The Newsletter for Elements Users------------------------------------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
A New Hidden Power: The Dynamic Image Tool
LONG ANSWERS (5)
SHORT ANSWERS (11)
A new tool is released this month: The Hidden Power Dynamic Image tool. This tool can help you pump some life into images that seem like they should just have a little more pop. It does so without blocking up the shadows or blowing out the highlights. See more in the Long Answers section below.
Mend tool users! You can get a free copy of the Hidden Power Dynamic Image tool by submitting your user experience with the Mend tool. Just send me a short note (less than 1000 words) about what the Mend tool has done for you. If your experience is used in the next newsletter, I'll give you the Dynamic image tool free! Responses do not have to be positive, gushing or otherwise phoney...Send your experiences to: Thebookdoc@aol.com
New tool with the next issue: Hidden Power Type. I know I mentioned it last issue, but orders for Mend have kept me busy, and I want to be sure I handle orders well enough before posting additional products. In any case, it gives you something to look forward to!
Please feel free to send your other tool requests. While I am moving in to another busy Summer, I look forward to getting users the tools they need. It has been a while between issues, and this is partially because questions and requests are slowing down. I look forward to your input. Please send questions as they arise! Thebookdoc@aol.com
<<I'm an experienced film photographer just now returning to photography after 20 years away from it, learning digital for the first time. I'm very grateful for your "Hidden Power" book; it really is a great course in the technique. I'm serious when I say it is a worthy successor for Ansel Adams' Basic Photo Series was for the "Zone System". Every time I think of a tool or something to add, I study some more and there it is. I'm looking forward to the action you were referring to in http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1004&message=7874186. Where will the article come out?>>
The article will be out in Digital Photography Techniques (http://www.dcmag.co.uk/) in issue 12, and the tool will be available as of the release of this newsletter! [BTW -- in a promotion, new subscribers get a free copy of my new book on Photoshop CS!] I call it The Hidden Power Dynamic Image tool. It is a semi-automatic correction tool that will help you improve the dynamics (tone, contrast and color) of just about any image that seems to be lacking a little zip. All you do is let the tool lead you through a series of simple steps; it won't blow out the highlights or plug up the shadows, and your images will improve.
While I am not much for automated corrections, semi-automated processes can dramatically enhance images if approached the right way. My testers and I have gone at this on enough images that I am satisfied the theory behind it translates into results. Get the tool here: http://hiddenelements.com/dynamic/ There is a simple example of the type of results you can expect, and a link to a purchase page. I'll have something more substantial up soon.
What the tool does is actually pretty simple: it uses a highlight and shadow mask to target highlights, shadows and midtones. By making adjustments with Levels according to on-screen instructions, you adjust image tone to make it more dynamic. The masked Levels adjustment retains more detail than just blowing it away as you would with something like the Brightness/Contrast tool. With the masking, the reaction in the image tends to be more like what happens when using Photoshop curvesbut you don't have to be a Curves whiz to get results.
<<I managed well enough for twenty five years when I used to print color film by conventional means, so I cannot see why going to the n-th degree with profiles should be necessary with digital printing. If you need reproducibility with different equipment, then maybe profiles are mandatory. If you have one fixed setup, I strongly suspect they are overkill as I am consistently getting results that I believe would be hard to better even with their use. My views results from action I initially had to take to get around the fact that I cannot get Adobe Gamma to work on my PC (as it falls over when I try to save a new profile due to an apparent incompatibility with shell32.dll in Windows XP). I used the calibration image at http://www.peak-imaging.com/htmls/download.htm where the grayscales and color patches are crisp and easy to make judgements by eye without measuring instruments.
