Mar 17 2009

how art directors and designers can “fix” people like me

Published by at 9:56 pm under architecture,engineering,process,teaching,technique

At last. A new little know feature in Photoshop CS4 can save you from photographers like me!

When I was learning how to shoot, the documentary photographers I admired all made their prints using a filed out negative carrier. That would burn in the distinctive black border around the print that served as the seal of approval to indicate the the photo was so properly composed that there was no need at all to ever crop the image.

palm how art directors and designers can fix people like me

The distinctive black border proves that the frame is not cropped

This palm tree shadow photo taken with a plastic Diana camera shows the distinctive ragged edge of camera opening inside the black border Рproof that it was not cropped!

Just because the picture is perfect doesn’t mean that some well meaning designer or art director doesn’t have a perfect cover format or design that this photo want to grace. Before recently there was the battle of perfection -until now.

Content-Aware Scaling to the rescue.

This new feature in Photoshop CS4 goes beyond the crop and allows the people that want to mess with my pictures the opportunity drastically change the format without hacking off an arm or a leg.

As an example, here is the original rectangular capture of a radio telescope in Owens Valley.

20081029 stk 2004 how art directors and designers can fix people like me

The original rectangular capture

Using Content-Aware Scaling the rectangle is stretched in perfect proportion into a panorama.

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The panorama version

Notice how the dish and sun remain unaffected and the mountains and sky nicely stretch. Now lets try a square…

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The square version

Once again it all looks natural. Imagine how you can now make photos fit your wonderful design without having to crop!

There are a couple of tricks to make this all work, but none of them require advanced Photoshop mind warping abilities. You can learn all about the technique from the amazing Dr. Russell Brown. This is a long page of tips and you will need to scroll 1/4 of the way down the page to the 9/23/08 tip. There you will find an entertaining and instructive video.

Mark Harmel


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