickly from the web. Just check for artifacts in gradations etc. as you increase the compression.

OK, to that’s given you a number of different ways to resize and watermark your images, so I hope that was useful.

A Word on Watermarks

Before we start to wrap up this episode, I did want to quickly discuss watermarking images in general. If you want to watermark your images, and you want people to still enjoy your images, it is best not to plaster your watermark all over them. Some people hate watermarks, and will leave your site or page the moment they see one. Even though I watermark my images, when I look at a photo that has a huge copyright symbol and the photographers name or logo all across the image, I generally stop looking too.

Sure, a huge watermark will stop someone from stealing your photo, but you are not likely to win any fans of your work in the process, so keep it discrete and tasteful. I use a small graphic file logo that I add as I export images from Lightroom, and like I said, we’ll cover that process in a follow-up episode next week. Does it stop people from stealing my images? Not in the least, but I’d rather people enjoy my images.

Ichinuma in the Mist (Panorama #2)

Ichinuma in the Mist (Panorama #2)

In fact, although I’m concerned about image theft, and do chase it up when necessary, I actually watermark my images more for the marketing value. When someone sees my images on line, either on my own site, or where someone has stolen the image, if the watermark is still in tact, they see my name, and the more times people see your name, the more likely they are to remember you.

Play with the Frames

Michelle had also asked about adding frames, and there is a Frames option in under the Quick screen in Photoshop Elements, and there are a couple, like the black border or white border which might be useful, so have a play with these if you are interested, just don’t attach them to your master copy of your images and save them. I think it’s best to keep frames as an artistic option added for specific purposes, and not to your original files.

For the Web, I actually really don’t recommend adding a frame directly to your images at all. There are lots of ways of adding frames on the fly with CSS and other tools, and that makes it much easier to change the look later if you change your site theme, but this is not within the scope of this episode, so we won’t get into that today.

Anyway, I hope that has been useful, and thanks to Michelle for the great question. We’ll follow up next week with how I deal with these things in Adobe Lightroom, and believe me, it’s a lot easier!

Have a Question?

If you have a photography related question that you’d like me to answer in a future episode, you can either record an audio message using the voicemail app in the sidebar for each blog post and at mbp.ac/voicemail or drop me a line using our contact form.

 


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Podcast 301 : How to Create Really Punchy Images!

Podcast 301 : How to Create Really Punchy Images!

In September, I had a conversation by mail with a friend that some of you may know from the MBP Community, Jared Fein. Jared had taken a look at the images on 500px following Episode 295 : An Introduction to 500px, and asked how people achieve the punchy look that you often see there. I replied and the communication resulted in Jared making some progress in his photography, so today, I’m going to discuss what I told Jared, and include some other tools and techniques that you might consider.

Over the years, I’ve slowly changed how I make my images pop, and although I’ve discussed most of this in previous Podcasts, I’m going to briefly touch on this again, but let’s start with a bit of history.

Lens Quality Matters

Firstly, around eight years ago, I’d noticed that some of my images were pretty flat, and lacked contrast, and I remember someone telling me the last thing that I wanted to hear, and that was that my 100-300mm lens, one of three lenses that I’d been using for well over ten years, was a piece of crap. Until that point, I’d figured that a lens is a lens, is a lens. I’d just started using my first DSLR at the time, which was the Canon EOS D30, with the promise that I already had my three lenses, so all I needed to do was replace the camera body.

Well, if you know how many lenses I own now, you’ll be sniggering as you’ve probably witnessed me slipping down this very slippery slope, but basically, I pretty much immediately realized that two of my three lenses were indeed pieces of crap. The only lens that I could have kept was my 24mm F2.8 prime lens, but the 1.6X crop factor on the D30 caused me to set foot on that slippery slope and buy the old 17-35mm F2.8 lens, so I sold the 24mm. My mid-range zoom and long zooms were soon replaced too, and I noticed that my images now had much more depth and contrast. Luckily, now, some eight years on, even the crappiest kit lens is better than the my two old zoom lenses, so this is no long such an issue, but I mention this, because if you are shooting with really old lenses and unhappy with the image quality, it matters.

The D30 was a revolutionary camera, but the way it processed images did leave a lot to be desired. The JPEGs were OK-ish, but the RAW files were totally flat, and we didn’t have Lightroom and Camera Profiles back then to fix it. The only two options at the time were Canon’s Digital Photo Professional which remains the son of satan to this day, and never even get’s installed on my computers any more, or Photoshop. I remember that I would run entire batches of images through Photoshop, just automatically applying auto-curves, and watch the image just pop as the curves were applied.

