Smethwick Photographic Society

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Midlands Photography

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Tips & Tricks

The SPS Google Programme Calendar


Tip from: Garry R James


If you have a Google account and use the calendar function you can transfer details of any events that may interest you directly from the SPS calendar to yours automatically as follows:


Login to your Google account, on a different browser tab than the one you are using to view the SPS website, so that your calendar is accessible.


Click on any event in the SPS calendar that you are interested in and an event details message window will pop up.


Click on the link "Copy to my calendar" and YOUR Google calendar will pop up showing this entry as an editable event where you can add your own information or comment, if you wish, then just press the big red 'Save' button and the event will be added to your calendar. Of course if you have your Google calendar synced with other devices it will show there automatically too.


Hey Presto


Photoshop Crop Resolution


Tip from: Garry R James


The default crop resolution when installing Photoshop is 72 pixels/inch so any images that you crop will be reduced to this resolution. So, when using the 'Crop' tool in Photoshop, make sure that the crop 'Resolution' is set to 300 pixels/inch, or whatever you prefer. You can alter this setting by clicking on the crop tool and then altering the value in the context menu at the top of the window. You should only need to make this setting once.


Organise your SPS Competition Entries


Tip from: Garry R James


You can download a complete set of folders for all the SPS Merits and Competitions from this website. There are folders for all the SPS competitions that you may wish to enter in any one season.


There are folders for the following:

Mono Print Merits, Colour Print Merits, PDI Merits, Annual Nature Competition, Annual Members Exhibition and the Smethwick International Exhibition.


Each of the above 'Master' folders contains all the individual sub-folders for each category of the various competitions. You can use these folders to easily store your resized images ready for each competition as you work to produce your competition images day to day.


This will also provide you with a record of the images you enter into each competition throughout the year and can even be kept by you as your historical record of entries.


Click on the SPS ZIP image opposite download the zip file.


Once downloaded Unzip (Extract it) to your PC by right-clicking on the zip file. Once unzipped please view the README document to discover how this can help you.

You can then delete the zip file or keep it and rename it for future seasons.


Correct Your Image Titles


Tip from: Garry R James


We all have a problem at times in deciding which words should be capitalized in our picture titles or image file names.


But help is at hand, you can use a free online utility, Capitalize My Title, to correctly title your images for the galleries or competition pictures/images etc.


Simply type, or Copy & Paste your proposed title, into the utility and it will transform your title into the correct upper and lower case letters for you. Then just Copy & Paste the result to rename your image file.


e.g. You Enter

i went on a trip to scotland in the winter


The Utility Generates

I Went on a Trip to Scotland in the Winter


If you click on the link below a new tab will open in your browser. You can save this page as one of your favourites or add it as a tab to your browser so that it always instantly available. 


Capitalize your title HERE


How to Bring Detail into Shadow Areas


Tip from: Garry R James


1. Open your image in Photoshop.


2. In the layers palette your picture will be named 'Background' and will be highlighted. If you don't have the layers palette open, on the main menu go to Window > Show Layers to reveal the palette.


3. Double click on the layer named 'Background', a window will appear asking if  you want to create a new layer, click OK. Your image will now be named Layer 0.


4. Click and hold Layer 0 with your mouse then Drag & Drop it onto the icon named 'Create a new layer' on the menu at the bottom of the layer palette. The icon is second from right in the menu, next to the dustbin, and looks like a square piece of paper with the corner turned up.


5. You should now have two copies of the same layer i.e. Layer 0 and Layer 0 copy and

Layer 0 copy should now be highlighted.


6. On the main PS menu go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation then, use the middle slider (Saturation:) to de-saturate the picture, by moving the slider all the way to

the left, then click OK.


7. On the main PS menu choose Image > Adjustments > Invert. This will result in the image becoming negative.


8. On the main PS menu go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the slider at the bottom to a pixel radius of somewhere between about 8 to 10, then click OK.


9. In the Layers palette you will see a field at the top left which will have 'Normal' in it. Click on the arrow to the right of 'Normal' to expand the menu  and select 'Soft Light'.


10. The shadow areas of the image will now be opened up and you can adjust the opacity of the effect if desired.


11. To save the resulting image go to Layer > Flatten Image then save the image with a new file name.


You can Copy & Paste this tip text into a WORD document if you wish.


Free Photo Editing Software


Tip from: Garry R James


You can download a free version of NCH PhotoPad photo editing software which is not only great for beginners but more advanced users may find some interesting features also.


Photo Editing Features

  • Crop, rotate, resize and flip pictures

  • Touch up photos to remove red-eye and blemishes

  • Apply photo effects, including oil paint, cartoon, vignette, sepia and many more

  • Improve photo quality and focus with blur, sharpening and noise reduction tools

  • Adjust the color balance, exposure, levels, brightness, contrast and more

  • Create collages and photo mosaics with your photographs

  • Convert your photo to cross stitch patterns, paint by numbers or add an oil painting effect

  • Photo stitching to make your own panorama images

  • Add color to old black and white photos using the color restoration tool

  • Merge multiple exposures to create stunning HDR photographs

  • Load jpg, gif, png and other popular image formats

  • Add text and captions to photos

  • Insert clipart from the included clipart library

  • Add frames and borders around your photographs

  • Change the aspect ratio of an image without distorting key features using the liquid resize effect

  • Easily undo, re-order and edit existing effects on the layers list using non-destructive editing

  • Upload edited pictures directly to Facebook or Flickr


You can use the free version for as long as you like but you can, if you wish, buy the licenced 'Home Edition' for a few pounds.


The free version of PhotoPad photo editing software is available for non-commercial use only. If you will be using PhotoPad at home you can check out the features and download the free version HERE



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Below are links to some YouTube video tutorials that you may find useful. When you click on a subject it will open the tutorial on YouTube in a new tab in your browser.

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