Books on your iPad?

Want my e-books on your iPad after you buy them?

There’s probably many ways to achieve that, but here’s how I do it:

  1. Make sure iBooks is installed on your iPad. (free).
  2. Install Dropbox (also free) on both your computer and your iPad.
  3. Get a dropbox account (also free) and sign in on both devices.
  4. On the computer, drag the PDF file into Dropbox.
  5. On the iPad, open it.
  6. Then click on the export icon (the square with an arrow emanating from it).
  7. There, select “Open In…”.
  8. After the choice is presented to you, select “Open in iBooks” or “Copy to iBooks”..

The file has now been copied to iBooks, and you can read it there any time, very conveniently (it has been formatted to be read easily on an iPad).


Whatever works.

We spend a lot of time getting rid of, and better, preventing, “noise”. Grainy pictures due to extra amplification of signal that should not be in the image. Noise is worse at high ISOs and at low light levels. The signal-to-noise ratio is the important number, and exposing to the right, among other things, minimizes noise.

In fact, you can do a number of things to reduce noise:

  1. Use a modern camera.
  2. Use a large sensor.
  3. Use low ISO.
  4. Expose brightly (“expose to the right”).
  5. Do after-the-fact noise cancellation using, for instance, Lightroom.

But is grain always bad?

Surprisingly, the answer is “no”. Film grain gives your photos that old film look:

If you view that full screen, you see that it looks like old Kodak Tri-X film. And that can add to the mood you want to convey. It is for that reason that Adobe Lightroom has “Grain” as an “effects” setting in the Develop module.

This type of grain also enhances apparent sharpness, and hides skin blemishes. So go ahead: if the mood calls for it, add some grain when you like.

So: do not obsess. Noise bad, but sometimes noise good. Often, noise is not as bad as at first we think.


Mirrorless Tip

When you use a mirrorless camera, like this one, held by a student at this past Saturday’s Meetup Seminar…:

…then you need to be careful with your camera’s settings.

Often, mirrorless cameras have a way to make the picture that you see through the viewfinder look exactly like the picture you will be taking. So it looks like the “finished product”.

That sounds like a plan, eh?

But it isn’t. Not always, in any case. In particular, when you take flash photos. Because when you take a flash photo, the camera has no way of knowing this, and of knowing what the photo will look like. All it will show you is what the ambient part of the picture will look like.

And in a studio picture, that is usually something like this:


Well, when taking a studio shot, the ambient light should not show at all in your photo. Only your flashes should. Therefore, you would usually use a standard studio setting like 1/125 sec, f/8, at 200 ISO.

So if you tell your camera “show me the ‘finished product’ through my viewfinder”, you will see nothing.  So you cannot even focus, or compose the photo.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you turn that feature off. So that you see the same thing you would see through an SLR’s viewfinder: a bright picture, or at least a picture that looks similar to what you are seeing without a camera. In flash photos, I would say that is a very good thing.



Sharpening is often a mystery. And Lightroom does it very well.

You have four sliders: Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking.

Amount determines how much sharpening you apply. I set this between 25% (hardly any) and 50% (a lot), usually,

Radius determines how close to the lines it is applied. 1.0 pixels is the system default: a pixel either side of lines. I usually leave it close to that default. Avoid going too high.

But sharpening means the introduction of grainy noise.  And the next two sliders have something to do with that. For these as well as the other sliders, holding down Alt-Option while sliding shows you the effect.

Detail means the amount of sharpening applied to the edges; in practice this also means “how much noise is introduced:”. I leave it in the 20-40 range, usually.

The image without sharpening:

Now with various amounts of sharpening:

Now some more, but with more of a mask, so it is not applied everywhere:

Masking means “where the sharpening is and is not applied”. White means “it is applied here”, black means “it is not applied here”. I leave this between 0 (everywhere) and “whatever is needed”. Press Alt/Option to set this so that the maximum is applied where the sharpening is needed, without adding noise to areas like the sky.

By judicious use of these sliders, especially the masking and amount sliders, you can apply sharpening just where it is needed.

The result: a very sophisticated sharpening tool, which equals what Photoshop can do.  Worth learning the details.


Digital Camera Straps?

I am struck today by yet another ad for a “digital” device, This time, a grey card.

Here’s the online product description:

Let’s parse that, shall we? Read all the bullets and you see that they are either circular (it is for digital because it was “designed for digital”), or irrelevant. Or dumb (“susceptible to damage”: what, digital photographer damages cardboard more than film photography did?)

The only “advantage” that has anything to do with anything is “spectrally uniform”. Well, so are the old pieces of cardboard. There is really nothing in there that has anything to do with “digital”, so why they say “these will not work for film cameras” is beyond me.

Or rather, it is not beyond me.

It’s called “marketing”.

Companies want you to buy things, and re-labelling everything “digital” takes advantage of gullible innocents, who think they must buy new UV filters, grey cards; anything they can stick the word “Digital” in front of. Soon we will have digital camera straps!

So, my advice: when something you already own is re-marketed with the word “digital”, be very suspicious. It’s quite probably just a money grab.


Those of you who live in, or near, Brantford: I am holding a meetup Saturday, 10AM… read all about it here. There is still space.