things_arranged

Turns out there’s a blog out there for all of us anal, OCD-types, but for photography inspiration! Check out Things Organized Neatly.

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In Edit mode, I used Lens Distortion Correction to alter the perspective and give the clouds more of a presence.

Then, in Lighting on the Equalizer tab, I used the Auto button. And then darkened the clouds by dragging on the photo.

Then in Advanced Color, I upped the Vibrance and Saturation sliders slightly to give the photo more interest. I didn’t go crazy on this, though, because I wanted the colors to remain natural-looking.

Then in the Clarity tool, I upped the slider to give the sand more definition.

And that is that! Five minutes later, my image is completely transformed.

before_after

As you may or may not recall, a while back I posted a tutorial taking a look at Pixel Targeting. At the end of that tutorial, I did promise that we would eventually look at a variety of Pixel Targeting applications. Well, we took a break to look at some other functions, but we’re back! Let us now explore!

As a quick reminder, Pixel Targeting allows you to target distinct tones, colors, and skin tones, and then select any number of Edit mode adjustments and apply them to those targeted colors, tones, or skin tone.

I find this picture pretty drab. It probably doesn’t help that I was there and my eyes told me it was pretty spectacular.

IMG_2465

I would like to make the colors pop a bit, but I also want it to still look realistic, and not like a fantasy seascape. (Fantasy seascape has its place, but that’s just not what I’m into today.) So I open the image in Edit mode, and then enter Advanced Color. If I indiscriminately pump up the Saturation and Vibrance, it gets a bit much. It doesn’t look very realistic… It looks a bit insane. Look at those umbrellas! It’s like a carnival.

saturation_vibrance

It’s true that you could just up the color value on the blues and greens by dragging your cursor up on the water and the trees, for example.

blue_green_raised

But then all of the greens and blues in the image are heightened, which leaves the rocks looking pretty green and the sky a bit nutty. Maybe you’re thinking I’m getting a bit picky. But what I’m thinking is: it’s Pixel Targeting Time. At the top of the panel on the left side, I press the Pixel Targeting button. Under Targeted Tones, I press Min. This deselects all tones. Then under Targeted Colors, I press Min. This deselects all colors. Now I can choose only the specific colors I want to target. In other words, I can choose to ignore the lightest or darkest version of a specific color, or any tone in between. Just stay with me, it’ll make sense.

Here we are with everything at neutral. Note that the Target Mask is black, which means that nothing is being targeted.

neutral

Say, for argument’s sake, I wanted to just target the blue of the sky, while ignoring the blue of the ocean and the accents on the boats and houses and such. In the Targeted Tones section, I turn the lightest value up to Max, and on the Targeted Colors section, I turn the blue value up to Max. You can see on the Target Mask that the sky is displayed in white. The white illustrates which part of the photo is being targeted. The sky is the lightest blue value in the photo, hence, it’s targeted.

target_mask_light_blue

Now if I expand the Targeted Tones to include more light values, you’ll notice that more areas are lit up in the Target Mask. That part of the water matches the criteria of being blue, (which we’ve targeted), and an almost mid-range lightness.

more_tones_targeted

Now that we’ve acquainted ourselves with the concepts behind using Advanced Color with Pixel Targeting, let’s move on. My goal is to target just the ocean and the trees. But I want to leave the sky alone, as I’ve already discovered that nothing natural looking has come from me messing with it. So I experiment with targeting different tones until I find the one that displays the ocean in white in the Target Mask — directly in the middle. I now add green to the Targeted Colors to target the trees. Then I use the Saturation and Vibrance sliders to make the colors pop specifically in the targeted areas. I even drag my cursor up on the trees for more green. This didn’t affect the seaweed, as it would without Pixel Targeting, because the seaweed isn’t within the tonal ranges targeted. Et Voilà! Observe how the colors of the ocean and trees stand out, but the colors of the rocks are still natural. This, I feel, makes the difference between something vibrant, yet still realistic-looking, versus the circus-and-sequins catastrophe above, when I just indiscriminately raised the saturation and vibrance across the entire photo.

result

Let’s compare this with the original.

before_after_colour

It’s subtle, but a definite improvement, I think.

Pixel Targeting can be used in a variety of ways—some very subtle, some much less subtle. Happy playing!

I’d like to take a quick look at a nifty little feature that was added to ACDSee back around the release of ACDSee 18 and Pro 8, and is also found in Ultimate 8. It’s possible that it could slip under the radar because, unlike other new features, PicaView is not actually visible inside ACDSee. I know, sounds devious. But, in fact, PicaView couldn’t be more transparent. That is, in a way, its function. ACDSee PicaView is a quick file viewer add-on for File Explorer. Well, what the heck does that mean? It means that when you’re browsing away in Windows Explorer and you’re trying to find that one specific file, you’re going to save quite a bit of time.

