Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sing A Song of Nikons

Blogger seems to have been healed so that's nice.  I spent the last few days working on the camera.
I don't know if anyone will be very interested but here's what I learned.  No one takes a digital picture and figures that's the end of it.  That's more like the beginning.

When I was a photography major, you did everything in the camera.  Now you do everything in Photoshop.  Including sharpening because apparently digital isn't as sharp as film and everyone knows that.  But me.  I didn't know that.

You can use the Sharpening filter, the Unsharp mask or the High Pass mask.  I think the last winds up being the easiest--on the duplicate layer remember to switch from normal blending mode to overlay or nothing happens.  There are also some Photoshop Actions (an action is an automated procedure) for sharpening but I haven't tried one yet.  So if you decide to go in that direction, those are a couple search terms to use.

Amazon sent me notification that the tripod has shipped and I should get it soon.  That'll be great.  The tripod I had in college was really unsubstantial as I recall so this one can't be worse.  It got good reviews so we'll see.

If you aren't the kind of person who really wants to do everything themselves, if you don't already have a good camera and lens, you are better off going to a stock photo site and paying $12 for a photo to use on your cover.
(Don't use a sunset.  Way overdone.)  Or the other option is to spend a really lot of time going through and searching for something close to what you had in mind.  Some of the people who post their images there are very talented and if you contact them, they might sell you the rights to a one-time, non-exclusive use.  It will probably cost more than you want to pay.  10 X more than Shutterstock or similar.  But in general, I find the fare at the stock photo sites to be incredibly bland and uninspired.  It's worth it (if you have the money to spare) if you are busy and completely unprepared to do an image on your own.  I did find the vector art for Sweeps at an image site but still I had to put a couple more hours in on it to get what I needed.

An older woman sent me the cover image she did for her book.  I thought the image was very good and eye-catching.  The font was wrong and I told her to look a little harder.  She agreed and found something else that was better but I think still could have been improved.

Fonts are problematic.  I want something cool, too.  But the simpler the better/easier to read.  Script can look stunning but it can be very hard to read.  Just a week ago I scored bigtime and found a font that had been given away free for years but now has disappeared.   I found it and it's great but I know it's impossible to use on a cover.  I looked for days for the right font for Mr Mitnick's Harem.  Because the Mission Santa Caterina is so central to the valley and the story, I wanted a mission style font.  That's easy.  At the turn of the 19th Century Mission Oak furniture was the rage and recently experienced a renaissance so there are plenty of Arts & Crafts style fonts out there.  Most of them were too hard to read, or not very attractive.  Then I found something that worked and it's bold enough to read easily.

I hope you aren't being discouraged by the work that a cover might be.  See, I would get more discouraged and upset if I paid someone $200 and what they presented me was 180 degrees in opposition to what I wanted.   But there are people who do terrific work and it's worth the price.  A cover is important.

I just want to put a little addition here.  Today on one of the lists I'm on, someone begged to know the dimensions of a cover in Photoshop.  I emailed her off-list 1000 pixels X 1500 pixels.  So now hours later someone answered her on list and said to check with each site because they are all different.

NO THEY ARE NOT.  This is the standard dimension for what an ebook cover is expected to be.  You can make it larger staying within that ratio but that's what it is.  Amazon will tell you what the limits to the longest side are.  You can't send them 10,000 X 15,000 because you don't know any better.

Then the answerer said "But here's the good news.  You can go to (whatever) and make your image any size you want."

NO YOU CAN'T if you want to maintain your resolution and detail.

Say I have an image that's (keeping the math easy for me here) 500 X 750 (and this is way too small, don't bother, don't entertain these numbers, they are wrong).  If your DPI isn't sufficient, when you increase the size of that image, it'll pixelate.  You can't make things bigger willy nilly.  You don't have the information in the image to support an increase in size.  Try it for yourself.  Download something from Google images that's say 200X200 and then in your graphics program blow it up real big and see what happens.  When it was resized down data was lost.  You can't make the data rematerialize just because you want the thing to be bigger.  It doesn't work like that.

Be careful about where you get your information.  This is important stuff and there are...people out there saying whatever comes into their heads based on nothing.

Maybe that's what people think of me.  That's fine.   I just want to assure you that any nutty ideas I have are always based on something!

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