Canon’s Picture Styles

With the 10D though, I think it was, Canon introduced Pictures Styles, which I thought was a huge step in the right direction. In my film days, I used to shoot FujiChrome Velvia which was really heavily saturated, as I’ve always been partial to very rich colors, and Velvia gave me exactly that. Now with the Landscape Picture Style, I could get that Velvia look from my DSLR. The problem at the time though, was that Pictures Styles are proprietary, and only Digital Photo Professional could develop RAW images and maintain the Picture Style.

Then Adobe developed Lightroom which I fell in love with from the initial Beta stages, although I was hesitant to shift my workflow to Lightroom because of a lack of Picture Styles. After a bit of experimentation though, I found that if I added between 25 and 50 on the Red saturation slider, and around 18 on the Blue and Green saturation sliders, the result was very much like the Landscape Picture Style, and my old Velvia positive film, so I was able to fully switch to Lightroom. I would apply this saturation to pretty much everything I shot during import, and it worked for most of my work.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

Adobe then developed Camera Profiles, that were very similar to Canon’s Pictures Styles, which I also tried from time to time, but couldn’t really beat my simple saturation boost. This brought us to around two years ago now, and at the end of 2009, and by now, I’d been happy with my images for a few years, and producing nice crisp, and punchy images, but then I bought an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, and it transformed my photography again.

I reviewed the ColorChecker Passport and posted a video for Episode 227, at the beginning of 2010, which you can still go back to and check if you want, but basically, you include a ColorChecker Passport target in an image when you start shooting, and then later on your computer, you use that image to create a Camera Profile that you can apply to your images just the same as your would any other Camera RAW Profile, under the Calibration section in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera RAW. When you do this though, the colors in an image just pop right out at you. Taking my word on this and picking up a ColorChecker Passport was Jared’s major breakthrough following our recent conversation.

Let’s take a look at a couple of images that I sent Jared to convince him that the ColorChecker would make his images pop! Firstly, here’s a White Tailed Eagle that I photographed in Hokkaido just after releasing Episode 227. It’s not a bad shot, but it’s nothing to write home about either.

Eagle Eye (No Processing)

Eagle Eye (No Processing)

Next though, here’s the same image with a Camera Profile that I made from a photo at this location including the ColorChecker Passport. This profile has become my standard Clear Winters Day profile for my 1Ds Mark III. If you can’t see the difference here, go to the gallery at the bottom of the blog post and click on the thumbnail of the first image, then click the right side of it to switch to the second image. The difference is obvious, and if it isn’t, you have a bigger problem in the your computer display seriously needs calibrating. 🙂

Eagle Eye (with ColorChecker Profile)

Eagle Eye (with ColorChecker Profile)

One thing to note though, is that I don’t apply ColorChecker Passport profiles to all of my images. I usually do this when I feel that the color could be enhanced, or when I’m shooting something that I need to be color accurate. Even so though, I’m very happy with the depth and punchiness of my color work, and wasn’t obvious why this is until I really thought about it to answer Jared’s question. Here are a few other things that I always do.

Never Use AWB!

Firstly, I never use Auto White Balance. AWB is the daughter of satin and should be banished from the planet along with DPP. Sure, Auto White Balance can get you close, and it is a lot better than it was until a few years ago, but still, it’s the result of the camera taking a look at the colors in the scene and/or the color of the light that falls on a sensor on some cameras, and even that light is reflected onto the camera from the scene you are photographing. The result is that if you are photographing a field full of red flowers, the camera will think the White Balance needs to be more blue, and cool it down. If you are shooting a field full of blue flowers, the opposite happens and your White Balance is warmed up.

I once shot for a few hours with my AWB turned on by mistake, having made number of exposures from exactly the same location of exactly the same subject but with very slight movements of the camera, the color was shifting all over the place. I thought maybe this was so, and checked the White Balance and it was on Auto. If you want to get close, and will reset your White Balance to something constant in post, then break a leg, but personally, I would rather have everything constant from the get-go, so I shoot with either a preset, usually Daylight, or a custom white balance created from the gray card included with the ColorChecker Passport. Usually if I do a custom white balance, I then follow on and shoot the main color target on the passport, and create a camera profile to really snap the colors in, but just have control over your White Balance can make a huge difference just by itself.

