Posted by: In: Lightroom, Printing 17 May 2017 0 comments Tags: , ,

So after a bit of a disastrous calendar last year, I decided to make my own. Why would I do that? Well my reasons are…
* Shiny paper is hard to write on with anything other than a felt tip.
* Many off the shelf calendars come with bespoke settings (often 1 photo up top, with calendar below) that you can’t edit.
* Many calendars also don’t come with useful important (UK) dates like Bank Holidays etc.

I’m lucky in that I have a decent quality printer that can print A3. A3 is about the right size for our wall space and has room for an A4 calendar on the bottom and an A4 space above for photos. This could be done just as easily on double sided A4 with the hinge in the middle.

This assumes you have Lightroom, a printer, and a bit of a creative head.

 

Step 1: Make the calendar

To use the print module efficiently, we need an image of the actual calendar month. I used Calendarpedia because it’s a UK site and can auto-add things like Bank Holidays. Their calendars can be downloaded as Word docs, which I did, so that I could go and add birthdays and anniversaries in type, rather than hand write them on in my illegible scrawl. You need to download one Word doc (or pdf) per month. Once you’ve finished editing the calendar, save each month as a pdf file. This will keep it high quality and A4 (landscape) sized.

 

Step 2: Convert pdf to jpeg/tiff/png & import into LR

Lightroom can’t work with pdfs unfortunately so you need to convert the months to an image format. I used Photoshop (open the pdf then save it as a high quality jpeg) but there are various free online sources for doing this. Once it’s converted, import the calendar month images into Lightroom.

 

Step 4: Create a Collection

I created a collection set of “2017 Calendar” with a single collection inside it for each month. Into each month, I then added the appropriate calendar page.

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Step 5: Find Images

I then went through my library, adding images for each month that were appropriate. Your creative vision has no limit here. Better to add loads and remove later. I used people’s birthdays as a guide, anniversaries, pet birthdays, holidays etc. The great thing about the LR print module is that you can add as many photos as you want, in whatever shape you want.

 

Step 6: Create Print

For each month, I then set up an A3 custom package and built the calendar page. Remember to make sure that you leave space at the top of the package for the holes you’ll use to tie it all together. To add images, simply drag them on to your A3 sheet and place them where you want. Images can be resized with drag handles (remember to hold Shift to constrain the proportions) You can send back & forward with the right click menu on any image.
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Step 7: Tie It All Together

I used a wire binding kit to bind mine, but you could easily punch a hole through the tops of all the months and tie off with ribbon or something more creative. I bought a wire kit from Joyce (direct – avoid inflated eBay prices!) and unfortunately then had to order separate wires from Amazon as the supplied ones weren’t man enough for the job. The kit comes with 6mm wires as standard, but this will only hold 2400 gsm worth of paper. I was using 285gsm paper, and 12 of those tops out at 3420gsm so I had to order 10mm wires just to be safe. The Joyce kit is pretty nice for binding one sheet at a time (it’s not tough enough to do multiple sheets of heavy grade photo paper) and comes with a thumb punch. I went for the heavier kit (this one) as I wanted the leverage of the bar type handle and a sturdier overall machine.

Posted by: In: Lightroom, Printing 05 Mar 2017 0 comments Tags: , , , ,

I teach now – hence a long break from Shuttercount, and one of the questions I often get on my Lightroom course, is “what resolution do I need to have to be able to print at xxx size?” or “what size can I print with my camera?”

Some people say you need 300dpi for a print, others say “72 dpi for web”. Both myths.

The Lightroom export module allows you to choose many different options when outputting a file for single use. But before we look at resolutions, lets look at what’s going to be looking at your images –

 

The Human Eye.

Assuming 20/20 vision, the average eye can resolve 876dpi at about 4 inches. This is the closest detail resolution you can see if you really scrutinise an image up close. As we move back further away from an image, that number goes down – and it goes down quite dramatically. For example:

At a standard reading distance (for example 12″) the eye can only resolve about 300 dpi.
At a standard monitor distance (for example 30″) the eye can resolve about 115dpi.
At a TV viewing distance (for example 6 feet) the eye can resolve no better than 50dpi.
Looking at a cinema screen distance (about 40 feet) the eye can’t do any better than 7dpi.
(Source)

So viewing distance is a huge factor in determining how big you can go. Let’s look at the print itself.

 

Physical Limits

An image is (very basically) made up of pixels – the number of which you can work out from your camera specs. My Fuji X-T1 has a resolution of 4896×3264.
A printer can only print at a certain resolution. My Epson can print at a max resolution of 720dpi so I can’t go higher than that. In reality, my eyesight renders every image I print acceptably sharp at close scrutiny at 360dpi, so 360dpi is the absolute highest quality I will ever need.

Dividing the longest edge of the sensor (4896) by 360 gives me 13.6″ on the longest edge as the biggest I can print with superb – up close – quality.

Most of my prints go on walls though, so with a viewing distance of 30″ assumed, my 4896 sensor will now print to (4896/115) a whopping 42″ on the longest side (115 dpi).

So without any sizing, it’s quite easy to determine what resolution is “best” for you.

