Fun with fonts and typefaces.

Image

I love playing with fonts. There are designers who have made careers simply by designing fonts. Fonts can make or break a design or stand alone to evoke a mood. There are hundreds of thousands of fonts to choose from but only a relative few that are in common use.

Whats the difference between a typeface and a font?

Examples of script, sans-serif and serif fonts.

The Business Dictionary definition of a typeface is:

“Letters, numbers, and symbols in consistent type-weight and typestyle that make up a complete set (type family) of a distinctive design of printing type such as Ariel, Helvetica, Times Roman and thousands others.”

And a font as:

“Complete set of all characters that comprise a given typeface in a specific point size: capital (uppercase) letters, common (lowercase) letters, small caps, numbers, and mathematical and other symbols.”

Comparing fonts using pangrams:

A pangram is a sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet in a given language.
In English the sentence best known and most often used is:

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Examples of fonts.

(My French isn’t fluent but I’m told that the French equivalent is:

“Buvez de ce whisky que le patron juge fameux.”

which translates to: Drink some of this whiskey, which the boss finds excellent. )
French Pangram

Serif and Sans-serif.

All fonts can be broken into two groups Serif – such as Times and Sans-serif such as Ariel.
Serif and Sans-Serif fonts
A serif is the small line,decoration or “curly que” that is at the end of an individual letter. Fonts with out serifs are called sans-serif (without serif).

Usable fonts.

The font you use depends on your medium, print and/or the web,and your good or bad taste.

Conventional wisdom is that a sans-serif font is easier to read on screen and serif fonts are easier to read in print but it’s generally agreed you should never combine the two.(However rules are made to be broken.)

There is a growing number of overused fonts that Graphic Designers love to hate. You will find numerous blogs on why you should never use Comics Sans MT, or Papyrus but I bet you can’t go a week without seeing one of the “Terrible Ten” which are:

Overused fonts.

(OK, so “Chiller isn’t on the list, that’s my own personal peeve!”)

  1. Comics Sans MT
  2. Papyrus
  3. Courier
  4. Impact
  5. Curlz MT
  6. Bradley Hand, (infact almost all script fonts hit someones hate list)
  7. Frankenstein
  8. Trajan
  9. Bank Gothic
  10. Garamond

The other two fonts that nearly always hit peoples lists of overused and most hated are:

  1. Ariel (in all its various forms)
  2. Times New Roman

The trouble with Ariel and Times is, if you are designing for the web you almost have to use one or other as a default.

Fonts on the web

If you want to make sure that your text appears exactly the same way on all browsers, and platforms you have to make an image. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of your audiences browser and have to guess how your text will appear. Guess? Well yes. It is an educated guess but let me explain.

Back in the early days of HTML the only way to place your text where you wanted it was to use a table.(This practice is now frowned upon.) Then the W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium) decided to split content from design. HTML takes care of the text content and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) takes care of the text design or “style” of your text. (For many reason I won’t go into here this was actually a good thing.)

Style (for web typographical purposes) covers:

  • font
  • color
  • spacing
  • positioning

So what’s the problem? I don’t know what fonts my audience has installed on their devices! I’ll say that again.

“I don’t know what fonts my audience has installed on their devices!

I can specify what ever font in whatever size I like but, if for whatever reason your computer/tablet/phone doesn’t have that font installed, your browser will render its default serif or sans-serif font.

For just that reason CSS allows you to choose a list of alternatives. Having said that even two very similar fonts can display dramatically differently on two different devices. This is why you see so much of Ariel and Times, they are safe because almost all computers have both fonts installed. You will have plenty of pre-installed fonts on your computer but if you’ve been installing your own you can run into problems.

Slightly geeky bit over.

Fonts for Photography, and Images.

If none of the fonts on your device convey the image or message you want or you just want to have fun playing there are lots of places to find fonts. Many are free but some specialty fonts you will have to pay for.
Here is a list of places to start looking:

not to be confused with…


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A really basic introduction to Color Space.

