Yesterday I posted my thoughts on watermarking images for uploading to the web. This post formed the basis of myself and Allison Sheridan’s discussions in the Chit Chat Across the Pond segment on tonight’s Nosillacast Mac Podcast. During the discussion we talked a little about how I watermark my images, and I realised that I hadn’t released a version of my image processing scripts since 2008! I promised I’d remedy that, so today, after a little tidying up, I’m releasing the current snapshot of my scripts under the FreeBSD license.

I’m not releasing these scripts as a polished software package that’s ready to use, but rather, as a starting point for anyone who wants to create their own watermarking scripts. If you’re not prepared to get stuck into the command line and a little Perl (VERY little is needed mind), these scripts are of no use to you!

The scripts rely on the free and open source ImageMagick command line image editing tools, so you’ll need to install ImageMagick before you get stuck in. If you’re running OS X, I’d recommend installing ImageMagick via the free and open source MacPorts package manager.

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Following on from my post yesterday with three examples of using Automator to create Services, and some good suggestions in the comments, I spent some time this afternoon making the script in the third of those examples a little more efficient, and a lot more robust.

The Service I optimised was the one to strip keywords from image files. This Service assumes that both Growl and EXIFTool are installed, and that you’re running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later.

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Automator IconSome Apple haters just love to say that there is nothing to a Mac except for flashy marketing. There are a million different reasons that’s BS, but one in particular is ease of automation. The learning curve to start automating your Mac is very short and very gentle. Without ever seeing a single line of code you can add your own custom functionality to OS X to relieve you of your most boring repetitive tasks. If you can tolerate seeing a line or two of code, you can take things even further and tie Unix command line tools straight into your GUI. The best candidates for automation are simple repetitive tasks that you do often. You might only save 30 seconds each time, but if do that 10 times a day that soon adds up! In this post I just want to give three simple examples to whet your appetite and hopefully get you thinking about some simple tasks in your computing life that you could easily automate.

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My Aperture 3 Disaster

Filed Under Computers & Tech, Photography on February 21, 2010 | 7 Comments

When Apple announced Aperture 3 I was excited. The more I read about it on their site, and the more video demos I watched, the more I fell in love. The feature-list has everything I really wanted, and more besides. For me the really big deal was a power local adjustments feature, as well as Faces and Places. They also fixed some of my quibbles with Aperture 2. On paper this app was perfect for me. In reality however, it turns out not to be ready for the main-stream yet. The design is spot-on, but the implementation feels like a poor beta. As I write this I’ve down-graded back to Aperture 2.

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This is not a detailed or in-deapth review, as the title suggests, these are just my first impressions. A detailed review will come later, if not on this blog, then on one of the Podcasts I contribute to. In the interests of full disclosure, I also want to mention that I didn’t buy my copy of PSE 8, it was a gift from Victor of the Typical Shutterbug and Typical Mac User Podcasts as a thank-you for the contributions I make to his shows. But, to be clear, it was not a gift from Adobe or anyone in any way related to Adobe. I should also say that, historically, I’ve never had a very high opinion of Adobe or their software. I’ve generally looked at their stuff as bloated, insecure, over-priced rubbish. Perhaps a little over-the-top, but certainly not without valid reasons. However, Photoshop is THE definitive photo editing software, so I’m determined to give PSE 8 a fair try.

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Orton Effect Christmas TreeThe Orton Effect is an old effect that dates back to the film days and involved combining an in focus and an out of focus version of the same shot into a single image to give a dreamy effect where the shot is blurred yet has all it’s detail. You can read (a little) more about it on Wikipedia.

The reason I’m writing this tutorial now is that Christmas trees with their lights on make great subjects for the Orton Effect. It’s very hard to get a nice photo of the Christmas tree that does justice to the atmosphere of the scene, but the dreamy quality of an Orton image can really help.

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Quick Review of Maperture

Filed Under Computers & Tech, Photography on February 7, 2009 | 2 Comments

Maperture is a free geo-tagging plugin for Apple’s Aperture photo management and editing software. This plugin will not be of interest to everyone. Unless you care about inserting latitude and longitude information into the EXIF data of photographs, you will have no interest in this what-so-ever. In fact, I’d go even further, I’d posit that this initial version of Maperture is only for people who care about embedding location data into their photos, but who don’t have a GPS device. Future versions (one of which is in beta ATM) will be of more interest to more people, but right now Maperture is for those of us who need to use Google Maps to find the co-ordinates of our pictures because our cameras can’t do it for us. This software really feels like a 1.0 product though. You can see it has massive potential, but right now it’s still rather rough around the edges.

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As those of you who follow me on Twitter, or listen to the many Podcasts I appear on may well know, I recently got a copy of Apple’s pro photo editing program Aperture 2. (Thanks again Allison, it was a great Christmas present!) In case people don’t know what Aperture is, it’s a tool for sorting, organising and editing your photos – a very advanced version of iPhoto if you will. It’s really designed for people who shoot RAW and who shoot a lot, but it’s not a pixel editor like PhotoShop. The closest analogue would be Adobe’s Lightroom. Also, for context, I’m moving to Aperture from iPhoto’08, so I’ll be using iPhoto as a reference point a lot while explaining what I do and don’t like about Aperture.

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ExampleAnyone who’s been following this blog for a while will know that I’ve been experimenting with HDR for most of this year. I started off with the cheapest solution I could find so that I could be sure I really wanted to go down this road before spending a lot of money on more professional software. It can’t be denied that I got some good results with the process I’ve been using until now, but I was never completely happy with the results. In particular the level of haloing was really starting to annoy me. Today I bit the bullet and spent $99 (about €80) on the stand-alone version of Photomatix Pro from HDR Soft. The reason I went for the standalone version is that I don’t have photoshop and am not planning to buy it any time soon (probably never as long as it costs extortionate amounts of money). I haven’t had much time to play with it yet but I though I’d share some of my initial thoughts and results.

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Update (18 June 2012) – A more up-to-date version of these scripts can now be found here.

My Myers Briggs personality profile insists that I “prefer economy of effort”, you can probably translate that to “is a lazy sod”. Because of this I like automating repetitive tasks. It all started when I wanted a quick and easy way to prepare my images for posting to my website. I wanted them resized with my URL and the Creative Commons icon added in, and I wanted to be able to process a whole directory of images in one go. I started by playing around with the GD libs in PHP, but soon realised it would be quicker and easier to use Perl to shell out to the command line tools from Image Magick. At the time I wrote a post on my choice to do this which also contained the initial code. That code has been expanded and evolved since, and now includes functions for rendering nice (in my opinion) borders and titles on my better images. If you want to see examples checkout the Photo of the Week category on this blog..

[tags]Perl, Image Magick, script, programming, image processing[/tags]

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