Making do with a snapshot

Photo before and after 15 minute retouch session
15 minute Photoshop project

You’re on deadline and the only photo available for print or online publication isn’t ideal. Not to despair! Frequently a snapshot plus about 10 or 15 minutes of novice level work can salvage the situation. Just a couple concepts to keep in mind:

1. Less is more; strive for believability, not perfection. A modest correction will usually produce a more natural looking finished image. Leave the major work to the retouching pros.

2. Consider the final use; 1″ x 1″ yearbook image won’t merit the same level of work as a national magazine cover shot. Use your zoom tools to review the image at various sizes before busting your schedule needlessly.

3. Busy backgrounds are a common but correctable problem. Try softening them and making subtle lightness/darkness adjustments to achieve a simpler looking finished image.

4. Save work by training your photographers. Poor lighting and misused on-camera flash are some of the most common offenses. A few minutes of education can save hours of retouching work.

5. Always work on a calibrated monitor. 9 out of 10 people have their displays set far too bright and blue. Copies&Ink offers a FREE calibration test CD you can use to evaluate how your on screen images will will print. Just drop us a line.

Tools used:

Adobe Photoshop CS1
Healing Brush
Burn In
Techniques Used:
Masking (background selection)
Image Adjustment>Hue/Saturation (reds)
Blur (background)
Curves (background)

Have a similar project or questions you’d like to share? Feel free to add a comment ordrop us a line.

A wide screen under your tree?

If you’re still using a 17″ display, perhaps Santa inadvertently missed your chimney. Today’s publishing (and general computer work) demands require a lot of monitor real estate. A 20″ or greater display should pay for itself quickly in saved time, not to mentioned reduced eyestrain.

A recent MacWorld review compared the most recent crop of 20″ LCD monitors. Top pick was a unit from NEC; with street prices at around $350. A couple of caveats when using LCDs for prepress work:

1. Off the shelf, these consumer units may be miles away from being correctly calibrated. You’ll need a software hardware combo such as the Huey from Pantone to set things straight. At $89 it’s easily worth the money; in fact, we use it here at Copies&Ink. Here’s a video about the unit:

2. While big displays are now much more affordable, they should be considered consumer units, not suited for high end color work. So consider your needs and expectations before making the investment. It might be worth considering an Apple Cinema display or other mid to high price unit, if your need exceeds that of pleasing color.

What’s in your design studio? How has it worked? Drop us a line or a comment!

Holiday Wish

By Bill Alpert / December 25, 2007

Christmas presence

There is a light in the darkness. It is love; it is joy.

There is a pure and simple radiance with a positive, joyous
power. It warms the hearts of those who value peace and

The spirit of Christmas transcends beliefs, traditions,
culture and customs. It speaks directly to the heart, of
love and grace, of giving and of renewal.

In the pure, limitless power of love, life is created and
sustained. In the radiance of this day, love’s presence is
joyously expressed again and again, in countless ways.

In this moment, new life begins. And love is the
ever-present purpose that drives every other purpose.

On this day, you have a glimpse of how truly blessed you
are. Give love, give joy, and you have even more.

Ralph Marston

On the Road

By Bill Alpert / December 22, 2007

Posted by Bill Alpert

December has been my month to travel cross country; if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a highlight of my trip.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans on a recent weeknight

There is, and could only ever be one New Orleans. My family’s trek across the country gave us a day to savor the city’s unique flavor. The Red Fish Grill provided a dinner I’ll remember for years to come. Check out their double chocolate bread pudding for dessert. OMG.

The real treat came with a stroll along Bourbon street. It was buzzing with activity, even on a Wednesday night. Music streamed out of practically every doorway. We were awed by a makeshift brass band which took up residence on a street corner. Their robust almost cacophonous sound, a funky, updated tribute to traditional dixieland playing was at once honest, vital and virtuostic. Most amazing of all, none of group appeared to be older than a teenager.

Beyond the French Quarter, one doesn’t have to look far to find evidence of Hurricane Katrina. The local newscasts still feature stories of the many struggles this proud city still faces.

What an embarrassment that such destruction and poverty can continue to persist so long after the hurricane. This is our country, these people our citizens, this music our heritage. Dear Lord!

Impromptu street concert worthy of Lincoln Center

It’s been a wonderful trip. Still, we’re looking forward to being home, and sharing the holidays with friends and family. On behalf of the everyone and Copies&Ink, I’d like to extend warm and wonderful holiday wishes along with a healthy and prosperous 2008.

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