Workflow

Updated batch-cropping script

By far the most popular post on this blog has been “How to batch separate & crop multiple scanned photos” (click to link to original post). Thank you for your support, everyone!

AutoSplit_Gimp_Photoshop

While the script seems to have worked pretty well for most of you for the past three (!) years, there was actually a bit of a bug in it, making it not work for non-white backgrounds. This is now fixed!

In addition to fixing the bug, I’ve added a few new features including

  • Ability to set output JPEG quality
  • Setting a base name manually
  • Manually selecting the background colour (in case the auto-selection doesn’t work as it should)
  • The ability to automatically save output to the source directory

I hope you enjoy this new and improved script, which can be downloaded by clicking on the following link: DivideScannedImages_improved_v2.zip.

Instructions for installing and using this script are identical as for the original one (click here to see the original instructions, under the “Gimp”heading).

Here is a screenshot of the new and improved DivideScannedImages script’s user interface:

DivideScannedImages_Improved

 

 

How to photograph the Aurora Borealis

This year (2013-2014) is a good time for seeing the Aurora Borealis (and its lesser-known Southern twin, the Aurora Australis) – commonly known as the Northern- and Southern Lights. I have my heart set on seeing the Lights with my own eyes in the coming year, so in this post I’d like to talk about how one can best prepare for capturing this natural wonder.

A friend, Bart Vastenhouw, travelled to the region of Varanger in Norway to see and photograph the lights. Here is one of the photographs he came back with:Aurora at Varanger

Bart captured this beautiful scene using a Canon 40D and Canon 10-22mm F3.5-4.5 wide-angle lens. The 40D was a good camera, but these days there are better ones to choose from. The lens is decent too, but for best results you’d want a wide angle with larger aperture (F2.8 or faster).

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How to batch separate & crop multiple scanned photos

In this post I’ll show you two ways in which you can automatically split a (collection of) scanned pages, each containing several photos, into individual image files. My experience is that for this GIMP works better than Photoshop, and as an added bonus: it’s free!

Caveat: The “deskew” operation in the GIMP script only works on Windows computers due to its dependence on “deskew.exe”. If you use Apple or Linux this step will be silently skipped, and the rest of the script will work.

[2013-05-16 Update: the GIMP script can now handle TIF files as well]
[2014-10-02 Handles reading .tiff and .jpeg extensions too. Output dpi set to 600.]
[2016-02-14 The GIMP script has been revamped, with new functions as well as a bugfix for non-white backgrounds. Works for all OS’es!]

AutoSplit_Gimp_Photoshop

Just like you, I also have old photo albums at home. Albums with family photographs, glued to paperboard pages. And you also probably want to have them in digital format – e.g. to share with family members, to protect them from degradation and loss, or just for your digital library.

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Adobe Lightroom 4.2 is released; supports new cameras incl. Nikon D600

Work these last few weeks was crazy, and I have yet to tell you about my experiences with the Nikon D600, of which I am now a very satisfied owner.

But since I got this camera, two weeks ago, a major thorn in my side was the official lack of support for it in Adobe Lightroom, my main photo editing / workflow software. It was possible to get around this by tricking Lightroom into thinking the images came from a D800, but this was a schlep and no ideal way to deal with it.

Since yesterday, Lightroom 4.2 is available, and adds supports for 22 new cameras, including the following important mainstream models such as:

  • Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i
  • Canon EOS M
  • Nikon 1 J2
  • Nikon D600*
  • Panasonic DMC-LX7
  • Pentax K-30
  • Sony Alpha NEX-5R
  • Sony Alpha NEX-6
  • Sony Alpha SLT-A99V

* Nikon claims that D600 support is preliminary, meaning that there might be small inaccuracies in e.g. white balance that need to be corrected manually.

Endorsement:
If you’re still undecided and know that you could use it, yes: I can definitely recommend buying Lightroom. The amount of time it has saved me is worth much more than its cost. Currently retailing at $130 it is cheaper than almost any DSLR lens, and it will add more to the quality of your photo’s than a lens of that price. There are freeware alternatives out there, and I’ve used many of them. In the end I prefer using a single and reliable piece of software over many loose and vendor-specific tools.
You can support this site by ordering it now via this link:
Adobe Lightroom 4 for $129.95 (via B&H)

Find your stolen camera online!

If you ever had a digital camera stolen (I have) you know how disruptive and frustrating it is. And in the worst case you may lose valuable photographs, making the loss all the more upsetting!

Did you know that most modern digital cameras store the camera’s serial number in every photo? This digital fingerprint is called the EXIF data, and accompanies every RAW or JPG file that comes out of your camera. While easy to modify or remove, most people don’t ever tamper with this data. Not even camera thieves.

Today I came across a website that can examine a photo taken with your camera before it was stolen, and then search the internet for photo’s taken with it. So if the camera thief or an unsuspecting new owner uploaded any photos with your camera you might be able to track it down!

