Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital Help

This department will attempt to provide solutions to problems readers may have getting into and using digital cameras, scanning, and using digital photographic images with a computer and different kinds of software. All questions sent to me will be answered with the most appropriate information I can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug web site, directly via e-mail to: editorial@shut terbug.net or fotografx@mindspring.com or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

Digital Versions Of Studio Backgrounds
Q. In my newly arrived March issue of Shutterbug, Asher Pavel wrote to you requesting a source for digital backgrounds. I noticed in my latest Denny Manufacturing catalog (www.dennymfg.com), that they offer their backgrounds on CD (page 73). The catalog doesn't give much information about the CDs, but describes them as a "collection of high-resolution Denny backgrounds for use as digital backdrops." I'm sure Pavel could find the "traditional painted muslin" look he says he seeks.

Also, should I replace my Epson 2000P with the new Epson 2200? I'm a portrait photographer and offer archival prints from the 2000P to my clients. Metamerism is my personal drawback with the printer. I look forward to your opinion.

I love Shutterbug and often start with your Digital Help department first. Very helpful and enjoyable to read. Thank you.
Michael Lentz Photography

A. I'll be sure to include the information you were kind enough to bring to my attention about backgrounds in the Digital Help department.

On the 2000P, I still have mine, and although I found the 2200 I reported on a great printer and an improvement, I have not purchased one to replace my 2000P. Since Epson has posted revised 2000P drivers which address the metamerism problem on their web site for download, I find the 2000P is not the problem in that regard that it once was.

Image Organizer (Windows)
Q. Could you please suggest an image organizer? Price is less an issue than is ease of use. I bought a program called Easy Viewer 3, but it is not, in my opinion, user friendly. I would like to be able to create client wedding albums, as well as organize my own files. I have just now begun to comprehend the hidden mysteries of file and folder management, and am still looking for the USB connection I am told is just behind my right ear.
David Hannah

A. Soon you should be able to buy Adobe Photoshop Album, which promises to be an easy and effective organizer. On Windows PCs I found the organizer, Album, within the image-editing application of PhotoImpact by Ulead Systems, to be both the easiest and best in the past.

Removing Color Casts In Scanning
Q. I use a Polaroid SprintScan 4000 and SilverFast 5.2.1 software to scan mostly Sensia slides into Photoshop 7.0.1 (MSWin2K OS). I have performed all the system color management calibrations that you recommended in your Shutterbug articles of April 2001 and February 2003. Generally, the color balance of my scans is fine. Sometimes when I try to scan slides with both bright areas and heavy shadows, however, I find that the shadows take on a heavy magenta cast, which is already evident in the SilverFast pre-scan. While adjustment of the color curves in SilverFast sometimes helps a little, it doesn't completely remove the magenta cast, nor does any amount of subsequent correction with the levels, curves, color balance, or channel mixer tools in Photoshop. I might note that the slides that produce the problem scans exhibit a normal color balance in all respects on the light table or when projected. In addition, I have observed that occasional scans of high color films like Kodak E-100VS can sometimes produce unexplained color shifts, usually in the red or blue channels. Any idea what is causing these color shifts in the scanning process and how I can avoid them? Many thanks for your help.
Ron Roberts

A. First of all, may I recommend getting up to date with SilverFast, as you are using a version that has been upgraded in two major revisions, now to Version 6.0. In Version 6.0 among other tools is a slider control at the bottom of the Histogram tool dialog to adjust the amount of color cast removal. Without it I would suggest setting your black and white point with the eyedropper tool, the black and white triangular split icon to the far right at the top of the SilverFast main control window. In other words, clean color interpretation is established first by defining what in the image is pure white and pure black. If you have an area in the image that should be a neutral gray, there is an "eyedropper" in the center between the black/white triangle tool icon to use. By selecting the eyedropper you can click on and select what should be gray in your preview scan, and then the values are adjusted to remove all color leaving a neutral gray for that value, thereby removing the color cast.
More information in support documentation is available at the LaserSoft web site at www.silverfast.com, as well as facilities to download and purchase an upgrade.

