Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Don't drink the Apple (TM) juice!

When I first started out in digital photography I found image editing software like Photoshop, Gimp, and even Photoshop Elements really confusing. The multiple windows, and the way the tools worked were all very foreign to me since the only previous experience I had with trying to make art on a computer was Microsoft Paint.

Luckily, I found Paint.NET, which has an intuitive interface that closely resembles Microsoft Paint. It's easy enough for your Mom to use, yet has support for layers, levels, curves, etc. It's a great way to start out in image editing!

Once I figured out layers and started wishing I had a little more control over my image (at that time Paint.NET didn't have user-controlable levels/curves), I moved up to Gimp. Gimp is a free advanced image editing program that, after reviewing Photoshop CS2, I can say is very Photoshop-like. The only downside to Gimp is that it works in 8-bit color while Photoshop has some tools that will work in 16-bit. Those extra bits are important when using tools like curves and levels, an explanation of color depth is available here.

I've recently run into situations where I'd like to stretch a color or brighten/darken a photo a little more than Gimp would allow (the image gets cartoon-y looking if you stretch it too far). Using a program that could work in 16-bit color would allow a little more room, so I posted a description of what I was looking for and the question "do I need Photoshop?" to two different Yahoogroups that I belong to.

The response, overwhelmingly was that yes, I'd need Photoshop. If not now, eventually. But one person suggested I do my levels/curves processing in Canon's Digital Photo Pro (DPP) software (it came free with my Canon 30D) since it works in 16-bit, then do the rest of the editing/minor tweaks in Gimp afterwards. This option saves me $650 (the cost of Photoshop) and I still get the functionality I'm looking for! Which leads me to ask: does anyone NEED photoshop?

I think the majority of people assume that serious photographers will end up buying Photoshop eventually. I mean, the act of tweaking a photo in software is called "Photoshopping"! But, I've also found that many people who own Photoshop never put it to its full use. Before dropping that $650 (or putting yourself at risk by running a "borrowed" copy), try Gimp. -It's free, afterall, so you have nothing to lose. When/if you outgrow Gimp (and know WHY you need to upgrade), THEN buy Photoshop. -The transition between the two is relatively easy (tools may be in a different place, but icons are similar and they retain the same names/do the same things). Heck, in the meantime you may be able to skip a version of Photoshop and save yourself a $300 upgrade...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

Planning a photo.

When I bought my (first) house about 3 years ago there was a wildflower garden in the middle of the backyard. It looked out of place there, so I dug it all up and planted grass there instead. Year 2, many wildflowers and a whole bunch of tulips sprung up in the middle of the backyard again; so, I sat there digging up bulbs and roots and trying to remove everything that wasn't grass. Year 3 it looks like I got it all. So far there's only grass growing there in the middle of my backyard.

Last fall I decided I was going to plant some flowers specifically to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to my backyard in the spring for more photo opportunities this summer. So, before winter set in, I dug up a little bit of our backyard (against the fence) to use as a flower bed in the spring.

Recently, however, I've begun to give it a bit more thought. What will my background be for these photos? Fence. Doh!

So, I started thinking about putting a flower bed in the middle of the backyard...

Luckily, I've thought of another option, though. I think I'm going to buy a piece of thin plywood at the hardware store, paint it flat black, and attach it to the fence behind the flowerbed. That way, my background will be black, which should make for some striking photos I think.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Outlook 0x8007000E and 0x8004010F errors

In an Exchange 2000 environment, I had one user reporting that she could send emails, but she was not receiving new emails. When a Send/Receive was initiated, the following Outlook 2003 error occurred:

Error message when you send or receive e-mail messages in Outlook: "Sending and Receiving reported error (0x8007000E): Out of memory or system resources"

Taking Outlook out of Cached Exchange mode allowed her to receive emails, but she was still getting the following error in Outlook when a Send/Receive was initiated:

Task 'Microsoft Exchange Server' reported error (0x8004010F): 'The operation failed. An object could not be found.'

...the problem ended up being a corrupt email message. I found it by creating a .pst file on her desktop and attempting to export her entire mailbox to it. I got an error saying the "operation failed". From there, I had to figure out where the corrupt message was, so I re-exported her mailbox one folder at a time. I got lucky, it was in her Deleted Items folder, which was both near the top, and easy to fix. Rather than search through the 386 messages she had in the folder, I simply backed up the folder and then emptied it.

Afterwards I did a Send/Receive and it was successful. I tested it a few more times, it was successful each time (it was failing 100% of the time before), so I declared victory and gave the user back her computer.

This page has some other good suggestions of things to try if you are getting the 0x8004010F error: