Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not a Resolutions Post!

People make New Year's resolutions, and then don't stick to them. So, instead of that, I'm going to post a few things that annoy me. I shall do my best to abolish these things, and hence make myself happy and in the process, make myself more pleasant to the outside world, which should hopefully make up for not having any resolutions.

That'll also help me make up fake resolutions for when people insist.


1) Walking into a spider's web in the morning-

This happens when you've just set foot out of the house. These webs, produced by the less mentally gifted of the eight legged insects, hang in wait for you in places like the front door frame, the gap between a car and a pillar, or even a wall and a drooping tree branch. It's extremely annoying when you've just cleaned up and set out towards the new day and you have this invisible net all over your face and hair. After you've managed to get rid of the infernal web from hell, you end up looking exactly the way you woke up, which would be okay if everyone lived in a movie, but, as my shrink said, that's not so.

2) People throwing maxims at you -

"Early to bed & Early to rise, Makes a man Healthy, Wealthy & Wise"

As if it were any object to a boy to be healthy, wealthy and wise on those terms. It is sayings such as these that pull down a sprouting individual, and makes him lose all hope of ever measuring up to anything. What with people praising various idols and exalting their kids to be like them, not realizing that these "idols" were really vicious. Take for example the author of the line above, B Franklin. In order to fly his kite out on Sundays, he'd hang a key on it and say he was "fishing for lightning", and the people would go about praising the "great wisdom" of the sabbath breaker. What parents don't realize is that studying till morning, then waking up at an inhuman hour and doing things like peddling your own poetry are the signs of genius, not the cause of it. If they did, there would be so many more little Einsteins and Darwins. And I would have earned my first million by 16, yet here I am.

3) Made for TV Christmas movies -

These pieces of coal that flow out of the studios along with the rest of the gems and assorted rocks, seem to want to somehow bludgeon the viewer into the Christmas spirit with an arsenal of bad acting and directing. The way these weapons are yielded could very well scare an audience into submission, and want to pray to god to make it stop. And what better way for a non-believer to start than by celebrating the birthday of the very one he is about to appeal to for help?

That's all that comes to mind right now, but there's plenty more, obviously...

May the New Year bring you New Joy!

I thought that up myself. That has to count for something extra. You owe me a New Year's gift.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas People! Here's my card to you -

Another year comes to an end... ... I'm trying to think of something meaningful to say, but, true to form, my mind's wisdom generator fails me at the most (in)opportune moments.

Anyway, As the more perceptive of you might have noticed, Christmas is going downhill. I remember when I was small when we used to go shopping for all sorts of things during Christmas season. From new decorations, even if they're not really needed, to speacial food. Now, each of us usually does our own small scale purchasing at Christmas.

But, ever the optimist(most of the time :-) ), I keep hoping for some sort of relief. Be it either moving out, or a revolution of some kind(fat chance).

But this is not the time to dwell on such things! Christmas is not about buying things is it? Enjoy the season for what it is!

Have a merry Christmas!

.... Christmas is waaaayyy too commercialized.

Also consider -

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How to clean photographs using Photoshop - Tutorial

How to touch up your photographs in Photoshop

Here’s a basic tutorial on cleaning up your images using Photoshop CS2. The procedure should be the same for Elements, too, I think. I hope this will be useful when trying to make something out of those millions of images you shot while on vacation of cars, trees, dust, sky, water, trees and cars.
Step 1

Open the image to be edited in Photoshop. I’m sure you all know how, but just in case Suraaj is reading, Go to File>Open. :-)

Now, Close all the unnecessary panels in Photoshop. You can do this by clicking on the little x at the top right of each box. Do so for all except the Tools and Layers boxes, since you won’t be needing the rest for this “operation”. So it will look something like this.

Step 2

Now, the first thing to do is to press “Shift+Ctrl+L”(Or if you like the hard way, Image>Adjustments>Auto Levels). This will invoke the “Auto Levels” feature, which will try and predict what the picture’s overall colour is supposed to look like. If you don’t like what it does, simply press “Ctrl+Alt+Z”. Now, press “Ctrl+L”. This will bring up the manual Levels adjustment box, which looks like the one below. Mess around with it till you get a satisfactory look in your image. As you might see, dragging the things under the graph and at the bottom will reduce and increase the contrast and brightness in the image. Also, you can do this for each colour too. Experiment.

Step 3

Press “Ctrl+M” to bring up the “Curves” dialog. This will let you increase and decrease the brightness of select parts of the image. To do so, while the box is open, hold “Ctrl” and click on the parts of the image where you think the brightness is enough already, for example the sky, or a window in a room. Each time you click, a small dot will appear on the graph, holding that position. Then, click on a part of the curve, and see what happens. After a while, you’ll get the hang of it, and be able o adjust the thing so that jus the dark bit in your image are given some light. If you have, overall, a bright picture, then the process is reversed. i.e., “Ctrl”+click the dark areas.

Step 4

Saturation – Press “Ctrl+U” to bring up the Hue & Saturation dialog. This lets you alter the “freshness” of the image. Click on the slider under “Saturation” and slide away. Big alterations are not recommended unless you want people to look like tomatoes. Usually, +/- 10 works. You can play with the Hue if you want your subjects to appear alien like and display a range of comic book emotions, like jealousy(100) and anger(-30). What it does is, it replaces colours with different ones, as shown in the bar below the sliders. Or you could just click “Colourize”, and see what happens!

Step 5

Noise is common, and no one likes it, unless it’s blocking horrible music. To get rid of it, Click on “Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise…”. Then, Slide around till you get something you like. But try and stay away from the “Remove JPEG artifact” checkbox. In nearly all the images I’ve used it on, it just interprets all objects as noise, and goes forth blurring them. After you get something you like, click Done and take a look at what’s become of the image.

Step 6

If you want to do more, like clean up people’s faces, use the lasso tool to select the faces (Press L and then click and drag around the faces). You don’t have to get the lasso around perfectly. A rough shape will do. Then Right-click on the selection and click “Feather”. Enter a value of about 8 for a four mega pixel image. You’ll see what it does in the image below.

Then, copy that face by pressing “Ctrl+C”, and paste it again using “Ctrl+V”. This will make the face appear in its own layer. This means it can be manipulated separately. Imagine it as shapes made of paper, one on top of the other. Copy and paste various other objects you want to edit separately into more layers. You can rename these layers, for ease of use by double clicking on the layer name in the “Layers” palette(Default names are Layer 1,2 and so on).

Now that you have your objects in separate layers, use some of the tools described above on your disembodied faces. For example, you might want to emphasize a certain magazine in the image, and so you can make it more visible. To see if your work has made the image better or not, keep clicking on the little eye icon next to the layer names, to make the layers visible and invisible. Doing so will let you see whether the modifications are beneficial, or if the face still looks like the one it was originally.
Here are some examples of images done up –

Hotel Room-

Yala-Sloth Bear in Dehiwala-
Just as a note, The end result of the above image can be found at, and runs a pretty interesting forum.

Well, that’s it for now folks! If I can make myself get round to it, I’ll make another on using the Rubber Stamp tool. “Why would I want to stamp my pictures with purple ink?” you ask? Well, It’s a wee bit different in Photoshop y’see…