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I’m just going to leave this video here because it’s so helpful. Thanks, Mike.

 

Adjusting the focus of the camera’s diopter has always been a pretty big bugaboo of mine. It sounds dumb to say because it’s almost a no-brainer but I find that this little adjustment knob is easy to bump without realizing it. I have done this many times and it always takes me forever to pinpoint the issue. I always assume I’m just blind or my glasses are dirty.

 

-Alex

cover

Hi there,

I just finished creating my first material pack for Octane inside Cinema 4D now available on my gumroad store HERE.

Let me share with you some of the preview images I rendered out for each of the materials in this pack. I photographed each image texture and created each material in C4D from scratch. Each material tiles with an image texture at 1000-3000ish pixels square depending on the material. I’ve set the displacement amount very low on materials that use displacement so you can turn it up to your liking. I’ve also included my Octane Material Preview scene with all the textures from pack already loaded. So if you have any issues you can manually copy the materials and tex folder from that project to your working project file and everything will copy over! For this material pack there aren’t any Octane Mix materials so everything should load normally from the included LIB4D preset file once you copy it over to your content browser folder. Let me know if you have any questions please message me on Gumroad or on Twitter at @Alexhawkphoto.

all-materials asphalt-001-1 bark-001-1 bark-002-1 basket-weave-001-1 concrete-wall-001-1 garage-door-1 grass-001-1 metal-floor-tile-001-1 metal-floor-tile-002-1 metal-grid-001-1 old-leather-1 rocks-001-1 rocks-0078-1 rocks-0083-1 rounded-rock-wall-001-1 steel-panels-1 wood-fence-1 yarn-weave-1 yellow-concrete-001-1 grunge-shingles-1

As a followup to my post about Gumroad I think it’s fitting to make a blogpost sharing some of the stock image websites I’ve found useful recently.

I made a running list of websites for free stock images here on my website that I’ll update as I find more websites but I’ll also put them here in this post for now.

Again, if you have a website that you like that’s not listed here then let me know and I’ll check it out.

 

Stock Images- some of my favorite resources for photobashing/digital art.

http://www.photobash.org/

https://gumroad.com/noahbradley

https://gumroad.com/joost

https://gumroad.com/wootha

https://gumroad.com/stijnwindig

https://gumroad.com/tomlopez

https://gumroad.com/jacekpilarski

https://gumroad.com/lyraina

https://gumroad.com/l/fLwyr

https://gumroad.com/guymandude

https://gumroad.com/samguayart

Emily Chen- Alaska

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjframe/sets/72157605581901392/

https://reidsouthen.selz.com/

http://fotoscopy.com/

http://www.textures.com/

https://www.pexels.com/

http://fancycrave.com/

http://www.texturemate.com/

http://www.texturex.com/

http://freetextures.3dtotal.com/

http://www.splitshire.com/

https://stocksnap.io/

https://visualhunt.com/

http://getrefe.com/

http://barnimages.com/

 

Photo Reference- more geared towards drawing/art reference than for use in photomanipulations/photobashing

Old Master Artists collection by Dylan Safford

https://www.3d.sk/

http://mjranum-stock.deviantart.com/gallery/

http://hardsurface.tumblr.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/bryanwynia/

https://www.pinterest.com/katiepf/

https://www.pinterest.com/characterdesigh

I’m starting to get into all my back to school routines this week, one if which is monitor calibration. At school I edit on my Macbook Pro but at home I usually just use my desktop monitor. So for most of the summer, and most of the time that I’m home, I don’t edit using my laptop’s display. I figured this week would be as good as any to calibrate my laptop screen again since I haven’t used it in a while and I ran into a couple of things which I’ll explain in a minute.