First, I put it to use to adjust my monitor settings so the grayscales are neutral. I set the color temperature, brightness and the contrast. I did not need to adjust the monitor gamma or color settings at all but with an ATI graphics card one even has curves available for the latter! The next step is to get a print on the papers I use from the calibration image that has correct grayscales and ideally matches the colors on the monitor. I easily found by trial and error the print driver settings to match with my equipment. Virtually everything I have printed since with those settings is spot on and closely matches the appearance on the monitor.>>
The procedure described here by this experienced reader is pretty much what I suggest in The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 2. The idea is that if you test your actual output with your printing device and make intelligent choices about color settings (mostly via calibration), your results will be optimized WITHOUT using an embedded profile. If you optimize your view, and make the most out of your image, no profile is going to rescue it -- and if it does, I'd be MORE worried because the profile is making changes to your image. You want your prints to match your screen, and no matter what people are pumping about profiles, you may not need them.
As I believe I say elsewhere and hopefully most readers understand: using profiles is not a silver bullet for getting good color. You have to know why you are using them and exactly what you are profiling. Adobe RGB isn't 'better' for everything. It isn't even better for most things. I worked with Photoshop for many years before there was profiling at all, and there was still a way to get reliable results. In fact, I'd say that form was MORE reliable because there was no guessing (as there wouldn't be with proper profiling use).
The real answer here has to do with what the original space is, and what the output is. If you are looking at a monitor and expecting to match those results and you are creating web pages, embedding a profile is pretty useless. If you are printing to CMYK, taging the file accurately MIGHT be helpful IF you are sending an RGB file. There is not a fine difference between understanding your images and output and hoping a profile will do it for you. There is a fine difference between that knowledge and deciding how to control the result.
Don't guess, know. Don't just chose a profile, use them.
The lure here that so many users are biting is sometimes the poor description of Adobe RGB having a wider gamut. Wider gamut is a little bit of a scam. There are still the same number of colors in sRGB and Adobe RGB. The idea that the colors are mapped differently doesn't make it an advantage. It SOUNDS good (wider gamut), because it makes you feel like there is more to get. Functionally, you need something more capable than your monitor to show the difference, and something better than CMYK to print what you see. Good luck. As bland as sRGB is, it is a good, visual compromise to working in an environment where what you see is what you get.
My guess is, 98% of people using profiles don't have the slightest clue as to how to use them correctly. The other 2% use them because they are either a) supposed to, or b) they got good results one time that they didn't duplicate with sRGB. I wouldn't bet the farm on a guess -- or a single comparison. There are choices for a reason, and you either use them, or you fake like you know what you are doing. Simplifying and working without profiles is a good bet for most users. That isn't a popular opinion, but it is a well tested one.
The method of checking a printout against the monitor is the preferred method of getting results from a print. In fact, I find fancy equipment a little ridiculous, and wish only that there were a software maker bright enough to make software like I had some 5 years back that allowed me to create custom previews that I could use to correct for results on specific paper. Barring that, a simple calibration has to suffice. If you insist on using other color spaces and embedding profiles, you'll have to dive in all the way for it to work. Its a complexity most people don't need to endulge.
<<I had an idea...Maybe you should quiz your present readers, about their current use of actions so you can find out what they need? There is a need for more Elements help via actions, or I am a nut! If you could make the interface easier to enhance, that might help as well.>>
One of the regrets that I've had over the past year is that I can't seem to get people who write actions for Photoshop interested in Elements. I thought that would have been a no-brainer. Regretfully most users have been apathetic about posing ideas of what they need. The fact is, my Dynamic Image tool was born of several reader questions. I know a LOT of people are using my tools (20,000 copies of the Elements book sold this year and many people have downloaded the free tools), and many read the newsletter, but when I've asked for response I have gotten a trickle rather than a gush. My guess is it may be that most users really don't know what they need -- so it falls to me to tell them. I wish I had more time to develop extras...and come up with the ideas for them. I have more tools waiting in the wings, but I'd rather respond to what people tell me they need.
I very much appreciate your email, and hope you will feel free to make suggestions in the future. As far as making the interface easier, that is really an Adobe thing -- and I regret to say I have the inkling that it will get harder instead (better for the programmers, worse for the amateur). They have an XML framework set up in Elements 2, and most people will find that harder to work with than HTML. If I can't get people to poke around in HTML, it is less likely that they will even look at XML should future versions of the program rely on it.
