The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 8, Number 9 28 April 2006

Copyright 2006, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 174th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Our lead story is an interview with Julieanne Kost, who has just published an intriguing book of photos shot from an airplane window. Then new contributor Dan Havlik reviews Panasonic's FZ7. We also introduce a new Bookmark section, which features excerpts from recent titles we find particularly incisive, the first being Mikkel Aaland's treatment of some common imaging problems (don't miss the discount). Enjoy!


TOPICS

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Feature: An Interview With Julieanne Kost

(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/KOST/KOST.HTM on the Web site.)

You may know Julieanne Kost from her amusing Photoshop lectures ("How do you pronounce GIF? Get a life!") or her Classroom in a Book Series for Adobe, for whom she's worked since 1993. As a Senior Digital Imaging Evangelist, she flies all over the world, lecturing on creativity and Photoshop (and Lightroom, too, now) for Adobe.

As she flies from one city to another, Julieanne shoots photos from her window seat. And, after five years of taking pictures of the sky from the sky, she's published Window Seat, a down-to-earth book on creativity, photography and digital imaging. It's a unique book, featuring sections that sandwich her portfolio of images culled from 3,000 originals between advice on remaining creative in a need-it-yesterday world and a technical appendix that reveals the equipment and techniques used to create the images reproduced in the book.

We chatted briefly with Julieanne about the book at an Adobe event during the Photo Marketing Association's trade show in February and followed up with an email interview.

THE INTERVIEW

Q. The book's organization in three sections (manifesto, portfolio, manual) is unusual. How did you arrive at this particular structure for the book?

A. I wanted this book to be more than another "How-to" book for Photoshop. Book after book focuses on what the tools do and how to achieve certain effects. I wanted to spark people's right brain for a change. You're creating a certain effect in Photoshop, but what's your point? What are you trying to convey? The creation of an image goes far beyond the tool (or tools) and methods used to create it. In the beginning, there's the concept stage. Essentially, this is where you need to create "something from nothing." You may have an idea or an emotion, but how do you convey it visually? Hence, the "ways to stay creative" section. Then I wanted people to get a feel for the process. And finally, I wanted to cover workflow to get a feel for what I do. It's not a "recipe" by any stretch, but an overview of the "nuts and bolts" of what I use and why I choose them. My editor, Edie Friedman, was actually the one that came up with the three-part approach. The book would never have been so well sequenced without her!

MANIFESTO: THE ART OF CREATIVE THINKING

Q. You talk about the Cinderellish feeling that you have to finish your chores before you can go to the ball. And yet some mindless chore, you observe in the next paragraph, can clear your mind of workaday worries and set the stage for some fun. Do these little 'negotiations' become easier to win as they become habits?

A. Well, I do feel compelled to finish my chores before I will "reward" myself with time to work on my art. I believe this is due to my being very conscious of my environment. If I am not at peace with my surroundings, then I have a difficult time concentrating on the task at hand. If I can't let go of these things and keep being distracted by them and they end up ruining my time that I work. The mindless chores allow me to transition to this better place where I can then concentrate.

Q. You write about being open to stimuli like subjects you know nothing about and hanging out with kids but also the need to reflect on these stimuli in, for example, a journal. And rereading an old journal for perspective. But we're all busy charging batteries and talking on the phone. What's the trick to finding the time (and on a regular basis; or was the project easy to pick up and put down)?

A. There is no magic trick to finding the time and honestly it is always a challenge. It takes a great deal of discipline to continue to work on a long term project and there are definitely some days that are better than others. But I enjoyed this project so much and I knew that the result of the effort would be worth it. I suppose that keeping my eye on the final project helped me through the more monotonous parts of it. As for referencing journals I think its essential for me to take the time to do this because they have been the source of many of my digital illustrations. I know that I must write ideas and thoughts down when they're fresh in my mind because I would forget them otherwise.

Q. You advised us to first visualize then Photoshop. You might have substituted any camera model for Photoshop, too (first visualize then Canon SD400). Why does the tool tend to get in the way?

A. I don't think that it necessarily gets in the way, but I think that -especially in the case of Photoshop is that it actually gives you too many possibilities. Because of the vast number of choices that it presents to you, you might spend a lot of time going in a direction that you didn't intend and doesn't connect you to your original goal. Although this can lead to incredible imagery -- the "happy accident" -- it can also distract you from getting to the point that you set out to make.

