Digital Innovations
How would You Like To Write An e Book

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iCorrect 4.0 uses a two-pane ("before" and "after") interface that makes comparisons and corrections easier for digital newcomers, such as this comparison of a RAW digital camera file, with a warmer, more color corrected photograph of Jennifer L. Groen.

"Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

All kinds of photographers, from amateurs to aspiring pros to professionals, are using e-books to share their vision or sell their services to potential clients. While Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) and Adobe (www.adobe.com) would like you to believe that there is only one--theirs of, course--format for producing an e-book, the reality is that photographers are successfully producing them in many ways.

You don't need a Pocket PC to read an e-book; any laptop or desktop computer will do. That's why any commonly used visual format will work when you decide to publish an e-book. After it's created, it can be saved onto a CD-ROM disc or downloaded from a web site and read by a computer or Portable Data Assistant (PDA). You can create an e-book using one of many different formats and the decision about which one to use can have a bearing not only on how easy the e-book will be to produce but how widespread its distribution will be.

PowerPoint Presentation
Microsoft's PowerPoint is probably one of the easiest formats to use. Photographers can take images originally created for portfolios or presentations and by adding a bit of text turn it into an e-book. That's what techies call "re-purposing." What's more, you can include a free presentation player on the disc that allows anyone to view your PowerPoint presentation. Windows or Macintosh players can be downloaded from Microsoft's web site. The Mac OS version of PowerPoint allows you to save the file in the MOV (Moving JPEG) format and the resulting file can be viewed with Apple Computer's free QuickTime player (www.apple.com/quicktime), but the viewing/reading experience is quite different. Compare the experience of viewing a presentation with a QuickTime player and a MOV file created from the same file and you'll see that the images and text have less on-screen quality than using the full-screen PowerPoint players, which allow you to see PowerPoint Show files (.pps) at full-screen resolution.

The Bright Colour Wash "Stack" (which includes Simplifier One, Pure Colour, Edges Colour, Simplifier One (again), and Bright/Contrast) from buZZ Pro 2.0 was used to produce this image from an original photograph made with a Minolta Dimge X at Shutterbug's Digital Photo Workshop in Taos.
© 2002, Mary Farace, All Rights Reserved

PDF Pages
The Mac OS and Windows version of Adobe's PageMaker 7.0 desktop publishing supports the cross-platform Tagged PDF (Portable Document Format) files that automatically reflows documents for readability on different kinds of devices, even at different display resolutions. Publication with other PDF-enabled desktop publishing software, such as Adobe's PageMaker and InDesign or QuarkXPress (www.quark.com), may take more time to produce than using PowerPoint, but the potential exists for a more design-rich experience. Adobe's free Acrobat Reader software lets anyone read PDF files and can be downloaded from their web site and added to the e-book disc itself, making the format accessible to all platforms in exactly the same visual presentation.

HTML Format
HTML (HyperText Markup Lan-guage) is one of the most accessible formats and every potential customer already has an Internet browser to read your e-book, along with navigational aids, buttons, and, don't forget, hyperlinks. For some potential desktop publishers, HTML may be more difficult to produce, but there are many ways to use it creatively if you have the knack and experience. Another clever option is FlipAlbum from E-Book Systems (www.flipalbum.com). FlipAlbum Professional 4.2 is easy to use and creates stand-alone e-books whose pages turn like real books. There are several versions of FlipAlbum, but you'll want the Pro version, which lets you publish CDs for commercial distribution. You can encrypt your photographs on the disc to protect them and enable/ disable (your choice) end user printing of the images. The downside to all of FlipAlbum products is that it limits your distribution to users of Windows computers.

Are you tired of sorting through stacks of discs and piles of jewel cases to find that "one" CD-ROM? KDS' CD Organizer lets you store and organize all of your CDs (music, DVD, CD-R, CD-RW, and games) in one easy to access place and lets you use your computer to find that "one" special disc.