I’d just like to pause here and quickly explain for those of you that are unaware about calibrating your display. A computer monitor fresh out of the box will probably look great to the naked eye (which is why you bought it). The colors may look fine to you but they’re probably not even close to accurate when referenced against targets built into calibration software. Now, you could say, “Well I can just eyeball it right?” No, your eyes are not to be trusted AT ALL for “eyeballing” the color on your display. When you walk into a dark room from outside notice how your eyes adjust so that everything doesn’t look dark anymore? Or if you light a candle in a room, the room doesn’t seem that yellow/red but it is a lot more yellow/red than you realize. Your eyes adjust to whatever environment you’re in so it’s important to use some hardware/software combination to calibrate your monitor for you and ensure you are getting accurate color on screen. Initially it may look wrong or broken to you but that’s just because you’re used to looking at an uncalibrated display and often the first calibration is a big jump in the right direction. Anyway, buy a colorimeter from Datacolor (Spyder Series), or X-Rite (Colormunki/ i1 Display) and thank me later. They all do roughly the same thing so you have some options.

If you do some googling or talk to most any visual artist they’ll tell you that editing on a laptop screen is probably the worst type of display you could do any color critical work on. A lot of this has to do with the laptop display’s ability (or any display’s ability) to represent the full gamut of colors present in different color spaces. Most notably, AdobeRGB and sRGB color spaces. We’re not going to get into color spaces today because I think most people, most displays, and most printed work hasn’t suffered much from not being able to showoff the entire AdobeRGB color gamut.

I’ve never heard anyone print out one of their photos and say something like, “Crap, this picture doesn’t have as many colors from the AdobeRGB color gamut as I wish it had.” Depending on the picture it’s likely that it wouldn’t have a full rainbow of colors in it unless the picture was actually a rainbow or something. If you notice any BIG color discrepancies between your image on screen and your printed image it probably has something to do with using the correct ICC profile for your printer, paper and ink about 9/10 times. Again, this is another topic for a different day but I wanted to mention it because a lot of people will attribute a problem to the wrong thing. I’m saying that creating accurate color on a laptop display is a lot easier and more obvious than all of those things.

Realistically, the big downfall of laptop displays and the software that calibrates them is that the brightness (Luminance) is variable. You can always change the brightness of your laptop screen at the push of a button which you probably wouldn’t do nearly as often on a desktop display. Brightness on any display is measured by candela per square metre (cd/m2) which is the International System of Unit’s unit of measurement for Luminance.

As a rule of thumb most monitor calibration devices will recommend a brightness setting of about 120 cd/m2 to start. This is based off the International Standard: ISO 12646:2004 Graphic technology – Displays for colour proofing – Characteristics and viewing conditions which states, “The chromaticity of the display should be set to D50. The luminance level should be as high as practical but shall be at least 80cd/m2 and should be at least 120cd/m2. The black point shall have a luminance that is less than 1% of the maximum luminance.” which I found for reference here instead of purchasing myself a copy. Also you should take into account the lighting conditions of the room you are working in. Editing outside in broad daylight or near a bright window isn’t a good idea. Usually just having a low light setting is good, but again, it depends. If you really want to get picky you could work in a room that’s completely painted floor to ceiling in 18% gray reflectance paint with no windows and only wear black or gray clothes when you’re editing. This is the real world though and you’d probably want to kill yourself before doing any of that.

Ok, so the next big question here is “How do I get my laptop to calibrate specifically to 120 cd/m2?” The answer being, for example with my Datacolor SpyderPRO 3 software, is simply to change the default brightness target from the Laptop preset which is whatever the native laptop brightness is (this is what we don’t want because there’s no way to measure this against a target unit of brightness in the software) and change it to the standard LCD preset which is 120 cd/m2.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 1.08.09 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.52.18 PM

So now during your laptop’s calibration sequence (For this example in the SpyderPRO 3 software) it will pause at one point to allow you to change your brightness and match it as closely as possible to 120 cd/m2. If you’ve calibrated a desktop monitor before you’ve run into this step in the process where it makes you change the monitor brightness to match the target. This might be different in other software.

For some reason in the SpyderPRO 3 software it recommends that you use the native laptop brightness when really it should treat your laptop screen just like standard desktop LCD and calibrate to the industry standard brightness. I’m recommending that you do whatever you have to do in your software to make sure that you calibrate to 120 cd/m2 and make sure it stays that way. It’s also a good idea to recalibrate every week or two after your monitors warm up for fifteen minutes.