Q. Break the rules, play, know when you're done, you write. Of course, it's hard to break the rules if you don't know them. And nearly impossible to finish if you don't start. You had some formal training in photography after college. Having been through it would you recommend technical training? Art school? Do the old lessons come into play much?

A. Absolutely. I would always encourage that everyone continues their education through out their lives. I believe that one of the reasons that I have been able to create the images that I have is because I have mastered the tools so they no longer get in the way. I can create the images that I want rather than the images I can coax out of the tools.

Q. You mentioned when we spoke briefly at PMA that you weren't aware of Wayne Thiebaud's aerial paintings. But how about other influences? Robert Cameron (Above San Francisco, etc.), perhaps? Reading the technical section on image manipulation reminded us of Ansel Adams' series on the Camera, Negative and Print. Anyone inspire you?

A. There are many photographers who have inspired me. One of the first was John Sexton -- however there have been many more over the years -- Jerry Uelsmann, Maggie Taylor, John Paul Caponigro and Ryszard Horowitz have also had a significant influence on my work. I enjoy looking a wide range of images and try to look at as much as I can as often as I can.

PORTFOLIO: WINDOW SEAT

You said this was a natural project for you. Afraid of flying, photographing out the window gave you objective distance on a constantly scrolling subject. We tried it on the flight home from PMA and have to say it's a lot more fun than counting license plates. Even more, these images that are otherwise fleeting, can be revisited without going through airport security again. And they are, as you point out, pure in a way our littered landscape at ground level never is.

Q. Editing 3,000 images to just 150 must have taken some discipline. You offer no advice for this in the book <g>. How did you tackle that problem?

A. Well, I think it's more difficult to edit 200 images down to 150. <g> I began by choosing my favorites, but this still left me with about 400 "favorite" images. What is interesting and encouraging to me is that the number of images that are included in the book which were taken in the past 2-3 years is much greater than the number of images that were taken at the beginning of the project. I hope that I can conclude that means that the quality of the images that I was capturing improved over time. That I got better at identifying what made a particular image interesting or unique. At the beginning, all of the textures and patterns and lighting were unique. But over time, patterns emerged. I saw a better example of an image I had taken before, so the new one won out. There were also a lot of similar images in which case, I simply selected the best of them. Of course it was difficult to narrow down the last 25. There are a few images that I wish would have made it into the book, but I believe that I had a more emotional attachment to them. They weren't actually the best of the images, but they meant something to me (I remember the difficulty of making one of the images when there was significant turbulence for example). And of course multiple people -- including my editor Edie Friedman, my husband Daniel Brown and several friends -- looked at the images and provided opinions which were very helpful.

Q. The 10x10-inch page format accommodates all sorts of aspect ratios. You settled on just a few, you said. Was this strictly a production efficiency?

A. No, I prefer a square format, but most of these images were begging to remain at their captured aspect ratio. I try to always shoot full frame so that I don't have to crop. This is primarily to capture as much information as possible so that I can enlarge the image if desired.

Q. Do you make display prints of these images (apart from the 4x6s you used to select them for publication)? What size? Robert Cameron says that aerials need to be large and you mention the preferred size for these would be actual size. Have you framed any for display at home?

A. Yes, I have made display prints of the majority of the images. However I don't have room in my house to display them so that's a limiting factor. I have projected them many times on large screens and that's why I made the comment that they look so great large.

Q. How did you feel about including the wing in some images? They make a dramatic variation, reminding us where we are, but wasn't that a little unnerving? Was it an experiment, a gamble, that worked out?

A. Sometimes including the wing is unavoidable. But I don't have a problem with including it. I believe it adds to the image. Gives it a point of reference. It's also a great contrast -- the solid, straight, mechanical cold metal of the plane is the vehicle for the perspective behind it. There's also an interesting connection in that the air which is filled with various substances and provides different lighting, is also mechanism holding the plane up. From a distance, air makes for beautiful imagery, but it's invisible up close.

Q. You didn't shoot during takeoffs and landings, where you might have captured the urban environment. Was this a choice (not your cup of tea) or a necessity (the captain has requested you turn off all electronic devices)?

