Holiday news

Hi everyone,

We’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in Benalmadena, which is near Malaga in Spain. Fab weather and also fab to be with our London family who came with us. We all stayed at one of our favourite Diamond Resorts locations, the Sahara Sunset Club, which has all the mod cons we would ever need (including an indoor heated swimming pool), lovely staff and the sea and beach close by. We managed to dodge the awful wintery weather that the UK had while we were away.

As usual, I took loads of photos, including some which I’d already taken on previous visits. This time some of the photos should be a bit sharper, as I took on holiday with me my “beast” of a camera (the Canon 5D Mk 2) and my new travelling tripod, which I’m very pleased with. I’ve been taking more twilight shots, using the manual settings on my camera, and with the help of my tripod (without which many of my earlier photos have been rubbish).

Currently I’m looking at the Fuji X range of cameras: the x 100T and the x Pro 2, for travel use. I’ve been to two talks at the Nottingham and Notts Photographic Society, where the speakers have raved about them, and where I’ve seen the high quality of images taken with them. I will wait until next year to buy one of them, when newer models have been introduced and when the price of the older ones has fallen somewhat. 

You might be interested to hear that we’ve got other holidays planned for this year: the Reims area in France, Rome, Whitby, Staffordshire and Ilkley. Our last holiday will be in October, so I’ve got lots more photographic opportunities ahead.


Using Photoshop CS2 with Windows 7

Some time ago, Adobe very generously offered Photoshop CS2 free of charge to everyone.

Here is one trustworthy site you can download CS2 from (for both Windows & Mac machines)…
(take care not to download anything you don’t want – on page 2 of the downloading site, you’re invited to 
download a PDF converter, which might be mistaken for downloading CS2)

I’ve been able to open CS2 up and to do some editing work with it, but been unable to save my work properly.

I found one way of saving my work, which was to use the Windows Snipping tool. This captures images at your
screen resolution, which is not really satisfactory.

If you’re not familiar with the Snipping tool, I invite you to have a look at YouTube
videos on how to use it – it’s very useful for capturing Desktop size versions of photos
you see on Flickr to create a slide show for your Desktop …

So I’ve been wondering for a while about how to fix this problem. Then it suddenly
dawned on me, that CS2 was designed for use with Windows XP, and in the current issue
of the computer magazine, WebUser, I found a very useful article with suggestions on
what to do. Here’s one of them …

Click on your Start button > Control Panel > Troubleshooting > Programs.
Windows will ask you which program you wish to fix, and then you just follow its instructions, including actually
running CS2  … “Start the program”…


When you’ve finished, just click on the Next button above, and Windows will ask
if the problem has been fixed. Tap on “Yes, save these settings for my program”.
Job done!

Happy New Year

Wishing you a very Happy New Year … may all your photos be fab.  🙂

Making your own Xmas e-card

Hi everyone,
I covered this topic about a year ago, so I won’t say much more except to give you a link to a PDF I created on this subject …
I’ve put a full-size blue background on my Flickr site, which you’re welcome to download, and add your own Xmas photo to. The thin border I put around this year’s photo is only one pixel in width. You can obviously vary the text for family members, distant relatives and for friends or neighbours.

Here is a reduced-sized version of my current e-card ….


Making a colourful banner for a website or a slideshow

Hi there,

Some of you might like to know how to make a banner like this one … without all the clutter. 🙂


You can use Gimp (which is a free photo-editor) or Photoshop Elements / CC.
The following is for Photoshop Elements 11 in Windows 7.  In Macs, use the Command key instead of the Control key.

First of all, make a white background for yourself – Ctrl + the letter N. Chose a white colour and a resolution of 72 px/ins.
Save this for future use … Shift + Ctrl + the letter S … at maximum quality (12).
Next: click on each colour box on the left hand side, and choose colours you like.
Select the Gradient tool, set as above, and make a sloping swipe across the lower half of your image.
If you’d like to try again, get up the History menu (via Windows on the top toolbar), and go back in time. 

Perhaps now you’d like to change the lightness / darkness of what you’ve done, or have a play with the colours on the
image. Select “Enhance” on the top toolbar, and adjust the lighting or colours to your taste. Save your work again,
with a different title, for future re-use. 

Time now to add some text. Click on T for text in the left hand toolbox, and have a go with a font type, size and colour
to your liking. I like Segoe Script and Print, which is less formal than Arial / Tahoma / Times New Roman. You can
move your text around, and re-size it afterwards. To embed the text in your banner, use Ctrl + the letter E to merge
the text layer with the background. Save your work with a different title – Shift + Ctrl + the letter S. (In Gimp, I think
you have to use the letter E instead – E for export, and I’ve found adding text more fiddly in Gimp than in PE).

Another simple method I use is to create a pale rectangular strip across the middle of one of my reduced-sized photos
(1024px across). To reduce photo size, use Ctrl + Alt + the letter I, to get up the image re-size menu. You just have to
enter the 1024 px value in the width box, and PE will automatically add the height value for you.

Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to create the strip, and then go to Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Levels.
Shift the centre small triangle below the histogram to your right, to lighten the strip to your liking. To remove the
“marching ants” around your selection, use the keys: Ctrl + the letter D  (D for deselect).  Add some text as above,
and repeat the embedding and saving process as above. To try again, use the History menu to go back in time.

For your website, you will probably have to reduce the image size down further. The size for this WordPress theme is
768 px across, but if you’re thinking of making your website mobile-friendly, you should use a lower width, say about
450 px across, to fit a mobile phone screen. On Flickr, I use 1024 px width, so I can share better quality pics with
everyone (well those of you with computer monitors of this size and upwards).

Hope you got all that, as there will be a short test next period!  🙂

The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire

Last weekend we visited The National Memorial Arboretum for the second time, this time on a day trip from Nottingham to Shrewsbury with our walking group, The Nottingham Wayfarers. Last time we were here, we were told by one of the guides that the vertical holes in the walls of the central memorial were aligned with the sun’s position at 11:00 hours on every Armistice Day (11 November).

I thought I’d check this out using Google Maps and The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which allows you to see where the sun and moon are, at any time and place – if you’d like to have a look yourself, the postcode is DE13 7AR.

The centre walls of the National Memorial Arboretum

The centre walls of the National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum

... as seen on The Photographer's Ephemeris.

… as seen on The Photographer’s Ephemeris.

Post-Crop Vignetting in Lightroom

Another really easy thing to do, to add drama to your images, is to slightly darken or lighten the edges of your photos, using the Vignetting menu box in LR.  I’m using LR 5 at present, by the way.  Just have a play with the sliders inside the box, to get the look you like …


Next up, a sequence of images, showing my original one, one tarted up in LR, and the final one cropped slightly and slight vignetting added also …

My original RAW image

My original RAW image

After editing in LR

After editing in LR

After cropping and adding a vignette

After cropping and adding a vignette