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Shooting JPEG vs. Raw

When digital cameras became commercially available, the memory cards used to store pictures were very expensive. Photographers could not afford multiple or high-capacity cards, so they wanted more images to fit on a single, smaller card. Smaller file sizes would also enable consumers who lacked an understanding of digital imaging to attach photos to email with minimum technical headaches.

With these two scenarios in place, manufacturers turned to an Internet-friendly format, JPEG. It was a proven technology, and one that was familiar to many users. A JPEG file looks for areas where pixel detail is repeated, such as the color white on every key of your computer keyboard. The file then discards repeated information and tells the computer to repeat certain color values or data to re-create the image. The drawback is that a JPEG file is lossy, so every time you modify it and re-save, additional compression is applied to the image.

Newer digital cameras, generally the pro models, offer newer formats, usually called raw. These raw (or native) formats have several benefits over shooting to JPEG. The images are usually captured at a higher bit depth, which means that the pixels contain more information about the color values in the image. Most raw files have a depth of 10, 12, or even 16-bits per channel instead of the 8 used by JPEG. This raw format also has a greater tonal range, resulting in better exposure for shadows and highlights.

The image on the left is how the camera captured a JPEG. Making adjustments to the image is possible, but will lead to more degradation in image quality. The image on the right is a properly developed raw file. Working with raw files gives you access to greater control over an image.

The raw file captures the unprocessed data from the camera’s image sensor. While your camera may contain settings for sharpness, exposure, or lighting conditions, the raw file stores that info as modifiable information and captures the original (unmodified) data that came through your camera’s sensors. Each manufacturer treats the format differently, using a proprietary format. Fortunately, Photoshop and Aperture frequently update their raw technology to support the newest cameras on the market.

Because the raw data is unprocessed, you must essentially “develop” the image data within Photoshop or Aperture. You can choose to adjust several options related to the image, as well as the lens and lighting conditions. You can “tweak” the image after shooting it (as opposed to JPEG, which is limited to the settings you had when shooting).

For more tips like this, check out the book Video Made on a Mac.


Creating Lower-Third Graphics with Data Sets in Photoshop

Starting with Photoshop CS2, Adobe introduced a new feature called data sets. This allows you to create a set of data that applies variable text, variable visibility settings, or pixel replacement for art layers. This is a great feature for use with templates, especially those for lower-third titles.

By harnessing the power of data sets, you can dramatically speed up the production of repetitive graphics. In fact, by feeding in a text file, hundreds of lower-third graphics can be generated in a few clicks. The advantage of this method is that a producer or production assistant can gather all of the needed names and titles into a single text file (easily created with any word processor). This file can then be loaded to generate as many graphics as needed. While the process is a little tricky at first, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of.

Read the complete article over at Layer Magazine for free...


Gotta Love Free Fonts

You gotta love free fonts... I found a great article over at offering 50 free fonts. These are cleared to use on commercial projects.

"Designers love to have a lot of quality fonts available to them, and fortunately there are some very good free fonts out there. In this post we’ll feature some of the best free fonts that can be used in your commercial designs."
Here are the fonts.
If you’re looking for more, check out these other sites:


Tips for Creating Better Photoshop Actions

  • Brush strokes, cloning, and most manual tools from the toolbox do not record properly with actions. Instead, use an alternative, such as a Gradient Fill layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient) instead of the Gradient tool.
    • To play a single step of an action, double-click it.
    • If you make a mistake in an action, click Stop. Delete the incorrect steps by dragging them into the Actions panel’s trashcan. Choose Edit > Step Backward as many times as needed. Then click Record and start again from the last good point.
    • Button mode lets you launch actions quickly—just click an action and it runs. You can access the command from the Actions panel submenu. You’ll need to disable Button mode to access recording and editing features.
    • Choose Playback Options from the Actions panel submenu. Specify that you want the actions to play back an action accelerated. Photoshop can process faster than it can redraw the screen.
    • Be sure to back up your custom actions to two locations: the default location and a secondary backup location. This way, a reinstall or upgrade won’t blow away your custom actions.
    • To create an action that will work better on all files, set the rulers set to measure using percentage.
    • Use File > Automate > Fit Image to resize an image for a specific height or width.

DPI vs. Resolution

One misperception we hear time and time again is about resolution. For the record, video graphics are not 72 dpi. First off, dpi stands for dots per inch (as in printing). Photoshop measures graphics using pixels per inch (ppi).

The resolution of this photo has been reassigned from 300 ppi to 72 ppi. The Document Size (in inches) has changed for printed output. The pixel dimensions and file size remain unchanged at 1920 x 1080 pixels (for a 1080 HD video project).

