A home for the things I think are worthy of sharing. Will largely be photography based.

Archive for October, 2012

Photoshop / editing mouse

Logitech G400

Yes I said mouse!

Photographers are used to talking about or reading about pen-tablets – and they have their place – however I personally tend to see this largely as being when you need to do fine detailed work such as cleaning up skin or hair on studio shoots, or table-top product shoots. But for the most part I don’t need to go down to this level of detail – events being the most common example for myself. It may be because I’ve not totally got used to the tablet as yet (I have a Wacom Intuous 5 small).

Before getting my tablet I’d customised my Photoshop so that my most used functions were assigned shortcut keys. I had to  assign these in a couple of instances but Photoshop makes this easy as almost anything can be assigned a shortcut key.

My most used actions when editing photos like event photos are:

  • Maximize image
  • Crop
  • Levels
  • Curves
  • Sharpen
  • Flatten

And on the whole – that’s it. There will be a few instances when I do other work but those are by far the most common.

As I use layers a lot of these were shift-key combinations i.e. you had to press the shift key down and a letter key to operate the shortcut. These are the shortcut keys I set up, or were in place. Not a lot of thought was put into these initially but it’s what I got used to eventually.

  • Levels Layer : Shift-, (shift and comma)
  • Curves Layer : Shit-M
  • Sharpen : Shift-F (This is the default shortcut for re-doing the last filter done)
  • Flatten : Ctrl-Shift-F

 

Although shortcut keys do certainly quicken the workflow (rather than selecting the item from Photoshop menus or sub-menus) it’s still a bit of a break in the flow – hands need to move, find keys, press them etc. This is especially so when the key-combination isn’t simple to do with one hand and both need to move (this is where I think I should have assigned simpler short-cut keys).  So I had the idea of looking to find a mouse that  has assignable buttons. Not sure now but I knew they existed – maybe just noticing one in a computer shop when doing something else.

There’s a whole wealth of mice out there with more than the usual 2/3 mouse buttons – a huge amount in fact. They’re called gaming mice. Of course these are directed towards the gamers as they want to do certain actions quickly without swaping hand in case they get blown up ;)…… where’s that key to change weapon *BOOM* – damn game over…. and such like.

They come in all shapes and sizes – some even have customizable shapes ! But their price range also vary significantly.

I had a brief look around and decided on some main requirements:

  • At least 3 definable buttons in addition to standard 2
  • Wired (don’t see the point of having wireless if it’s never leaving my desk and don’t want to waste batteries)
  • Optical (rather than laser – seen some iffy reviews)
  • Affordable (I’m not a gear freak in terms of PC stuff so didn’t see the point in spending £100 on a mouse!)

In the end (after looking at specs and reading reviews) I decided to go for the Logitech G400.

Logitech G400

 

I bought it for something like £25/27 (probably Amazon) rather than the £35 listed on the Logitech site.

In addition to the usual 3 buttons (left, right, roller-with click) it has an additional 5 buttons. Two at the side that are assigned to anything and three at the top which are usually assigned to precision/speed.

In the software that comes with it you can assign these to different actions, e.g.:

  • Keystroke (single)
  • Key-Combinations
  • Mouse function
  • Text
  • Media (e.g. play, pause)
  • Hotkey (e.g.  windows operation e.g. open/close a window)
  • Function (e.g. Open windows “My Computer” window)
  • etc

This picture shows the interface and what I’ve assigned them to/called them:

Mouse key combination G400

 

So they are :

  • Levels (New levels layer)
  • Curves (New Curves Layer)
  • Flat-Filter (Flatten the image and then Sharpen – or last filter)
  • Full (Maximise image window)
  • Saturation (New Saturation level)

Each one refers to a “Multi Key” combination and one does two things (Flatten + Sharpen). You can do these using the tool/driver to record what you press – so it’s just a matter of clicking record and then doing the key presses. This also records lifting the keys after you’ve done. But one important thing to remember is that on the New layer combinations you also need to press Enter if you want to accept the default name of the window, which I usually do, else you’re left with the new layer prompt. If I want to rename it for a longer edit I can do that later.

So here’s the combination for new Levels Layer as an example (usually Shift-, on the keyboard):

Logitech mouse key configuration

 

 

Rest is fairly simple really.
As seen in the first image you can set different button settings for different applications. It does come with some suggested configurations but almost all of these are games …. which I don’t have or have the time to play. Of late I have found that it can struggle to pick up which application I’m using sometime, especially when going from Bridge to CameraRaw and then to Photoshop. I’ll press a button to do something but instead of my assigned function something else will happen e.g. instead of maximising the image the mouse will get more sensitive (quicker). This can be solved by doing a windows alt-tab to swap away and then again back to Photoshop. Annoying sometimes but on the whole the mouse is saving me a lot of time. Very glad I bought it even though I now have a Wacom tablet too.


Skyport Receiver Battery

Skyport Receiver Battery note

Not a very exciting blog post – but hopefully one that may help others.

I have a set of Elinchrom Skyport Speed radio triggers – one transmitter and two receivers. Recently one of the receivers stopped working. The transmitter has a replaceable battery but the receivers have an internal rechargeable battery which you charge by plugging in an AC adapter. The malfunctioning receiver wouldn’t turn on. When plugged in to AC power the LED would glow as it should when charging BUT a lot dimmer than the working receiver. I tried to charge it well over 3hrs as described in instructions – but then after disconnecting the power it wouldn’t work. Wouldn’t even turn on properly when the AC was plugged in as I’ve read it should.

I bought the set January 2011 so over a year ago and couldn’t find a reference to warranty period online so was worried that it would be out of warranty. However after mentioning the dilemma on Facebook, friends mentioned that under EU law electronics should have a warranty of two years. And sure enough – after contacting the retailer (Photomart) they said I could get it repaired under warranty – joy! After sending it to Photomart they sent it to The Flash Centre – the Uk distributor and service centre for Elinchrom who repaired it and sent it back.

On it’s return there was a note (below) stating that the battery had discharged so significantly that it couldn’t regain power – interesting. The note was A5 and seemed pre-prepared as if this isn’t an un-common issue- and so I thought it worth blogging so others with a similar issue and googling the issue know what to do. It may be worth charging your receivers from time to time in the hope of preventing this also – or if you commonly only use one – to swap them.

Skyport Receiver Battery note

Transcript:

The Skyport Universal Speed Receiver internal battery has been reformed due to a deep state of discharge.

The most likely cause is that the skyport has been stored away for a period of time in a discharged state.

Therefore we recommend that you recharge the skyport after each use to avoid similar occurring in the future.

The Li-ion battery charges in approx. 3hrs

Auto-Standby function after 4 hours.

Internal rechargeable battery lasts up to 30 hrs.