Raw vs JPEG: You Decide

raw verses jpegEver wonder whether you should you be shooting in Raw or JPEG? Damien Demolder explains the pros and cons of each to help you decide

Shooting in Raw format will allow you to get the very best from your camera’s sensor, but the benefits have to be weighed against the extra time spent processing and how involved you want to get with working in software. There is a lot of mystery about Raw files and what they are, but there really doesn’t need to be. It’s true that shooting in Raw means more work for the photographer, and that it gives those prepared to do that work in software more options and greater potential for better quality images, but that doesn’t mean this way of working is the sole preserve of the professional photographer. It also doesn’t mean that you have to shoot in Raw format to get good quality images, as with a modern camera set to save files in best quality JPEG mode, excellent pictures are more than possible.

Read more of Raw vs JPEG: which should you be using? here on the Wex Blog


Making a frame – matting and adding text

Improve your on-line presentation – add titles to your images


Creating a virtual photoframePictures should be able to stand on their own two feet without embellishment, but there are few that don’t look at least 30% better when they are mounted and framed. Obviously, this sort of treatment is reserved for prints, but even those who show their work on-line or in an electronic form can benefit from this form of presentation. We don’t frame every picture we take, only the best, so when we add a frame to an image, even electronically, it sends the message that we think the picture in question is special. Framed images have that prestigious air about them.

When ‘framing’ this picture I decided to go for a multi-layered effect to add depth to the mount. This just echoes the effect you get when you use a double window mount, with two shades of card and the white edge that shows in the cut. When working this way it’s best to create the outer-most mount first. There are a number of ways of to create these mounts, but I’ll show you a simple one.

Make a bigger canvas

First you need to make the background mount, which you do by enlarging the canvas the image sits on. Go to the top bar of Photoshop and selectCreate new canvasEdit>Canvas Size. Ensuring the central square is selected as the Anchor, type in the size you want the final picture to be leaving a bit to spare so that you can crop later on to the final dimensions. If your picture file is 7x5in @ 300ppi, for example, create a background canvas that measures about 10x10in @ 300 pixels per inch.

With the image sitting on a bigger plain background use the magic wand tool to select the out line of the image so you can add the faint shadow effect.

Add a stroke – or two

Select image for strokeTo create this first grey layer, that will look almost like a shadow in the final image, we’ll use the ‘stroke’ feature of Photoshop. With the whole image selected head to Edit>Stroke. The box offers several options, one of which is width/colour. The width of the stroke you will need at any point depends on the size of the picture you are working on. Obviously a 20 pixel stroke is proportionally bigger on a 600×800 pixel image than it is on a 2000×4000 pixel image, so you may have to try a few different settings before you find the right width for the picture in question. Picking a colour is comes down to your own personal choice, but I find shades of grey most effective and the least offensive to the majority of people. Also in this position, between the picture and the white ‘card’ the effect is supposed to be shadow rather than anything that has a colour.

Stroke colour pickerThe box below the width/colour options asks you to determine where the stroke goes. ‘Center’ places the stroke on the selection line, so half of the stroke’s width covers part of the image, and half falls outside of the image, while ‘Inside’ places the stroke entirely on the picture area, and ‘outside’ places the strokes thickness on the ‘card’. If you want to avoid losing any picture area select the ‘outside’ option.

Once that’s done deselect the image and reselect it to include the new much wider stroke, and then add the extra stroke to create the white area shown in my example. I didn’t actually use white, but a very light yellow/grey instead.

Colour the ‘card’

Then you need to add a colour or tone to the rest of the ‘card’. To do this use the rectangular selection tool to draw a box around your picture leaving the amount of white showing that you want. Go to the top bar and click on Selection>Invert to select everything other than your picture and the amount of white you want showing. You now need to add the colour or tone to the card. You can pick any colour you want to compliment your image, but I tend to stick with neutral shades to grey. Dull perhaps, and to everyone’s taste, but grey has the benefit of working with every picture. Select your colour using the colour picker, and then use the paint bucket tool to flood the colour onto the card

Add text to record the details

I like to write on these frames, especially for portraits, so the picture can have a name or so we can all remember when the picture was taken and who is in it. I’ve been doing a series of birthday pictures of my family, so I use this space to record the date, name and age of the subject so the piece becomes more of a historical record.