Adding A Color Tone To A Gray Scale Image For Printing
Q. I've encountered a very difficult problem to solve, and I'm hoping you've been exposed to it, and can share the solution with me.
I've scanned several black and white negatives in 16-bit gray scale. I've then finessed my levels, etc., converted the images to positives, done my curve adjustments, cleaned up dust/scratches, etc., and converted them to RGB with the hope of adding one of my favorite tones (kind of a hybrid sepia/selenium color) before I output them to either my Epson 2000P or 2200 printer. This is where my problems begin (or at least it's the point where they first manifest themselves). I'm noticing that there are different color tonalities in different portions of the prints. Often, the warm color toning I've added will be obvious in the denser parts of the image, but in the less dense or lighter parts of the images the predominant tonality is still a much cooler gray. Have you heard of this problem? If so, do you know of a solution?
Shaun Heffernan

A. From my own experience with the same problem, I believe the solution is to add the color by creating a new Fill Layer from the Layer menu, selecting solid color, and then Mode: Color, and selecting the desired color. Take a Color Picker reading using the Info window and measure your custom color in RGB values. Then as the Fill Layer dialog progresses it allows inputting those RGB values as the fill color.

Photo Studio Business Management Software
RE: April 2003 Shutterbug Digital Help, Photo Studio Business Management Software. I have investigated rather thoroughly the software developed and sold by SuccessWare.net and it appears very broad in its application. The company seems very high on customer service. Although the studio I work for does not use it yet--we don't use computers much yet--I am pushing for it. I have talked to studios that use it and have seen a demo on it. It is very robust and helps with business planning and management, client and job tracking, and pricing. I've also spoken with a few photographers who have used some of the competitors for a while and heard their criticisms. SuccessWare seems at this point to be the best. For the robustness offered it is hard to beat. I was a programmer/system developer/project manager before the tech bubble burst. Their company makes free CDs available with a demo version to get the feel and diversity of the product, though lots of the little things are not accessible in it. The business design that started the SuccessWare software came from the business knowledge of Ann Monteith, a heavyweight in studio management. She and her company teach classes in the business of studio-type photography.
Dave Edwards,
Lieberman Photography

A. Thanks for steering me to the resource. I reviewed the material available at SuccessWare.net, and it seems OK. Considering it is little more than programming for a database application, most of which is already done in any shrink wrap business software, I believe that it is a bit pricey for the little customization that makes the programming applicable to a portrait/wedding studio. That's sure a lot more profitable than running a portrait/wedding studio! And, by the way, the software is apparently not designed for other kinds of photographic businesses. It should be explored thoroughly by anyone interested before considering it to be sure it applies to a particular model of photographic business. I appreciate your responding with the lead.

New Digital Camera Raw File Access
Q. Two weeks ago I sat through NAPP's Photoshop World in L.A. at which Russell Brown tried to be both comedian and Photoshop expert. I think he's fairly good at Photoshop but sure has no talent for comic teaching. Anyway, reading your current Shutterbug answer on raw capture suggested I ask if Adobe's new Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in has reached your examination yet? Very highly touted by many there as "the only way" to preserve your initial image in a traditional film negative concept of the original basic RGB layers. In other words, take and download in raw, preserve to CD and then make copies to work on, always saving these as the archived files.
Tom Barber

A. I have the new Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in, and am working with it for a review in Shutterbug. I'll also be working with LaserSoft's new SilverFast DC-VLT, which I expect will be both more powerful and will support many more cameras than the Photoshop plug-in. Considering that a digital camera functions much like a scanner, in that it captures at greater bit depth than what is used for digital output such as printing, it makes no sense to invest in a good digital camera and then cut it short by outputting from the camera in 24-bit JPEG. In addition, that JPEG file is very often limited by some cameras to the sRGB color space. Of course, a couple of years ago, when camera memory cards were pricey, it was more difficult to use raw for capture and output.

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