Archive for December, 2008

National Geographic – My Shots – Get Published

National Geographic has a real interesting user vote/get published  campaign going on. Basically you upload a few images, people rank them (like JPGmag) and the best shots get published monthly in their magazine and highlighted on their web site.

As taken from the NGM web site:

My Shot is your chance to have your own National Geographic web page. Here you can create and share albums, puzzles, and games based on photos you upload. To get your own My Shot page, start by submitting your best photo to Your Shot. Two Your Shot photos are selected for publication each month in National Geographic magazine.

Click HERE to see and rank my shots. While you are there, set up your own account and upload some images.

Your votes and comments are sincerely appreciated.



Photoshop CS4 – Automating Photoshop with X-keys

December 11, 2008 2 comments

Everyone knows I am a huge fan of Adobe products. In fact I have been using Photoshop since version 3 and have never missed an upgrade or new release. The reason is simple, I believe in the products and like what Adobe has done to mature their products. CS4 is no exception. There is value in this upgrade and once I got my issues with XP64 resolved I can say without reservation that the money spent was well worth it.

So, why then write an article about speeding up Photoshop? If you were one of the people invited to the webinar featuring Adobe’s new CS4 line of products prior to the release then I am sure you caught the theme that was used to back this release. While there were new features and major changes, Adobe was on a marketing mission and that mission was to let everyone know that the real value was in optimizing their tools to enhance the workflow and make people more productive. While I agree that many great strides were made in enhancing the Photoshop workflow, I can tell you that NOTHING adobe did in this release enhances the speed of working in Photoshop more than an X-keys keyboard from P.I. Engineering. In fact, this was easily the best $169 I have ever spent on my Photoshop workflow.

The X-Keys Professional (58 Key) Keyboard

The X-Keys Pro USB (58 Key) Keyboard

While Adobe has gone to great lengths to make Photoshop more productive and faster the program still has over 300 Keyboard Shortcuts. Today, in the modern consumer software world the only applications that are more complicated to use are CAD and 3D modeling applications. It is the complexity of Photoshop that lets the X-keys keyboard shine. This keyboard along with Actions in Photoshop (or simple keystrokes and short keys) has automated my Photoshop workflow and allowed me to increase my speed within the application easily by 200%. Certainly this isn’t any different than creating actions and using the drop downs or assigning keys to function keys on your regular keyboard. But, with the X-keys keyboard you can have individually labeled keys that are programmed to work with Photoshop and eliminate the memorization of function keys or new keyboard shortcuts (especially the ones that require CTRL+SHIFT+ the actual key or compound keystrokes). When Photoshop can have a 4 page document outlining keyboard short cuts you don’t need to be creating your own.

I purchased the X-keys Professional (58 Key) USB keyboard. Both USB and PS2 are offered and each come with the software needed for easy programming of the keyboard, cords, user manuals and instructions.  Both keyboards plug right in, are immediately recognized by Windows and offer quick configuration and set-up. The software for creating and customizing the keyboard is extremely simple. You literally select the key on the keyboard you wish to program, and then type. That’s it. Once you are done typing, you select OK and the button is assigned. (the PS2 version has the software built in where the USB version comes with Macroworks II)

Once you are done creating your Photoshop actions and then programming the keyboard, you need to create a template that labels your keys. Templates are available online as well as blanks for making your key descriptions in a variety of formats. I use the MS Word format, color code my text and fills and have all of my shortcuts organized by type and function on the keyboard. This makes remembering where they are and what they do simple (increased speed).

X-Keys Templates

X-Keys Templates

The keyboard itself is made of a durable high impact plastic. In every sense of the word it is made like a consumer keyboard in terms of design and quality. The keys are removable (it comes with a simple tool) and each key has a clear top to it that is removable so that you can place your key designator underneath. No mess, no fooling with stickers and nothing that will fade over time. Additionally, each keyboard has a concept of layers. There is a green and red layer. Each key can have a command recorded for each later. That’s a 114 commands on my keyboard alone you have to program one key on the keyboard to switch between layers. An LED designates which layer you are actively using.

What can be done with this keyboard? Literally anything, it’s not limited to Photoshop, it can be used with any application that has keyboard shortcuts, macros or a programming language. All you have to do is record or type the trigger and the keyboard will send the right key strokes to the parent application and your shortcut, automation or function is immediately executed. I have my keyboard set up with my most used compound commands, complex save and re-size routines, effects and conversions.  So if I am saving for my on-line store, JPG Magazine, MyShutterspace and my blog all I have to do is select one keystroke and the image is flattened, re-sized and saved in the right format with my signature in the bottom (or not for some sites) all automatically.

Adobe did a great thing by speeding up CS4, offering some new and compelling functionality and continuing the development of a great application. However, if you are looking for real speed for CS3 or looking to automate your workflow more in CS4 this is an excellent tool of tremendous value and a very easy addition to your creative system.


The Beaten Path – Photography in Washington

December 10, 2008 1 comment
The Beaten Path

The Beaten Path

This is the final shot from a series done in Ravensdale, Washington on Dec 6, 2008. This shoot involved me carrying 40lbs of camera gear up a steep trail on the quest for light and texture. I am real happy with the results. Let me know what you think.


The Grand Illusion – Photography in Washington

My Recent outing to Ravensdale has given me some images that I am very happy with. This is the second image from a series of about 60 I shot on Dec 6, 2008. The angle isn’t as dramatic in this image, but the textures and light from within the forest were really amazing.

The Grand Illusion

The Grand Illusion

As I look at these I am reminded of the Styx Album Cover “The Grand Illusion” hence the name.

Let me know what you think

NOTE: This image was selected as a finalist in the Digital Photo Magazines Ultimate Creativity contest


On-line Store now available – Texas Tech Football Images included

After some key decisions, changes and work the new Faces, Places and Things On-line store is now (finally) available. I recently had to make a change in the eCommerce provider as I wasn’t happy with their image display or online galleries. So, I had to re-create the store, upload images etc. I am finally done and happy to announce that everyone who has been asking for my Tech Football pictures can now places orders online.

The galleries feature 46 images that are available for sale. Prints come in a variety of sizes, papers and mounting options. Mouse pads, key chains and mugs are available as well. Please go check out the online store. If there is an image that you are looking for that isnt online, send me a note and I will create a private gallery so you can place your order.

Happy Holidays


For All The Trees

December 7, 2008 1 comment

I got out again today… Twice in one month and we are on day six of December 08.

I am really drawn to the trees.

The forest in Washington is very thick. In some places you will have 90′ tall trees that are 2′ a part. This is one of those places. If it weren’t for the break in the trees about 40 yards back there would be no light in the back of the image.

I shot this one at sunset, right in the middle of the golden hour. It was beautiful to see the light as it bounced in and out of the thick trees. The textures, shadows and smell of the forest was really fantastic.

As soon as I saw this shot on my screen It reminded me why I go out and hike to places like this…. the experience and release I get from being away from everything is really good for my soul and my mind.

I honestly think seeing things like this and taking images like this are the only times I truly unwind and relax. Its hard not to be at peace in the forest.

For All The Trees



While out shooting Less Traveled, I noticed some amazing maple leaves while walking along the path. The detail in these things is amazing. So, before I finished for the day, I set up for a macro shot.