concept to publication

Category: software

The Gettysburg PowerPoint

gettysburgh powerpoint slide

As Presidents Day approaches, it is worth recalling one of our nation’s finest moments.


My Photoshop default workflow

I process most images that I post to the web in Photoshop, and I have a simple workflow that does what I want with a minimum of fuss. The whole process only takes a minute or two. Allow me to demonstrate.

photoshop default actions

I’ve chosen an image more or less at random (except that it is one that I like, from this photoset). My vantage point was looking down at a river from overhead, with colorful leaves on the right. For the purpose of this demonstration the image has been resized to fit this space (435 pixels wide).

The first thing I do is to open an action I’ve saved under the name “open adjustments.” This opens three adjustment layers: levels, curves, and hue/saturation in that order, which is the order I make the adjustments.

First I look at levels. If they look well balanced I might leave them alone. Often they are weighted to either darks or lights, and I slide the midtone triangle to get a better balance. That often makes the image look worse but it puts it in position for the next adjustment, curves. Usually I find a midpoint that looks good and then generally make an ess-shaped curve in order to get a good range of darks and lights. Finally, I adjust hue/saturation. With my current camera this usually means just increasing the saturation a little bit.

photoshop default actions

Next I open an action I’ve saved under the name “hi-pass sharpen.” This sharpens the image using the duplicate layer – invert – blur – overlay – adjust transparency workflow that I have described previously. I don’t like oversharpening, so my default transparency is a modest 40 percent. It’s important to remember to select the background layer first or you will just be sharpening your hue/saturation adjustment. One nice thing about this way of sharpening is that it is size independent, so I can resize my image and do a save for web to reduce the file size without having to resharpen.

The entire process is done with adjustment layers and is completely nondestructive — no changes are made to the original image. Below the image as it came from the camera is on the left and the adjusted image on the right.

photshop default actions

The Photoshop Wizardry of Al Qaeda

al qaeda image manipulation

A new program reveals manipulation in still photos and videos. It shows Al Qaeda images have been heavily manipulated. Story via Wired.

Free Vista Fonts

If you have a Windows system but you aren’t running Vista you can still legally install the new Vista fonts (which will work fine without Vista) for free. They are packaged with Microsoft’s PowerPoint Viewer 2007. You can download the viewer here, and the fonts will be available on your system after you install it.

vista fonts

link: About Vista fonts, from PoyterOnline

Death by Powerpoint

When I consider the seemingly endless hours of Powerpoint-inflicted boredom I’ve suffered through in my lifetime it’s hard to believe the software has only been around for what, about fifteen years?

In fact, everyone hates Powerpoint presentations — someone proposed a constitutional amendment banning their use. Yet it’s estimated that 30 million Powerpoint presentations take place every day (note passive sentence structure concealing the thought “how does anyone come up with a number like that?”).

So why do people keep inflicting using Powerpoint? Visual information designer Edward Tufte, in an article called “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” offers an explanation: It’s easier than actually thinking about how to present information to an audience in an effective way.

“It’s much easier to write a presentation if you’re writing in bullet grunts…. PowerPoint allows presenters to pretend they’re giving a presentation,” he says. Unfortunately, “its cognitive style profoundly corrupts serious communications.”

Via the Book of Joe, where Joe concludes: “Many years ago I discovered that the key to a great PowerPoint experience is a comfortable chair — for myself.”

At last, a Firefox extension simple enough for academics

It’s called zotero. It helps academics pad their notes and bibliographies find manage, and cite sources. It automatically captures citation information from web pages, eliminating that annoying requirement of thought. And it exports to EndNote, the hip academic’s crutch du jour.

Zotero Firefox extension

Writely for Gmail Users

If you have a gmail account you are now automatically signed up for Writely, the on-line word processor that was bought by Google a while ago. Since it includes a spell check and other word processing tools, I imagine it might be handy for webwork. Especially since you don’t have to wait for a bloated program like Word to load (on that subject, for routine stuff I’ve been using notepad more and more lately — hey, remember when notepad was the software of choice for websites?). Anyway, I’d be curious to hear any impressions of Writely.

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