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A while back, when my email box was overrun and I was unsure how to answer every question, I decided I would do monthly FAQ posts.  I have spent the last few months compiling a comprehensive list of FAQs for my new website so I thought I would share these with you first.  These are categorized by type of questions:

Actions FAQ: Do you have a question about actions in general? What is an action? What versions of Photoshop do they work in? What are the differences in certain sets? This is the place to go to get your answers.

Workshop FAQ: Wondering how MCP Workshops “work? What is the difference between a Private and Group Workshop? How do you participate in these workshops? This will answer your questions.

Equipment FAQ: Are you wanting to know what cameras I use? What I think of Mac vs PC? What plug ins and software I use?  What photography forums I participate in? Or even what camera bags I tote my lenses in? This section will answer your questions and more. Note that some of the links in this section may be affiliate, sponsor, or advertisers to the MCP Blog; however, I only am documenting services and products I use myself.  You can see my disclaimer policy at the bottom of my site and also in this FAQ section.

Troubleshooting FAQ: Got a problem? Are you trying to use actions and weird things are happening? This is a good place to start.

Other FAQ: Yep, this is where you go for those miscellaneous questions.  I will add to this in the future.

Here are a few questions I received in the past month that seemed too specific to be included in the site FAQs.

Where did you get your twitter and FB Icons?

My web designer found them. There are thousands of icons you can use for Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and other Social Networking sites. The best way to locate the ones that fit your site’s style is to do a google search.

Do you use a Mac or PC? Which do you prefer? Which should I get?  (this is in my equipment FAQs but gets asked daily – so I am pasting the answer here too)

I got off to a bad start when I purchased my Mac in mid 2009. They sent me a “lemon” instead of an Apple.  The hard drive crashed and the computer died in one week. After much stress and frustration, I got back to work on another new Mac Pro. At this point I see no overall advantage of Mac or PC. Dollar for dollar a PC is a better value and more software is compatible. The two things I do like about Macs are the Time Machine backup system and the low risk factor for viruses.  As far as Photoshop, my Mac Pro has 10GB of ram and a top of the line processor.  My PC laptop specs are nowhere close.  The verdict – Photoshop runs very similarly on both – speed-wise. It actually crashes slightly more on the Mac.

How to make the grid on the curves dialog box have more boxes?

Easy. Just hold down your ALT (PC) or OPTION (Mac) Key and then click anywhere in the box.

Do you have any plans to offer in person Photoshop workshops?

I do not have any plans to offer in person Photoshop workshops.  But I am not opposed to the idea either.  There are a few reasons I have not gone this route so far.

  • It is so easy to do the MCP Workshops Online. It saves you money and time.
  • Travel is tough. My husband owns a business and it is hard for me to get away since I would need someone to watch my twins.
  • I like to train while in my pajamas. It is a HUGE perk to my job. And actually you can learn Photoshop in your pajamas too.
  • I love teaching, but do not love planning. So if I did a workshop, I would prefer team up with a photographer and also hire someone to do all the planning and set up. I like to focus on doing things that bring me joy, and the details of organizing a workshop (location, hotels, etc…) would not.

Do you offer portrait sessions? Can you photograph my friend’s wedding? Will you photograph my children?

I actually do not have a portraiture business.  I never have. I have done commercial assignments and product photography professionally, but the main part of my career is the behind the scenes educating photographers and creating Photoshop resources.

When will you start a Portrait Photography business?  I love your Photos.

I love photography. But my passion is photoshop.  Not every person who owns an SLR or who loves photography needs to be a professional. I think that is a HUGE mistake so many make.  Even if you can take amazing pictures, you may or may not have the business and marketing skills to run a company.  For me, I have to choose.  I already work 50+ hours a week with the MCP Actions business.  And my family is very important to me. So that does not leave time for a portrait business.

Do you shoot Raw? How much of your processing is done in Lightroom versus Photoshop?

I do shoot Raw. I use Lightroom as my Raw editor.  I take photos into Lightroom, flag keeps versus rejects, and then edit the white balance and exposure as needed. From there I bring my photos into Photoshop running Autoloader – and run a Big Batch Action on them. This action is made up of a bunch of MCP actions stacked in a logical order. Then I save them. Run a few Blog It Boards, and upload to my personal website or occasionally the blog.

Do you plan to make Lightroom presets?

I know many of you want me to make Lightroom presets.  At this time I do not work in Lightroom for my main processing. Until that time, I do not feel that I should be making these for you. One possibility is the idea of finding someone to create presets for MCP that are up to my high standards. I plan to have more of these partnerships in the future.

Any chance you can make more products for Photoshop Lightroom?

I have commissioned someone to start converting some MCP actions to work in Elements. Elements does have many limitations, so I will only start marketing more Elements products if they meet the same high standards that I have for my Photoshop products.

Why is there so much grain in my ISO 400 images when I shoot Raw?

There are dozens of advantages to shooting Raw.  One potential pro and con of Raw is that the images are unprocessed, unlike a jpg that has noise reduction, color enhancement, and even sharpening applied. As a result, no noise reduction has taken place.  Another reason for grain and noise is underexposure (once you fix exposure, the noise will come out more, especially in shadows). Cameras and sensors play a role too. My Canon 5D MKII has significantly less noise than my 40D – at the same exact settings.

What can you I do to have less noise in my images?

Short of upgrading your camera, you can learn to nail your exposure. In post processing, you can get a product like Noiseware, which can drastically reduce noise.  Remember to apply it on a duplicate layer and adjust the opacity. Use a mask to hide or reveal it for a more polished picture.

What is your favorite way to “rescue” an out of focus image?

Unfortunately, there are some things better left to the camera, like focus. While it is easy to add blur in Photoshop, it is far more difficult to sharpen a photo that is not in focus. If your image is i focus but just soft, that is where sharpening comes to the “rescue.”


No Comments

  1. Brendan on December 30, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Sorry to hear about your Mac problems. I see from that MacBook Pro’s seem to be having a lot of problems lately.

  2. Jamie {Phatchik} on January 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Can I just say, bless you for this: ” Not every person who owns an SLR or who loves photography needs to be a professional” When I FIRST got my SLR and started posting pictures to my blog and Facebook, everyone [and I mean EVERYONE] I knew was esentially pressuring me to start a business. In the end, I listened to them and started before I was truly ready – a mistake I try to help others not to make. I’m just learning and growing my business slowly but surely, but you have to do what you love and know your limits. I think it’s great that you’ve choosen this facet of photography to focus on. Plus, your choice has benefited me greatly! :O)

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