Color is a whole science unto itself. Most people are aware of the color wheel, hue (adding black to a color) and tint (adding white) but what is color space?

Color Space

In its simplest terms a color space is:

An ordered list of numbers that represents specific colors.

That’s why you have numbers when you use a color picker/tool. Anyone familiar with HTML may have used the standard HTML (Hexadecimal) Color Space part of which is pictured below.


Example of Web Color Names and Hexadecimal Values.

Color Management.

Why do we worry about color space? Color space is really all about color management. In most cases I want the colors I see on my screen to be as near as possible to the color of the that images I print.
There are lots of color spaces but the most well known are RGB and CMYK.

RGB and CMYK

RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue and CMYK for Cyan, Magenta,Yellow and Black. RGB and CMYK are the two color spaces that most people are aware of but they are many color spaces, in fact you can even make your own.

RGB

When you view an image on screen you’re viewing RGB color. Three color guns project Red, Green and Blue onto the screen.
RGB Red, Green and Blue combined.

A few years ago if you were designing your images for use on the web you were advised to use the 256 web safe colors. That was because most computers could only accurately reproduce those 256 colors. Nowadays most computers and devices can see in millions of colors.

Note:

256 Colors is also known as 8 bit color. Each pixel is made up of one 8 bit, byte. (A byte being made up of the amount of information it takes to store 1 character on a computer.) A 16 bit system gives thousands of colors, and 24 bit system renders millions of colors.

RGB also has sub groups or think of them as different flavors of RGB color.

For example:

  • sRGB is a color space that came about in 1996 when Microsoft and Hewlett Packard got together to decide on a standard for their monitors, and printers.
  • Adobe RGB was created by Adobe in 1998 to coincide with the release of Photoshop 5.0.

CMYK

CMYK is used in printing. The four inks are applied in the order Cyan, Magenta, Yellow then Black. I always thought that they decided to take the last letter of black, because the B for blue was already taken but the K actually stands for Key. The four printing blocks were originally “keyed” in alignment with each other the key plate on the bottom being black.

CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

Other Color Spaces.
Greyscale
Greyscale is exactly what it says
If you are a Photoshop user and you look under the Image Menu – Mode You will see a list including Lab (Pronounced L-ab and not lab) This is a quite interesting color space based on the human ability to see differences in colors opposite to each other on the color wheel.

This has barely touched the surface of color so for those of you who have a need to satisfy your inner Geek further reading can be found at:

International Color Consortium

Adobe RGB (1998) color image encoding

Right click to download a PDF version of this blog.





Making a Metadata Template.

A couple of weeks ago I touched briefly on the topic of copyright. One of the things that you can do to help establish your ownership is to embed your copyright information into your images using a Metadata Template.

Metadata Templates can store a whole host of information besides copyright; you can embed your e-mail and website address, keywords and model release information.

Most cameras allow you to enter at least some of your information, directly into the camera. Things like ISO and F stop info is usually automatic but you can add your information afterwards using a Digital Assets Management System. The two most popular are Adobe Bridge and Adobe Lightroom. Here’s how.

Note

Adobe Bridge ships with Photoshop, and six other Adobe stand alone products. It is a useful tool for cataloging you images.

With the new features for editing camera raw added to Lightroom 4 many photographers have abandoned Bridge altogether. (If you are taking advantage of the Adobe Cloud you will have both available to you so it is your choice.)

Adobe Bridge

  1. Open Bridge


    Adobe Bridge desktop icon

  2. Navigate to the Tools Menu.


    Tools Menu

  3. Select Create Metadata Template.


    Select Create Metadata Template from the drop down menu.

  4. You should now have a template that looks similar to this.


    Create Metadata Template

  5. Fill in as much, (or as little) of your information as you want but the important lines are when you scroll down to copyright.


    Fill in your copyright information.

