Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The RESIZING conundrum!

One would think that resizing an image would be easy. I've always had a grasp on this and never thought about it much until last night's workshop that I taught. I wanted to show examples on both the MAC and the PC.

On the PC I showed how to use Paint, How to Right Click in File Explorer and use the Send by Mail and I showed how to do it using Lightroom. Now I've always used Lightroom since version 1 and its so easy now with the Custom Export jobs you can save. I have custom jobs for 1024x768 at 72 dpi JPG, 1920x1080 at 72 dpi JPG and 2048-by-1536 (yes an odd size but its what my iPad uses (at 264 ppi)). Because I use these save Export jobs or presets, I never give it much thought. But after some questions yesterday and some e-mails that followed, I released perhaps it's a little tougher that I thought, specially for people new to photography and DPI, Resolution, Sizes, Colorspace and so on.

At club (Delta Photo Club) we use a full HD capable projector and display images at 1920x1080. CAPA used to have an old archaic standard for years at 1024x768 which many clubs still use today because they never updated their projectors because CAPA never demanded more. But, thankfully CAPA changed their standard to 1400x1050. Note that I could not find mention of this on their website and under their 2014 Digital Competition guidelines it still stated as 1024x768. But I have been told its 1400x1050. This is an odd size for digital display as most projectors are capable of much higher resolution. Of note is that this size is a 4:3 aspect ratio which is in keeping with older standards for photography and one that is till used today in Micro 4/3 cameras and most pocket cameras. Why they would choose to support those standards as opposed to most photography enthusiasts 3:2 aspect ratios found in most DSLRs, I do not understand. Note also that OLD monitors were also 4:3 aspect ratios but you cannot even buy those anymore. Most monitors now use a much wider aspect ratio.

A challenge of course is that Vertical images must always display smaller that horizontal images because of the vertical pixel limitations. An actual 1400x1050 horizontal image would become 787x1050. No fair for those entering Vertical images. In print the images can be 16"x20" Vertical or Horizontal. Perhaps a better option would have been to use the full height of an HD projector as limits, thus making images 1080x1080 as the max size. A 1:1 aspect ratio.

Another thought would be to limit the total number of pixels or total number of square inches. This could add a fairness to those submitting panoramic images. But I digress...


So for Digital Image Submission here is what is required

SIZE (In Pixels):          1024x768  or  1400x1050  or  1920x1080
Dots Per Inch (DPI):   72 (more on this below)
Colorspace:                sRGB
File Type:                   JPG

Delta Photo Club is 1920x1080
CAPA is 1400x1050
Some competitions (read the rules) are 1024x768


So you can quickly see what problems lie ahead here. When clubs ask for image sizes they want the size in pixels but they also require 72 dpi using the sRGB colorspace. Most beginners do not know this and worse they do not even know or understand what it is. Most digital cameras now shoot RAW and so conversions are required. Also, most beginners quickly learn that using AdobeRGB or ProRGB are better color spaces for photographers that print images. Lastly most digital cameras do not shoot at 72 dpi as a standard and most printers want 240 or 300 dpi images.

So, most of these settings all need to be changed when resizing images for club or competition.

Programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop easily handle these changes when exporting images. Doing this on a MAC or PC using built in tools is either more complicated or not doable at all.
I remembered that Microsoft had a great FREE app just for doing this that was part of the Windows XP Power Toys package. I grabbed a copy and found that this program will not run* (perhaps it runs but it does not install) in a Windows 7 or 8 machine. So I downloaded several apps to do this. I found they were all lacking and many were trouble navigating to a ?safe? download area. I encountered several threat/virus issues along the way. So I would NOT recommend blindly looking for and installing several apps to do this.

I do on occasion use FaststoneViewer on my laptop and it has a separate Resize tool. This tool will handle it all but it is fairly complex to use and most beginners would have a very hard time getting the correct results.

So I turn back to Lightroom. Besides being one of the best and easiest to use tools for editing and organizing images, it?s also a great deal at $159.99 cdn (often on sale for less). Or you can opt for a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Edition where you get Adobe Lightroom and ALL updates and Adobe Photoshop and ALL updates for only 9.99 per month. A great deal.