Expose to the Right

I also pretty much always use Manual Exposure. This can be scary, but taking control of your exposure makes you consciously think about how you are exposing the scene. Unless I’m going for a low-key, or overall dark image, I expose to the right. We’ve covered this before too, but generally what this means is that I keep increasing my exposure changing the shutter speed until the brightest part of my image is just about touching the right side of the histogram on the back of my camera. Note too that if your camera has the ability to display an RGB histogram, turn it on. The standard gray histograms are displaying an average of the Red, Green and Blue channels, and this can give you a false sense of security. Depending on your subject, one of the channels can start to blow out, or become over-exposed before the other channels, and it’s sometimes only possible to see this with an RGB histogram. So when I say that I expose to the right that means that the right-most color channel is just about touching the right side. The two other channels might still be a way off, but you don’t want to blow out any of the channels, unless on purpose or for specular highlights.

The reason this will help with the overall punchiness of your images, is because you’ll probably end up capturing your images a little bit brighter than your camera would if you left it to its own devices. Nice bright images will generally be punchier. If you don’t expose your images like this, just try grabbing the exposure slider in Lightroom, Photoshop’s Camera RAW, or Aperture or whatever, and move it to the right until the histogram data just about hits the right side. You should be able to see that this makes your images look light and crisp. If the images appear to blow out when you do this, without your histogram running up the right side, then you have your computer display set too bright.

Shoot on Overcast Days

Another thing that I do is purposefully choosing overcast days to shoot on. Sure, the eagle shot that we looked at earlier was a beautiful clear day, and that works well, especially with a field of snow to bounce lots of light back into the underside of the bird, but a lot of the time, I head out on overcast days more than sunny days, especially for landscape work. When you shoot on overcast days, you don’t have bright reflections to deal with, and the sky is like a huge soft box, spreading light evenly and filling in the harsh shadows that a sunny day would create.

Take a look at this shot of a waterfall in the Oirase valley shot on an overcast day. There are a couple of things to note here. Firstly, if this had been a sunny day, the water would have reflected the light so much that had I tried to keep the water from over exposing, the surrounding greenery would have been much darker, and the shadow areas would have been totally plugged up and black. Also, the moisture in the air either from the waterfall or some light rain will have been keeping the surrounding foliage wet, and wet foliage is much more saturated color-wise. Pun intended.

Oirase Choushi Ootaki (Big Falls)

Oirase Choushi Ootaki (Big Falls)

Shoot in the Shade

Note that even if you are going out to shoot a waterfall on a sunny day, try to find out what time of day it will be in the shade, perhaps shaded by the valley walls if they’re high enough. Although you’ll lose that soft box effect, it doesn’t necessarily have to be overcast, if you can find some good shade.

Something else to keep in mind though, and this will certainly improve the quality of light in your photographs, is try to get out to shoot during the Golden Hour around dawn or dusk. Because the sun is low in the sky the quality of light is beautiful and warm, and even if it’s direct sunlight, any shadows that are made at this time of day have a special quality. The light is just so much more pleasing than the harsh light of a sunny day.

My advice to shoot on overcast days or in the shade will help you to get nice saturated colors, but of course this depends on the kind of photography you’re doing. If you are shooting a beach scene, you may well want lots of sun, and a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds. Personally, as I look through my work over the last eight years or so, I can only find a handful of blue skies, in my landscape shots at least. They just don’t appeal to me. That really is my personal opinion though of course.

Black and White Skies

When I do include the sky, I generally want it to be thick with dramatic clouds, and then, I’ll usually end up creating a black and white image from the resulting shots. When there are patches of blue, I’ll generally still use that to create a dramatic black and white image, like this one from last weekend, that I shot with my Lensbaby Composer during a walk in the Shinjuku Gyoen Park here in Tokyo.

Cocoon in the City

Cocoon in the City

I knew as I shot this that it would be converted to black and white, but sometimes I’ll try black and white on finding that the color doesn’t work the way I’d hoped. For the last few years I’ve done more and more black and white conversions, and now since Nik Software released Silver Efex Pro 2 that we looked at a few weeks ago in Episode 297, I really have fell in love with this process. This of course is not about punchy colors, but you have to admit that these contrasty black and white images have a lot of punch still. More so than a color image in some cases.

Nik Software: Color Efex Pro 4

I was a big fan of Silver Efex Pro even before the upgrade to version 2, and Nik Software have done it again with the last thing that I wanted to cover on this subject today. Even though I owned Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3, that was included in the Complete Collection that I bought a few years ago, I never really used it, and didn’t keep it as an option in my mental image enhancement toolbox. A few days ago though, I downloaded gave the brand new Color Efex Pro 4 a try, and have been blown away.

