Digital Innovations
Back To The Future

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Digital Innovations

I was just about to make a picture of this Shetland Sheepdog dressed as a pioneer woman--bonnet and all--when the owner reached over into the frame to adjust the bonnet and added a spontaneous element to the image that would not have been there had I captured it just a moment sooner. (Image was captured on Konica Centuria 400 film using a Konica Hexar camera and 35mm lens.)
Photos © 2002, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

"Are you telling me you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?...The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style."--Back To The Future movie dialog

This banter between Marty McFly and Doc Brown was going through my head when I picked up a Konica (www.konica.com) Hexar camera and went out to photograph an annual Halloween costume contest--for dogs. If you haven't already figured it out, the Hexar is a manual focus, rangefinder film camera and about as far away in design from any camera I've used in a long while. But on this sunny October day I decided to play Cartier-Bresson and mounted a 35mm Hexanon lens with its way cool slotted lens hood onto the camera and set out to capture a few doggy decisive moments.

You see, I was searching to recreate that most special part of a photographer's life; that first magical phase when each print handed back to me by the person at the counter was a pleasant surprise. The Hexar provides no instant feedback; no LCD panels, not even autofocus, but it's a finely crafted instrument and just plain feels good in your hands. What's more its understated looks make the ideal "stealth" camera for capturing truly candid moments where people (the dogs are always at their best) don't have on their "photo faces" because I was photographing their pets and not them. Images from the Konica Centuria color negative film I used were digitized with an Epson (www.epson.com) Expression flat-bed scanner (with TPU) and printed on Konica's QP Professional Glossy ink jet paper for "real" photographic quality output. Working with the Hexar was a great experience, and one I hope to repeat real soon.

When using iCorrect Professional 4.0, getting the color right is usually a simple matter of selecting from the built-in memory colors--foliage, in this
case--and clicking on the grass immediately behind this classic hot rod to produce one-click color correction.

Plug-In Of The Month
One of my favorite ways to color correct digital images is with Pictographics (www.picto.com) iCorrect Professional. Well, those Burnsville Boffins have gone and created an even better version--for the most part. Pictographics International released Version 4.0 of iCorrect Professional, a color correction plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and compatible programs that's been optimized for Apple's Macintosh OS X and Microsoft's Windows XP operating systems. Version 4.0 includes a larger selectable image viewing area, a preview mode that lets you quickly compare the corrected image with the original, and an enhanced interface for modifying and creating new memory color definitions, such as the "foliage" shown in the example.

With just one or two clicks of the mouse, iCorrect quickly improves the tonal range, removes unwanted colors, and corrects for pre-defined "memory colors" including skin tones, green foliage, and blue sky. These global corrections instantly adjust the colors within the defined color space. You can edit the default memory colors to create your own for specific company logos, uniforms, or backgrounds. Picto's Wayne Huelskoetter told me that the "Version 4.0 interface makes it even easier to achieve the desired result," but for some reason the Command X (for Undo) keystroke combination that worked in previous versions does not work in this new version when using Mac OS 9.2. (I'm not yet ready to make the jump to OS X, but that's a story for another time.) The color transform created with iCorrect Professional is linked to Photoshop's RGB working color space so it's within a profiled, device-independent, reference color space and the final image is ready for use in color-managed workflow. iCorrect Professional 4.0 costs $79 and is compatible with Photoshop 5.0, 6.0, and 7.0 and Elements 1.0 and 2.0 for Mac OS 8.6, 9.2, and 10.1 and 10.2 in Native and Classic modes and Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP.

Morpheus 1.82 and Morpheus 1.82 Pro software lets you create photo animations, graphics, presentations, movies, and greetings. The current Windows-only version of the program supports Flash, Animated GIF, AVI, and other popular formats for morphing and warping photos, images, and movies.

Morph Me Up, Scotty
There was a time when everybody had to have some kind of morphing software on his or her computer but styles change and the morphing technique from Terminator 2 has faded from fashion. I'm happy to report it's back! In case you missed that part of the movie, morphing is a graphics technique that blends two different shapes over a short period of time. A sequence might start with an image of a cartoon penguin, for example, and over time the image gradually metamorphoses in Kafka-like fashion into, say, a real penguin.