I never did have the time to do the conversion on the MAC and so I will explore it further. The MAC will change settings when emailing depending what mail program you use, but again, the results may be different. Again, Lightroom is a great MAC solution also specially since Apple has laid Aperture to rest.
So watch and check your images once you have resized them or exported them. Look at the Metadata in the image to see if its correct. Some of the utilities change sizes but do not change colorspace unless you specify JPG. Also, many will not change the DPI settings.

So perhaps someone out there knows of a great free utility that will do this for a PC and for a MAC. If you do, please let me know.

Why 72 is significant

(This section is from somewhere on the web and was part of my archives. The link no longer worked. I will try to find the original source.)

Many file formats, including JPG, TIF and PSD, store an image's pixel density setting. If you save a JPG at 200 pixels/inch, it will remain at 200.

Other formats, including GIF and PNG, discard pixel density. If you save a 200 DPI image as a PNG, it won't save that DPI at all. Many image editors, including Adobe Photoshop, assume that an image is 72 DPI if the information is not stored. (Note: Photoshop's "Save for Web" feature discards unnecessary print information, including pixels/inch from its Image Size dialog box.)

Seventy-two is a magic number in printing and typography. In 1737 Pierre Fournier used units called cicero's to measure type. Six cicero's were 0.998 inches.

Around 1770, Francois-Ambroise Didot used slightly larger cicero's to fit the standard French "foot." Didot's pica was 0.1776 inches long and divided evenly into 12 increments. Today we call them points.
In 1886, the American Point System established a "pica" as being 0.166 inches. Six of these are 0.996 inches.

None of the units ever strayed far from 12 points per pica: 6 picas per inch = 72 points per inch. It was an important standard by 1984, when Apple prepared to introduce the first Macintosh computer. The Mac's interface was designed to help people relate the computer to the physical world. Software engineers used the metaphor of a desk to describe the arcane workings of a computer, right down to "paper", "folder" and "trash" icons.

Each pixel on the original Mac's 9-inch (diagonal) and 512 x 342 pixel screen measured exactly 1 x 1 point. Hold a ruler to the glass, and you'd see that 72 pixels would actually fill 1 inch. This way, if you printed an image or piece of text and held it next to the screen, both the image and hard copy would be the same size.

But early digital pictures were clunky and jagged. As screen technology and memory improved, computers were able to display more pixels on the same size monitor. Matching a print-out to the screen became even less certain when raster and vector apps allowed users to zoom in and examine pixels closely. By the mid-1990s, Microsoft Windows could switch between 72 and 96 pixels per inch on screen. This made smaller font sizes more legible because more pixels were available per point size.

Today, designers and clients alike understand that the sizes of items on the screen are not absolute. Differences in screen size and zoom functionality are commonplace. But 72 is still the default.

The Reason for 72 dpi

Besides being "the" standard, clubs and organizations also want to make their own lives easier. Some programs will display relative sizes versus actual sizes. So a 1" by 1" image at 72 dpi and a 1" by 1" image at 144 dpi should both display and print the same size but this is not always the case. By specifying a standard there is less chance for problems with sizing to occur. 99 percent of the time having the wrong dpi setting will be ok but note that many competition boards will not accept images that have not been correctly formatted!

Now What?
I will continue to work on a document that explains all this as clearly as possible and will look for good simple solutions for both the PC and the MAC. Will keep you posted.


© 2014 Francois Cleroux

Version 1.00 - October 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A New Personal Edict

So I need my first flashlight since moving to the new house and it didn't work. Nothing! No light. This is an LED flashlight that is new and barely used. I do use it at my desk but not often and not for long.

But, no problems. The batteries are dead. This happens. I unscrew the cap off the flashlight and there it is!! Another leaked battery. And, lo and behold, its a Duracell battery. Not only is it a Duracell but obviously its not very old its good till 2023.


This flashlight came with this battery.

This flashlight is a fairly high end CREE light that is very bright. But having said that it led me to thinking that perhaps there may be fake Duracell's out there. So I did a little research and found out that there are a TON of fake Duracell's out there. So much so that there are many warnings posted on the web:

https://thecounterfeitreport.com/product/106/

In the link above you can see many various fake Duracell's. Doing more research you find that many of the fakes are 'identical' and they cannot be differentiated from the real Duracell's. There is talk of fake Duracell's being sold in common large brand department stores.


