Monday, February 28, 2011

Depth of Field

With the help of a digital photo editor photographs that were taken with busy or bad backgrounds can be adjusted. There are a couple of ways to remove a background in Corel Paintshop Pro; today we'll talk about depth of field.

Bringing the focus to the photo's main subject and making the background disappear can easily be done by clicking on the adjust menu and then depth of field...

The depth of field adjustment is as simple as lassoing your subject with either the circle, square, or freehand tool and allowing the program to do the rest:


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo Optimization

Have you noticed that your blog doesn't quite load as fast as it should? People don't stick around while hefty sized pictures load. Search engines may ignore you if your site takes too long; fortunately, with a little optimization, your photos will load in a flash with little or no reduction in quality.

In Corel Paintshop Pro simply head over to the File menu and click on Export. Point to the JPEG optimizer and drag it out onto your tool bar. Choose your photo, click on the optimizer button and let the wizard handle the details.

An example of a time the optimizer is a handy tool is when you want to use your own picture for the background of your blog. Blogger allows a picture of no more than 299K to be used. You can order the Corel Paintshop Pro program to optimize your photo for no more than 299K and be on your way in no time to a custom blog that matches no one else.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Windows 7 and Windows Installer

As a follow up to last week's post on the Windows Installer 5 and Windows 7 problem; I have come across a solution for the more tech savy in one of the forums that I would like to pass along.

The solution involves going into the registry, not something that the every day user should take on, and if you don't feel comfortable performing the procedure yourself, consult your IT expert.

The procedure involves copying the correct registry key from a healthy machine to the sick one. If your machine is still healthy (i.e. still able to load and delete programs via the Windows Installer) you can back up the key to a file in case your key gets corrupted.

The directions for the fix can be found here.

Before doing any work on the registry remember to back the whole thing up. Your IT expert will be glad to assist.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Windows 7 and Windows Installer

Windows 7 is everything the advertising says it is; innovative, intuitive, and user friendly. It puts the user in the driver's seat making it easy to use the computer as a tool.

But a couple of weeks ago my Windows 7 lost the ability to install any program that did not come with its own installer program; which was just about everything. I spent hours researching the condition and so I am passing this research on to help others who will surely have the same problem.

The condition's main symptom is that instead of installing a program it crashes with an error message "Windows Installer Service could not be accessed."  Programs do not load.

If your Windows 7 shipped with an actual operating system disc, you are in luck. The repair program on that disc should fix your program.

If you bought your machine from one of the box retailers (like Best Buy), your computer probably came with a recovery partition and therefore, did not come with the special repair program. You are out of luck. You can try the options on the Microsoft tech site listed here. But, as the last option states, you'll probably end up wiping your harddrive; reloading Windows 7 and all your data, files, and preferences.

The issue is with the Windows Installer Program Version 5. Although Windows Installer is available for download over the internet in other versions it has not been made available yet in version 5, even though computers have shipped with version 5 since 2009. I only know this because that is how long this problem has existed.

If you already own a Windows 7 machine try to obtain a complete version of the operating system by asking the manufacturer for an actual disc. If you are told about the partition tell the manufacturer that files to fix a Windows Installer problem are not on the partition; only the actual operating system disc will do. Do this before you have a problem.

If you are considering a Windows 7 machine, make sure the computer comes with the actually operating system discs. If the box store won't provide the discs consider a local computer store that builds computers to specifications. These type of businesses generally provide better service if you experience problems (at least your machine and all your confidential data won't be sent to someone and some place you don't know.)                

Monday, February 14, 2011

More Photo Fixes

One photo fix that makes a big difference, yet is often overlooked is brightness and contrast. Most often helpful for rescueing a photo that may seem hopelessly just out of focus Adjusting Contrast can also bring a great photo up a level:

Before Brightness/Contrast Adjustment

After Brightness/Contrast
   Adjusting the Brightness/Contrast often removes some color from the picture, so after adjusting the contrast, take a look at the Hue setting. In Corel Paintshop Pro the adjustment can be made by accessing the Adjustment/Brightness and Contrast and Adjustment/Hue and Saturation menus.   

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Corel Paintshop Pro's Smart Photo Fix

Some of your photos (chances are not many) will look gorgeous without any photo editing. This picture is a good example of a photo that might be able to pass muster on its own without editing:

Pretty good. But as I've learned more often than not a good picture can be taken up a notch by some quick photo editing. One quick way to take your photo up a notch in Corel Paint Shop Pro is running the photo through the Smart Photo Fix. Here's the same photo after accepting the program's suggested settings:

The photo's sharpness and brightness settings were brought up a notch making the photo 
pop and glow. The recommended settings usually change your photo for the best in either subtle or big ways, depending on how much help your photo needs. 

If you are creating a special effect in your photo or for photos that are taken in a mist or fog, it is sometimes necessary to back off the recommended settings; an easy thing to do in the Paint Shop Pro's Smart Photo Fix's window. 

So, even if you think your photo is already perfect, run it through the photo editor to make it dazzle.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

To Crop or not to Crop

It can be difficult to get a picture exactly right no matter how much time you take composing it. Fortunately, with a reasonable photo editing program you can take a so-so picture and make it spectacular.

Take this photo for instance.

Could the picture be better? Let's test it out by cropping and moving closer to our bird subjects.

Now there is no doubt what the subject of our picture is and the picture looks much better in thumbnails or on a smaller screen where the tiny birds would be lost.

Try experimenting with cropping pictures for different effects. If you find that a crop doesn't do the picture justice; just hit the undo button and return to your original picture.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Optimize those Photo's

Photo's posted to the web need to meet different specifications than those for print. Web photo's need to optimized for the web; making all pixels count in a compact and tiny package that doesn't suck too much bandwidth, making the loading of your web page a time consuming and tedious process that your customer is forced to wait on.

Even a site or blog page that is loaded with pictures can be made viewable, searchable, and efficient by photo optimization. There are a lot of good programs out there; for very little investment you can even take a bad photograph and make it into a masterpiece by editing and optimizing for the web.

My favorite is Corel's Paint Shop Pro Photo. This is a reasonably priced program with a lot of the bells and whistles that come in more hefty priced programs.

Over the next few posts I'll be demonstrating a few tips to make your photo's web ready for your site.