Category Archives: Adobe Photoshop

Beauty Box Video or Photo Crashing Problems – How to Fix It

Beauty Box makes extensive use of your video card’s GPU (graphic processing unit) to speed the plugin up. Usually this works great and results in the plugin working quickly.

However, it can cause problems. The GPU has a lot less memory than your computer does, so it’s prone to run out of memory. This is especially true when other applications are trying to use it. After Effects, Premiere, Final Cut, and most of the other apps we plug into also use the GPU. So do many other plug-ins. All this software trying to make use of a limited resource can be problematic.

Older video cards are also a problem. Beauty Box is doing some heavy duty processing and the older video cards may not be up to the task. Particularly if you’re using very high resolution video or photos.

So what to do about it? Here’s some fixes:

Continue reading Beauty Box Video or Photo Crashing Problems – How to Fix It

What Does the Creative Cloud Mean to You?

Last month we asked folks to do a survey about the Creative Cloud and how they felt about it. I thought I’d share the results as some of you may also be curious what you’re fellow users are thinking about the Creative Cloud.

Creative Cloud

Keep in mind that the survey was done before Adobe announced the price drop on Photoshop & Lightroom to $10/mo. So the data is already somewhat out of date, but maybe sheds some light on why they dropped the price.

Continue reading What Does the Creative Cloud Mean to You?

All Installers are Updated for Creative Cloud

We’ve finally got all of our installers updated to recognize Adobe’s Creative Cloud. All of our plugins worked in CC, but you needed to point the installer to the right directory. We weren’t finding it automatically. Now we are! :-)

Actually this only affects the Photoshop Mac installers. The Windows installers look for the last version of the app you installed. If that was CC, then that’s what it would find. The Mac installers look for every installation of the app, so we have to specifically tell it to look for each new version. Probably more info than you wanted, but for those of you, uh, enjoying Creative Cloud… all of our products will install easily.

The Unreal World of Retouching

I always find it interesting why creative directors feel it necessary to retouch certain images. A great collection of photos showing before/after retouching are below. Some obviously need it, like 50-something Madonna trying to look like a twenty-something. However, shots like the Jennifer Lawrence example are something of a mystery. Beautiful woman with a great body made to look rail thin, for no real good reason… other than the anorexic look is what everyone aspires to. Sad. Here’s a link to all the images (the two mentioned are below, but there are a couple dozen on the Imgur page http://imgur.com/a/zRmEM):

Photo Manipulation, Contests, and Getting Disqualified

Good article here about how the photo that would have won the National Geographic photo of the year, got disqualified because the photographer used Photoshop to get rid of a trash bag instead of cropping it.

If you’re going to enter contests it’s a good thing to read the rules, but it’s almost a certainty that if you bust out the clone tool or use Content-aware Fill you are going to be disqualified. Obviously if it’s a photo manipulation contest that’s different, but most photography contests want you to do everything in camera, limiting adjustments to minor tweaks like cropping and contrast, things that were relatively easy to do in the darkroom days.

While you might argue what’s the difference between cloning a trash bag out of the photo and cropping it, it’s a very slippery slope. It rapidly becomes more about your Photoshop skills and less about your photography skills. If it’s a photography contest, then it should be about your photography skills.

Here’s the disqualified image, click on it to read the full article and see the original.

Using Plugins on Multiple Computers

Plug-ins with multiple=So you’ve got two (or 20) computers and you want to use Beauty Box (or whatever) on all of them.

This is always a tricky thing for software developers. On one hand we realize many folks have multiple machines and since they’re only one person, they can only use one machine at a time. We would like to allow them the flexibility of having it on a couple machines. On the other hand, if you’re a studio with multiple machines and multiple people we think that if our software is good enough to be installed and used on all those machines we should be paid for it. Making sure that happens sometimes gets in the way of how a single user is using our plugins.