When dealing with video graphics, resolution doesn't matter. The same HD video file can play back on a laptop, a television, or on a digital projector, and the total number of pixels won't change. To see this clearly, stand really close to a big-screen HD TV; the picture looks soft. Now find a smaller display with an HD signal; the picture looks clearer. This is because HD is HD; the bigger the screen the larger each pixel is displayed, but again resolution doesn't change.

Figure 9.2 The enlarged area shows the individual pixels that make up the butterfly image.

Setting Photoshop to Measure in Pixels
Out of the box, Photoshop is set up for a print workflow (biased isn't it?). This is easy to fix with a simple preference change. You can set rulers and other tools to measure using pixels by default (which will make designing for the video screen easy).
  1. Launch Adobe Photoshop.
  2. Press Command+K to call up your Photoshop preferences.
  3. Click the Units & Rulers preference tab.
  4. Click the Rulers menu and set it to pixels.

Five Uses for Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge has lots of uses; this video looks at five of its best: Contact Sheets, Web Galleries, Ranking, Reviewing, and Browsing Animation Presets. You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.


Great Profile of Stop Animator

A fascinating documentary on Ray Harryhausen who is a prolific stop motion animator. Some of his work you may have seen includes The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans.

Read More to see parts 2–6


Eco-Comedy Video Competition

Just got an email from the Center for Environmental Filmmaking which is offering a $1,000 prize.

They are running a contest for filmmakers to create a short, funny video for YouTube which communicates a clear message that strongly motivates a specific behavior change (for example, driving a fuel efficient car, turning down thermostats, or donating to a conservation cause).

Submissions must:
  • Be humorous!
  • Address a critical environmental issue
  • Be an original production
  • Reach a broad audience beyond just environmentalists
  • Be less than 4 minutes

Submissions are due by March 1, 2010. The winner will be announced at American University on Tuesday, March 23 at the DC Environmental Film Festival.

For more information regarding submission guidelines and contest rules, visit:


Join Me in San Jose on 1/25 for TWiP Meetup

The This Week in Photography (TWiP) Meetup Group

If you're into digital photography and live in Northern California... join me on Monday, January 25. I'll be attending the TWiP / SmugMug 2010 Town Hall Meetup. The group is organized by Frederick Johnson (@fredeickvan) and is a group for photographers looking to share knowledge and learn.

Here are the details.

San Jose Library (West Valley Branch)
1243 San Tomas Aquino Road
San Jose, CA 95117

Also, Frederick promises –
"I'll be giving one lucky member a *HUGE* prize (you know me). You won't want to miss this meeting."

See you Monday at 7pm


Sneak Peek at new Adobe Tech

I have seen this first person.. and it is AWESOME. Tons of real-time performance in Premiere Pro and 64-bit Operating Systems. It can also be tied to a really fast graphics card for better performance. The app runs INSANELY great and will hopefully propagate through other Adobe apps like Photoshop and After Effects.

for more information on hardware, check out these blogs:


Photoshop World Schedule

Some Photoshop World news for you.

  • Early bird registration is $100 off (it expires February 26)
  • I am teaching a DSLR Video Pre-conference session
  • I am teaching 3 Motion Graphics classes
  • I will be showing pre-release copies of the new From Still to Motion book at Peachpit's booth
  • I hope to catch up with many of you at show.

"You've never seen a training camp like this! Photoshop World is the ONLY Photoshop and digital photography conference designed to put you at the top of your game with fast and furious classes from the world's leading experts. Photoshop World is where Photoshop users go to learn hard and play even harder!"


New Social Media Class in DC and NYC

Here's a new class I am teaching in New York and Washington, DC. I promise to cram in lots of practical advice to get results.

Social Media for Business Professionals
Washington, DC: Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 – Register
New York: Thursday, March 11th, 2010 – Register
Time: 6-9pm
Cost: $199

When used correctly, social media tools can help you reach potential customers and keep your current clients engaged and interested. In this informative session you'll learn practical advice that can be implemented immediately. Such as: - How to use Twitter to share your latest news and keep in touch with your best customers - Learning how to set up a corporate page on Facebook to share video, photos, and information - Keeping your business leads up to date with LinkedIn - Creating enjoyable blog posts and content for your readers Target audience: This class is for business professionals looking to increase business opportunities through social media tools. The workshop focusses on practical ways to establish a social media presence that is both effective and maintainable.


Great Photoshop Training Apps On Sale

Need some Photoshop training? Check out our iPhone and iPod touch apps.They are on sale right now at a special price 99¢ and $1.99.

  • Terry White made it his pick of the week.
  • Jeff Revell at PhotoWalkPro write a very detailed review too.
  • My son thinks it's cool that I used his picture in one of the lessons

If you haven't tried our new training apps, what are you waiting for?

How about our sale!