So, with no way of knowing real from fake, and with even real one's seeming to have leaking problems; I've decided to not only never purchase Duracell's again, but if I get Duracell Batteries with a product I purchase, I will replace them with Energizer batteries.

Another issue I have is this; here on Amazon there appears to be some fake Duracell's:

http://www.amazon.com/Duracell-Coppertop-Duralock-Batteries-Count/product-reviews/B0096MHJU2

If these were actually fake, one phone call from an on staff Lawyer at Duracell would have those removed from the Amazon store. So either, they are real, or Duracell doesn't care in protecting consumers from these crappy batteries. Perhaps they are thinking as long as people are buying "Duracell's", any Duracell, real or fake, it is better than having them purchase the competitions batteries.

A Note on fakes and other Languages: If you look on the battery in the photo you'll see some Chinese writing on it. Some people think anything with Arabic, Chinese, Japanese (there must be other languages) must be fake. Duracell makes batteries for sale in all these different countries including Belgium and thus has those languages on it. I could not find a source stating what are all the countries that make real Duracell's ie where are all the Duracell Factories but I did find this about American Made Duracell's.

http://americanmanufacturing.org/blog/duracell-batteries-made-usa

I also found that the made in China Duracell's apparently get into the U.S. market via way of Canada. Apparently these batteries also have the French on them. I'm thinking perhaps those are for the African market but that's just a guess.

For now what I will do is this;

1)  I will no longer buy Duracell's except in the event of an Emergency where no other brands are available. And even then I may not.

2)  I will further investigate Canadian Duracell's and will try to find the source of Canadian Duracell's. I will purchase several packs from large retail stores and see if I can find differences and will report further.

3)  I will write a letter to Procter & Gamble (parent company) and will ask for clarification on Fake Batteries, where they have factories (other countries) and why they do not put an end to fakes on Amazon.com and other Retailers.

If I get a response I will post it here also.

© 2014 Francois Cleroux

Version 1.00 - September  2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Not All Batteries are Created Equal!

I've been using Energizer Batteries. and nothing but Energizer Batteries for so many years now I had forgotten why I only used that brand. Until recently that is.

Years ago (mid to late 80's) before I retired from photography I used portable flashes all the time. Although the cost of the batteries was a concern, having batteries that lasted a long time was ultimately more important. I ran many tests on many batteries back then and decided that the best bang for the buck was the Energizer Batteries. Later, something else confirmed that those were the batteries I should be using.

I know battery technology has come a long way since then, but I've never changed from my "stick with Energizer" mantra I have always spoken. Some of you may know that I have just moved in the last week. a week before the move however, a clock on the wall had stopped working. So I decided to change the batteries. I took the clock off the wall and it contained two Duracell batteries. They had leaked!! I haven't had a set of batteries leak in over 25 years. I didn't think much about it and cleaned the contacts and put some new Energizer Batteries in and the clock started again.


Shot with my iPhone

While packing my photography gear getting ready for the move, I grabbed my LED Video Light which uses 6 AA batteries. Some of the batteries had leaked. They were Duracell batteries. This annoyed me and remembering the clock batteries I wondered why I even had Duracell batteries. Then I remembered we need some when we were in the U.S. and all they had at Costco was Duracell and their own house brand batteries. So I had opted for the better ones. I carefully cleaned it all up and used some water and then let it dry properly. Again I replaced the batteries with Energizer Batteries. I remembered however other than a quick ON and OFF I had never used the batteries at all. The clock batteries had been drained, these should of been brand new. I also noted the dates on them, they should have been good for many more years. I wondered if that "batch" of batteries were bad.

The very next day I delivered a high end Logitech cordless mouse to a clients office. When I opened up the package it contained two Duracell Batteries. They were in a plastic wrapped two pack. They had leaked!! And not only had they leaked but when I picked up the still sealed package, some fairly wet liquid got onto my hands?? Not sure what is was, but I disposed of them and washed my hands. Obviously not a bad batch.

Then I remembered! That was why I stopped using Duracell batteries in the 80's. They used to always leak. Well, nothing has changed. If you find you have had batteries leak on you, please tell me. What brand were they? Duracell, Energizer or some cheap brand? Let me know.

In the meantime I do recommend the Energizer Batteries. If you need longer lasting and lightweight, try the Energizer Lithium Batteries!

© 2014 Francois Cleroux

Version 1.10 - August 2014