Notes on using the photo booth mode in DSLR Remote Pro for Windows, PSRemote and NKRemote

Please Note: This page describes how to use the old custom layout settings in DSLR Remote Pro v1.8.3 (and earlier), NKRemote v1.3.1 (and earlier) and PSRemote v1.8.2 (and earlier). Please refer to the current page if you are using newer versions of these apps.

Part 4: Printers and print layout

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Introduction

This article expands on some of the topics related to the choice of printer and designing the print layout that were introduced in part 1. It makes some suggestions on how to overcome the limitations of some printer drivers and covers more advanced print layouts.

Printers

The choice of printer affects the quality of the photos, the speed of printing and the cost. As discussed in part 1 a dye sublimation printer is probably the best choice for a professional photobooth. The prints are more durable and more like traditional photos than inkjet prints, they are usually printed much faster (e.g. around 10 secs per print vs anything up to a minute for an inkjet printer) and the cost per print can be substantially less than an inkjet print.

The size of the printed output in pixels affects the layout of the print and so it is a good idea to set the printer defaults to the page size and print quality you intend to use (as described in part 1).

Some printer drivers report the printable area of the page as larger than it actually is and this can cause the output to be cropped. So instead of the print on the left you end up with something like the print on the right:

If this happens it is worth checking the printer manufacturer's website to see if there is a newer version of the printer driver which may fix the problem. If this doesn't work the layout can be corrected by creating suitably sized header.jpg, footer.jpg, left.jpg and right.jpg images to fill the missing area so that the photos only occupy the printable area of the page. This can be done by trial and error or by creating simple calibrated wedge shapes as shown below:


header.jpg


left,jpg


right.jpg


footer.jpg

Each step in the wedge is 25 pixels and is numbered for easy identification. When we print this out we get something like this from which it is possible to read off the number of missing pixels:

Now if we create header.jpg, footer.jpg, left.jpg and right.jpg images the same sizes as the number of missing pixels on each border the printable area should match the actual page size.

Print Layout

The printed layout is made up of the following layers as shown in the diagram below:
1) an optional background layer tiled with the background.jpg
2) an image layer which has the photos and optional header (header.jpg), footer (footer.jpg), left margin (left.jpg, not shown in the diagram), right margin (right.jpg, not shown in the diagram) and middle (middle.jpg, not shown in the diagram) images
3) an optional overlay layer defined by the PNG image overlay.png. This can have transparency defined in the alpha channel to control how it blends with the layers beneath it

 

Example 1: Dropshadow effect

A simple dropshadow can be very effective and this example shows an easy way to add a dropshadow to our layout from part 1. Here is the layout from part 1:

The first step is to add a space around each image to make room for the drop shadow. We can do this by adjusting the image border in the photobooth settings dialog. If we set this to 10mm we get something like this:

Next we need to create a background.jpg image which adds the dropshadows. The easiest way to do this is to take a heavily underexposed test shot (i.e. with the camera's lens cap on or a small aperture and fast shutter speed) so that we end up with something like this:

The use an image editor to add the drop shadows and save the image as "background.jpg" in the photobooth images folder. The black areas for the photos should make it easy to select the area and to apply the dropshadow effect. The background.jpg image should look something like:

Finally take a test shot to check the effect:


Example 2: Overlay

Overlays can be added by creating an overlay.png image and placing it in the photobooth images folder. The alpha channel in the PNG image can have a value from 0 to 255 and be used to control the transparency: a value of 0 represents completely transparent, 127 represents semi-transparent and 255 represents completely opaque. The example below uses a portrait of the girl taken earlier selected with an oval area with 50 pixels feathering in the alpha channel to give a soft edge. This technique could be used to include a shot of the happy couple for a photobooth at a wedding or simply to add a logo or message which overlaps the images.

This technique could also be used to give the photos ragged edges or a torn look or even to add a semi-transparent sepia overlay and fake scratches and blemishes for an old fashioned look.

How to create PNG images with transparency using Photoshop

First create a new image with a transparent background. Then create a mask by clicking on the "Add layer mask" in the layers palette. Next add the graphics such as text overlays and picture frames to the image layer and use the layer mask to control the transparency. In the layer mask white represents opaque, black represents fully transparent and values between white and black represent increasing transparency. Save a copy of the image as a PSD file for future reference and then save the image as a PNG file named overlay.png.

 

Next article : Getting the best results out of the camera
Previous article: Input options


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Using photo booth mode in DSLR Remote Pro for Windows, PSRemote and NKRemote