<<When I open jpg image in PS Elements 2 it asks if I want to open the image as 1) use the embedded profile, 2) convert the documents color to the working space, or 3) discard the embedded profile. What is recommended?>>
What is recommended really depends on your workflow and what you need to accomplish. You seem to be using Full Color Management as your choice for color management (This uses Adobe RGB as the working space as shown by your screenshot). I don't really recommend this for those who don't know more about the process...reason being that managed profiles can cause more harm than good.
However, as you are offered the option, I would do what you did and not jump to a conclusion. Options are offered for a reason and you have to consider the variables for the outcome. If you are going to maintain a full color management setting for color preferences, the assumption of the workflow is that you will use profiles to 'talk' to one another. This means allowing them to convert information, either using the embedded profile as a translator for display, or actually converting the information in the image from one profile to the other. As this is the case, the logical choice is either of the first two--though they are not equivalent. You should probably do some testing within your normal workflow to see which produces the best results. By 'best', I don't mean prettiest. I mean which thing will help you get closest in your result to what you see on the monitor. My guess is converting will produce the most reliable results if you use the images in various ways, as it will keep your outgoing workflow to the AdobeRGB profile.
Jumping back a little, unless you are getting Adobe RGB images from your camera or scanner (and if this is your typical image, then you don't have this concern), I would probably simplify the whole mess and just shut off color management. This way Elements will pretty much assume sRGB, and your Mismatch screen won't appear. If you have a calibrated monitor, and use the right techniques, your images won't do any suffering.
A whole lot is made of color management, and the sheer bulk of information (good and bad) makes the choice and implementation all the more confusing. In my book I outline what seems to be a simple method, and it has to do with shutting off the color management. 'Bigger' color spaces don't necessarily have more colors -- they all have 16 million in RGB. Quite frankly, that they are mapped differently shouldn't make a difference if color management works like it should. In practice (and I've been practicing more than 12 years -- most of that without color management as an option), it seems that what you get used to is what works. I don't advocate using color management because it adds a layer of complexity that you should really understand before you implement it -- and then once you understand it, you may not need to implement.
Testing is really the only thing that works. and I prefer to simplify by removing, rather than adding, variables.
[Let me preface this...I have been accused of being pompous, a nut, inane, condescending, stupid, wacko and a few other things for the solutions I have suggested to users for troubleshooting installations. I am sure it is frustrating to have trouble with installations, but be assured I can only approach installation problems as anomalies. I have tested everything, and it works...where it doesn't work, there is something different or wrong. The reason for most of my "wacky" solutions is that 1) I have no idea who users are and their experience with computers when they contact me, and 2) I have seen what works. While I do what I can to put information in the readme files for installation, it seems that not everyone will read them...and some do then make a different interpretation than I intended. I do know this: I have tested everything I release on modern equipment on Mac and PC. I cannot account for every system configuration or change made to operating systems. I can't tell which virus protection programs will halt an installation, or what name changes users may have made to a program file (!?!). I've heard quite a lot of unusual problems with installing, and perversely I get more from Mac users. I find this perverse as I create the tools on Mac. ]
Here are a few tips from users and my archives:
<<I was having trouble installing from the CD, so I assume it was faulty. I created a disk image of the CD and used that for the install and it worked.>> Glad it is working. The solution adds more to the mystery than it removes, as if the disc was faulty, it could not have transferred the information.
<<Here is a list of the installed files [attachment on email]. I know things installed, but I don't know why it isn't working!>> You are trying to out-think the installer. All you have to do, as per the instructions, is start the installer. It should show an initial screen that describes the installer. You click OK, and are led to a screen that allows you to BROWSE for the installation folder. DO NOT TYPE the dissections in, click the Browse button ( looks like: [...] ) and locate the Photoshop Elements 2 program folder. When you choose the right directory, the program will install.