Before PicaView, I found it particularly bad when I was looking for a certain image, but it was in a folder full of several hundred similar images all taken in the same setting, at the same time. With PicaView, you can simply right-click an image and see a larger version of it in your context menu, reducing the wild goose chase to a very tame duck chase….not even a chase. You just find it. You “catch” the duck before it even started waddling away.

picaview

PicaView will allow you to identify the image you’re looking for without having to launch it in a viewing application. It saves so much time! You can use it on any image file type supported by ACDSee.  This works on RAW files, too. And, in addition to viewing a preview of the image, you can also view the EXIF information.

did_flash

Did the flash fire on that pic? Well, let me just check on that. Right-click!

flash_no

Why, no. No, it did not. How easy was that?

If I want to launch the image in ACDSee, I just need to click the preview.

open_in_acdsee

I can also customize the size that the image previews in, what version of the image displays, etc. To reach the options, right-click an image file. At the top of the preview, click ACDSee PicaView | Options. In the Options dialog, you can elect to have it so that when you right-click, your image displays in a sub-menu, rather than the main menu. You can also choose a size for the image preview.

 

Small small
Medium medium
Large large
Extra Large extra_large

You can also select the Show Original checkbox, and what this does is ensures that even if you’re viewing images that have been edited or developed, you will see a preview of the original.

Lastly, you can toggle the Show EXIF Information checkbox. You would turn off this checkbox if you only wanted to see a preview of the image and didn’t care to see the EXIF info.

And that’s all there is to it. Hope you enjoy this quick previewing feature designed to make life just that little bit easier.

 

Here’s a quick look at how to use gradients and special effects to change the emotion of an image. In this video, we give an image verging on being a nightscape a bright daytime look.

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Check out Glen Barrington’s blog post about resizing photos with ACDSee Ultimate 8!

We will soon get back to the nuances of Pixel Targeting, but first we need to take a break and make time for checking out the next big thing: ACDSee Ultimate 8! This is a brand new product that combines the digital asset management and editing power of ACDSee Pro with a layered editor. This is a big deal because, not only is there no other product out there like this, but it blows the ceiling off the limits of what was possible with your photo editing. You can make some crazy stuff, you can make useful/practical stuff, you can do whatever the heck you want. Now let’s get started.

Layers allow you to work on a single element of an image without disturbing other elements. This makes it possible to add effects, shapes, text, watermarks, etc, and edit them all individually. You can perform photo manipulations, create composites, and pretty much whatever else you can dream up. You can make every layer as transparent or opaque as you want, and stack each element to hide and reveal what you want. You can use layers in conjunction with image effects and adjustment tools, drawing tools, text, and more. Effects and adjustments will be applied to the layer selected in the Layers pane. You can also create a blank image and layer other elements on top of it.

Let’s do something fun to start with. Let’s generate our own meme. In my opinion, a good meme should touch on a shared experience, no matter how silly, and perhaps make us laugh or feel assured that we’re not alone in our silliness. We all make mistakes, and, personally, I find that if I’ve attempted to learn from my mistake and things still go wrong, it’s time to blame an inanimate object. Thus, my Scumbag T-Shirt meme will be created!

Step one: Take your base photo — in this case, the object, but sometimes the subject, of the meme — and open it in Edit mode. If the Layers pane is not already open in Edit mode, go to View | Layers. You will see your image as Layer 1 in the Layers pane on the right side.

layers_pane

At this point, personally I would do any adjusting that I felt the base photo needed, just because I like to keep things simple. Step Two: I’m going to add the next element, which I will have on the second layer so that I can edit it independently. In order to do this, I drag the image from the Filmstrip at the bottom of Edit mode, or, if the image I want is stored in another folder, I can go to Layer | Import from File…

add_second_item

I add the scumbag hat, which has a transparent background. This automatically appears in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Step Three: To move and resize this element, I first ensure that I have Layer 2 selected in the Layers pane, and then I enter the Move tool, which you’ll find amidst the Selection and Drawing tools on the top of the Edit mode tools.move_tool Yellow squares and circles appear around the scumbag hat. I can click and drag on the squares to resize the hat. Observe that in the bar above the image there is a checkbox that says Lock Aspect Ratio enabled by default. Leave this checked if you would like to make sure that your element doesn’t end up a wonky shape when you drag it to the size you want. Use the circular handles to rotate the element one direction or another. To simply move the element, click in the middle of it and drag to where you want it to go.

move

Once I have the hat just where I want, I press the Commit button, (up in the top Context bar near the Lock Aspect Ratio button), to exit out of the Move tool.