Just before I did this whole process my laptop brightness was set to half brightness (which was WAY under the 120 cd/m2 target at around 40 cd/m2) and there was a big difference between my laptop screen’s brightness and color VS. my desktop monitor which was already at 120 cd/m2. This hasn’t been a problem for me until now because I have only used my desktop monitor all summer but now that I’ve recalibrated both displays to 120 cd/m2 they are extremely close to each other if I use a picture for reference on both displays.

Now that your laptop is all calibrated and the brightness is set correctly you should probably make sure that you don’t accidentally change the brightness and screw up your calibration. I found that 120cd/m2 was not directly on one of the bubbles on the mac brightness and I had to change it in the System Prefs. Still though you could hit the brightness options on your keyboard, so how do you avoid doing that?

I wanted to find a program or something that would take a sort of screen shot of my laptop screen brightness so that I could come back to it if I ever had to change it, but I didn’t really find much. I did however, find this little program called “Function Flip” what this allows you to do is to instead of disabling all the brightness/volume F-keys like you can in the System Preferences on the Mac, Function Flip allows you to selectively turn some of your F-keys back to just F-keys and not a brightness adjustment. So it should look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 1.48.56 PM

Now I won’t accidentally change my monitor brightness from bumping the brightness key on my keyboard. You can also set it to start up at Login so you don’t have to try and remember every time.

This is kind of a bush-league way of keeping track of your brightness but I just screen shotted it in the system preferences so that I at least have a picture to reference roughly where my brightness is should I ever actually need to change it and can’t recalibrate that same day.

Anyway, that’s about it. I’m kind of boggled I didn’t pick up on this earlier. Don’t set your laptop brightness to some arbitrary brightness, try and set it to an international standard of 120cd/m2 and watch your room’s lighting conditions and you’ll be fine.

See you next time

-Alex

P.S.

Looks like I’ll be writing about ICC profiles, soft-proofing and color gamuts in a couple future posts because I also ran into some stuff with that recently that you might be interested in reading about.

The other day I was printing some photographs and noticed when looking closely that there were some cut lines across one of my images.

Bicubic Automatic

An image rotated in the Free Transform tool using Nearest Neighbor Interpolation. Image is zoomed in to about 400%

Interpolation is something that, for the most part, goes unnoticed in Photoshop. I didn’t think too much of it either until I started seeing this jagged edge problem on a couple different photos. Normally I would disregard an issue like this as a resolution or an anti-aliasing problem but the lines are too uniform across the entire image for either to be the case.

As it turns out it is the Free Transform and Ruler tools that cause these lines because they use interpolation to perform their operations. In Photoshop’s default settings the interpolation method for all tools is set to Bicubic Automatic so you shouldn’t ever run into this problem unless your settings get changed. I won’t go into detail on all the interpolation methods that Photoshop has to offer but essentially what interpolation does is create or delete pixels depending on whether you want to size an image up or down from its original size. Interpolation also plays a part in rotating images which is why this issue is hard to find an answer for online. Interpolation is usually just associated with sizing images up or down but not rotating images.

After going through each of the interpolation options and trying a few free transforms I figured out that it’s the Nearest Neighbor (Preserve Hard Edges) interpolation option that causes this jagged edge problem after a free transform rotation or straighten with the ruler tool. The solution is simply to change your image interpolation setting back to Bicubic Automatic if it’s been changed which is what happened to my interpolation settings at some point without realizing it. To change your interpolation settings you can go to your Preferences in Photoshop by hitting Command+K (Mac) or Control+K (PC) and changing them in the Image Interpolation drop down menu under the General section.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 11.27.02 PM

You can also change your interpolations settings on the fly when you are using the Free Transform tool (Command+T) by using the drop down menu on the Free Transform options bar at the top of the screen.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.13.06 AM

Here is the same image from the beginning of the post rotated with the Bicubic Automatic interpolation setting

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.58.25 PM

An image rotated in the Free Transform tool using Bicubic Automatic Interpolation. Image is zoomed in to about 400%

 

Notice the lack of vertical lines in this crop. This problem shouldn’t ever occur while editing a digital image because it is digital. There will certainly be artifacts while upscaling an extremely small image to become billboard size but in a relatively small rotation like this there should not be so many artifacts, or at least not out of a file from a DSLR.

