Tag Archives: windows

Always give more than expected

One of the tenets of customer service is to always deliver more than what is expected. I’ve been shooting some volunteer work with a group called “Operation Love Reunited” and part of the deal is I send out an “album” to the deploying service member at no cost. While thats nice, the folks left at home  always want to see the images. Sometimes they want to buy a few but the reality is that many of the families are young, on a very limited budget and are not in the position to pay for more than a few prints at a very substantial discount even for that.

The rules say a small album like a slip cover album and that just bugged me. As a professional, I wanted the work even as pro-bono to reflect my standards or at least, better than snapshots. I always shoot the mini-session as well as I would for any paying customer. I use the same gear, I behave the same  and I treat them as a “real” client which in my mind, they are. I touch up the images and apply treatments to some here and there and it offended me to just use a slip cover album. I’ve settled on using MyPublisher.com and their soft side 5×7 books. It’s a nice compromise between the Little Kisses and a slip cover album.

I still wanted something nicer for the family to share other than a gallery. I bought Proshow Producer not long ago for a project but I had really not worked with it much up to now. I decided that a nice slide show would be a nice touch to the shoot and if I did it right, it would not take too much time to set it up. It would be a very nice vehicle to show off my images and skills to someone who might want to hire me for something else. And it would give the family a really nice memento of the shoot.

So with that thought, I used the final images for my last OpLove shoot and spent about 10 minutes setting up fast slide show with some music that Tara and her husband feel is special to them. I paid attention to the lyrics and tweaked the order of images to better reflect the spirit of the images with the lyrics.

In the end, it took about 20 minutes to build the slide show, add the music and send it on it’s way. Thats as much of a testament to the software’s design as it is my skills 🙂 ProShow is very easy to use but very powerful when you need it to be. And the extra book on using it is available on the Kindle so I have it on my iPad now for some light reading. I plan to make alot more use of this app in the near future. Also, since it’s a Windows app, I use VMware’s Fusion to run a virtual XP session on my Mac to run this app. Works like a charm and did not miss a beat.

So without further ado, here is Tara’s new OpLove video.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

A Scanners Tale

Fujitsu Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Paper is the bane of my office. I have magazines that I want to keep articles from, torn sheets from magazines that have ideas for shoots, bills, reference paperwork  such as maps from travels and more. All this information, no way to search it, no way to catalog it and no up to now, no way to digitize it quickly or easily.

Change is upon me in the form of a new scanner from Fujitsu called the Snapscan S1500M. This scanner comes in two flavors, Windows or Mac. And unlike many shops that claim Mac compatibility, this really IS compatible with the Mac. The software installs easily and has been absolutely reliable, not a single crash or hicup. The scanner is not cheap compared to others but 400 dollars for a scanner that does double sided scanning of 100 pages in less than five minutes is pretty cheap. The processing that takes the scan and makes it a searchable PDF only adds another five minutes to the time of scanning 100 pages.

So I have this PDf now on my computer,  just what can I do with it? Well, what I do is what I had told to me by XXX. I got a premium membership with Evernote and I sync this folder and files up with Evernote so now everything is in the “cloud” and available to all my devices. This includes:

  • iPhone/iPad/iTouch
  • Windows
  • OSX
  • Windows Mobil
  • Palm Pre
  • Blackberry
  • Android

It’s searchable so I can run a search on a topic and get just those matches. I do not have to thumb through old magazines guessing where I saw that article at. Or look for the sticky hanging off the outside with a scribble on it.

Here is the user interface for the OSX application. Clean and to the point.

Evernote OSX Application

Evernote OSX Application

And Evernote is not just for scanners, you can clip from the web or use your webcam to snap a picture. I love SOHO Notes but this might just replace it for me. You owe it to yourself to check it out even if you dont want to scan anything.