Resolution (dots per inch) = sensor size (pixels on longest edge) / size (inches)

So if you want to print to 8 feet with your X-T1 the resolution will be 4896 / 96 or 51ppi – perfectly acceptable for viewing at 6 feet and beyond.
If you wanted a billboard that could be viewed at 40 feet without loss of detail, you could print to a huge (7 = 4896/x) 58 feet along the longest side!

 

Software Limits

We can go even bigger though using resizing algorithms. The method above will result in your software neither adding or subtracting pixels from your image. Going smaller is quite straightforward as Lightroom is excellent at downsizing. Using the examples above, when I print an A4 image from my X-T1, LR tells me that my dpi is 463 (10.5″ image size with small border divided into 4896 pixels). The printer only “does” 360, so some bits have to be lost & I can’t visibly determine what they are.

Going up though is a bit more hit and miss. Lets say I wanted to make a 20″ print. 4896/20 = 244dpi, but if I wanted better resolution (say 300dpi), I’d need to “add” 56dpi in order to get that. The software would need to artificially create pixels to compensate. This isn’t something I want to do and in this case, I’d feel that 244dpi is an acceptable print resolution for an image that big.

 

Screen Use

Monitors, TVs and tablets (and phones) are slightly different. They already have a “size” in pixels which may be independent of the size of the screen. My 38″ TV has a 1024×768 resolution whereas my 24″ monitor has 2560×1440. So it’s possible to have more pixels in a smaller space (the iPhone 7 has a 760 x 1334 display in a 4″ screen which is better than my TV!) Because of that…

For screen display, “inches” are irrelevant.

No need to set resolution when exporting for screen use. Untick the resolution box

No need to set resolution when exporting for screen use

As an example, a 1000px image would take up my entire TV screen (30-odd inches) but that same image would only take up half of my PC monitor (12″). When exporting an image for use on a screen, consider only the number of pixels in it. In the Lightroom export module, that means ignore the DPI box.
Most browsers will resize an image to fit, so it can be tempting to upload full resolution images. However these can easily be downloaded and printed out by someone else so what resolution should you upload to avoid people being able to print?

Well, if we assume that people want a decent image quality of at least 200ppi we can do some more maths.

If you export your images at 500px they will look tiny on a high resolution monitor (they’ll fill a quarter of my screen) but they will only print out to (500/200) 2.5″ on the longest side. That’s pretty small and useless.

If you export your images at 1000px they will look ok on a high resolution monitor (they’ll fill a half of my screen) but they will only print out to (1000/200) 5″ on the longest side. That’s quite a big difference.

If you export your images at 2000px they will look great on a high resolution monitor (they’ll fill almost all of my screen) but they will print out to (2000/200) 10″ on the longest side. That’s a decent free print for someone. Even at magazine quality 300dpi, that’s a 6.6″ print!

So the upshot of this is that there’s no definitive answer. It depends on what you’re trying to do with your images.

 

Summary

In summary, most modern cameras today are capable of excellent quality images printable to any appropriate size for the viewing distance. Even my monitor (2560×1440) is even capable of getting game screenshots that will print out brilliantly to A4 and excellent (won’t stand close scrutiny) to A3. And that’s effectively only a 3.6MP camera!

Game screenshots from a decent monitor will have enough resolution to physically print.

My Spitfire being chased down in War Thunder

Posted by: In: Full Versions, Software 15 Mar 2015 0 comments Tags: ,

Backing up is one of those chores that needs to be done. I’ve been lucky in that whatever I’ve lost due to file corruption or drive failure… Well… I’ve forgotten about it… This isn’t a post about why you should back up – that’s a given in today’s media hungry society. It’s about how to back it up using GoodSync and why that software is better than free options. This isn’t an ad for the software either. It’s an article by an amateur photographer that uses the software and thinks it’s a good solution and is more of a Goodsync review. When I was looking for a backup solution there was precious little information on the web about things like this, so I’m just adding content!

Today I just can’t afford to let backing up slide. I’ve got music, movies and photos from many years of collecting and to lose it all would be terrible. Not only that, but I have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive at home that allows other people around the house to access the same media content, so keeping that up to date is important too.

Screenshots can be stored in the program location so if your Kerbals made it to Gilly and you want to keep that screenie, keep an eye out!

I started out like most other people, looking for a free solution, and to be honest, if you want free, you can’t get much better than FreeFileSync. It has a simple User Interface (UI) and is a small download. The only problem with it was the lack of ability to schedule backups within the software itself. I’m not a programmer, and writing batch jobs to kick off FFS was not something I wanted to do. I wanted a one-stop solution.

I’d been a user of Roboform (a password manager) for some time, and after reading a mention on a website, I discovered that the company also made a backup software called GoodSync. Having a read through the key features of the software I noticed that schedule backups were part of the solution. It’s also not an expensive solution and at £20 I thought I’d give it a go. After all, the peace of mind of a) not having to remember to back stuff up and b) knowing it was being done automatically, was worth the “night at the pub” fee.

Setting Things Up – What to Backup

I’m not going to repeat the tutorial over on the Goodsync Website because it’s comprehensive and easy to follow (as is their manual). The UI may look a bit clunky but it’s efficient and it works. I am going to talk about what to backup though.