A. I have taken a lot of images on takeoff and landing, but I'm not interested in documenting man's footprint on the earth, perhaps this is a project that I can do in the future. I'm also a bit too terrified during takeoff and landing to shoot a good picture. I need my hands to grip the armrest. <g>

Q. You discuss the difficulty of using a point-and-shoot to capture images from a window seat. We were surprised by our own little experiment coming back from PMA. Underexposing slightly, shooting out the opposite side of the plane from the sun, with the lens against the window yielded good results. It seems easier than with a film camera if for no other reason than you can evaluate your results immediately and make some adjustments. How did you evaluate your exposures in flight?

A. With film, I went by the meter. With digital, I evaluated the histogram for the image to see the dynamic range (or lack thereof). Because there is such a lack of dynamic range when shooting from inside of the multiple windows (which are sometimes also quite dirty!), I shoot in the raw format. Shooting in raw gives me much higher quality and allows me to process the files and make significant changes to their tonal range which I wouldn't be able to do if I were working with a compressed JPEG file.

Q. Nobody ever asks what you're doing, you said. We noticed that. Perhaps it was pity (we did feel like we were imitating a person who had never been on a plane before). Did anyone ever make any comment about what you were doing?

A. No. But that might have been due to my body language that was telling them that I didn't want them to ask me anything. Or the ear plugs that I wear.

Q. In Photoshop, your goal you say wasn't to "correct" the image so much as to manipulate it toward what had originally impressed you about the scene. Did you feel completely free to deviate from what the camera captured -- and free from what you knew Photoshop could do?

A. Sure, this was my personal project, so I was trying to recreate what I experienced and what the image "felt" like. I wasn't trying to document a flight or place or time.

Q. Over five years, you developed themes of storm clouds, mountains, polar ice, hay fields. The book finalized the collection in a way a shoebox can't. Is the book, more than the prints, the final expression? Or was it the journey?

A. It was the journey, but it's wonderful to have a physical, tangible object that resulted from it.

MANUAL: IMAGING TECHNIQUES

This is a pretty nice primer on image editing, period. All you'd ever need, forgive the expression, if you were stranded on a deserted island.

Q. Early shots were taken with a film Nikon whose prints you scanned. Later you used a Nikon dSLR, shooting Raw. In both cases, you would have had 16-bit channels, giving you a lot more headroom for tonal and color manipulation. The brightness range of the subject certainly demands that, but as you shoehorned that range into what printing press could reproduce, what were your guidelines?

A. Actually, I was shooting chromes so I was scanning those -- just FYI. The press actually determined the conversion to CMYK, so I just did my best to keep the colors in gamut while I was working on the files. I did provide Epson proofs to the printers in hopes that they would be able to match the colors. <g>

Q. You didn't use a very long lens, shooting no more than 70mm with the film camera and about a 100mm 35mm equivalent with the D100. In practice, did you prefer to work at the wide-angle end of the zoom range? Did you avoid focal lengths beyond 100mm for a reason?

A. No, to be honest I typically only travel with one lens and that is the length that I most often take with me. Since I typically travel with two computers, my Wacom tablet, an external drive, my cell phone and all of the power cords, plugs and adaptors that go with the equipment, a book, my journal a bottle of water etc. -- I just can't carry much more!

Q. You also didn't use a polarizing filter, you said, because it reacted oddly with the plane window. But did you use a Sky or UV filter on the lens?

A. I keep a UV filter on nearly all of my lenses to protect them. Other than that, any "filtering" was done in Photoshop.

Q. Page 132 was a favorite, showing high-key, average and low-key histograms. Not the ideal (and mythical) histogram, in short. No clipping either?

A. Since every histogram is just the representation of the values in the image, there really is no right or wrong histogram. They're completely dependent of the image. What you have to be careful of is the image that isn't properly exposed -- the one that clips the highlights or shadows to pure black or white where you the photographer probably would prefer there to be detail.

Q. Finally, how about a sequel -- say, 'Return Trip'?

A. What a brilliant idea!

Window Seat by Julieanne Kost, published by O'Reilly Media Inc., 152 pages, $39.99.
Return to Topics.