I love the dramatic skies that Silver Efex Pro gives me, and now, with Color Efex Pro 4 and the ability to use multiple filters simultaneously, I can bring out detail to create those dramatic skies in my color images as well. I’ve been back and reprocessed some of my Antarctica shots from March this year, and I really love what I can now do with Color Efex Pro 4. Here’s an example of one of the newly processed images, with a shot I called Iceberg Alley. This first image is my original processing, in which I did already bring out part of the sky and that beautiful blue ice just below the surface of the water.

Iceberg Alley (original processing)

Iceberg Alley (original processing)

Here though is the new version re-edited with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4. Again, to really appreciate the difference, flick between these using the gallery at the bottom of the blog post.

Iceberg Alley (Color Efex Pro 4 Processing)

Iceberg Alley (Color Efex Pro 4 Processing)

I’m not a fan of over-processed HDR images, but the effect I can get with Color Efex Pro 4 look to me like a really well done HDR. Lots of tonality and punchiness, so I figured it was worth a mention here today too. I’m going to be using this much more in the future. Remember that if you decided to buy this, or any of Nik Software’s amazing plugins, do use our code MBP15 for a 15% discount [this code is no longer valid] on your order, or click through from our banner on the right side of the blog.

By the way, once I’ve gotten a little more used to what Color Efex Pro 4 can do, I’ll produce a video to walk you through it, probably over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested.

So, these are all of the things that come to mind as I’ve sought crisp and punchy images over the last eight years or so since picking up my first DSLR. I hope it’s been of some use.


Show Notes

ColorChecker Passport Review: https://mbp.ac/227

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


Audio

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Display and Monitor Calibration with the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo (Podcast 249)

Display and Monitor Calibration with the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo (Podcast 249)

Today I take you through a full monitor and printer calibration with the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo, and we also take a look at how to optimize a printer profile.

Although it was a little late, I finally published an iPod optimized version of the video via the iTunes/RRS stream, so recheck iTunes if that’s where you usually get your MBP fix.

The full-sized video will only be available here, or on Vimeo, to download the video for offline viewing.

By the way, if you live in Japan, in or close to Tokyo, it would be great to see you in Gotanda for my Color Managed Digital Workflow seminar, at X-Rite Japan. See my Workshops Web site for details.

The Martin Bailey Photography Podcast is sponsored by WebSpy, the Internet monitoring, analysis and reporting specialists. For details of WebSpy products and a 10% discount, visit our landing page at http://www.webspy.com/mbp.

 

Podcast 245: Kata Bag 3N1-33 Sling Backpack Review

Podcast 245: Kata Bag 3N1-33 Sling Backpack Review

Kata-Bags sent me a 3N1-33 Sling Backpack to try a few weeks ago, and after using it a number of times now, I’m very pleased with it, and have been looking forward to sharing some details with you today.

Kata-BagsLike many photographers, I have a bit of a bag fetish. There will never be one single bag for every need, unless your needs are pretty limited of course. For many years I have been a Lowepro proponent, and I still own and use about six Lowepro bags, if you include two Toploader bags that I use when I only want to carry a camera body with one lens attached. The problem is that I rarely go anywhere with a camera and just one lens, so I generally attach a lens case to one side of the Toploader, and then I attach a pouch with my air blower and spare batteries to the other side. I also often put a third or fourth lens into the pouch that come with the lenses, and put that into my rucksack. I have to carry a rucksack as well of course, because I need something to keep my wallet and other things in. The next step up of course is to use one of my much larger bags, but I had not yet bought something intermediate, for a day out when I want a good range of gear, but don’t want to carry one of my larger bags.

You might remember from Episode 234 that I bumped into the kind people at Kata-Bags at the CP+ show in Yokohama, in March. When they showed me the 3N1-33 bag among some of their other new bags, I knew that I had just seen exactly the bag that I needed for my days out, when I don’t necessarily need to take the kitchen sink with me. This was because I could not only take four or five lenses, including the 70-200mm F2.8, which is a pretty hefty lens, but it has a compartment at the top for my personal effects so I no longer need to carry a separate bag for that. I also thought that the design was perfect for a bag of this size.