I create a text box and write whatever I want to in white. I then align the text with the picture, usually in that bottom right hand corner,Fade text layer and then fade the text layer so reduce the text to a grey rather than a bright white. White tends to stand out too much and can take away from the picture. Obviously you want people to be able to read the text, but it shouldn’t be the first thing they see.

Although really designed for web use, these frames, if done neatly, work well in print too. I saves actually cutting window mounts (or matts) and is a quick and effective way of presenting your images in an album or portfolio.

If you don’t have Photoshop you can create these effects in a wide range of other programs. I have used the simple application Paint to do the same thing just by creating backgrounds that the image is pasted onto, as well as Gimp – which offers for free much of what you pay for in Photoshop.

Sony Alpha 700 DSLR

Sony Alpha 700 with DT 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 ZA set to 50mm (75mm on 35mm) 1/5sec @ f/4.5 ISO 1600, tungsten white balance.

Did you find this interesting or useful? Let me know by leaving a comment.

To see more of my pictures visit my galleries at www.damiendemolder.com

To see more of my pictures
visit my photo galleries site
at www.damiendemolder.com

The original image, in colour and unframed

Creating a virtual photoframeHut on the Blackwater navigation
Another example of how this technique can be used. In this case
I printed the image with the frame and text together. The text adds a formality to the shot, making it more of a record or postcard.

Create new canvas
Create a new canvas size that’s bigger than the image. Here the image
is just under 7in square, so I made the canvas 10in to allow a 3in border.

Select image for stroke

Select the image area with the magic wand tool ready
to apply a ‘stroke’

Stroke colour picker

The stroke size you need depends on the image size, so experiment
to find what is right for your picture. Choose the ‘outside’ option and
then pick the colour you want to use. I tend to stick with neutrals

Select the outside of the first stroke to create the second. Make this a
big one, as you can crop it away when you create the
background ‘card’ colour later.

Fade text layer

Write your text, and then fade the layer to create a
more subtle effect

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Please let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks.


Converging Verticals – software fix

Sloping Flats with converging verticals

If you have a picture you’ve already taken that has slight converging verticals the effects can often be corrected using the features contained in a number of popular software applications. The tool you should be looking for is usually called ‘Transform’, which will probably have sub sections that will be called something like ‘Perspective’ and ‘Distort’.

The idea is that the whole image is selected and then the top is stretched horizontally to counteract the inverted V shape of the building. This is a quick and effective solution to convergence in any direction, but users need to be Altering perspectiverealistic about what can be achieved before image quality suffers to badly. Obviously pixels are being stretched and made larger in one part of the image, and although the image will remain the same size detail resolution in the stretched part of the picture will suffer. If this area is mostly sky you don’t need to worry too much, but the stretch may be quite easily seen in areas of more fine detail. distorting the image

As this is the case only minor effects should be attempted, but the advantage of the method is that you will end up with a larger image than you would using the cropping method. In this example I have used a picture that is just too distorted to be able to correct easily, so you can see just where the limits are. The perspective is not only looking up, but also twisted. The correction is almost there, but the final image has a strange look to it. sloping flats with converging verticals corrected

Of course, the method relies on you having a software application that provides a ‘Transform’ tool. If yours doesn’t there is a free download application called GIMP that does – it is also a very good general purpose imaging application that offers an enormous amount of control.

Shot with Samsung GX10, with Rikenon 28mm f/2.8 lens. Exposure 1/4sec @ f/2.8 ISO 1600

To see more of my pictures visit my galleries at www.damiendemolder.com

To see more of my pictures
visit my photo galleries site
at www.damiendemolder.com

Sloping Flats with converging verticalsAltering perspectiveYou can find the ‘perspective’ tool in Photoshop by clicking on ‘Edit’ and then ‘Transform’. I have overlaid the image with a grid screen to help me to get things straight. This is hidden under the ‘View’ menu, after which you need to select ‘Show’ and then ‘Grid’. You can set the preferences for the grid – such as the spacing between the lines – in the main ‘Preferences’ menu. distorting the image‘Distort’ is also under the ‘Edit>Transform’ menu and can be applied without having to finish the ‘Perspective’ adjustments. I needed ‘Distort’ Here as the camera was not square-on to the subject, so we have a twist as well as converging verticals. I’ve pulled the top of the image out and pushed the bottom left in and the bottom centre to the right. It is almost a rotational movement. Obviously the adjusted image now has chunks missing from its corners – some cropping will be in order. sloping flats with converging verticals corrected

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