Feature: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 -- Improving a Bargain

By DAN HAVLIK
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ7/FZ7A.HTM on the Web site, the first of many by the newest member of the Imaging Resource family. Long-time journalist and photographer Dan Havlik is the former editor of three imaging-related magazines and currently runs a freelance writing and imaging company called Havlik Industries.)

INTRODUCTION

Not long ago digicams with advanced features and SLR-mimmicking long zooms were considered chunky or bulky. But with the public's increasing demand for smaller and smaller cameras with longer and longer zooms -- and with manufacturers' ability to put more power into petite packages -- those chunky cameras have been on a diet lately. The new 6.0-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 is just such a camera. Its remarkably trim body houses a Leica 12x optical zoom and Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilization. Despite a bevy of features including a 2.5-inch LCD screen, a new widescreen VGA movie mode and a joystick for controlling manual focus and manual exposure, the Panasonic FZ7 weighs in at just over half a pound and is small enough to stick in a backpack. Plus, the reasonable $350 price tag won't break your travel budget.

USER REPORT

The new $349.95 Panasonic Lumix FZ7 is the third generation of a super zoom model that began with the FZ3 in 2004, continued with last year's FZ5 and now improves upon the concept without reinventing the wheel. Most importantly, the new model continues to use Panasonic's well-received MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer, designed to compensate for hand-shake when capturing images. Image stabilization is essential in cameras with optical zooms longer than 4x because shooting at high-zoom without a tripod can be tricky.

Where the FZ7 improves on the FZ5 is in megapixels: six vs. the FZ5's five. Panasonic has also boosted the LCD size to 2.5 inches compared to the FZ5's 1.8 inches. Panasonic has made a misstep though, in not raising the screen resolution from 114,000 pixels. Why bother to put a huge screen on a digicam if you're not going to give it adequate resolution? While consumers might be impressed with LCD size alone, once they use a camera with a lower-resolution screen, they will soon realize it tells them very little about the quality of the images they are capturing. I had no idea if my FZ7 shots were good or bad until I had a chance to transfer them to my computer. Some shots that looked spot-on in playback were actually quite blurry. Others that seemed to have a problem or two were fine when I could view them at full resolution.

Shooting with the FZ7 is a slightly odd but not entirely unpleasant experience. The camera suffers from "in-between-ness." The size and heft of the old chunky cameras prevented you from sliding them in your pocket. But they were small and light enough to bring with you just about everywhere, with serious features to make you feel like a pro. With the FZ7, it's hard to tell exactly how to hold or carry it. There's a nice rubberized handgrip on the right side, but my average-sized male hand seemed to smother it. Also, since it's hard to keep a light camera like this steady, even with stabilization engaged, I was continually switching between the large LCD and the tiny electronic viewfinder in an effort to stabilize the camera. Once I got used to holding and carrying the camera I began to admire its lightweight construction; though I was in constant fear of dropping it. The camera body, made of lightweight polycarbonate, would likely not withstand much of a fall.

The lens is the camera's strongest selling point. A 12x optical (equivalent to 36mm to 432mm in 35mm format) Leica DC lens with a variable aperture of f2.8-3.3, the FZ7 has the same lens as its predecessor. It does not, however, have the manual focus ring and manual zoom ring of its big brother, the FZ30. Instead, the camera has a unique, though somewhat confusing, manual focus system that uses a new joystick on the back. In the manual focus setting, engaged via a combination of a button and menu option, there are two choices: MF1, which enlarges the center of the screen for focusing with the joystick, and MF2, which enlarges the whole screen for wide joystick focusing. Sound difficult? It is, and while I admired its inclusion on the FZ7, I failed to see the practical applications.

A new feature I did see the practical applications for is a preset Scene mode called High Sensitivity. It boosts the ISO to either 800 or 1,600 to reduce blur when shooting fast moving subjects indoors -- such as children and pets -- or to increase brightness when shooting outdoors under low light. I wish Panasonic had come up with a better name for it though. I actually overlooked it when shooting a three-year-old's birthday party -- the ideal setting for it -- because I was thrown off by the name. While I loved having the option of shooting in 800 or 1,600 (you can select either speed in High Sensitivity mode or let the camera decide), the results were only so-so. Images shot at 1,600 were excessively noisy to the point of being unusable. At 800, things were a bit better but the colors had a splotchy painted-on look to them that was disappointing.

