Douglas Best Competition Guidance

The Douglas Best competition is a Projected Image competition for three images on a theme chosen by the entrant.  Historically this competition used slides, with all three images projected simultaneously using three projectors and three screens.  This provided a very impressive and enjoyable spectacle. However, the competition now uses digital images.

The disadvantage is that we cannot project the three images simultaneously on to three screens (we have a single computer and a single projector). Entrants will therefore need to provide digital files of the three images plus a digital file showing a montage of the three images:  the montage will allow all three images to be seen at once so that the judge can assess how well they work together to represent the entrant’s chosen theme.

Those of you who already enter digital images for projection will know how to prepare the files for each individual image.  However, some of you may not know how to prepare a file containing all three images.  This document explains a method of achieving this.

As with all image editing processes, there are multiple ways of achieving the same end.  This document simply describes one method; if you already use and prefer another method, stick with it!

Presenting three images together

When this competition used projected slides, the three images were presented alongside each other on three screens, for example: 

The new digital presentation allows more flexibility.  Indeed, presenting the three images alongside each other may be seen as a disadvantage – particularly for landscape (horizontal) format, as the individual images will appear very small:

You should therefore feel free to experiment with the layout – eg:

The aim is to ensure that the three images work together as a set, so consider carefully the arrangement and orientation of your images (eg you may want to ensure that faces look inwards, rather than outwards, that there is a tonal balance to the whole panel, that colours work together, etc).  The principles haven’t changed just because we are using digital images rather than slides, but the options for presentation have increased

How to prepare your combined digital file

This explanation uses Photoshop Elements 6 as the software package (in Full Edit mode), but should apply equal to other versions of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements or, indeed, other image editing software.

  1. Open your three images

FILE > OPEN

Search for the folders containing your images and click on those you wish to open. Click OPEN.

  1. Make a new blank document, which will be your combined competition entry FILE > NEW > BLANK FILE

(in full Photoshop, just FILE > NEW)

Give the file a name (eg the theme that you have chosen), using the standard format for digital entries to include your own name (eg IN THE TOWN SQUARE by Colin Strong): see example below.

In the Width box type 1920 (make sure the units are pixels)  In the Height box type 1080  In the Resolution type 300.

In “Background Contents” choose the colour of the background (don’t worry too much about this, it can be amended later).

  1. Select one of your images to make it active. If it has multiple layers, flatten the image:

LAYER > FLATTEN IMAGE

Note:  do not save this flatten image later unless you are happy to overwrite the version with layers.

Advanced alternative:

  • Make the top layer of the stack is active by clicking on it
  • On a PC, type SHIFT+CTRL+ALT+E (or the equivalent on a Mac – possibly SHIFT+CMD+OPTION+E – but I haven’t confirmed this).

This will produce a new single layer at the top of the stack which is a flattened copy of all the visible layers below.  Make sure this layer is active – ie click on the layer to highlight it – before moving to the next step.

Now SELECT > ALL

EDIT > COPY

Go to your new blank document

EDIT > PASTE

This will paste your image into the blank document on a new layer.  If your original picture file is high resolution, it will be too big to fit the size of the blank document (as shown below)

IMAGE > TRANSFORM > FREE TRANSFORM

(Full Photoshop: EDIT > TRANSFORM > SCALE)

Now shrink the image on screen so that you can see the “handles” at each corner of the image you have pasted in: Hold the CTRL key (CMD on the Mac) and hit the minus key “‐“ as often as you need.

Click and drag on a corner handle to resize the pasted image to fit within the boundaries of your new file. (In full Photoshop, hold the SHIFT key while doing this to maintain the proportions of the image.)

Once the size is approximately right, you can resize the image to fit the screen (CTRL + 0 [that’s the number zero], CMD + 0 on a Mac) and then continue adjusting the size more precisely. Click within the image and drag to reposition if necessary. When you are happy, hit ENTER or RETURN.

Now go to your second image and repeat this process.

Finally, go to your third image and repeat.

Note that if, as in the example below, your image is facing the wrong way, you may want to flip it before adding to your new file.

To do this, use IMAGE > ROTATE > FLIP HORIZONTAL

(Full Photoshop: IMAGE > IMAGE ROTATION > FLIP CANVAS HORIZONTAL)

Remember to ensure that any text is not flipped (instructions beyond the scope of this document).

Finally, make any last minute adjustments to the size and position of each image:   click on the layer with the image you wish to adjust to make that layer active;

IMAGE > TRANSFORM > FREE TRANSFORM  (Full Photoshop: EDIT > TRANSFORM > SCALE)  to adjust size and position.

Now that your combined image is how you want it you can, if you wish, change the background colour.  Click on the background layer to make it active, then EDIT > FILL and choose your colour.

Now make sure  your image is in the sRGB colour space. To do this:

IMAGE > CONVERT COLOR PROFILE > Apply sRGB Profile.  If this option is greyed out, you are already in the sRGB colour space.

(In full Photoshop, use EDIT > CONVERT TO PROFILE and in the Destination Space, select

“sRGB IECxxxxxxx” where xxxxxxx is a series of numbers)

Finally FILE > SAVE and choose the format JPEG. Then SAVE, Quality MAXIMUM and OK.

You are done, and you can submit this combined image, together with the three individual images, to the competition secretary (email images@pottersbarphotosoc.org.uk).  Make sure first that your individual images are also in sRGB colour space, with maximum dimensions 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 pixels vertically, and with file names in the correct format (eg “IN THE TOWN SQUARE 1 by Colin Strong”, “IN THE TOWN SQUARE 2 by Colin Strong” etc).

REMINDER: As you close down your image editing software, make sure you don’t save flattened or otherwise changed copies of your original images, unless you are happy to overwrite your original files.

Good luck!

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