Understanding Photoshop Quick Fixes is
$.99 | iTunesWeb Demo
Understanding Photoshop Creating Panoramic Photos is
$1.99 | iTunesWeb Demo
(prices good through February 1)

These apps are a lot of work, but I want to see them succeed. We've lowered the prices temporarily so more people will try them out. Tell your friends and try them out (the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive).

  • Includes training videos edited specifically for the iPhone or iPod Touch.
  • Offers easily viewable screens, with zooms and close-ups of the action.
  • Every lesson includes hands-on files that you download to your computer. There’s no need to merely watch, you can try out every technique on your own.
  • Test your knowledge with interactive quizzes. Score yourself as well as check your answers with video responses.
  • Search throughout the application by keyword and your own bookmarks.
  • A quick reference guide is also included to help you build your Photoshop knowledge.
  • Interact with the trainer with comments and a Twitter client.


Image Processor – Understanding Adobe Photoshop 177

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to use Photoshops image processor script to batch process a folder of images.  

Like the podcast? Then be sure to check out the companion book.

Creative COW NAB Party

Creative Cow's NAB Party Announced – Join Me & Dread Zeppelin on Monday Night. Details here.... tickets will be free - but limited. It's AWESOME!

"Well, it's official. Monday night, April 12, 2010, at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino finds Creative COW: YEAR 10 in full swing with a closing set by the legendary Dread Zeppelin. We are celebrating because 2010 marks the 10th year of Creative COW, and who better to welcome COW members to Las Vegas than a reggae-based band of killer musicians playing Led Zeppelin hooks with an Elvis impersonator leading the band?"

Here's the details.


Using Mail Merge in iWork '09

We've got another episode of MacBreak Work! Rich Harrington shows Alex how to use Mail Merge in iWork '09. This is a great way to create several customized documents from a database.

Here are links to get the free episode.

Direct Download


Vote for a Cover – DSLR Video Book

I need your help... Vote on which cover you like the best for my new book.

These are just rough designs (not final covers) but I want your vote!


Special Video Book and Content Deal

Our friends at the Peachpit User Group Program are making a special offer for all Mac User Groups who are interested delivering both great information on video production and a great price on a Peachpit book to their members.

Peachpit would like to give your group a unique opportunity to provide your members with high-quality articles and video instruction from Richard Harrington and Robbie Carman’s critically acclaimed Peachpit book, Video Made on a Mac: Production and Postproduction using Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite absolutely free.
Get more information – 


Multicamera Trimming in Final Cut Pro

Want to refine a multicamera edit? Learn how to harness the power of trimming to refine the timing of your shots.

To download sample files, visit


Photo Effects – Understanding Adobe Photoshop 174

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to use layer styles to create image effects in Photoshop CS4.

Like the podcast? Then be sure to
check out the companion book.


An Interview About my New Book

Richard Harrington and Robbie Carman are both Apple Certified Trainers and have an extensive background in video production. They talk with publisher Nancy Aldrich-Ruenzel about their new book Video Made on a Mac: Production and Postproduction Using Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite, explain who it is written for, and reveal why the Mac is their platform of choice for professional endeavors.


Aligning items in Keynote '09

MacBreak Work is back! In this new episode we cover how to align items in a presentation. You'll also learn cool new transitions in Keynote ‘09.

Here are links to get the free episode.


Resize Video with After Effects

Do you ever need to size video for web or multimedia? Instead of wasting time processing those clips with your video compression software – use After Effects. You can get cleaner scaling and much faster processing times using AE.

To make things easier... I have made a template project to save you several steps. You can download it here.

Download it
here (it's my Birthday gift to you)

These templates are designed to convert an HD source to a variety of output formats.
  1. Select either the 1080 or 720 source folder.
    2 Locate the correct target format and open the template.
    3 Import a QuickTime movie of your HD source.
    4 Highlight the layer called Replace Me.
    5 Hold down the Option/Alt key and drag your replacement footage onto the solid layer to swap.
    6 Change the comps duration to match your footage layer’s length by choosing Sequence > Settings.
    7 Add to the Render Queue and render to taste.

Feel free to share this post and the link –


This Week in Photography #124

Thanks a lot to Frederick Johnson and Alex Lindsay for having me on This Week in Photography. It's a great show al about photography and related technology. From taking photos of the family to understanding how cameras work to testing state-of-the-art equipment, you'll hear it all on This Week in Photography.

You can hear it on iTunes or on the web –

A wrap-up of CES and some of the cool, photography-related product interview with HDR expert Tray Ratcliff...and a special guest host, digital-imaging expert Richard Harrington, joins the fray.


