Friday, 24 February 2012

Windows Movie Maker Indexing Problems

The Problem Solution
Here is a simple fix for a common problem that occurs when you convert files from a digital video camera (in this case Panasonic .mts video files) with programs such as Format Factory or Any Video converter to Windows native .wmv files.

If you see this error when importing your files into Windows Movie Maker you will need to fix them:

How do I index the file? First you will need to download Windows Media encoder:
The link is safe, but a tip is to go for the advanced install and uncheck the 'free' AVG toolbars during install.
The Windows encoder is quite a powerful piece of software, which can do all sorts of things, but the part of the encoder we need is 'Windows Media File Editor' which is in the utilities part of the install.
Here is what you should see.

Next just go file>Open and navigate to your .wmv files that need re-indexing.

Just select one of the files and hit the 'open button. Then select save and index from the file menu:

That's it! You should be all set to edit your files in Windows Movie Maker.

© 2012 Mark Antony

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Making Selections with Paths

If you are given a horrible photo and need to remove background clutter then Photoshop has plenty of tools to help you do this but the best and most controllable is to make selections using the pen tool.
Here is a typical candidate for treatment:

The above is a classic example of the sort of image that needs help, could be a snap for uploading to ebay, and doesn't show the product in a good light- help is needed to make it look less like an amateur snap.
Firstly select the pen tool from the tools pallet:

Then move in close with the magnifier tool and click roughly round the edges that you wish to select.

A a series of nodes will be left at each point you click and when you have gone round the object you need to join up to the starting node, you'll see a small 'o' to confirm that the path has been joined.
We should now have a rough path that we'll need to refine by attaching anchor points to move the path to its final postion, here is how you select the anchor point tool under the pen tool

By placing the anchor points on the roughly selected outline we can just drag them into their final position and if necessary you can use the 'handles' to ensure the selection curve matches:

These are often referred to as Bezier curves, and make very accurate selection fast even with a mouse.
After you path has been tidied up you'll need to load it into a selection:

This is done by clicking the load selection button in the middle of the paths pallet.
We should now have a accurately selected subject, almost ready for cutting out and putting on our web white background, just feather the selection by 1 pixel:

Then click on the background in the tools pallet to select the background colour.

Now go to the top menu and select inverse (if you don't your subject will white out)!
Next just press the back space button to give your subject a nice clean background.

Next just do the normal cropping and tidy up, final sharpen and you have a picture ready for upload to Ebay

Friday, 18 July 2008

Sharpening Images

Most digital images need some sort of sharpening, whether they come from a top line DSLR or Scanner. Some folks use in camera sharpening, Raw Software or sharpen in their scanner software, others use the Photoshop 'unsharp mask' with various favourite settings depending on file size or image type.
The biggest disadvantage of those methods is that some types of image i.e portraits need sharpening to be applied only to certain areas, eyes or hair- but certainly not skin or other picture elements that may cause artifacts to appear.
The following method is sometimes referred to as 'High Pass' sharpening and can be used to target areas that we wish to sharpen.
Here is my tutorial.

Firstly make a duplicate layer by going to the layers pallet and dragging the background layer onto the create new layer icon:

This will create a layer called 'backgound copy' after which we change the mode from normal to overlay
The next step is to apply the High Pass filter, by going to the top menu-bar and selecting Filter > Other > High Pass.
This brings up the following Dialogue box.

In this box we need to set the Radius I normally use a Radius of 1-3 where the larger number will give the strongest sharpening. In this tutorial I selected 1.5.

Now we need to bring up the colour picker tool which can be done by left clicking the foreground colour in the tools pallet
to bring up this box:

Now enter 50% in the Brightness box of the HSB boxes to give a mid-grey.

Now were ready to work on our image. We now select the brush tool and use it to paint the High Pass layer to remove unwanted sharpening on skin or smooth toned objects that may show noise or artifacts.

If you find that you have slightly over sharpened your image you can go to the layers pallet and lower the opacity to reduce the overall effect, and because we are doing this on a layer it is non destructive.

There are some caveats with using this method, Firstly if your image has lots of artifacts because it is a heavily compressed jpg or if there is color fringing this method may cause some issues. In this case you can set the high pass layer to 'soft light'.
The method is very useful though and is certainly better than the standard unsharp-mask method.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Resetting Photoshop dialog boxes

This is more of a tip than a tutorial, but one that will save you time.
Often when working in Levels or Curves and sometimes other photoshop dialogue boxes like Shadow/Highlight its easy sometimes to go a little too far with your corrections. The option for most people is to move all the sliders or nodes back to their defaults which is easy with levels or colour correction, much harder with Shadow/highlight and curves.
Most people just press the cancel button, but wait... don't do that! did you know there is a hidden 'reset' button?
If you press the alt button the cancel button turns into a reset button like this:

So don't cancel - Reset

Monday, 26 May 2008

Bayer Basics

I recently found a link to Marc Rochkind's blog where he has a downloadable program that allows you to open up a NEF (Nikon Raw) file and see the image as a Bayer CFA before the interpolation and image processing has taken place.
If you want you can download the application free on Marc's blog and if you don't have Nikon he includes a NEF for you to play with.
I should also note that this is a Mac only app.
Very neat and interesting...