Morpheus 1.82 and Morpheus 1.82 Pro (www.morpheussoftware.net) lets you create photo animations, graphics, presentations, movies, and greetings. The current Windows-only version supports Flash, Animated GIF, AVI, and other popular formats for morphing and warping photos, images, and movies. While designed for the average user, Morpheus has advanced features for more advanced uses as well, including the ability to view morphs frame by frame as they are being created, thus enabling frame-by-frame adjustments. You can also share any of your morphs with friends, family, and colleagues. Morpheus 1.82 and Morpheus 1.82 Pro are available through the company's web site for $9.95 and $39.95 respectively. Where else can you have so much fun for less than $10?

The KDS RAD-9 is a 19" LCD flat panel that delivers superb image quality but carries the modest price tag of $699. Out of the box at its native 1280x1024 resolution, the RAD-9 produces acceptable color for business and general computing but after calibration, it went from very good to spectacular.

A Really Big Monitor At A Really Great Price
The KDS (www.kdsusa.com) RAD-9 is a 19" LCD flat panel that delivers superb image quality but carries the modest price tag of $699. KDS says that the RAD-9 is designed for the business professional, but it makes a darn good photographer's monitor, too. Out of the box at its native 1280x1024 resolution, the RAD-9 produces acceptable color for business and general computing.

I hooked up a Pantone (www.colorvision.com) ColorVision Spyder and used its bundled OptiCAL software to quickly calibrate the monitor. This software is easy to use and by simply following the on-screen instructions, the display went from very good to spectacular within a few minutes. Interestingly, the same hardware/software combination was unable to produce acceptable color on my Apple (www.apple.com) 15" LCD Studio Display, which is fabulous out of the box using its preprogrammed settings. All of the Mac OS consultants, including Mac MD's (www.macmdcare.com) Kevin Elliott, that I've discussed this anomaly with have verified my experience, not just with Apple LCD desktop screens, but their laptops as well.

The 19" RAD-9 offers a sharp 0.294mm dot pitch and can display 16.7 million colors for high quality color imaging. The monitor is equipped with both analog and digital inputs and an advanced on-screen control system. The styling is slick and the soft silver gray finish complements my Power Mac G4, which it worked with in true plug-and-play fashion. The RAD-9 is Windows compatible and will work with all of the recent versions of the operating system. What's more, it is, like all of KDS USA's monitors, backed by a three-year limited parts and labor warranty in addition to the KDS Advanced Replacement Expressed Service (KARES) program that replaces a customer's defective product with another monitor in advance of receiving the item.

Rollei's d330 Motion is a stylish 3.34-megapixel digital camera with an f/2.8D-VarioApogon HFT autofocus zoom lens with focal lengths equivalent to 38-80mm in 35mm format.

From Planet Rollei
I may have been a little tough on Rollei's (www.rollei.de) digital cameras in my photokina report (December 2002 issue), but their new digicam looks like something I've been asking every manufacturer to make. Like Canon's Digital Elph, it's a real live digicam that looks like a classy-looking film camera. The Rollei d330 motion is a stylish 3.34-megapixel digital camera with an f/2.8D-VarioApogon HFT autofocus zoom lens with a focal length equivalent to 38-80mm. Autofocusing is possible over a range from 15.75" to infinity, with a macro setting to 2.36". It has a real optical real-image viewfinder and a 1.5" LCD preview screen. The camera features single-frame and continuous-shooting modes, exposure compensation over ±2.5 EV as well as autoflash and fill flash. White balance can be performed either automatically or manually.

The Rollei d330 motion also makes video clips up to 60 seconds and a resolution of 320x240 pixels. Photographs and video clips can be stored in the camera's internal 8MB memory or an SD memory card. Mini-USB and video interfaces are provided for data transfer. During data transfer to the computer, power is supplied via the USB port so that no AC power adapter unit is required.

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