March/April 2004 HelpLine

 
A Change In Perspective

    * Correcting A Leaning Tower
    * Waiting For My Prints To Come
    * Inflating File Sizes
    * Driving Partitions
    * Keeping All Your Pixels

Correcting A Leaning Tower

Q)  A lot of my pictures have buildings that aren’t straight. Is there a way to correct this in the computer?

Glen Brown
Rockford, Illinois

A)  Most image-processing programs offer some sort of perspective control. Jasc Paint Shop Pro offers a Perspective tool in the toolbar. Adobe products include a perspective adjustment in the Transform part of the menu (Photoshop also allows you to adjust perspective using the Crop tool). Check your help menu in other programs to locate the Perspective tools.

Here’s how the Transform tool works, for example. First, your image has to be on a layer (if you don’t know layers, go to Layer > Duplicate Layer as a good starting point). The Transform tools are found either under the Edit or Image menus; go to Transform > Perspective. By enabling this menu item, you’re given control points or handles on the edges of your image (they look like tiny round circles).

 


If the building is leaning toward you, grab the top-left or top-right control point and drag it to the outside of your image. (It helps to expand your canvas so you have room to work.) This adjustment will seemingly bring the upper portion of the image toward you. By using the other control points, you can correct for buildings that are leaning left or right. You’ll find the control works well if you play with it a little. Once you make the adjustment, you’ll need to crop the image to get rid of the slanted edges. In addition, you may need to stretch or compress your image if the corrected building starts looking too short and squat or too tall and thin.

Waiting For My Prints To Come

 

Q)  I have an Epson Stylus Photo 1280, along with a new computer—512 RAM, P4 three-gig processor, etc. The problem I’m having is that I can only do one print at a time, and can’t queue the job. I’m using Windows XP Business Edition

Roy Elahi
Via e-mail

A)  In order to queue print jobs on a computer, you have to enable print spooling, a method by which your computer doesn’t send your file to the printer directly. Instead, it sends the file to your hard disk and then parcels out the file to your printer as a “background process” of your operating system. This setup allows you to continue working on other files without having to wait for your printer to finish printing.

Normally, this is a default setting. However, here’s how to turn on print spooling: From the Start menu, go to Control Panel and double-click Printers and Faxes. Right-click on your printer, select Properties from the menu and then select the Advanced tab. Now it’s just a matter of selecting the option “Spool print documents so program finishes printing faster.”

 


You also have the option to “Start printing immediately” or “Start printing after last page is spooled.” I like to wait until all pages are spooled because it gives me a chance to cancel a print job if I’ve made a mistake. Otherwise, the first print starts printing right away and I can only cancel the second print.

Inflating File Sizes

Q)  I don’t understand what’s happening with my digital camera image files. Whether I shoot in Normal mode, producing a picture file size of about 680 KB, or in Fine mode, producing a picture of about 1100 KB, the opened document size is always the same, 9.0 MB. Shouldn’t the picture shot in the Fine mode contain more information and therefore be a larger-sized document?

Richard Steinfeld
Watchung, New Jersey

A)  File sizes from the modes you’re choosing are related to picture compression, i.e., how much the larger 9 MB file is compressed into a smaller file size. Normal mode is more compressed than Fine mode. Normal compression technology represents the image as something other than a pixel-by-pixel definition of the image. Although the pixel count between the two images is technically equivalent, the compression scheme makes one file smaller as it comes from the camera.

When you open the file in any imaging program, the file is uncompressed, so that you’re working in a non-compressed environment strictly based on the number of pixels in the final image. The final number of pixels in each image is then the same (you set that on your digital camera), so the file size is the same.

Image compression is a very smart way of dealing with pixels (duplicates are removed), but higher compression levels can cause problems in reconstructing the image. The end result is that very small detail can be affected in the amount of compression used, which is why the manufacturer labels one level of compression “Fine.” The amount of compression doesn’t change the final file size in either mode.

 

 


Driving Partitions

Q)  When I bought my computer six years ago, it had a then-enormous 8 GB hard drive, which arrived partitioned into four “separate” drives. I’m ready to buy a new computer and, since I plan to edit video, I want to buy the fastest, biggest everything, including a whopping 200 GB hard drive. Your articles suggest a second hard drive for storing video footage while editing.

Do I need a physically separate hard drive? Can the 200 GB drive be partitioned? The manufacturer of the computer I’m leaning toward offers a RAID 0 system that controls two hard drives (120 GBs each), so they work together as one 240 GB drive.

Linda Ingles
Metairie, Louisiana

A)  Not that long ago, operating systems weren’t able to deal with large hard drives. They had to be partitioned so the file systems would work properly. Now, modern operating systems (Windows XP and Mac OS 9/OS X) have caught up and are fully capable of addressing larger hard drives. As far as partitioning is concerned, a partition doesn’t give you the performance increase that a separate drive does. You asked about improved performance for video. A separate physical drive is a better option.

I still like to partition large hard drives for organization. I put the operating system on one partition, applications on another, utilities on another, and all of my documents on yet another. I also use partitioning as a precaution and possibly to save myself some trouble. If I lose a partition, I won’t lose all the data on the drive. (Of course, if the drive fails, I’m out of luck.)

I also use partitions to help with building removable media. For example, I have partitions that are the size of a CD-R, DVD-R, a USB drive and a Zip disk. I let the operating system tell me when the drive is “full” and then I start burning the discs.

 

 


RAID 0 (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Discs) will give you higher speed performance from the disc pair. Think of RAID 0 as writing your data in parallel on both discs. The downside is that if you lose one disc, you’ll lose all your data.

Keeping All Your Pixels

Q)  In the December 2003 issue, a question was asked about saving a Name.JPEG as Name1.JPEG to keep from over-compressing the file and losing too much detail. If you open a JPEG file in Photosh
op and then save it as a Photoshop file, or a TIFF, will you maintain detail (pixels) and avoid recompression?

Dan Stiegler
Via e-mail

A)  When you open the JPEG-compressed file in any program, you’re not decreasing image quality. If you always then save to the program file (such as a .psd file for Photoshop) or TIFF, you avoid recompression. This is the best method to use to retain quality in an image. This process changes the file type (as it’s no longer a compressed file), but it doesn’t change what’s in the image.

If you have any questions, please send them to HelpLine, PCPhoto Magazine, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025 or helpline@pcphotomag.com.

 

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