DPS - Digital Photo Series Logo

The 3N1-33 is part of Kata-Bag’s Digital Photo Series range of bags. You can wear it as a standard backpack, as well as a sling, or as a backpack, but with the straps crossed. It’s incredibly versatile. So, when the kind folks at Kata-Bags agreed to sponsor us for a month, and to send me a bag for review, I chose the 3N1-33 and have really enjoyed trying it out.

Below we have just a straight view of the 3N1-33 bag. It’s a nice compact bag, at 46cm or 18” high, 23.5cm or 9.3” deep, and 32cm or 12.6” wide.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Front

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Front

You can also buy a 3N1 Tripod Holder System (below), which, as you might expect, adds a way to attach a small tripod to the front of the bag. I attached my pretty large Gitzo tripod to this, despite it being over the specified 2KG, and it was OK, but it did make the bag difficult to swing around as a sling. If I really wanted to take a tripod on day trips, with this bag, I’d probably pick up something a little smaller, and I’m sure it would be fine on the front of this bag.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 with Tripod Holder

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 with Tripod Holder

If we turn the bag around, we can see that all of the straps tuck nicely into the protective foam back. This means you can stow away all the straps when traveling, say when you are getting onto an aircraft, and the band across the middle enables you to use the bag with the optional Kata Insertrolley, or you can drop the bag over the handle of a suitcase or other roller bag that you might be using for a business trip for example.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Back

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Back

Let’s look at a few of the strap configurations as well, before we take a look inside the bag. First, here’s my favorite configuration, as a sling. You can take either shoulder strap, and attach it to the buckle on the large ring on the opposite side of the back, and then literally just sling it over your head and to have the strap run across your chest in a sling position.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Sling Configuration

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Sling Configuration

The great thing about this configuration is that when you pull the back around the front of your torso, you can open the side pocket and get at your camera instantly, without opening the front panel of the bag.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Side Pocket

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Side Pocket

Another thing that sold me on this bag is that once you have grabbed your camera from the bag in the quick-draw position via the side pocket, you can rest your elbows on the bag giving you a much more steady hand-held shooting position. I haven’t tested it yet, but I’m sure you can get a couple of stops of additional stabilization while shooting like this. It really does help to steady the camera when shooting hand-held.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Quick Draw Shooting Position

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Quick Draw Shooting Position

You can also attach the shoulder strap to the waist belt, but I felt that this put a little extra stress on the bottom of the waist belt as the shoulder strap pulled it upwards. When you want to use the bag as a backpack, you simply pull out the other shoulder strap, and attach the straps to the buckle on the same side as both of the straps. There’s also a comfortable waist belt to help distribute the weight of the bag if you are going to be walking or carrying the bag for a while.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Backpack Configuration

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Backpack Configuration

I didn’t shoot this configuration, but you can also attach the shoulder straps to the buckle on the opposite side, like when using the sling configuration, but you use both shoulder straps, forming a cross shape over your chest with the straps. Using the waist belt as well this is actually a very comfortable way to carry the bag, and prevents the straps from slipping off your shoulders as normal backpacks can do. If you undo the waist belt, or if you are just using the cross configuration, all you have to do to revert to the sling configuration is undo one of the shoulder straps. You can then swing the bag around to the front again, and access your camera via the side pocket.

Something else to note is that there is just a small piece of Velcro holding the flap on the front of the top lens compartment in place, which I have started to use for my 70-200mm F2.8 lens. As you can see here, it’s also very easy to get this long lens out of the bag from the side pocket as well.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Side Pocket Lens Access

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Side Pocket Lens Access

If you want to of course, from the cross configuration, you could undo the other shoulder strap, and swing the bag around the other way, then access some of your lenses from the other side pocket.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 with Laptop

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 with Laptop

For a bag of this size, I was really pleased to find, that I can fit my 16” wide screen Acer laptop in the laptop compartment in the back. The spec says that the 3N1-33 will fit up to a 15.4″ laptop, so you probably can’t count on fitting anything larger, but I was happy to get mine in the back. It does make the bag much heavier though, and the sling configuration with just one strap became a little uncomfortable, so I switched to the backpack configuration while I was out with the laptop in the bag along with my camera and five lenses.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Left Top Pocket

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Left Top Pocket

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Right Top Pocket

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Right Top Pocket

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Rain Cover

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Rain Cover

Finally, before we start to look inside the bag, note that there are two nice sized side pockets at the top of each side, that are great for fitting a memory card case and filters etc. The bag actually comes with a small memory card case as well with a patch of Velcro on the back, so you can stick it to any internal part of the bag. Actually, I should mention that the bag also comes with a nice bright yellow rain-cover, so if you should get caught in the rain, you won’t have to worry about your gear getting wet.