Plug-In Of The Month
This month's featured plug-in was brought to my attention by Mary Warner during Shutterbug's Digital Photo Workshop (www.shutterbug.net/workshops) in Taos. Warner is a terrific photographer with a passion for Photoshop compatible plug-ins and recommended buZZ (www.fo2pix.com), a suite of four plug-ins for Mac OS and Windows computers that lets you turn digital images into "works of art." After coming back from New Mexico, I downloaded the buZZ Pro package and installed it on the Windows version of Adobe Photoshop 6.01. The buZZ Pro 2.0 plug-in has a deceptively simple interface that consists of two dialog boxes: The first has a traditional interface with sliders and a preview window. The second--called the "Stack"--is what sets buZZ apart from all the rest and lets you apply multiple effects to the same file. The 19 effects in buZZ Pro include Simplifier One; Simplifier Two; Simplifier Three; Blur; Blur More; Bright/Contrast; Directional Blur; Edges Colour; Edges Mono; Emboss; Gaussian Blur; Pure Colour; Radial Blur; Radial Screen; Radial Simplifier; Simplifier HSV; Spread Black; Spread White; and Unsharp Mask. The basic building block effect is the Simplifier, which lets you remove detail without blurring so you won't lose colors, quality, shape, or edging. The plug-in ships with 13 preset Stacks, including Bright Colour Wash, ColouredEdges, ColourPatches, Gloss-Layer, Ink, Neutral Colour Wash, Oil, and others. You can use the presets or mix any combination of effects in the stack and even re-order them, while viewing the outcome in the preview window. When you find something you like, you can save the combination for future use. The buZZ plug-ins require Mac OS 8.5 or higher or Windows 95 or higher. You can download a free trial version from the Fo2PiX web site.

Microsoft's PowerPoint is the easiest way to produce e-books and lets viewers interact with your text and photographs. This page from my "Right in Your Own Backyard" e-book provides a large image alongside information on how and why it was made along with specific technical details.
© 2002, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

Add Sound To Images
JPEG's mit sound. SoundPix (www.soundpix.com) offers a suite of products that lets you embed sound directly into any standard JPEG files at any step along the imaging process. You can do it at image capture, while editing images, or when publishing images for the web. The company's software offerings include SoundPix Plus, SoundPix Sampler, and the SoundPix plug-in. Digital imagers can use SoundPix Plus and SoundPix Sampler to create audio-enabled JPEG files. To hear the image sound off, you can use Plus, Sampler, or any application with the SoundPix plug-in installed. The initial release of the SoundPix plug-in only supports the Windows version of Internet Explorer.

Get Your CDs Organized
KDS' CD Organizer (www.kdsusa.com) lets you store and organize all of your CDs (music, DVD, CD-R, CD-RW, and games) you've got stacked up around the house or office. The CD Organizer automatically reads and stores disc contents so there's no more stacks or scattered piles to sort through and jewel cases to look through when searching for that Rocky Horror Picture Show disc. The CD Organizer software uses your computer's CD-ROM drive to automatically read and store disc contents, eliminating manual data entry. After they're stored, you remove the disc from the CD-ROM drive and place it on the motorized tray that pops out. The bundled software lets you view the titles of stored discs on one screen. It also lets you view disc contents (file names and directory names) on screen. To retrieve a disc, all you do is double-click on a title from an on-screen list and a tray slides out containing that disc! To return a disc, double-click the corresponding title on your screen and place the disc on the empty tray that pops open. If you choose not to use your computer, the keypad on the top of the CD Organizer tower allows direct disc access.

Fix Your Images
iCorrect 4.0 is a Windows-only application that costs less than $40 for the downloadable version. Like all of Picto-graphics (www.picto.com) other color correction products, you make all of the adjustments to the file by clicking on part of the image, but unlike the other products iCorrect 4.0 uses a two-pane ("before" and "after") interface that makes comparisons and corrections easier for digital newcomers. You correct any image's color by using common reference colors such as Neutrals, Sky Blue, Foliage, and Skin, and if you don't like what you see, undoes are a button click away. When an image opens, the program can automatically (it's optional) set new black and white points. You can also make adjustments to the file's brightness and contrast using up and down arrows. The only downside I've discovered is that the program is not compatible with Kodak Photo CD image files. iCorrect 4.0 is compatible with Microsoft XP and is an indispensable and inexpensive color correction tool that digital imagers need on their laptop.

E-Commerce Aid
Electric Logic's WebD71 (www.webd71.com) is a Windows-based product that generates e-commerce sites for photographers. The web site that WebD71 produces lets photographs be grouped by thumbnail and higher resolutions, but all of the high-res files are protected against download. While the program produces a standard web page, users can customize its look to fit their wishes. WebD71 doesn't even have to be installed; you launch it from the CD and can create your new site within 30 minutes. Once you post client images from an event or assignment, you can give or e-mail them a PIN number so they can see just their specific photographs, but are denied access to your other client's images. Check out the company's web site for demonstrations of some of the e-commerce sites they have generated using the software.

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