Shooting in daylight is where the stabilized 12x zoom really shines. While photographing Baltimore's Inner Harbor from Federal Hill on an overcast day, I was able to get very sharp images of the docked U.S.S. Constellation as well as capture clear lettering on various barges and ships further away from the shore. I was a bit flummoxed by the two stabilization mode options. In Mode 1, the stabilizer "operates continuously and can assist during photo composition," according to the manual. In Mode 2, "the jitter is compensated for when the shutter button is pressed." This means that in Mode 1, you actually see the results of the stabilization onscreen when you press the shutter button. In Mode two, the camera doesn't begin compensating for shake until the shutter button is pressed.

The FZ7 did have a decent start-up speed and a near non-existent shutter lag if you pre-focused. Panasonic's image processor -- the seductively named LSI Venus Engine II -- also helped run a quicker continuous shooting mode on the FZ7 compared to the FZ5 that let me shoot approximately three frames per second at full resolution.

Complaints about the FZ5's lackluster movie mode also seem to have been addressed on the FZ7 which has a cool new Wide VGA (848x480) mode at 30 fps for viewing on wide-screen (16:9) TVs in addition to a normal VGA (640x480) at 30 fps. I love that consumer digicams are following the lead of their camcorder counterparts, which have been offering a 16:9 mode for the last year or so.

Test Results: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ7/FZ7A.HTM#test

CONCLUSION

The Panasonic FZ7 is the latest in what's become a long line of long-zoom, optically-stabilized digital cameras from Panasonic. Like other recent members of the line, the FZ7 combines good image quality, responsive handling and effective optical image stabilization in a very attractively-priced digicam. Its range of exposure control and image adjustments will be appealing to experienced users, while its ease of use in its Program and Scene modes make it approachable for even rank beginners. Panasonic's FZ series has been very popular, offering great value and image quality for the money. With the FZ7, Panasonic made a number of improvements over previous models, including better viewfinder visibility in dim lighting, greater flash range, a larger LCD display and a much-improved movie mode. The biggest weaknesses we found were high noise levels at ISO 400 and high chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame at telephoto focal lengths. Despite the high noise, ISO 400 shots from the FZ7 look just fine at print sizes as large as 5x7. All things considered, while we'd like to see lower levels of image noise, the Panasonic FZ7 delivers a lot of performance and image quality for the money, clearly deserving of recognition as a Dave's Pick.

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

Return to Topics.

Bookmark: Noise, Chromatic Aberrations & Vignetting

By MIKKEL AALAND
(Excerpted from the chapter "Reducing Noise, Correcting Chromatic Aberrations & Controlling Vignetting" in the book "Photoshop CS2 RAW" by Mikkel Aaland (ISBN: 0-596-00851-1). Copyright 2006 by Mikkel Aaland. Visit http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/photoshopraw/?CMP=NLCWS8865149474 and enter code D6IMGR for a 30 percent discount.)

Electronic noise is inherent to all RAW images, but its cause varies. It is more apparent is some images and barely noticeable in others. Higher ISO values will enhance this effect, as will underexposure or long exposure. Process over-sharpening will also enhance electronic noise.

Of course, noise isn't necessarily bad. As Luis Delgado Qualtrough, a fine art photographer puts it, "Noise gives an image dimension -- and authenticity." Luis came across an old painting hanging on the wall in a very dark room at an old hacienda in Mexico. Using a Canon Digital Rebel set to 1600 ISO, Luis managed to get the shot without a tripod. Luis chose to leave the noise in the image, to emphasize the impressionist style of the painting. The final shot hangs in a Danish museum.

In any case, it's relatively easy to use Photoshop to remove or reduce the effect of electronic noise and -- this is key -- maintain image detail. You can either do this in Camera Raw or after you open your file in Photoshop with the new Reduce Noise filter, which gives you much more options and frankly, in my opinion, better results. Once again, your choice of which to use will depend on what you want: speed and efficient workflow or quality.