<<Hi Richard...The read and write permission must be activated in all of the folder>> I believe these have to be turned off manually...However, turning them on or deleting the Elements installation and re-installing should eliminate this problem (unless there is some utility that locks files (!?!)).
<<I purchased and installed the mend tool and I followed your instructions to the T for installing it. However when I go to the effects menu and click on "Mend" all that shows up is the original image. There is no set up icon. When the program downloaded it was automatically unzipped by Stuffit Delux. Is that the problem you allude to in your instructions for downloading with the Mac?>> I have found that some versions of Stuffit don't unzip well--for whatever reason. I have made the suggestion in several places to use a different utility. For those who still use Stuffit, either by choice or because it is automated, open the Mend.psd file and save it using Save As, without making changes to the file. Then delete the cache and re-start Elements. This is not an insane solution [as the email suggested]...what happens is Elements is smart enough to read the ZIP encoding and then resaves the file so it can be read by the Effects interface.
<<I am at a loss. The instructions say: "Target the installation by choosing the elements directory when Prompted" I can not find the directory to my Elements and how do I find this directory so I can get the tools downloaded?>> In DOS, what you might call folders are called Directories (DIR). The Elements Directory is a folder where the program is stored. It is usually on your C drive in the Program Files folder in the Adobe folder: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements 2. Locate that folder during the installation.
<<I installed the bonus tools and they appear when I first open the program, then they disappear and I can't find them anywhere. I open the How To tab and the Hidden Powers palette appears but not the bonus tools. I don't know if the download was entirely successful or not.>> It was successful. The bonus/free tools will appear in the Welcome menu. To get back the Welcome menu, choose Welcome from the Windows menu. To access through the How To palette, click the Other tab in Hidden Power and then click Actions. You can navigate back by clicking the Hidden Power header on the free tools.
<<I'm having difficulty installing the CD to my computer. I get as far as the browse button to send the installation to a directory. I click okay on HPPSElements2 (D:), and Error comes up "Some files could not be extracted.". What is wrong?>> Unless you have a second hard drive or are on a network, the D drive will be the CD. You can't install the tools to the CD. You need to install the tools to the Elements program file. On a PC, this is usually C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements 2. Please use the browse button you get the path rather than typing it in (the latter is less accurate). I then click on extract and password comes up.
<<I have a set of USM filters that I'd like to apply over and over and am hoping to stick 'em on the recipes palette. I get a sense that this is a custom action and that doing so can only be done from within Photoshop proper. Doable in PSE?>>
Doable with Photoshop. If you want to program your own actions, you should get a copy of the PS6 demo. It is free and does not expire. The free tools on my website have an actions player, and adding actions to batch is really pretty easy. Just take a look at what I did with the free batch tool. If you need more information, please ask!
<<I tried the "Trim Image" tool, but did not see any change. Is there anywhere I can get a little more description of how the tools work?>>
I believe the tool is described in the readme. I guess this is most helpful when you do something like create a drop shadow for a separated object (over a white background), and want to trim to the edges. The advantage is that you can trim automatically without having to measure where the edge of the shadow ends.
Reveal shows you stuff that you may have moved off the visible canvas. Try this:
Your canvas size will change to encompass the image area you pushed out of the frame. This will work up to 30,000 pixels in any direction (there is actually a hidden matte on your images that extends this far). Reveal won't work after you crop an image , which should remove all hidden elements in the matte area.
<<On page 44 in the area for Turing Black-and-White to color again in the paragraph Prepare the RGB Layers the number 1 instruction is "Activate the Background layer of the separated image." What do you mean the Background Layer of the separated Image? Where do I find this background layer? When I click on the Lilly I get the original colored Lilly and the is only that one image in the palette and the red, green and blue do not come up. How can I get a red, green, blue, composite, and background thumbnail to come up in the layers palette?>>
First, the instructions in the book are cumulative in some respect; you have to understand the stuff at the beginning to tackle the stuff that comes later. You seem to be having trouble with the idea of Layers and the RGB separations, which are the first things you get to in the book. When I discuss layers, it pretty much exclusively has to do with the Layers palette (Windows>Layers). Backgrounds are the base layer in the layer stack and they will be labeled "Background" on the layers palette. The separation is what you create by going through the steps in the book, or by clicking the Split RGB tool in the Hidden Power set.
