Apr 27 2009
Here’s another angle Mac users can throw into the effect: the Finder allows
you to set an image as the background for its windows. This gives us an opportunity
to make them transparent too.
So, in Step 3 of the tutorial, right you’ll want to set a few windows up on
screen and take a screenshot of the whole thing (Command-Shift-3) for you to
use as a guide later. Now this means that you cannot move these windows until
the shot is taken …though, you can always keep them in the dock until you’re
ready and keep them out of your way until then. So here are replacement Steps
3 and 4:
Step 3: Careful Maneuvering
In the next stage, I turned off the camera in order to safely
access its memory card (you still cannot let the camera move at all) and insert
it gently into the PC card adapter I have in my PowerBook (again, you cannot
let the PowerBook move either). If you have the ability to do so and can stretch
a cable from the camera to the Mac without moving either, you could connect
your camera up directly ….I didn’t, but you could.
Now, on my Mac, I set up a Finder window to which I will later
give the appearance of transparency. It is important to note that Finder windows
must be in "Icon Mode" for this to work. It is also important, not
to let the windows overlap–overlapping transparent windows are difficult to
read and use and even more difficult to explain how to make in a tutorial such
as this. Okay, so I took a screenshot (Command-Shift-3) and hid my Finder window
in the dock while I proceeded with the experiment.
I opened the two digital camera shots I took and the screenshot
in Photoshop (no, I’m not going to cheat). Focusing first on the “with PowerBook”
shot, I went Select>All (Command-A) and then Edit>Copy (Command-C).
Then I switched my focus to the “without PowerBook” picture and
went Edit>Paste (Command-V). Then I closed the “with PowerBook” shot …leaving
it open would just tempt me to cheat.
I grabbed the Crop tool and, in the Options bar at the top of
the screen, I set the Width and Height values to my screen dimensions as represented
in pixels and a resolution of 72 pixels per inch. If you’re not sure of your
screen dimensions, open the Displays control panel in the System Preferences
and you’ll find it there.
Then I clicked and dragged the crop tool over the screen of my
PowerBook in the picture.
Once a preliminary crop area is on the canvas, Photoshop changes
the Options bar a bit to give you other features. I clicked the Perspective
setting to the “on” position.
With that setting in place I am able to drag the corners of the crop to the
corners of my pictured PowerBook screen like so:
Now when I hit the Return key, Photoshop is going to process the crop selection
I have made an distort it into being an image the exact width, height and resolution
of my screen — a perfect desktop image! Go ahead and hit Return and watch the
magic happen…well actually there’s not much magic to watch, because, at best,
you’re looking at a squared up view of your own PowerBook screen. You’ll need
to delete the top layer to reveal the cropped and straightened “background.”
Here’s what I got.
Next, I saved this image I’d made to my desktop as a JPEG. We’re not done with
this image yet.
Now here’s where this tutorial seriously deviates from the original: I went
to the screenshot I opened in Photoshop and Select>All (Command-A) and then
Edit>Copy (Command-C). Then I went to my newly cropped image and went Edit>Paste
(Command-V). It fits perfectly because I had already set my Crop tool specifications
to my screen dimensions. I could now close the original screenshot image.
Keeping the pasted screenshot visible, I selected the underlying Background
layer in my Layers palette (see above). I grabbed the Rectangular Selection
tool and carefully selected the actual window portion on my Finder window and
went Edit>Copy (Command-C). This copies a perfect, window shaped chunk of the
Then I went File>New… (Command-N) and Photoshop presented me with a dialog
box for a new document with all the right dimensions already entered in because
it correctly assumes that I will be using the data in the clipboard for this
new image. I clicked OK, the new image’s canvas popped up and I pasted (Command-V)
the copied chunk in it. Then I saved it to my desktop as a JPEG and closed that
image (Photoshop asked me if I wanted to save, but I declined).
I was now confident that I was done my image preparation work and quit Photoshop.
I opened the System Preferences to the Desktop & Screen Saver control panel
and clicked the Desktop tab. I dragged the image I’d made from the desktop to
the little preview window in the control panel. My desktop was now the image
I made of the stuff behind my PowerBook.
I then went to the Finder window I was going to use and just clicked the brushed
metal frame without moving the window and went View>Show View Options (Command-J).
I clicked the radio button at the bottom marked "Picture" and clicked
the "Select…" button that appeared. I directed it to the JPEG I
made for the Finder window and closed the View Options menu and, voila!
Step 4: The Final Shot
Then all I had to do was close all the windows on screen, eject the camera’s
memory card from the PowerBook and place it in camera again. I powered up the
camera and took the shot before I had any more opportunities to accidentally
move something I shouldn’t.
Here’s the finished image: