Category Archives: Tips

Fireworks time again!!

It is that time of the year again for fireworks!!

For those of you in Chester County PA area, here is a guide to local events that my friends of at County Line Magazine put together!

Where to Find Fireworks? (PDF)

My fellow photographer friend, Dan Potter, also put together a nice list of do’s and don’t when photographing fireworks!

I do take issue with his Bulb settings (#2) comment.

Looking back into my collection…

  • Canonet (circa late 1960s) – B on the Lens
  • AE-1 (circa early 1980s) –  B on the Dial
  • F-1 (circa mid 1980s) – B on the Dial
  • PowerShot A70 (circa early 2000s) – M on the Dial
  • PowerShot SX130 (circa early 2010s) – M on the Dial
  • Rebel XTi (circa 2007) – M on the Dial
  • Rebel T5i (circa 2014) – M on the Dial

What my data suggests, that you might be referring to an older analog film based camera, and if memory serves me correctly, Nikon did the SAME THING on their line during that time!

In both cases (Canon vs Nikon), it was the nature of analog film cameras to have the Speeds on the Upper Dial and the Aperture on the Lens itself.

These days, both are done via the various digital modes, one being (M)anual.

Dan also makes a good point to “know your location” and to be able to “adjust quickly”. (#4)

In the various years that I have photographed the Good Neighbor Fireworks, their launch area does seem to be a moving target from year to year!

In any case, enjoy the tips and have a GREAT 4th of July Weekend!!

- Andrew
§ § § § §
[adrotate group="1"]

Playing with a 10.6+ GB File!

This morning, I started to “stitch” together a panoramic photo that I had taken the other day in Dowlin Forge Park, right here in Downingtown.

It is a series of (28) Canon RAW files (cr2) that were taken with a Canon T5i/700D, imported into Lightroom 5.3, and merged into a straightforward panorama image in Photoshop CS 6.

I knew this was going to be a large file from previous experience, but I have not tried yet to really push my new computer setup, so…

The actual merge of the (28) 16-bit files took about 3-4 minutes, which was A LOT better than last time, where I had to break-up the (42) files into groups of 10, merge them into one file, and repeat until all the files were merged.

Once the merged file was in Photoshop, with all 28 layers showing, my new machine was not even breathing too hard.  Even with Lightroom and several Chrome instances, I was still only pushing 85% physical RAM and the CPU spiked at 15%!

From there, I tried to “Save As” a Standard Adobe PSD, and got the standard error dialog, showing the 2GB file size limitation.

Nothing new there…

Then I tried a “Save As” as an Adobe TIFF file, and this time the computer took a great deal longer, 5+ minutes, before there was an error, and during that time, Photoshop created a 10.6+ GB file tmp!

10.6 GB Adobe TMP file
10.6 GB Adobe TMP file

To date, this is the single largest file that I have “Saved” in Photoshop!

Finally, I tried saving the file as a Standard Adobe PSB file, which is still a large file at 3.3+ GBs!

Main Adobe PSB file w/o Flatten
Main Adobe PSB file w/o Flatten

Time to Flatten some Layers!

With the Main PSB file open, I Flattened the Layers into 1, and did a “Save As” a PSB and then Re-Opened the Main PSB file, Flattened, and “Save As” again as TIFFs, and was very happy to see both files sizes were nearly identical at 638 MBs!

Comparison when Flattened
Comparison when Flattened

Conclusion

I conducted this test mostly out of personal curiosity and to see if files have remained consistent since the last time I did this experiment.

I expected the file size to go up, mainly because I was using 27-28 MB files created with the Canon T5i/700D vs 8-9 MB files with the Canon XTi.

If I were to estimate, the same 46 shoots done in 2011 could easily reach 6 GBs as a PSB file, and maybe create a 20-30 GB temp file at the same time.

Be sure that you have enough scratch disk space before you start.

It should be obvious that if you know a file is going to reach over 4 GBs, save it out as a PSB and go from there in the rest of your workflow.

The current maximum file file for an Adobe PSB is 4 exabytes – 300,000 x 300,000 pixels – 350 x 350 feet, which should keep you.

It is also nice to see that after Flattening, both PSB and TIFF files appear to be the same size.

Personally, I would keep the TIFF files, mostly because TIFF is NOT a proprietary file format, and in the future, if I want to move the file into another program, it will be easier.

Although I wrote my first post on PSB vs TIFF several years ago, I have yet to find out what IS all the Un-Saved data?

Duplicate “colors?” Non-Human readable code?

If you happen to know, please let me know.

I’m just very curious!

And finally, it should be noted, just like last time, the 2 PSB files do NOT show up in Lightroom, so you have to remember that they are there.

The TIFF file that was created, after Flattening all the Layers, DOES show up in Lightroom.

Adobe Bridge CS6 (5.0.2.4 x64) is able to show the Flattened PSB and TIFF, but NOT the larger Un-Flattened 3.3+ GB PSB file.

Hope you enjoyed my little file size observations.

If you have any questions or answers, please let me know!!

- Andrew
§ § § § §
[adrotate group="1"]

Looking at Pixoto

Over the past several months, I have been watching several of my Facebook contacts using Pixoto, and during that time, I would check out the site every now and then, but stopped short of signing up.

Until a couple of days ago…

What is Pixoto?

It is an online Photography competition site, at has recently added other graphic arts formats to the array of seemingly endless images, all vying for Top honors and the potential of money.

How does Pixoto work?

Basically, one uploads their images, with at least a 900px long side, no water-markings to their account.

From there, one selects from several main Categories (Abstract, Animals, Babies, People, etc.) and sub-categories, adding a Title and some keywords that best fit and describe the image.

Once submitted, your image is now in one of several competitions within the Category for Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly recognition(s).

“Playing” Pixoto

This is the easy, fun and potentially beautiful part of “playing” Pixoto!

Clicking on the “Vote” button in the top menu, sets up the ImageDual™ environment, where two images are sent to the screen, and you click on the one you like more.

Two competing images continue to pop-up on-screen until you decide you are done, and by selecting images in the shoot-out, you are also collecting 1 Credit that can be used later for submitting more images, or giving them a “boost”.

One can spend hours in front of the computer screen with the television or something else is going on in the background.

Not all the images are great, but that is the point, to select or weed out that do not reach the mark, for what ever reason.

Your Submissions

Within seconds, you will see feedback on how your image is doing, based on a ‘secret’ formula for scoring.

The algorithm apparently factors in the Win/Lose ratio and the ranking of competing image, to come up with the scoring.

It is not uncommon to see an image rise quickly, and then level off as its ‘final’ ranking is being solidified over the course of time.

The course of time

If an images starts to reach various percentage levels (Top 1%/5%/10%, etc.) during the course of time (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly) additional points will be awarded, and if your image can get to the top, there is the possibility of earning money.

Comparisons

Flickr – Flickr is by far the bigger of the two sites, and has many more competitions, but that is also a big distraction for some. It can be complicated, take a long time to figure out and to compete in various contests. Pixoto is far simpler!

Paid vs Free – Like most sites these days, there are two versions, and a side-by-side comparison can be found on the website, but for me, at least at the moment, I can not justify the expense see so few benefits in my case.

Selling Stock Images – This is a new feature on Pixoto, and sounds very interesting. On the surface, I like the idea of the higher payout compared to some of the other micro-stock sites I belong to, but I have not tried it yet.

Alerts

If you do move forward and get yourself an account, here are some things that I have already run into:

Watermarks – I am of the school of putting a watermark on all my images, if nothing more as a form of advertising and some copyright protection.

On Pixoto, images are displayed in competition without watermarks, but are shown with the sites default user copyright on your page/gallery, and are some what protected via simple right-click efforts.

Why? – In competition Pixoto is trying to reduce any bias during the ImageDual™, which is easily understandable, and they do take it seriously.

I accidentally uploaded a few files with my watermark, and they were reported.

I did receive a nice, informative Notification from Pixoto that my images had been removed, but it did cost me my ‘earned’  ImageDual™ points, and additional Credits to up load them again.

Upload Issue – I have, on several occasions, tried to upload an image, only to find ‘scan line’ errors on the thumbnails and larger images.

My work around, has been to delete the image quickly, because you do not want to lose points, delete my browser cache (Firefox), and then try again.

So far, this seems to work, but it is a time killer.

If interested, I can be Followed on the site as well!

Click Here is a special Invite Code!

Conclusions

It is very easy to connect to Pixoto via Facebook or Twitter, even though I dislike using those services to link to accounts, but that adds to the simpleness of using the site.

I have also been very interested seeing how my Top images on Flickr are doing on Pixoto, which is helping me to better select images for promotion on my main website, but at the moment, Flickr edges Pixoto in easy of direct feedback on an image.

I do like the idea of being able to sell stock images from Pixoto, but I have not had a chance to test this feature yet, but I do plan to!

With all the above being said, I would recommend using Pixoto to increase your exposure to a larger audience, while fine-tuning your portfolio, and maybe making some money!

Click Here is a special Invite Code!

- Andrew
§ § § § §
[adrotate group="1"]

Camera Sensor Cleaning Links

Update

Read about my Adventure in Cleaning my Camera Sensor.

I have been playing with the idea of cleaning my own camera’s sensor for some time, in doing so, I have been doing allot of reading lately, and put together this list of useful resources.

If you do decide to try this own your own, be VERY CAREFUL!

– Andrew
§ § § § §
[adrotate banner=”1″]