USING CAMERA RAW TO REDUCE NOISE

Noise isn't always apparent when you examine an image at a low magnification. If you use Camera Raw's magnifying tools to enlarge your image after applying Camera Raw exposure and color controls (but before applying additional sharpening), the noise will become apparent. Pay particular attention to areas of continuous tone and shadow areas. Note the makeup of the noise. Does it look like a colored patchwork quilt? Or is the noise speckled and monochromatic?

Some images actually contain a combination of chromatic (color) and luminance (monochromatic) noise. As you'll soon see, getting a handle on the type of noise will help determine which Camera Raw control -- Luminance Smoothing, Color Reduction or both -- will be more effective.

To begin the process:

  1. Select the Detail tab. You'll notice right away the default Color Noise Reduction setting is 25, while Luminance Smoothing is set to 0. Unlike the Sharpness setting, which is a relative value based on the type of camera you used, the Color Noise Reduction setting is an absolute value. This value is applied generically and while it may or may not be right for your camera or image, it's almost always a good starting point.

  2. Enlarge your image preview to at least 100 percent, preferably higher. Start by sliding the Color Noise Reduction slider to the left, down to 0. Next, move the slider incrementally to the right, increasing the value. This affects the chromatic (color) noise and leaves details found in the Luminance (brightness) channel alone for the most part. If you go too far with the Color Noise Reduction setting, you won't lose detail per se, but you'll compromise color accuracy. (For the image shown here, a value of 50 is all it takes.) The chromatic noise is reduced without touching the Luminance Smoothing slider.

  3. If increasing the Color Noise Reduction value doesn't do the trick, set it to zero and use Luminance Smoothing. Go easy and increase the value incrementally. When working on the luminance channel, you can quickly compromise image detail.

  4. Sometimes a combination of Luminance Smoothing and Color Reduction produces the best result. You'll have to experiment to get the correct combination, as the correct values vary from image to image. Remember, the trick is to reduce noise without losing too much image detail.

SAVING NOISE REDUCTION SETTINGS IN CAMERA RAW

Once you find an optimal setting for your camera, at a frequently used ISO, you can save specifically those settings and apply them to other similar images. To do this:

  1. Select Save Settings Subset from the pop-up menu.

  2. In the Save Settings Subset dialog window, select Details from the Subset pop-up menu. Deselect Sharpness (or whichever settings you don't want to include) and the Details Subset becomes Custom Subset.

  3. Select Save. Name your setting and make sure it is saved in the default Settings folder. Otherwise, it won't show up in the Settings pop-up menu or in Bridge's Apply Camera Raw Settings menu.

USING PHOTOSHOP'S REDUCE NOISE FILTER

The Reduce Noise Filter is new to Photoshop CS2 and like the Smart Sharpen filter, it's based on some fancy state-of-the-art software coding. Frankly, I find this filter to be very effective and it often produces better results than I can get from the Camera Raw controls. Of course, the minute I call the filter "state-of-the-art" you likely suspect there is a downside and there is. The user interface isn't very intuitive and unless you are working on a very fast computer, it is slow.

There are two modes to this filter: Basic and Advanced. I'll show you how to use both, although most users will find the Basic controls more than enough. Regardless of whether you use the Basic or Advanced settings, you'll need to run your Raw data through Camera Raw. Use Camera Raw to optimize your exposure and white balance settings, but I suggest you turn Color Noise Reduction to 0 and leave Luminance Smoothing to 0 as well. The Reduce Noise filter works on 16-bit files, but performance is slowed.

BASIC SETTINGS FOR PHOTOSHOP'S REDUCE NOISE FILTER

Let's start with the basic settings:

  1. After preparing your Raw image in Camera Raw, select Open and bring it into Photoshop.

  2. Select Filter, Noise, Reduce Noise from Photoshop's main menu.

  3. Enlarge your preview to 100 percent or more. (Clicking on the percentage value at the bottom of the filter reverts it to 100 percent.) You can speed the efficiency of the filter up by making a small selection before you open the Reduce Noise filter. Determine your Reduce Noise filter settings, then select OK and close the filter. Undo the effect of your filter on your selection (Cmd/Ctrl-Z), then deselect your selection, (Cmd/Ctrl-D). Select Filter, Reduce Noise (Cmd/Ctrl-F) from the menu bar. Your Reduce Noise settings will now apply to the entire image.

The default settings are a good place to start. (If you change these settings, the next time you open the filter the new settings will replace the default ones.) If the default settings aren't satisfactory, I suggest taking the following steps.