  6. Note:

    The copyright sign © is made by holding down the Alt key and then typing the numbers 184. For years, and in many tutorials, you will see Alt (or Cmd on a Mac) + 169 which now gives the ® sign.


  7. Make sure that the information you want to save has the check box marked


    Only items with checked / ticked boxes will be saved.

  8. Click the Save button.


    Click Save.

Now your template is ready to go.

Attaching your Metadata Template to a file in Bridge.

To attach your new Metadata Template to a document you just:

  1. Select the Image/s


  2. Select your image

  3. Go back to theTools Menu and navigate down to Append Template


  4. Append Metadata

  5. Select your template.


  6. Select your template.

  7. Done!

Adobe Lightroom

The procedure in Lightroom is very similar.

  1. Open your version of Lightroom. (You can download a trial version of Lightroom 4 here.)


    Open your version of Lightroom.

  2. Select your catalogue


  3. Select your catalogue.

  4. Select the Metadata menu.


  5. Select the Metadata menu

  6. Select Metadata Presets from the drop down menu.


  7. Select Metadata Presets from the drop down menu.

  8. Fill in your template.


  9. Fill in your template.

  10. Don’t forget to make sure the check/tick boxes are marked for the information you want to embed, then click Done.


  11. Click Done.

Having saved your template it will then be available for you to use on other images. You can attach templates as you import your images from your camera or you can pick individual images as you please.

Camera Raw Images.

The first time you try to append a template to any camera raw images you will get the following dialogue box.


Saving Metadata to a camera raw image.

What this is basically saying is that if your images are in the Camera Raw format the Metadata Template will be saved in a separate file and not embedded into the Camera Raw file.

You can download a PDF version of this tutorial here. Click to open or Right Click on the link to download.

For complete tutorials on both Bridge and Lightroom I suggest you check out Lynda.com.

If you enjoyed this article please share.



Copyright for Photographers.

One of the members of a photography group I belong to came up with a question on Copyright. There are so many variables to this question that it is mind blowing. (Or at least it blows my mind.)

As a rule of thumb, your images are yours from the moment of inception but to make sure you protect your rights there are a few things you need to do to protect your images.(In case you need to prove that it is your image.)

First you need to make sure of what the law is where you live.

Copyright laws for photographers are different in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.

For example:

  • In Australia photographers can choose to assign their rights.
  • In Canada it is the person who commissions the work who owns it, (but only if they pay for it – see Section A.1.7 of the Copyright Act).
  • In the UK the photographer owns the work with exceptions.
  • In the USA the photographer usually owns the work.

In fact in all cases there seems to be exceptions to the rules and in each country the rules are slightly or vastly different.

Australia

Copyright for Australian Photographers Government site.

Canada

A copy of the Copyright Act for Canadians can be found at The Department of Justice Website.

If you’re in Canada and you don’t feel like reading the whole Act “General Copyright information for Photographs” can be found at the Professional Photographers of Canada web site.

The Business Development Center will send you free copyright information by e-mail one chapter per day.

United Kingdom

(England, Scotland and Wales)
http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/uk_law_summary is the place to start for information in the UK.

USA

Copyright registration information for photographers from the Government Website can be found here.

If you are in the USA, also check out the Copyright information at the American Society of Media Photographers Copyright-overview on their Business Resources page. These are starting points but always consult a legal professional in your area of the world to make sure of your rights.

How else can I protect my images?

The least you can do when publishing your images is to add a signature with a copyright mark. You can also watermark your images. If you are using Photoshop go into Bridge and make a Meta Data Template with your information to embed into your photograph or image.

To make a Metadata Template:

  1. Open Adobe Bridge
  2. Open the Tools menu
  3. Navigate to Create Metadata Template
  4. Meta Data Template

  5. Give the Template a name, e.g. your name – 2012
  6. Fill in as much or as little information as you want (scroll down the template for all the options)
  7. Save the template

Once created you can embed this information into your images by again going to the Tools menu and then going to Append Metadata.