Until next time!

-Alex

The other day I decided I would do a little (early) spring cleaning on some things. I wanted to clear out my Twitter feed a little bit because I was following almost 2,000 people which can get overwhelming. Every few seconds Twitter tells me that there are 40 or 100 new tweets and I couldn’t possibly get through them all. To my surprise I was able to find a website called Tweepi to help me handle this.

Tweepi analyzes your twitter account and lets you quickly scan through all your followers and people that you follow. You can also see some useful information using Tweepi that you can’t quickly see on Twitter. For instance, Tweepi let’s you see when the most recent tweet was of pretty much anyone on your Twitter account, so I was able to unfollow people who hadn’t tweeted anything or created any new content in years. Why bother? It’s not like I’m missing out on anything. I cleared out over 600 people I was following that had not tweeted anything in over a month/year(s) to make space for me to follow new people. So if you think you might be following a lot of crappy twitter accounts, go ahead and unfollow them easily on Tweepi.

*A side note: you may think you can just follow an almost infinite number of people on twitter but this is actually not the case. Unless you have about 2,000 followers or more, you are limited to following about 2,000 people until you get more followers to maintain a 1:1 ratio. So it’s very important who you decide to follow because, most people can only follow so many. 

Also in my search to become a Twitter power-user I found this browser extension called Buffer. What this extension does is it allows you to link up your social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.) and schedule posts to be shared automatically at a set time across all the platforms that you enable. You can schedule posts for specific times or setup a queue to post throughout the day. This is so convenient, scheduled posting is one of my favorite features from WordPress and Blogger that doesn’t really exist, or at least isn’t built in, for apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram until now.

The browser extension for Buffer has a pretty seamless integration into the top right corner of your browser and underneath social media posts.  If you’d like to add a post to your queue or schedule one without leaving the page you can do so at the click of a button.

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.47.14 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.47.33 PM

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.48.49 PM

 

 

 

Then you can visit your queue by clicking on the buffer icon on the top right section of the page (right next to AdBlockPlus which I would also recommend if you don’t like watching youtube ads.) From there you can shuffle or reorder your queued and scheduled posts or even make a new one to share to all your social media handles.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.46.44 PM

 

 

 

Buffer is free to use but some features like the queued posting is limited to only about a handful of posts unless you pay a monthly fee. Still though, it’s a great tool to use if you find a lot of cool content all at once and would rather share it over a few days than post it all at once.

 

-Alex

this past weekend I figured I would edit some photos from shoots I had done recently but hadn’t gotten around to editing yet. This time though, I thought I would set myself a timer and see how well and how fast I could edit against the clock. Each image you see in this blog post took a about 5-8 minutes to edit.

Ashley

While I haven’t gotten each edit exactly how I wanted in such a short time, I think most of the heavy lifting gets done inside of those first five minutes. Previously when I had sat down to do some editing, I would just casually make my edits and take as much time as I wanted to get everything perfect. The result is a great image but if I had allotted two hours to make the edits, they would take two whole hours.

Allie

If I set a countdown timer (Download Howler from the Mac App Store) the edit time very closely adheres to whatever the timer is set to. It’s a strange phenomenon to witness and I’m sure there’s a scientific term that describes it more clearly. If you set a timer you would be surprised how many different activities can actually take less time.

John Hill

For me this came about because I’m in college classes during the week and if I have editing that needs to be done I can’t give it all day. The faster I can edit, the better off I am in the long run. While I love doing my photoshop work, I also love getting more than one thing done in a day and a countdown timer (and a few custom PS actions) helps me do that. A lot of the reason why I think a timer helps cut down on time spent on a project is because I usually go into something thinking “this is going to take forever” and it does. By using a timer there’s no question as to how long something is going to take because you’re allotting a finite amount of time to it up front before you begin. Knowing exactly how long something will take to finish helps me stay motivated and makes me get things done faster.

Carl Tempesta

I guess it’s never to late to learn that I work better and faster under a deadline.

-Alex