Visit stolencamerafinder (http://www.stolencamerafinder.com/) to see for yourself. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any photos taken with either my or my girlfriend’s stolen cameras online, but maybe your results will be better. Give it a try!

Joshua Sundquist: Real or Photoshopped?

Do you think this photo comparison currently doing the rounds on twitter is fake? Well so did I when I first saw it. Looks a little “fake”, right? In fact, someone in a forum calling herself “a professional expert in Photoshop” vouched for this photo’s fake-ness.

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Flickr to update interface

Venerable photo-sharing site Flickr is reported to be on the verge of its most drastic (and long-overdue) redesign in many years. Tech website BetaBeat just reported that Flickr is adopting a new interface that will look more like Google+, and less like a whitespace-and-text-filled website from the 90s. The new look is set to be introduced on February 28th, with the uploader coming in March.

I’m a Flickr user myself and still find their moderate pricing combined with unlimited storage a killer feature. Furthermore their focus has always remained on making photography accessible and not social networking (I hope this doesn’t change). And they offer some pretty neat online photo editing via Picnik. Not to mention powerful privacy filters. But…

Unfortunately the website is a clunky dinosaur. When I have to share photographs of an event, and I want customers to view and download the photographs Flickr was always a bad choice. To download a photograph at full resolution you have to go through at least 3 click (or right-click) actions – each of them being slow. And the interface in general looks (and is) straight out of the last century. It’s probably telling that parent company Yahoo is still battling to get out of its downward spiral (having led to them to fire their CEO last year).

But things are apparently about to change, and I think that Flickr can still save itself. Despite the many other photo sharing sites Flickr still has a uniquely powerful name that is almost universally recognized. Probably their strongest competition, Google’s Picasa Webalbums and/or Google+ doesn’t offer unlimited storage, and is still too entangled in other services and afflicted by a niche/nerd image.

Thus – looking forward to the upcoming change!

Firmware update for the Nikon D5100 and D7000

Yesterday, Nikon has released new firmware for their D5100 and D7000 DSLRs. Since they were launched this is the first update for the D5100 and the third update for the D7000, and correct a couple of very minor issues.

If you own any of these and are happy with the way your camera works you may safely ignore the update.

Not sure whether you should upgrade or don’t know what firmware is? Then read this. Personally I own a D7000 and yes, I will upgrade mine. If you also wish to stay at the cutting edge and upgrade you can

Don’t know how to upgrade the firmware? You can read the official instructions on Nikon’s site (see download links above), or just watch Jared Polin’s informal and verbose video – see below.

To be honest Jared can really benefit by ranting less and keeping it shorter. But at least you now know how this works!

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Interested in any of these cameras? Support this site by ordering from B&H photo.

12bit vs 14bit RAW and compressed vs uncompressed… Does it matter?

You know that to get the most of your DSLR you should be shooting in RAW, right? But these days Nikon cameras gives you even more options: 12-bit or 14-bit, and compressed or uncompressed RAW (NEF) files. Which should you choose?

Short question: Does it matter? Will you see any difference between compressed (lossy) and uncompressed (lossless) RAW? And between 12 and 14 bits?

Short answer: No it does not matter. Choose 12-bit compressed (because they take up less space) and forget about this topic. Or choose 14-bit uncompressed because theoretically you’re getting the “most” from your camera – you just have to live with the file sizes.

 Approximate RAW file
size on a Nikon D7000
12 bit 14 bit
compressed 12.6 MB 15.7 MB
uncompressed 14.9 MB 18.8 MB

Not happy with the short answer? Then read on…

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Microsoft camera raw codec pack interferes with Lightroom?

Does Microsoft's Camera Codec break lightroom?

On Wednesday 26 July 2011 Microsoft added “raw” image support to Windows 7 in the form of the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack. This 8MB download will enable Windows users to decode vendor-specific “raw” files (a.k.a. digital negatives) directly from Windows Explorer, or from any application using Windows Imaging Codecs (WIC).

I wrote in a previous post why it is a good idea to “shoot in raw”. Problem is just that the raw files are large and clunky, and require special software to decode. For this reason some photographers (including Ken Rockwell) decide to shoot JPG, despite all the disadvantages of their approach. So this is great news because Microsoft just made it easier to live with raw files. Good job, Microsoft!

But… I downloaded and installed this codec, and immediately noticed something curious. It seems like the Microsoft Codec Pack interferes with the decoding of my Nikon’s D7000’s raw files in Adobe Lightroom 3.4.1. In Lightroom’s Library module the images are displayed as preview images but then remain at low resolution, even when zooming in. Only after switching to Lightroom’s Develop module are the files properly decoded at full resolution. I have only observed this for my specific camera (Nikon D7000) using my version of Lightroom (3.4.1 64-bit) running on my home PC (Windows7 64-bit SP1). But, tellingly, Lightroom resumed working normally as soon as I uninstalled the codec pack.

Not sure if this is a coincidence on my specific machine or a real wide-spread bug. Please comment on this post if you can confirm or debunk this issue.

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