None of this means that at some point your images won’t be used by someone else without your knowledge, especially if you publish to the web. (But that’s another blog.)


Disclaimer


None of the above is intended as legal advice.

This website its associates and employees do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of information presented here or on the linked sites and it is the individuals responsibility to check out the validity of any information that they use. Please consult a Lawyer/Solicitor in your country of residence for information as it pertains to you and your situation.


Image file formats.

A good starting point when you first begin to understand your images is to know a little bit about the common file formats or the way that your images are saved. So here we have seven, (one for each day of the week).

JPEG

The most commonly used image file format in both digital cameras and on the web today is JPEG. JPEG actually stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. If you are of a technical bent you might wish to go and visit the groups website at www.jpeg.org. For the rest of us when we refer to JPEG we simply mean the file format.

One of the reasons JPEG is used so widely is because, (compared to some of the other file formats) it produces a very small size file. The downside to JPEG images is that the small file size is achieved by degradation (loosing pixel clarity) of the image. Because of this degradation the file format is referred to as Lossy compression.

You can also choose to save these images at different resolutions as shown below.
Maximum size image 73.92K
Maximum resolution 73.92K
High resolution image 31.7K
High resolution 31.7K
Low resolution image 9.238K
Low resolution 9.238K

Lossy Compresion

Refers to a data compression techniques in which some of the data is lost. Now this is important:

Every time you save a JPEG image you loose digital information.

So if you are working in Photoshop (and I am going to assume that you are working in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) if you are starting with a JPEG image before you touch anything else I would highly recommend that you save the image as either PSD (PhotoShop Document) or as a TIFF (Tagged Image File Format).

Lossless

Lossless is the opposite of lossy, and no image data is lost.

GIF

Graphic Interchange Format or *GIF is probably the second best known on the web.

*Note

One of the most controversial things about GIF is way you pronounce GIF. Having been brought up in England and living almost all of my adult life in Canada I learned to pronounce the acronym as GIF with a hard G. I was completely taken aback a few years ago while, at a tutorial I was attending in Seattle, the presenter began saying “JIF”.

It turns out that the originally intended pronunciation was in fact JIF and the acronym was a play on words to echo a highly popular TV Ad at the time for JIF peanut Butter. I must confess that in speech I still use GIF unless I’m really thinking about it, and I’m obviously not alone as both versions are accepted.

The cool thing about GIF’s (however you say it) is they allow animation. It is also a lossless (no data is lost). format, allows 256 colors per image.

PSD

A PSD is a Photoshop document and is the native file format of Photoshop. When I’m working in Photoshop I prefer to save and work on my images as PSDs.

*Note

Now I have to let you in to my little world of paranoia. Once I’ve downloaded my images and decided which ones I’m going to keep, if I shot them as a JPEG I always like to keep a backup copy as a PSD preferably on a separate drive on my computer.

BMP

Bitmap or BMP means a range of bits (computer code) that make a map. Usually a Bitmap is one bit per pixel (but not always). This is a vast over simplification but for the moment all you really need to be aware of is the name.

TIFF

Tagged Image File Format or TIFF was originally mainly used by the print industries. Because TIFF is a lossless format it is good for saving images where you want to retain detail but all the file size will be much larger than that of a JPEG.

Camera Raw

Camera Raw is the new darling of the photographic world. The files are huge but you loose no information.

The files have “raw” information and can be thought of like an old fashioned negative. Because Raw files are not ready to be edited they open (in Photoshop) in their own dialogue box which allows you to manipulate the image without any destruction before opening the image in Photoshop itself. The huge advantage is that you always have the original image in its original state with all its information intact. (As long as you don’t delete the file of course.)

DNG

Digital Negative Format DNG is another Raw file format developed for digital cameras developed to enable greater sharing capabilities over different software platforms.

This is the first of a series of Core Articles. These articles are designed to get you up to speed on fundamental terms and their meaning. Subscribe using RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss the next in the series.