Photographically speaking, you obviously have photos. But you may also have Lightroom settings, Lightroom catalogues, Photoshop actions and brushes, Nik plugin presets… The list goes on. It’s easy to backup just your “My Pictures” folder, but Windows stores a lot of settings in your Username>AppData folder. Not just Photoshop & Lightroom but maybe your Outlook .ost folder, or Excel macros.

I don’t backup Photoshop, Lightroom or any other programs themselves. I can always reinstall them in the event of a disaster. I just backup stuff I can’t replace. I also set up “copying” functions to move (for example) my Music, Photos and Movies onto the NAS when they’re created. Here are some things I look at…

  1. My Userdata (Users>Username) : This covers everything irreplaceable. Application data, movies, photos, music, documents.
  2. Program Data I Can’t Reinstall : Some programs store configuration data in their program folder. I haven’t come across anything photographic that does this, but games often have their “Screenshot” folder in the Program folder for example. It’s always worth a quick check to make sure you haven’t missed something.
  3. Other Drives : We have a 16Gb USB stick plugged into the Router that I use to get the family to back up their data to. Especially my daughter’s college work! I also have a partition on the NAS that I’ve been messing about with trying to build a website on. None of these are on my “home PC” but I can back them all up with Goodsync jobs because my home PC can see them.
  4. Copying : My movies all reside on a removable hard drive attached to my PC. The are copied (along with music and photos) to the NAS so that the rest of the family can see them.
  5. The Backup of the backup : Call me paranoid, but the NAS has space for 4 drives. I’ve configured it so that one pair of drives is “mirrored” onto the other. In case of hard drive failure, I still have a backup solution available until I can buy another disk. It’s probably overkill, but it gives me peace of mind and storage is cheap.

Goodsync has an easy facility to “right click & ignore” folders from selection. For example, Windows stores config information in AppData which you may not want to copy. You can just right click and “Exclude” the folder, file, or root folder from the job. Being able to exclude (for example) all .tmp files and is really useful!

Advantages of Scheduled Backups – When to Backup

goodsync1I don’t have to remember to do it! This is the only advantage of having the computer do the backup for you. However you do need to come up with a backup strategy. Other than the initial backup, I’ve not noticed any performance hit when a Goodsync backup is running. I can use my computer as normal. I do get the occasional error when programs are open during the backup (Outlook in particular) but it’s a minor thing.

Your decision about how often to backup is going to depend mainly on when your computer is switched on. I switch mine off every night, so I can’t schedule backups for when I’m asleep. If you leave your computer on, this is the ideal time to do it. Nothing is running and no files are being modified, so that downtime can be used efficiently.

Goodsync has an “Auto” button for each job which pops up the illustrated box. I use the following types of backup

On File Change will start the backup when a file in that job changes. So if you’re job is to backup “My Data”, every time a file changes, the job will kick off. I use this on jobs that are really important and need faster than a “daily” backup. My photos for example, as well as my Website folder (I don’t want to lose changes of coding). I usually set the delay to about 20 minutes (1200 seconds) to prevent constant backup of files I’m working on. Music isn’t in this category because I can just re download the album, or re-burn the disc.

On Goodsync Start for me, is when the PC is turned on which is every day. I put a 3600 sec (1 hour) delay on it to allow the PC to warm up and do the OnFileChange jobs above. This is my basic daily backup and is done on “switch on” rather than logoff because Windows has a habit of shutting things off when you click the shutdown button. All my non important backups are done daily with this setting.

On Schedule is the last setting. I do this once a week on a Monday morning at 11am and it is a weekly “backup of the backup” to my mirrored disks. It’s not just an insurance policy, but if someone accidentally deletes a file, the above backups might propagate that deletion before I can stop it. Having a weeks grace is an additional safety net. Note though – If your computer is switched off at the schedule time, the job will not run until the next schedule. This is why I don’t use the scheduler more often. If there’s a power cut or the PC is off, the job won’t run, but by choosing On Goodsync Start, I can be assured that as soon as the PC is switched on, the backup will run.

Time To Backup

It actually takes Goodsync longer to analyse the data for changes than it does to copy the data over. Obviously the first backup is going to take a while if you’ve got a lot of photos, but once it’s done, it’s done. Because my photos are set to backup on file change, I come back from a shoot, plug the SD card into the reader, download the images, and go have a cuppa. When I come back, not only have the images downloaded to the hard drive, but they have been backed up too.

Having said that, your backup time will depend mainly on your connections. I get 5Mb/s copying from an external (USB) hard drive, through my PC and off via the router to the NAS. This is as slow as it gets but because it’s running in the background and doesn’t hit my PC with performance problems (like I have experienced with Anti Virus checks) I just don’t notice it. It sits in the notification tray and runs happily. Occasionally it pops up an error that it can’t copy a file I’m modifying at that time, but this lets me know it’s working and is easy to fix.

Overall, I’m delighted with Goodsync as a solution. It’s completely removed the need for me to remember, or act on reminders to back up and freed me to concentrate on the fun stuff like taking photos and getting to Duna

Until next time…!