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Harman Glossy FB Baryta inkjet Paper

When I first read about this paper I became very exited, Harman are basically the same outfit as Ilford, and I believe that the paper base for their FB Baryta range is similar to the fiber based traditional papers like Ilford Galerie which I and other photographers have been using for years.
Photographers who have become accustomed to printing their works on high quality Silver FB materials over the years would obviously like to have an equivalent ink-jet paper, with the deep blacks, surface and luminosity (glow) that is associated with the best traditional papers.
Harman on specification seem to have delivered with their 'Baryta' based FB range boasting:
"Real baryta paper with the look and feel of traditional photographic paper"
Quite a boast, could this paper be the one that finally puts ink-jet in the same ballpark as my wet darkroom prints?
320gsm, Baryta, Fiber based paper could this be the paper we have been waiting for?
First observations is that this paper is expensive, at well over £1.00 per sheet, so cost wise it is up with the price of the likes Museo Silver rag and the Hahnemühle papers.
The paper itself is quite shiny with a lot smoother surface than a traditional fibre based paper, it also has a very bright white base compared to some papers I have used.
Another thing you notice is that the paper smells similar to conventional silver photo paper, a kind of sharp acidic smell quite reminiscent of the wet darkroom papers.
In order to test the paper I downloaded the latest profiles from Harmans website, this involved having to register with e-mail and password.
The paper transport seemed quite problematic with my Epson R2400 several attempts were made to print on my glossy media setting all of which resulted in jamming, in fact the only way I could get the test through was to use semi-matt media settings.
Once I'd managed to get the paper transporting OK the resulting printed image looked fine, I'm sure once I have my own profile the colours/density will be even better but the canned factory profiles acceptable for most users.
The paper obviously has a very good D-max coupled with a bright white (I'd prefer creamier) base that gives the printed images quite a bit of 'pop' looking crisp and detailed, possibly this is due to the gloss Alumina coating used.

Above is a picture of 3 glossy papers, on the left is Fuji Multijet which to my eyes has a slightly cyan/blue tinge and the highest gloss of the three. Centre is the Harman which is the brightest white and slightly less glossy. Right is the Fotospeed EG which is duller and 'waxy' with a more paper like look.

So what do I think about the new Harman paper? Well truthfully I'm disappointed, not that this is a bad paper (far from it) but rather because this paper promised to be similar to silver based baryta papers – it isn't.
Harmans baryta inkjet paper has several crucial differences between the results it delivers and a print on say Agfa Record Rapid or even Ilfords own great darkroom paper Galerie.
The surface is far too glossy for my taste, certainly more than say my reference Fotospeed paper, this leads the inexperienced worker to feel it gives sharper results (it doesn't) in truth I found the surface to be similar to Fuji glossy paper not perfectly glossy, with a slight 'tooth' but certainly much smoother than 'real' silver based paper.
If you tilt the paper to the light you can clearly see the highlights and a small amount of 'gloss differential' nothing objectionable but you can see it if you look at an angle, but it's certainly no worse than other glossy papers with the Epson R2400.

I realise that the above doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, and that may partly be down to my unrealistic expectations that this paper was going to give me similar results to traditional papers, and if producing prints that equal your 20 year old Ilfobrom prints in all respects is your goal then I think you'll be disappointed.

If you are just looking for a high quality modern inkjet paper, and don't expect it to mimic the past glories of silver printing then you may well love this paper.
My advice is to purchase a trial pack, give it a try. But personally it wasn't my cup of tea and I hope that Ilford (sorry Harman) will take another look at this paper (try actually placing it against some prints made on wet darkroom paper) and produce a MK II that will have a nicer more traditional FB less glossy surface.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Moiré Removal in Photoshop

One of the most disconcerting things especially for wedding or product photographers is the moiré pattern.
I'm not going to explain why it occurs, but further info is here should you need it.

What i am going to show you is my method for its removal.
Here is the problem photo courtesy of John B. Griffith

image © John B.Griffith

Problems like the one above look to be beyond saving, but all is not lost.

Firstly convert image into Lab colour space– image>mode>Lab Colour.
Then duplicate the layer so that you are working on a copy– Layer>Duplicate Layer.
Next select the area with the moiré with your usual selection method.
If you then select the b channel in the channel palette you will see the problem noise:

The noise is clearly visible in the b channel, also if you check the L (luminance) channel it has an identical pattern.

Most people who work in Photoshop L*a*b mode to remove moiré just blur the a and b and we can do that too but
normally when people see noise in the L channel they believe the image to be beyond saving as the luminance channel has been damaged.

So what we are going to do is use the 'Apply Image' command in the image menu to use the noise in the b channel to knock out the noise in the L channel as below.

As you can see the L channel has lost the noise, varying the opacity will further enhance the effect 60% was chosen here.
Here is a close-up of the settings in the Apply Image command.

The important settings are that the 'Invert' box is ticked the b channel is selected the target is the L blending is normally Hard light or Soft Light and the opacity is varied to cancel out the noise.
Finally you must then go into the a and b channels and apply Gaussian Blur until no detail can be seen.
And here is the result

Not perfect, but playing with the opacity and blend mode will yield even better results, and certainly better than could be expected from most other methods.

I would like to than John B. Griffith for making this shot available the picture is his copyright, please respect that.

all words and text © Mark Antony Smith