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Archive for July, 2006

I have been trying out a few tools for creating panoramas as I really like the effect and it would be a great way of capturing some of my favourite places. I deliberately picked 3 very poorly matched JPEG images thinking that if the software works for those then it should cope with anything!

I first tried with the panorama tool in Photoshop Elements as this had produced a reasonable result with well matched images. The results were quite disappointing. On normal perspective the joins were awful and if you start using the advanced blending you cannot save the output as separate layers which is handy to be able to adjust colors and touch up the joins.

So next it was on to Hugin the free tool that wraps the panorama tools package. This was easy to use but the final image had a curved perspective and I could not see an easy way to correct it. I’m sure it is easy to do if you read the tutorials, etc, but I didn’t have the time for that.

Next up was PTAssembler which again is a front-end to the panorama tools and a new stitcher call PTMender which it reckons is faster. Anyway this was excellent. It guides you through the process of adding the control points, lens settings, etc, and then the best bit for beginners. Before it generates the final image it presents a report (with a preview image) telling you how good it thinks the final image is and what you may want to do to improve it. This made it a doddle to get everything straight and output a layered Photoshop file. I then corrected the colors and touched up the joins and hey presto, my first panorama.

It’s not perfect as there is noticable difference in the sea in the right-hand join but I’m sure I could have fixed this with a bit more time. So it looks like I’ll be stumping up my $39 for PTAssembler.

Couliere

Hosted on Zenfolio

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This is a photo of my brother-in-law’s dog Meeka taken in their back garden. Even at the full extent of the S5600 zoom the detail is still good with the added advantage of giving a nicely out of focus background. If you’re wondering what the spots in the background are; they are drops from a water sprinkler.

Hungarian Vizsla Hosted on Zenfolio

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My Zenfolio experience is just getting better and better. I’m glad I didn’t hit the upgrade button right away during my trial period as they have just sent me a $10 discount coupon! I’ve now upgraded to the basic 1GB storage per year package and it’s only cost me $15 dollar. It’s great value.

You can see my gallery here.

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The interface looks really good and the develop module appears to have everything necessary to for the initial processing of RAW files but I have one big problem. Where does this fit into my digital workflow?

I currently use Photoshop Elements as my main organiser and editor. I import my RAW images (or JPEGs) into the organiser and then process them using ACR.Then I open the file into the Elements editor and make any further levels adjustment (not normally required with the RAW images) before saving the file in TIFF format. This file is saved in a version set with the original RAW or JPEG file. Using version sets in this way allows me to easily see which files I have started processing.

If the file needs noise reduction I load it into Neat Image and then save it back out to TIFF and add it to a photo stack with the original in the Elements organiser. I then use Elements to clean up any blemishes, crop, sharpen, etc, before again saving back into Elements organiser.

Finally I use Qimage to either print using my own printer or to prepare files for sending to an on-line print service.

You can see where I’m going here – all the versions of a photo are stacked together in the organiser which makes it incredibly easy to see what stage of the workflow they are at. How does Lightroom fit into this process?

I don’t want to use it’s library system as it does not have the version and stack facilities of Elements. Even if it did I would still need Elements for cleaning and applying filters, etc. So what does this leave? I could use it for processing my RAW images before exporting them as TIFFs to Elements but that means I need to buy two applications to accomplish what I do now with one!

I know this is still in the BETA stage and there is still time for Adobe to add extra functionality but at the moment I just can’t see why an Elements 4 user would want to pay more (just guessing about the price) for Lightroom and still need to use Elements to complete the digital processing.

So it looks great, processes RAW files really well, but I don’t think I need it. Or am I missing something?

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Nothing special about this one but I really like the colours. The peacock was hiding under a bush when I managed to get the shot. I blurred the background a bit in Elements as I think it gives it more of a DSLR look!

Peacock - hosted on Zenfolio

Hosted on Zenfolio

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Zenfolio rocks!

I posted a few days ago that I couldn’t find a photo gallery solution that fitted my needs, especially regarding password protection. Well I looked again at the hosting services and found lots that provide what I need. In the end it came down to a choice between Smugmug and Zenfolio. As it turns out I’ll probably never know whether Smugmug would be better because an hour after signing up for the Zenfolio trial I was hooked. The display is gorgeous, the upload is slick and easy, and it’s so easy to configure.

Now if I’d used SmugMug first I may have thought the same about that but there was something that made me go with Zenfolio first? You don’t have to part with your credit card details just to try it out! I don’t know why but I just don’t like the hassle to having to sign-up, give your credit details, and then have to cancel, just to try out a service. So sorry SmugMug; your system may beat Zenfolio hands down but I tried them first.

Should anyone be interested my gallery can be found at www.plucky.zenfolio.com. There’s not much there yet as I need to do some serious uploading.

Should anyone like to open a Zenfolio account feel free to use my referral code – NFF-NSE-63Z – which will give you $5 off the price and also credit my account with $5 🙂

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I think this picture really shows off the low-light capabilities of the s5600. It was taken in the shade of some very thick trees and even though it required ISO 800 the noise level is pretty low.

Asian Otter Asian Otter Hosted on Zooomr

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