Step Four: I want to add my text. So, I click on the Text tool under the Add group.

add_text_next

I would like my text to remain as a separate element that I can move, rotate, resize, or change its layer order, blend mode, or opacity on a whim, so at the bottom of the Text tool, I check the Add text as a new layer checkbox. I configure the text settings as desired. Then I press Apply. This allows me to add a second set of text at the bottom, and it will also be on its own layer. I press Apply and then Done and I exit out of the tool, and now I can continue to move the text by selecting its layer and using the Move tool.

layers_are

And that’s that! My meme is complete. I press Done and press Save As. In the Save Image As dialog, ACDSee Ultimate offers to save it as a .acdc file. I choose Save, as this format will allow me to edit the layers individually again, should I choose to open this image in Edit mode in the future.

I present my Scumbag T-Shirt meme!

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If you don’t know what a scumbag meme is, just smile and nod. It’s not essential information. All you need to know is that shirts that shrink are jerks. What is important is that you now know how to create an image with several layers!

Now, let’s move on to something a bit more complicated. I want to make something along the vein of a pamphlet. Let us now pretend I own a vineyard (I wish!) and I want to promote my sauvignon blanc.

I know I want to blend two images at least, so to save myself extra work, I make sure they are the same size. Or rather, I choose the image that I want to be the size of the final product as the basis for resizing the other photo. (You don’t have to do it this way.) I can see that that photo is 2736 x 3648, so I open the image I want to blend with it in Edit mode and go to the Resize tool in the Geometry group. Here, I uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio checkbox, because I want these images to match up properly. This may not always be the case, but it is for me in this scenario. Then under Pixels, I enter 2736 x 3648 and press Done. So why don’t I just open both of these images in the Layers pane and do the resizing then? Well, in that case, resizing affects the whole canvas that the images are being stacked on. So, if I make the canvas smaller than one of the images already is, bits of that image could get cut off.

All right, now to begin. I will start with a background photo of some grapes, which I took (in somebody else’s vineyard, OK).

base_photo

First, I make the adjustments I need to in order to get that bit out of the way. Now I’ll add my second layer: a wine bottle and glass. To do this, go to Layer | Import from File… This new photo will appear in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Select the Hand tool.

hand_tool

Then go to Layer | Mask | Add White Mask. A layer mask will allow you to control a layer’s transparency. Since we aim to put two images together, this is exactly the sort of tool we need. Because I added a white mask, I will now use a black brush to brush “holes” through the mask to reveal the layer beneath. So, I select the Brush tool, followed by the color box, which I will change to black, if it’s not already.

pick_colour

I can now brush the background of the wine bottle image to reveal the vineyard image below.

mask

What if I screw up? What if my hand slips and I brush over the bottle, as seen here:

screw_up

I really don’t sweat it. All I need to do is switch my brush color to white using the switch arrow at the color box. switch_arrow Then I’ll “brush the mask back on”. By using white, I am making the mask visible once more.

brush_mask_back_on

Once I’ve revealed the vineyard behind the bottle and glass, I’ve decided that I don’t want the bottle and glass centered as they are now. So, i click the Move tool, move_tool and then drag the wine bottle image to my desired location. Then I press Commit in the Context bar when I’m finished moving it. I am also going to make the wine bottle and glass somewhat transparent by selecting their layer and adjusting the Opacity slider in the top of the Layers panel.

As I’d like to make this an ad, I’m going to add a vignette. I go to Layer | Add New Layer so that the vignette will be made on its own layer. Then under the Add group, I choose the Vignette tool. In the Vignette tool, I configure the sliders until I get the vignette to cover just the area I want. When the vignette looks how I desire, I press Done.

Next, I’m interested in adding some text. For this, I will add a new layer, so that I can edit the text independently. However, I can do this from within the Text tool. I choose the Text tool under the Add group. I enter text and add it as a new layer, as detailed earlier. Hint: Check the Add text as new layer checkbox. I can configure the text settings to make it look exactly how I want. I press Apply. Then repeat, to add more text elements.

wine2

Lastly, I am going to add a logo. This is a .png file with a transparent background. Same deal as above. Layer | Import from File…, then use the Move tool to place it. I press Commit in the Context bar, and bam! We’ve got ourselves an ad.

wine_ad