Now I can either chop the spine of the magazine off and scan it all then clean it up with Acrobat or I can just razor out the pages I want and scan those. In the past day, I’ve cleaned out one year of Photoshop User magazines and a pile of razored clippings. I clean up my scans by deleting all the ads and stuff I dont want since there is a monthly limit to the uploading at Evernote of 500 meg. This sounds small but the typical razored article is about 3 pages cleaned and under a meg in size or a tad over if I keep the color images.

I just put the scanned files into one directory and I have that sync automatically with Evernote’s website and I’m good to go.

So in short:

  1. Razor articles
  2. Toss remains
  3. Scan articles
  4. Clean up ads
  5. Sync

So far so good, I can access my new files on my iPhone or iPad without any issues at all no matter where I am. I have copies locally on my MacPro and I have them in the cloud. I have pulled about 50lbs of magazines out of my office and more on the way. I can even find things now with Spotlight. This is a win all the way around as far as I’m concerned even more so at the modest cost involved.

  • Scanner = 450.00 from Amazon
  • Evernote = 50 dollars a year for the premium account, the entry level account is free
  • Supply of razors = 10 dollars

Optional cost would be a real nice guillotine cutter that can handle 200 pages at a whack to take care of the magazines but so far, the razor works fine.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Business Aids, equipment, Hardware, reviews, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Lights, Camera and Action!!

Back of a Blu-ray Disc. I took this.
Image via Wikipedia

Oh yeah.. baby loves video 🙂  So I finally bite the bullet and bought ProShow Producer by Photodex. I used some images from the Westcott photoshoot at Photoshopworld as a test for a quick and dirty slide show. I tossed this together without reading ANY docs, just ran the wizard, clicked around a bite and off we go. In less than an hour I had pretty much made this show which included finding music on the internet.

Now I need to really dig into the software. It can do so much like layers and masking on the slides.  It’s a lot easier than Premier and I like the end results more than Animoto. A cool part is that it has a kick butt “create” menu panel. Anything you would like to export the show into is there. BlueRay, DVD, self contained EXE, Flash, Youtube, Facebook and more.  Way cool and one of the best export panels I’ve seen for video like this. Right now I have it running in Fusion on my MacPro in a Windows XP image and it works just fine. It would be nice to have an OSX version but this is very workable for now.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Business Aids, commercial photography, editing, editing software, photography, technique, video, wedding photography, youtube Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Repurposing Your Software Tools

Photoshop or your editor of choice actions can  help you cut time corners to make a better end product like blog entries. Say what?  Oh yes, you can adapt tools normally used for a task  like making albums into a killer tool for making story boards for blogs or displays or whatever else comes to mind. I just used my favorite album software from Fundy to make a batch of story boards for my blog here. Yes I could buy actions to do this but I wanted to see if I could do something close on my own with Photoshop.

I already have a couple of flavors of album making software, LumaPix, You Select It (YSI) and FundySOS Album builder. Since I’m on a Mac, I prefer to use Fundy Album builder. While LumaPix would do a really nice job, it’s Windows only and I need to start up XP just to make these. It’s more work then I want right now. Fundy means I never leave my workflow.  This is not intended to be a review of Fundy’s software but suffice to say it’s pretty powerful and is adaptable to virtually anything that requires arranging images, not just wedding albums.

Here is a sample of a three by three story board of a shoot in Colorado that I shot last year.  I tossed together in Fundy Album builder in a few minutes. Not only can I make the grid but I can save it as a design then load it back up and automatically fill the grids or fill them by hand. It can takes less than 5 minutes to make the entire grid and fill it this way. And I just have to insert ONE picture into the blog instead of a dozen or more.

3x3 Wedding Story Board

3x3 Wedding Story Board

And it does not have to be squares, it can be any shape I want, singles, squares, grids, puzzles and more. Also,  this is not just for blogs, this technique of story boarding or building paneled images  can be sold to a client or used in an album or picture book. So the time invested in making the templates can be time well spent. And yes, I had to buy the software but I had bought it  to make my wedding albums so now I’m using the same software for two or three other uses without having to buy anything else. That is money saved and in your pocket.