  1. Start by setting the Strength value to 0. Slide the slider to the left or enter the value in the box. This turns off luminance noise reduction, leaving you only with chromatic noise reduction. (Preserve Details, which is tied directly to the Strength value, will not be an option when Strength is set to 0.) Leave Sharpen Details set to 25 percent for now.

  2. Experiment with different Reduce Color Noise values. Since this works only on the chromatic channels, this should not affect details of your image, only its colors. With the example shown here, nothing I did with Reduce Color Noise, even setting it to 100 percent, helped noticeably.

  3. If Reduce Color Noise isn't enough, I suggest you set Strength, which works on the luminance (brightness) channel, to 10, its full value. Set Preserve Details to 0. The effect should be quite obvious and image detail will surely suffer. (Mac users: withhold your judgment until the flashing bar below the percentage number stops signaling completion of processing. This can take some time depending on the size of your image or your settings. This won't be an issue for most Window users.)

  4. Now you have a choice: either dial the Strength value back or increase Preserve Details. These two settings are related. Preserve Details simply provides parameters for Strength to work within, telling it to ignore (0) or preserve fine detail.

  5. Try selecting Remove JPEG Artifact. Sometimes it helps, even when you are working with a RAW image that theoretically isn't compressed. (RAW data can be saved with compression and sometimes you just don't know whether its has been saved this way or not.)

ADVANCED SETTINGS FOR REDUCE NOISE

When you select Advanced, a Per Channel tab appears.

Using Advanced Settings Per Channel allows you to select individual channels based on the working color space and apply the Reduce Noise filter selectively. If you are working in RGB, for example, the red, green and blue channels are available. If you are working in LAB, the Lightness and A and B color channels are available. Since electronic noise often appears in one channel more than another, this can be quite useful. For example, typically in the RGB color space, it's the blue channel that displays more noise, but not always.

Using these settings, you can fine-tune your overall settings by boosting the noise reduction in a particular channel. You may find it useful to do all the adjusting in the individual channels. If you choose to do this, be sure to first adjust the Reduce Color Noise and Strength settings in the Overall menu to 0.

To use the Per Channel settings:

  1. Select Advanced Settings.

  2. Click on the Per Channel tab.

  3. Cycle through the different Channels, observing the differences. You can magnify/reduce the Color Channel grayscale display independently from the main color display window by holding your cursor over the grayscale display and Option/Alt-click to reduce and Cmd/Ctrl-click to magnify. To reduce the display in both windows simultaneously, place your cursor over either display window and use Option/Alt+Shift-click; to magnify, use Cmd/Ctrl+Shift-click. Holding the Shift key while dragging will scroll both windows simultaneously.

  4. Identify a channel that has noise.

  5. Adjust the Strength slider until the noise is reduced satisfactorily.

  6. Adjust the Preserve Details slider accordingly.

  7. To compare your changes with the original, place your cursor over either the color or the grayscale display, click and hold. Both the color and grayscale displays will change. If this still doesn't remove all the noise, return to the Overall tab and make additional adjustments there.

SAVING ADVANCED NOISE SETTINGS

When you find an optimal adjustment, you can save your settings and apply the setting later to another similar image. To save your settings:

  1. Select the Save icon.

  2. When the New Filter Settings dialog box opens, type in a descriptive name. The next time you open the filter, your new setting will appear in the Settings pop-up menu.
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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Visit the EOS 20D 'share your pictures' Discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9ad5e

Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789

Sally asks about deleting a time and date watermark from a photo at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea2128/0

Read about choosing between an SLR versus an All-in-one camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9f3a9/0

Visit the Software Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b0

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Black Goo

My camera repairman replaced the foam strips on my Nikons regularly and he used MEK to clean up the goo. MEK happily attacks many things, but didn't bother the aluminum and steel parts of the Nikons. You really can't pick out all the goo by hand and it inhibits the new strips from sticking well.

-- Al Clemens

(Thanks for the MEK recommendation, Al. No argument -- as the article states, we used lighter fluid to dissolve the ooze, which left no trace and did no harm. -- Editor)

When I saw you were rehabilitating your SLR, I went on alert since my son has just pulled his own SLR out of storage. His camera hasn't developed the black-ooze syndrome yet, but it's good to know it can happen.