As I said, one of the things that sold me on this bag is the fact that it has a compartment for your personal effects. When I don’t want to carry one of my larger bags, I pretty much always end up taking a separate bag for my bits and bobs, and usually end up dropping a lens or two in that. In fact, when I first met Bellina, the lady from Kata-Bags that I interviewed for Episode 234, she asked if I needed any help. When I said that I was just looking, she said that I looked as though I needed some help. This is because I had my Toploader bag with a couple of lens pouches attached, and then my usual backpack that I use to keep my knick-knacks in, and I guess I looked a little bit uncomfortable.

Well, as we can see, there’s a really nice compartment at the top of the 3N1-33 bag, with pockets for a cell phone, pens and other things like a small air blower etc. and you can also drop a GorillaPod in there and small umbrella etc. Of course, you could put a flash in here, and if I really wanted to, I can actually get the 300mm F2.8 lens in this top compartment, but it makes the total bag weight so heavy that it’s difficult to use as a sling. If I really needed to carry that much, gear I’d reach for a larger bag.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Top Compartment

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Top Compartment

The separator between the main camera compartment and the top compartment is actually removable, so if you really needed to, you could take the separators out and use the bag for something other than a camera bag.

Let’s finally now take a look at the main compartment. To get into this, you have to undo two small plastic buckles on the front bottom left and right of the bag, and then the zip is the same one that you use to open the side pockets – you just keep going. You can see here how the camera fits in from the side, and if you remove the separator at the end, and put the camera in the bag with the 70-200mm F2.8 lens fitted.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Front Flap

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Front Flap

Speaking of which, there is a little butterfly shaped piece of Velcro that holds the front flap to the separator below, but if you pull on that, you can also get into the higher compartment that I am using to keep the 70-200mm F2.8 lens in.

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Front Flap Wider

Kata-Bag 3N1-33 Front Flap Wider

The bag comes with plenty of separators. I’m only using around half of what it comes with here, so if you want to create lots of small compartments, you can. Also, notice that the interior is bright yellow. This might not be to everybody’s taste, but it sure makes it easy to see your gear inside, which I imagine will be especially useful when shooting on a dull day or on a pre-dawn or post sunset shoot.

Also, the bag is deep enough that if you have a number of short lenses, like a 50mm, you can actually stack them together, as I have done here, with the 50mm on top, and the Lensbaby Composer beneath. You can also fit a 1.4X and a 2.0X Extender in one compartment too.

Kata-Bag_3N1-33 Two Short Lenses

Kata-Bag_3N1-33 Two Short Lenses

I heard that Kata-Bags are introducing three new ranges of bags in 2010. The Ultra-Light Pro Bag Collection, which are pro-grade yet made from incredibly light materials. There’s the Pro-Light Bag Collection, which although light, offers the pro a little more space and configurability, and then there’s the D-light Bag Collection. The D-Light collection offers the hobbyist and enthusiast photographer the perfect lightweight and protective camera bag, again, designed for camera gear as well as everyday personal effects.

Kata Bag ChooserKata have a great Bag Chooser search system on their Web site, to help you drill down to the bag that is right for you, based on the gear that you want to carry, and it even allows you to list bags based on your specific laptop make and model.

I found the Kata 3N1-33 bag to be well designed, and very easy to use. Everything just seems to be there, right where you expect it to be, right when you need it. For a company that hasn’t been around that long in the grand scheme of things, I am very impressed with their products and strategy to produce lightweight yet protective photo and video bags. I’ll certainly be considering buying Kata Bags again in the future, and look forward to seeing how Kata continue to innovate in this now very competitive market space.

I’d like to thank Kata-Bags for providing me with this fine bag to take through its paces. I hope that you enjoyed reading or listening to how I’m finding the 3N1-33 bag, and I hope that it will be useful the next time you are in the market for a new camera bag.

During the month of June, while Kata are sponsoring the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast, I’m doing a Twitter giveaway, in which you could be the lucky winner and take away your own 3N1-33 Sling Backpack Photo Bag. All you have to do is make sure you are following me on Twitter, and tweet a message that I have posted on the blog. Full details are here: http://bit.ly/mbpga2


Podcast show-notes:

Kata-Bags online: http://kata-bags.com/

Music: Studies In Ether, by Andrew Aversa – Recording Licensed from the UniqueTracks Production Music Library Inc.


Audio

Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.