Companies

When you buy a license of our software, you’re buying it for one user. If you’re a company with multiple machines and multiple artists/editors using those machines, then there’s not much gray area and you need a license for each computer being used. We offer pretty good volume discounts and site licenses for this type of situation, you can contact sales@nulldigitalanarchy.com for pricing.

There is one big exception to this… if you’re using After Effects’ network rendering. You do not need extra licenses for After Effects render nodes. You can install Beauty Box on as many render nodes as you want for free.

People (and, no, companies are not people. I don’t care what the Dread Pirate Roberts says)

If you’re just one person with multiple machines then there’s some gray areas. The software can be installed on a couple machines, but we use the internet to determine if the plugin is being used on multiple computers at the same time. So if you have a desktop and a laptop and you’re using one or the other depending on whether you’re at home or at the office, no problem. You’re good to go.

However, if you’re in your studio/office and trying to use both machines for rendering/editing at the same time, you may run into problems. If so, here’s what you can do:

1)      You can purchase a second license. We do offer discounts for second licenses. Contact sales@nulldigitalanarchy.com.

2)      Use the second machine as an After Effects render node. As mentioned above, you can use Beauty Box on as many render nodes as you want for free. So if the machine is just being used to process frames sent to it from another machine you shouldn’t have any problems.

3)      Our licensing is set up so that you can install on two machines, they just can’t be in use simultaneously.  The way we check this is via the internet. So if you disable the internet connection on one machine, then we can’t check it. This is a hack and technically violates the license. However, since the spirit of the license is for one user, as long as it’s the same person using the machines we’re ok with it.

4)      Render out the Beauty Box clip on one machine while working on another part of your project on the second machine. BB just gets watermarked on the second machine, so it’s still usable.

Like most of you, we’re running a small company. We try to be as flexible as possible, but if you’re making money using our software we would like you to buy the correct number of licenses. Please support the companies that make the tools you use and that help you be successful.

Great New Tutorial on Shooting Greenscreen/Chromakey Photos

We’ve wanted to do a training video for awhile that touched on all aspects of Greenscreen photography. From the photo shoot to the file management and, of course, the keying. We recently had the opportunity to work with with Mike Price of Fairfield Photography to do just that. Mike has been shooting youth sports for years and uses greenscreens and Primatte.

Shooting Chromakey photograph on a greenscreen and keying greenscreen photos in Photoshop

In this 30 minute video, Mike touches on all aspects of Greenscreen photography: Shooting and light setup, managing photos, setting up actions, and doing the keying. If you’re new to chromakey photography, regardless of whether you’re using greenscreen or bluescreen, this is a great video. Even if you’re an old hand, it’s always great to see how other folks are doing it. So check it out!

http://vimeo.com/53470129

The Distortions of Retouching

Did you see the before and after shots that Britney Spears released? Can’t say I’m a huge fan and I would never have imagined I’d be mentioning her in the Digital Anarchy blog, but, yet, I just did. She released retouched AND unretouched photos of herself, and put them out there for comparison. The article breaks down the shots and what was changed. While I think it was a very worthwhile thing for her to do, I really wish she’d given a more intelligent quote and actually address the issue instead of saying ‘it was fun being shot in front of a wall of cotton candy’. sigh. Click here for the article.

It reminds me of the Dove ad that takes a model from walking into the studio, through the shoot, through photoshop, and out on a billboard. Amazing commercial bringing attention to the same issues.

This might seem like an odd conversation for a company that makes software to do retouching, like Beauty Box, to be promoting.

Continue reading The Distortions of Retouching

Using Adobe’s DNG Raw File Format

Just saw Tom Hogarty speak at the San Francisco Photoshop User Group. Mostly he was talking about Lightroom (he is the LR product manager), but he also discussed the benefits of converting your RAW files to Adobe’s DNG File Format. He made a pretty compelling argument. If not a somewhat boring one. File formats are just not sexy and exciting no matter how you spin it. :-)

The main benefit of DNG is that it’s an open format in the sense that the specification is publicly available. So even if Adobe were to fail, it’d still be possible for other software developers to read the format. With so many RAW file formats out there (every camera has a slightly different file format), the possibility that the RAW files won’t be accessible sometime in the future is very possible. Still, such a problem is a ways off. So what are the immediate benefits?