However, I'm writing because you left out one very important piece of information: whether or not you plan to actually use your SLR. Like my son, have you begun to miss all the fiddly work and smelly stuff and claustrophobia of a room bathed in red and reminiscent of Dante's Inferno?

You gonna use it or sell it?

-- Barbara Coultry

(Not for sale and no plans to use it! <g> -- Editor)

I told my son about your experience with the black ooze and his eyes widened as he said, "That's what that was!" I will be passing along your information to him because, though the dampener for the mirror in his camera is all right, something else has begun liquefying.

-- Barbara

(It was just a matter of time <g> -- Editor)

RE: Canon G1

Can't say enough about the Newsletter and always welcome the next edition in my inbox. I was an early adopter of digital camera technology and spent big bucks on a Canon G1 when first introduced. I have always been happy with this camera and impressed with the results.

Recently, the camera powered off with the lens extended. A search on the 'net found a possible solution involving a small fuse that seems to require brain surgery to fix. Do you have any recommendations on what to do with a camera when you just can't bring yourself to throw it in the trash?

-- Michael Rimmey

(We were just ruminating on this ourselves. A couple of miniature acquaintances of ours had just gone to Legoland and were reduced to using those disposable film cameras. We thought how much more fun they would have had with a vintage digicam. We'd really like to see the old warhorses back in harness, at least for the younger generation. It may not be feasible to repair them, but maybe some imaginative soul could win some sort of grant to do just that. Hang on to that classic -- no sense doing anything until inspiration strikes (someone)! -- Editor)

RE: Canon FD Lens Adapter

Is there an adapter available that could mount any Canon FD/FL lens to a modern Canon digital camera such as the Rebel-XT?

-- John Kozak

(Yes. Adorama (http://www.adorama.com/CZFDEOSA.html) has one for $39.95. I'd also suggest reading through Paul Caldwell's essay on this at Digital Outback Photo (http://www.outbackphoto.com/the_bag/paul_lens_adapters/essay.html). -- Editor)

RE: Best CDs

Do you or can you recommend the best CDs to hold my digital pictures? I've heard that the regular CDs of today, are expected to fail within 5-8 years. Not good news as the main backup.

-- Kathy A. Wood

(We did publish an article on this in our June 2, 2000 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html), Kathy. Photos, like any data you want to preserve, deserve high quality media. You have to pay a little more for that (visit http://www.cdmediaworld.com/hardware/cdrom/cd_quality.shtml for an interesting study on that). Actual life expectancy is quite different, as our article explains, for unburned and burned media. The number you cite is closer to the unburned shelf life than the life expectancy of a burned disc, which is significantly longer. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has introduced Genuine Color Awareness, its first 100 percent recycled paper offering. It's a 28 lb. Bond with 105 gsm and 92 percent Brightness and will come in three sizes (Letter Size 8.5x11; Ledger Size 11x17; and Full-Bleed Size 12x18). Other Canon Recycled Papers in the product line include the Genuine Awareness Paper, 20 lb. Bond/30 percent Post Consumer Content and the Genuine Color Awareness Paper, 24 lb. Bond/30 percent Post Consumer Content.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released its free DNG SDK 1.1, a software development kit providing support for reading and writing DNG image files as well as support for converting DNG data into a format for display or processing by other applications.


VSO Software (http://www.vso-software.fr) has released its freeware Image Resizer [W] to resize and convert images between different formats.


The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released the Mac OS X version of the $69.95 LightMachine, which adjusts all kinds of light in photos.


Pixel Genius (http://www.pixelgenius.com) has shipped its $99.95 PhotoKit Color 2.0 [MW], a Photoshop Automate plug-in that applies precise color corrections, automatic color balancing and creative coloring effects.


Sony (http://www.sony.com/dslr) has established Alpha, a new brand name for its first dSLR cameras to be launched worldwide this summer. They're using the Greek letter for it, which beats an ideagram but still isn't ASCII.


Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has reduced the price of LightZone [LMW] to $149.95.


Kathleen Shafer (http://tsaintgood.blogspot.com) asks photographers to tell her their TSA-related horror stories at airport security screening stations.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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