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March 19, 2007 meeting notes:

Graphics SIG & Software

In March, I finally put the finishing touches on a project I'd been working on since January, and shared it with the group. Insecurity about the colors on my monitor delayed my final saving of the photos until I set my graphics card straight with a color management device from x-rite that I finally purchased. A demonstration should follow, but I can't carry the heavy monitor to our SIG.

I documented in photos, as best I could, an event where no flash is allowed. Perhaps few cameras have ever shot what I was able to capture at the 25th annual Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival held in January at the First Christian Church on Santa Fe. I hope to make some people happy and cover some of my expenses in the process. I can tell you my workflow for sharing the pictures after getting the colors right.

The corrected 8.2mp photos were saved in Photoshop Document format (.psd), and ended up about 47MB each! I ventured into the batching process with help from a book on Photoshop. After several mistakes, like continually saving again in the .psd format instead of the small size .jpg, I finally got the acceptable 209 photos (10.5GB on each of 2 drives) into a shareable size. I say shareable because after consulting with the pastor, I will theoretically be able to offer them to any wanting an enlargement. But why can't they make their own enlargements, you ask. Ah, good question, Boar's Head breath. The final size took care of that for me, but first the batching process.

Batch converting a folder of photos into a different folder needs to follow an action. An action is a recording of every step you do on any photo until you tell it to stop recording your steps. Since the horizontal photos were about the same, I made a Horizontal action for them (and a Vertical later), telling Photoshop to make this group all the same width, also trimming them in bit-mode from 16-bit to 8-bit 'cause that's what jpegs' limits are, and from AdobeRGB color space to s-RGB. Then Patty once told me that printing 150 pixels per inch would allow a given print size no further enlargement. So, I wanted folks to make their own reprints from these jpegs and I made the action do them all 900-pixels wide by 600 tall. That'll make for nice 4x6 prints at home or from a photo-finisher like Wal-Mart. They look nice on a monitor or TV too. I also told the action to sharpen a small amount last, .08 pixels, then save to a certain folder. It sounds complicated, but once you make your action steps correctly, you can just tell the batching process to follow your new action with a whole folder of photos and go mow the yard or cook supper while it works! This is similar to the older "scripting" done to get a computer to perform redundant tasks, but now batching is where the action is!

Also covered in the meeting were my first CD labeling attempts. I opened a 3 yr. old package of CD labels and software, then found an appropriate photo to use. Was my photo choice the sharpest, best composed, or highlight of the event? No. I found a smiling jester-like actor heavily blurred from running but with a joyful smile still apparent. She is even facing out of the frame-- a no-no. But to me, this small corner of a photo ready for file 13 was a perfect representation the whole event. The next day, the beautiful printed labels peeled up and ruined the CDs. I tried and failed again with my first printable CDs as they would not print centered. An anonymous dummy inserted the CD printer tray backwards the first time and may have ruined that feature. Hooray for Sharpie markers! The church was given 10 CDs with unlimited copying permitted. "Do unto others..."

We finished with a new trick Jack and I learned concurrently in Corel Draw 9. The ability to make letters appear 3D with bevels for a project I'd been doing annually for several years. My interest was renewed when he did the trick in Paint Shop Pro the previous meeting. Ya gotta come to the meetings to see how this stuff is done!

Come join us at 7pm in the Retama Room at the Central Library downtown on the 3rd Monday of each month for more graphical fun and games.


  - Bruce Switalla
 


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