The big immediate benefit is that the thumbnail and metadata is built into the format. No more sidecar files that are easy to lose or not copy over when moving your photos around. This benefit alone was enough to convert me to DNG. While I don’t care about the thumbnail files, I’ve definitely had to redo my RAW settings due to not copying over an .xmp file. Stupid mistake, sure, but something that should be avoidable in the first place by a well thought out file format.

The DNG files are also smaller by about 25-33%. So that makes them easier to backup and transport around. The reason for this, as explained by Tom, is that when you’re shooting the camera is just concerned about getting the images on your card. So the compression is fast, but not as robust as it could be. When you’re creating the DNG file on your regular computer, time isn’t such an issue so a better but slightly slower compression algorithm can be used. All the data is the same.

So I’m a fan and I recommend you take a look at it. It really does seem to solve some very real problems.

Piracy

I recently ran into a friend who mentioned she’d just bought a $1000 lens for her relatively new DSLR. She then proceeded to ask me if I could get her a copy of Photoshop CS5. I said, no, but that upgrading from CS2 wasn’t that expensive. She replied “Oh, I don’t want to pay for it.”. Maybe she was unclear on the concept that I develop software. For photographers.

Now, I realize that going into a camera store and stealing a $1000 lens is difficult and stealing a $500 software program is relatively easy. But just because it’s easy to steal software doesn’t make it any less wrong. If you can afford to buy a $1000 lens, you can afford to help support the people that make the software you use to organize, enhance, manipulate, and print your photos. We’re all real folks trying to make a living and, even though piracy is given with software, sometimes it hurts when it’s thrown in your face as my friend did (unintentionally, sure, but here’s someone that’s relatively well paid just casually throwing out she wants to steal Photoshop.).

I usually don’t lose much sleep over piracy. Much of it is done by people that would never buy the program. They  download the software, use it once or twice, and then don’t use it again. But for artists that use something like Photoshop every day, it does dismay me a little about how common piracy is. Some photographers and artists that would be up in arms if their work was copied and used for an ad without being paid, think nothing of copying software from a friend. Yet, it’s the same principle.

I don’t care if you download a pirated copy of our plugins to try out. But if you find it useful, please… support those of us that work our asses off to bring you cool, useful software.

Yes, there are real people behind all this software… Jim, Garrick, Debbie, and Maggie (see above). And we all greatly appreciate all of you who do find our software useful and help us continue to do something we love… allowing us to create cool software that hopefully makes your jobs easier!

Pose and Compose

Are you ever in a situation with a model or subject and can’t get the perfect position out of them? If yes, then this is your luck day. I came across a great article that gives 10 top portrait tips to help you capture the uniqueness of your subject.

One that I found interesting is #9.“DO make sure to separate the arms from the waist. Arms flat against the side of your subject create the illusion of a very wide waist.” Or you can always adjust for that in Photoshop ;)

Continue reading Pose and Compose

Keeping A DSLR Steady For A Video Shoot?

Ever since they started shooting motion pictures one of the biggest questions have been… How do you keep the damn camera steady? And what do you do about it if it’s not? If you’re a photographer just getting into shooting video with your DSLR, you’re likely to have the same questions. I’ll give you some answers to the first question and a few tips on dealing with the second.

While a shaky camera can be used, on rare occasion, to good effect… it’s usually something to be avoided. More often than not, it just means your watching a B horror flick and the owner of said shaky camera is about to be bitten in half. Hopefully we can get you shooting stable video so as to insure you are not similarly attacked by creatures that are aggravated by shaky video.