A Beautiful (and Sad) Short Film

This short film was shown to me yesterday by Alex Lindsay and Frederick Johnson when I was visiting for This Week in Photography. It's a beautiful documentary about a man who loses his dog to cancer. The whole piece was produced with a Canon 7D. What I like about it is that the filmmaker truly shows an intimate moment (and one I can relate to as a dog lover). The smaller cameras these days (that can shoot in lower light) are letting us tell stories we never good before.
I present Last Minutes with ODEN

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

Thank You Jason Wood for allowing us this moment.

Oden's struggle with cancer finally came to an end.

May he rest in peace and his memory be eternal.

Comments please....


Fading Filters - Understanding Adobe Photoshop 176

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to use the fade command to get more out of your Photoshop filters. Distributed by Tubemogul.


Editors Retreat This Week

I head to the Editors Retreat event in Miami tomorrow (this is my sixth time going - it's that good). Lots of great networking and training events for all. I'll have some resources (and hopefully one of my sessions posted this week). Hope to see some of you at the event.

An intensive, interactive environment for TV, video and film editors that fosters creativity and the exchange of ideas at the highest level.

  • Four Days of Sessions in Multiple Tracks.
  • Award-Winning Keynote Speakers.
  • Daily Social Networking with Experts.
  • Numerous Prizes.

Type Effects – Understanding Adobe Photoshop 173

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to create text effects with layer styles in Photoshop CS4.

Like the podcast? Then be sure to
check out the companion book.


We Got That B-Roll

This is a funny video (thanks to John Nack for pointing it out). For those not in the know, b-roll is typically stock footage that helps illustrate what a video project is about. It covers up the A-roll (or talking head and narration parts). For those in the video industry, you'll love the "That's not B-roll" line.


New Year's Resolutions for Photographers

The folks over at This Week in Photography have a great post on resolutions for the new year. These are goals every photographer should strive for.

"Now, I just have to commit the time and passion required to become a great photographer. In that spirit, I think we should all try to keep these 10 New Years Resolutions. Now, everyone say after me:

1. I will learn how to use my camera.

This seems like an obvious point, but we are all guilty of skipping our camera manual and just fiddling with settings. Ah, this one works right? Spot-metering? Why not. Hey, what does that button do? Seems to make things darker. Hmm. I'm going to admit something to you that I ask you to keep hush-hush. I haven't actually read my 5DMKII manual. I know. Horrible! I'm guilty of arbitrary button pushing and royally messing up shots because I don't really know how to use my camera. Let's all become technical experts of our cameras this year. Deal?"

Keep reading over at their blog.

Shot Types –The Language of Cinema

When shooting a scene, you'll typically favor getting multiple shots. This process is referred to as getting coverage. Just as a single photo can say so much, combining multiple angles together can tell the story better (letting you show interesting details or emotions). This process is important because it allows for more flexibility in editing. You can choose to condense, action, cover mistakes, or even direct the viewer's attention with a variety of shot types. These shots have a language of their own. Knowing the most common shot types lets crew members talk to each other.

Wide Shot (WS) – A wide shot (also called an establishing shot) is useful to show the entire subject. With a person, this usually means seeing from the top of their heads to the bottom of their feet.


A Thousand Free Fonts

Always nice to find a free resources. Here are a thousand+ free fonts – The folks at Brands of the World have a ton of great fonts up for download (all totally free).

You can search alphabetically:

Or you can search by style


Aperture Book Gets Perfect Review

Always nice to have one of my books get a 10/10 review – go team! Thanks to the folks over at for a detailed review of our Aperture 2 book.

"Aperture 2: Professionally Manage Digital Photographs goes into every little things that Aperture can do for you. While you can easily see and use the sliders in the interface, it is not obvious by looking at them that using a modifier key will improve the tools' functionality. They are also describing features like round-tripping to an external editor, such as Photoshop. And if your camera RAW file format is not yet recognized by Aperture, did you know you can use a free DNG converter from Adobe to be able to edit it in Aperture without having to wait for Apple to update the software? I point this out, because historically speaking Adobe has been faster to implement RAW decodes for new cameras than Apple ever was."

See the whole review here.

Get the book here.


Capturing Video for After Effects

You can capture video for an After Effects project using Premiere Pro. Learn how to quickly switch applications to pull in new footage from tape. To download sample files, visit


A Great Game for Typophiles

Here's a game to test your typographic knowledge – It's Cheese or Font?

Video Data Rate Calculator for iPhone

AJA Video Systems, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and conversion solutions, announced today the release of AJA DataCalc. AJA DataCalc is a free storage requirement calculator designed for video professionals and is available now as a free download from the Apple iTunes Store here.

Calibrating a Computer Display

Want to learn how to do a basic computer monitor calibration? Check out this video.
To download sample files, visit

© 2010 Richard Harrington LLC