Here is a type of grid that is called a “puzzle” with several images from a local coffee house in the city of Orange  called Chapman Coffee. My business, Michael Sweeney Photography, had some art hung on the walls  there for a while and I had taken pictures for their website. Now I’m using them to illustrate a second type of collage that you can put into your blog by using album building software. I started with a blank canvas set to 1024 pixels square and used Fundy’s Album Builder Ninja layout and CS4 to make the puzzle. You can of course, make the squares manually using just Photoshop.

Chapman Coffee House Puzzle

Chapman Coffee House Puzzle

And you can take a single picture and use the panels as a design element. Use a strong picture and add a bit of space between the sections and you get a very cool effect. In this case, I made a quad panel and used a picture of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air automobile that I shot at the “Cars and Coffee” car show in Irvine, California. This image of the car works well spread across  the four panels with a visual break between each panel and gives an idea for a wall hanging upsell to the client.

1957 Chevy Quad Panel

1957 Chevy Quad Panel

If all this is cool but you either dont have existing tools like FundySOS  or you just dont want spend the time to mess around with Photoshop, then you can buy actions from a variety of places such as MCP who has the “Blog It Boards” among others. The actions give you a very fast way to get started on this type of presentation of your images.  You can find some free ones at coffeephotography.blogspot.com but keep in mind that free is good, sometimes paying for something is better.

So the take away is that for your blog, instead of fighting with posting a dozen images which can also be swiped, make a storyboard of them and post that. Everyone gets to see the pictures, admire your artistic skills in layout and you can shave time off the editing of your post.  You can also incorporate your album software or actions into your workflow as design elements.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted in Album Software, Business Aids, editing, editing software, photography, portraits, technique, training, wedding photography, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Illuminate Me

One of the software packages I use to make albums is called LumaPix and it is very, very easy to use. The big problem with it is that I have run that dreaded operating system call “Windows” to use it. It’s a problem because I live in the light, I run several Macs around here and after switching a few years back from Windows, I’ve never looked back. So my savior in this trial is a software application called “VMware Fusion” which allows me to run Windows within a Window on my OSX Mac. I get the best of both worlds in a sense. I can boot Windows when I absolutely have to for something like this album software and I can still use OSX at the same time. I can easily share files from the same hard drive between both Windows and OSX and I can even VPN into a remote site from Windows while I do my normal business on OSX. Pretty cool all the way around. Thats not counting the fact that my recovery from Windows dying an untimely death from worms, viruses or the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) is measured in minutes since I have a copy of the image that Windows runs from. Actually, I have three copies since one is dedicated to Lumapix, one is dedicated to another specialized app and one is just a generic backup. Windows does run better when you do not have alot of “stuff” installed on it.

I dont understand the PC and Mac wars, I do understand the humor of Apple in their ads. I have to be on both sides of the fence more often than not. I have been a network engineer for over 20 years and and have worked with all kinds of operating systems, some still in use and some have been “retired”. My two favorites before OSX was OS2 Warp and Netware 3.x. Both would run forever with just a bare amount of care and feeding. OSX reminds alot of OS2 Warp which is one reason I really like it. And being based on BSD does not hurt either. 

In my mind operating systems are like any other tool. You use the one that is best for the job at hand or you can afford. The camera does not really care what the brand sticker says on it, they all take pictures and most will take a damn fine picture running in the “P for Professional” mode. Linux, OSX and Windows all work in the end and it really comes down to what you want it to do, how well you want it do it and expense. It’s the person running the keyboard that can really make or break the OS just like it’s the photographer who can make or break the picture no matter what camera is used. 

I like my Mac and I love Fusion but neither is perfect and I’ll never say that they are. But they meet my requirements perfectly so they are the best fit in my workflow and how I do business. And thats really the bottom line to any person looking to make a choice. How well does this tool fit in my world and will it do the job as good as I need it to do it. If you spend all your time fighting with the tool, then you might want to look at a different tool and save yourself some pain and suffering.

Posted in Album Software, osx, ramblings, windows Also tagged , , , , , |