So… how do you avoid such a fate?

Continue reading Keeping A DSLR Steady For A Video Shoot?

I hate HDR

Ok, well I only hate one common use of it. That surreal, oversaturated look that seems to be the first thing everyone does when they try the technique. You don’t even need to use HDR, there’s a photoshop plugin for it and you can use Camera Raw to pull it off. Here’s an example of the style:

HDR gone bad

HDR Gone Bad

It’s a novelty look and I’m over it. It was cool for a very short time, then everyone decided they wanted to have surreal images. It’s not that hard of a look to achieve, so it’s not that impressive. Get over it.  :-) I much prefer to use HDR for what it was meant for… which is giving a slightly wider dynamic range to create a shot that has similar contrast and color range to what your eye actually sees. No one has seen colors like the photo above has. Alright, well, yeah I’ve taken mushrooms too, so maybe then… but not normally.

The better use for HDR…

Continue reading I hate HDR

Commercials, lions, and manipulation

Interesting video of what goes into a high profile commercial photo shoot. In this case for Bebe, posted on Giulianobekor.com.

Very cool to see what the actual shots were and what the printed ad ended up being with all the compositing, color correction, and other assorted image processing. Oh, yeah, and the lions. Ya gotta have lions. Continue reading Commercials, lions, and manipulation

Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

One of the recurring topics that I’ve seen in recent years is that of copyright and what internet technologies mean to photographers. The challenges that photographers face are neatly illustrated in an article the Wall Street Journal published today.

Essentially the Obama Hope poster that was widely used, was created based on a photograph by Mannie Garcia that Sheppard Fairey found on the internet, used without permission, didn’t give credit to the photographer, and even refused to acknowledge the photograph when asked about it.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

obama_3up Continue reading Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

Fake or Not Fake?

A picture can not lie. We all know the untruth of that these days. But what do you do when a picture isn’t lying, yet looks ‘obviously’ fake?

The below photo illustrates this to some degree:

photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way
photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way

This is a photo of a friend’s whale watching boat (Ultimate Whale Watch in Maui). Obviously, I shot this from a different boat while a whale swam up to and under the boat. I’m using a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, so I’ve got really narrow depth of field. As a consequence, the boat is razor sharp and everything else is pretty blurred.

If you saw the above image in a marketing brochure would you believe it?

Continue reading Fake or Not Fake?

Photoshop free alternatives

As a developer for Photoshop (and now Aperture) I rarely spend time in other host graphics apps. There are other purchasable ones, like the Corel Painter Suite, but they generally don’t publish a good API that plugin developers like Digital Anarchy (that’s us) can hook into.

There are also a bunch of free image editing apps. For our customer model, they simply fall short of what Photoshop can do and none are widespread enough for us to support. Which makes sense since these free apps are not trying to be Photoshop, just act as an alternative for folks who aren’t doing graphics for a living and don’t want to invest money into graphic manipulation.

Having said that, I occasionally run into a summary list of free Photoshop alternatives. Thought it would be interesting to post a list that I found on Downloadsquad.com through a friend’s blog, pirandello.wordpress.com. Continue reading Photoshop free alternatives

Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.

I was clicking around online yesterday, procrastin…er, doing some market research, when I came upon this interesting website, forensicphotoshop.blogspot.com.

I’ve read frequently on Adobe’s website that the medical slash science industry is a huge demographic of their Photoshop and Acrobat sales. (From the Adobe site, here’s an interesting white paper on the subject of Adobe and Foresnics.) At trade shows and socially, I have run into people who use Photoshop for cool stuff like the Genome project. But I’d never noticed a website devoted to a segment of the graphics industry that isn’t considered a creative market.

Until now. The author, Jim Hoerricks, rounds up a lot of Photoshop topics that are interesting in their own right, and moreso because they are referencing, to me, an emerging boutique part of the industry.

Continue reading Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.