As I just mentioned to someone else, as I mean to imply in the introduction to the book, the understanding you will be reading about is a summary of about 12 years of digital imaging understanding. It will hopefully take a little time to completely absorb it -- take your time. It is the goal of the book not to make something you read and dispose, but something that is valuable and lasts--perhaps for years.
<<I purchased your book Hidden Powers for Photoshop Elements 2. I have installed the software that came with it, but I am having trouble running it. When I first installed your software, it loaded itself in the How To section. I later installed your Hidden Powers III, and it installed itself in the Windows drop down section, I am running Windows XP. I now have your program installed in two places. I like it in the How to drop down section, since in the windows drop down section when you run it, it does not minimize itself after it loads and it blocks the screen with the image I am working on if I run it from the Windows section. I hope that you have some idea what I have just typed.>>
The tools that you get on the internet and the tools on the CD are distinct. They are loaded to different places exactly because they are NOT the same. As far as using them, you answer your own question when you say you've had the book only a week...the book is where you'll find instruction. Give it some time. As I say in the introduction (or at least imply), the understanding you will be reading about is a summary of about 12 years of digital imaging understanding. It will hopefully take a little time to completely absorb it...take your time.
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<<Is there some way to allow PSE2 to open and handle the 16 bit tiff files I get from my Sigma SD9 pics edited in Sigma's photoPro2 software?>>
I believe the program will convert any 16-bit files to 8-bit on opening. It is currently not possible (that I know of) to work with 16 bit files in Elements. It was not possible until recently (the release of CS) to work in 16-bit in Photoshop with most tools enabled. For the most part, most people don't need 16-bit as it can't be output...it is good for archiving, some editing functions, and capture. Unless you are making some pretty radical corrections to your images, you may never notice the difference. If you are concerned, make the 16-bit edits in the camera's software, archive, and then move to Elements.
[I would try this with several images and compare to images handled in Elements alone...just to see if you can really determine a clear difference.]
<<I went to Hidden Power and opened the Curves tool that YOU provided and clicked Help. But when I click that button, I get a message "Curves: Could not find Help for this feature." It seems natural that when I am shown the interface for some tool, and there is a Help button in the interface, then clicking that button should give me some useful information about that tool. You've done a pretty shoddy job with this if this is an example of your work.>>
The Help button you are referring to is in the interface is programmed by Adobe. They chose not to place the Help in -- I have nothing to do with their part of the interface, I just provide access to what they created. I realize this may be a little confusing. However, I can't take blame for their code. I also can't change it. You have to curse Adobe's work on this account, not mine.
To me the 'Help' file I provide is the book that accompanies the CD and tools; that should be most of the help you need. If you don't find it there, try asking me a question via email, send to the forum, or send to the newsletter. Just to say, without the tools, you'd never see the Help button. My guess is you won't find another author to a) answer your questions after you've bought a book or b) find another book that provides access to curves. I hope that is a better example of my work and attempts to help.
<<What does one do with the options presented when, in the interface for your Curves tool? These appear when I click the Options button visible on the curves dialog. Can you give me some indication of what that is about?>>
Those settings are for automating corrections, and as that is the case they are pretty useless and I'd steer very clear of them. I am sure you might be curious as to the controls, but what the book puts forth is really all you need. Like I suggest at the beginning of the book, my hope is to simplify your endeavor while getting professional results...not to offer up every knob and twiddle-button. These "Options" will certainly promise something they can't deliver. You are better off reading the correction instructions in the book and following the practices I suggest, regardless of the options. Feeling the need to use all the buttons is a little like reading a fire alarm box that says "Break glass, pull lever." if you do it just because it is there and says so, you might find yourself in a bit of trouble.
