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Backing up photos

A year ago I wrote about backing up photos. And there I mentioned the SyncToy application, that I use to locally backup my photos to my Synology file-server. And today I will go a bit more about how to use Synctoy.

What is SyncToy? SyncToy is a free application from Microsoft (can be downloaded here), that is used to synchronize folders. It’s not automatic, so you have to run it yourself. But if you are as I am, and like to be fully in control, you will like it. It’s very simple to use and worked flawlessly for me during the two years I have been using it.

It’s much better than just copying files to a new location, as it detects changes, deleted files, new folder and similar and corrects that all for you while synchronizing.

Using SyncToy to locally backup photos

So how do one use it? First, decide on a folder you want to backup. Then, decide where you want to back it up too. So either a file-server, external drive or a second drive in your PC. In my case it’s a file-server, that is attached as a mapped network drive in my PC.

Continue by creating a folder pair with Create folder pair button. You can see in the screenshots, I have multiple, split based on whats in the folder.

Using SyncToy to locally backup photos
Using SyncToy to locally backup photos

Choose the folders, choose the type of synchronization, add a name to the pair and confirm. Since it’s a backup, use Echo as synchronization method. This will mirror you computer folder onto the backup folder, but not the other way around. So if you delete a file from your computer, and sync, it will be deleted also from the backup. Of course if you delete it accidentally, don’t sync, and just copy the file from the backup :)

Using SyncToy to locally backup photos
Using SyncToy to locally backup photos

Once the folder pair is done, you can just click on Run to sync them. But I prefer to first hit on Preview, that will list all the changes it will perform first. Like this I can quickly see what it will do. Once that is shown, I hit Run to finish the Sync.

Using SyncToy to locally backup photos
Using SyncToy to locally backup photos

Now just run this each time you want to run a backup and you are done.

Learning Japanese

JapaneseHow are you goals for this year coming along? Maybe you remember I mentioned mine at the start of the year, and it was to learn Japanese language. And I’m quite happy, that I’m still sticking to it, just finished the first book from the Japanese from Zero series, and onto the next one. Still so much to learn. But it’s really nice now, when I watch a Japanese TV show or a movie, that I already can understand something here and there. And when sitting in a bus or train, the word repetition through Anki just make a trip fly by.

So what about you? How are you goals coming long? :)

Panorama at the Danube

This is another panorama I took last Monday down at the Danube river. The Danube was actually quite calm. This made the reflections nice an visible. I used steps that are at the shore there, to get completely down to the water and took a photo from there. There were few more spots I wanted to go to, I just could not find the steps there. There are multiple there, but under the snow, it was a bit dangerous to get down to the water, and I did not want to risk it. It happened to me once already that my foot slipped in between the rocks there, and that was without the snow. Better safe then sorry. One has to be always careful.

This is a three shot panorama, combined in Lightroom, edited in Photoshop.

Panorama at the Danube, Bratislava, Slovakia

And here are few details:

Panorama at the Danube

Looking for photo problems

As you take and edit photos, you will often come across the same problems over and over. Dust spots, color banding, bad corrections, bad blends and similar. Sometime you will not even notice it. The colors of the affected area in a photo can be so similar that you just don’t see it. Or it’s to dark, or too bright. And still, that you don’t see it, does not mean that someone else looking at you photo will miss it too. Especially if one is doing a big print, one should try to fix as much as possible.

So today I will show you one technique I use to find areas that need to be fixed in Photoshop.

Finding photo problems using Curves in Photoshop

The technique is very easy. In Photoshop, create a new curves layer, and create an extreme contrast using the curve. Just click on it in the left are, and pull it to the top, and then on the right area create a second point and pull it down. It should look something like in this Photoshop screenshot.

Finding photo problems using Curves in Photoshop

It does not have to be exact, just have something that looks similar. What this did is to brighten the shadows, darken the highlights and added a lot of contrast in the mid-tones. The photo will look crazy colorful and psychedelic now.

But when you look at it, you can see that immediately problems stand out. Things that very barely visible are standing out really brightly right now.

Here are few examples of it. Fist, a spot when two parts of a panorama were connected. You can see on the left, that it looks fine, but once you apply this filter, the bad transition shows up.

Finding photo problems using Curves in Photoshop

Secondly, here is an example of dust spots, using this filter it makes them stand out much more. Will not work everywhere, but most of the time it will help a lot.

Finding photo problems using Curves in Photoshop

Also lens flare will be much more visible. You can see one in the previous photo, and here is one more example of it. While in the regular photo, the flare is barely visible, after the filter you can see it exactly.

Finding photo problems using Curves in Photoshop

Let’s look at one more example. This is a sky that is not evenly lit due to being merged from multiple photos. If you try to fix it, it’s not that easy, as the differences are minimal. But once you apply the curves layer, the problem is visible immediately.

Finding photo problems using Curves in Photoshop

The simplest way to work with it, is to have the curves layer on top, and then edit a layer under it. Then when you are done just turn off or delete the curves layer and you are done.

A little bonus for you. When you have uneven color transitions, mostly in skies or after you removed some object using content aware, it’s easy to fix them. Use strong blur on the area and then add noise to the area. Blur will create a nice transition, while the noise will prevent it from create color banding. Best to do this on a separate layer and then paint it in with the layer mask.

Composites

I don’t really like to do composites when I do photos. I edit a lot of things, but usually don’t use parts of other photos (not taken at the same location around the same time) to enhance the one I’m editing. That does not mean I never do it, but I like to specify in the description that it’s a composite. I just don’t like to give a fake impression, that somebody else can go to the place and get a photo like that directly.

So even today, as I will share with you a composite version of today’s photo, please know that it’s a composite and there was no time when I took these fireworks over Prague.

The whole length of the Charles Bridge

I took this panorama quite a while ago. But as with many other photos I never edited it until now. My photo library is huge and I like to randomly look through it and select older photos to edit. Of course this I do mostly when I don’t have that many new photos to edit. Also, since ones editing skills tend to improve over time, I think I can now edit photo I would not dare to do few years ago.

So this photo is a 2 tile panorama, each tile from 6 exposures. I did so many exposures, as some of the lights around the Prague castle are really bright. In the end I used every single on in the final editing. I combined the shots together in PTgui and then blended them in Photoshop.

The whole length of the Charles Bridge

And here are few details:

The whole length of the Charles Bridge

And as I mentioned, here is a composite image based on this Prague panorama. I did extent the top and bottom parts a lot, and then blended in 4 different fireworks photos. It does create quite a different photo, doesn’t it?

The whole length of the Charles Bridge

Winter wallpapers

It’s time again to add few new wallpapers to the wallpapers page. And since we have snow this year, all the new ones will be winter wallpapers. These are all in 3440×1440 resolution, so fit for ultra-wide wallpapers.

If you wonder why I like to share wallpapers in this resolution, there are three reasons. My main monitor has this resolutions, panoramas look great on ultra-wide monitors, and lastly, there are not that many available, as these type of monitors is not that widely adopted by users. Still they are great, and there being bigger selection of wallpapers for them is only good :)

Head over to the Wallpapers page to download them now.

New wallpapers

And here are the new ones.

Winter wallpapers
Winter wallpapers
Winter wallpapers
Winter wallpapers
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