<<I want to make adjustments with Curves. So what am I supposed to do, where am I supposed to look, if I wish to see what could be called 'my original image, modified as per the current deformation of the red-channel curve'? A simple question. I hope it has a simple answer.>>
Well, the simple answer is that you need to understand all of the other technique that comes before page 100. You need to make a separation and apply the curve as a layer above and grouped with the Red layer. The idea of separating channels in layers is discussed and it seems your questions as to where to place adjustments are covered there. The book is cumulative. Unless you are a very advanced user, I wouldn't recommend just jumping in at page 100 and expecting to understand all that is going on. Once you understand the concept of separating and recreating color in an image in the way that elements can, THEN it is time to move on to adjustments.
Elements is not the same as Photoshop, though it can accomplish most (and probably nearly all) of the same things. Indulging ALL of the technique is important. What you are doing may be more along the line of the analogy that I think some editor suggested cutting from my book having to do with a fellow who wanted to build a house by starting with the installation of the sink--because he was pretty fond of the sink. The only problem is, there was nothing to mount it to, no piping to supply the water, etc. It might seem a no-brainer that the sink should supply water, but it can't be installed before the walls are built. While you are seeking a "turn the handle so the water flows" answer to your curves question, you are at the same time asking what it is connected to to supply the water. Discover the whole process by starting at the beginning of the book.
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<<Recently when I had to restructure my HD after a bad virus attack, when I attempted to reload the Hidden Power tools I got a Runtime Error message. "Runtime Error 202 at 000042A3". How do I fix that?>>
This is cause by not browsing for the program folder during the installation. When you see the Browse button [...], click it and locate the elements program folder. On PC, that is most likely C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements 2.
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<<I followed your directions, but that seems inane [SEE!] to open a file and resave without making changes. Saving isn't an option, as far as I can tell unless I make changes to the file. I find this process of installing the Mend Tool to be less than user-friendly and am doubting if there is a Mend Tool in the package you e-mailed me.>>
It may seem inane to you, but that is what you have to do if you choose to unzip with the tool you are using. The real problem is that the directions state you have to unzip with a particular tool. As you are not doing that, the other solution is to open the file and re-save it (use Save As...). While that seems to the user to make no changes, saving it REALLY DOES.
It would be ridiculous of me to 1) sell a tool that was a fake, or 2) sell one that didn't work. I have a reputation to uphold outside of this one (inexpensive) tool, and if I were going to be doing a scam, I'd probably go the route of some other authors and offer a $300 DVD that is not much more than an infomercial for my books. I'm not interested in making a killing, or I'd charge more for the tools. It is not possible to make an installer that installs flawlessly no matter what operating system or configuration the users has...I have to be able to some extent to depend on the user following instructions. If you visit the forums as the instructions suggest (http://retouchpro.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?forumid=142), you will see that several Mac users have had trouble installing and that there are a number of different solutions to try. This is odd, as I use Mac to create the installers -- so you'd think PC users would have more trouble. The trouble is the utility you are using, and the OS...and perhaps the mailing program you use. These are issues outside the installer itself that I cannot control. It will install, and it does work. Please try the initial suggestion. Whether or not it makes sense to you, it will likely take care of the problem.
<<Thanks, it fixed the problem.>>
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<<I am happily learning where Mend can fix the spots by itself, and where I have to have a bit of smarts to go along with it.>>
Any tool that is so absolutely automated that you don't have to think at all when using it to make an artistic decision is a frightening tool indeed. I hope to make my tools with just enough options to provide both solutions, and intelligent options for adjustment. From the response I have gotten thus far, it seems I'm doing OK.
Brought to you by Richard Lynch in conjunction with The Hidden power of Photoshop Elements 2
|Copyright © 2004 Richard Lynch|