Digital Innovations
New Year’s Rockin’ Software; Treasures From Around The World

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This month's column contains practical and creative software from around the world, including something new from Greece's gift to the imaging world, Panos Efstathiadis. It's rare to see artists working together, but Efstathiadis' Stamp, that appears at the end of this column, is part of Frank Hatcher's WZ2K Cork Board Photoshop Action set. Some of Adobe Studio Exchange's (http://share.studio.adobe.com) well-known contributors added their own wonderful and funny Actions to the set, which can be found on Hatcher's site (www.wz2k.co.uk/pages/downloads/download-list.php?uploadCat=PhotoshopActions).

Black And White Magic
After raw conversion, the next hottest bit of digital alchemy is black and white conversion of color images. Everybody has their favorite method, but Black & White Studio (www.powerretouche.com) may be the best ever monochrome conversion Photoshop compatible plug-in. You can use the light sensitivity of films (Kodak's Tri-X, T-Max) to make the conversion or create your own sensitivity curves and save them for later use. Black & White Studio's color filters are arranged on two "pages" for Windows and three in the Mac OS version. This plug-in features four groups of controls, including Filters, Film, Print (multigrade, exposure, contrast), and Zones, but instead of those zones you get three selectable and adjustable zones.

Power Retouche's Black Definition Photoshop compatible plug-in makes a wonderful complement to its Black & White Studio and lets you adjust black as if it were a color channel in color, black and white, or even digital infrared images as demonstrated here.
All Photos © 2005, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

The Toned Photos plug-in can add sepia, van dyck, kallitype, silver gelatin, palladium, platinum, cyanotype, light cyanotype, or silver toning with the built-in presets or you can create your own. All Power Retouche's plug-ins work with 8-, 16-, 48-, and 64-bit RGB, gray scale, duotone, or CMYK image files.

Danish artist Jan Esmann created Black & White Studio, a Photoshop compatible plug-in that features four groups of monochrome conversion controls, including Filters, Film, Print (multigrade, exposure, contrast), and three selectable and adjustable Zones.

The Black Definition plug-in makes a wonderful complement to Black & White Studio and lets you adjust black as if it were a color channel. Before you finish, use Power Retouche's Toned Photos plug-in to add sepia, van dyck, kallitype, silver gelatin, palladium, platinum, cyanotype, light cyanotype, or silver toning using built-in presets or create your own. All three plug-ins work with 8-, 16-, 48-, and 64-bit RGB, gray scale, duotone, or CMYK image files. Power Retouche offers a suite of 20 Mac OS and Windows power tools for $175. Black & White Studio sells à la carte for $75; Black Definition costs $32; and Toned Photos costs $54.

This image of an Austin delivery van was originally captured as a color file with a Canon EOS 20D and EF-S 10-22mm lens at 13mm. Exposure at ISO 800 was 1/500 sec at f/16. Image was converted into monochrome using Power Retouche's Black & White Studio then tinted in Toned Photos using the van dyck preset.

Cleaner Colors Now
ColorWasher (www.thepluginsite.com) adjusts color, contrast, exposure, and saturation for 8- and 16-bit photos using automatic, semiautomatic, and manual tools for correction, enhancement, and restoration. This Windows and Mac OS X plug-in offers interactive explanations and hints for each feature, incorporates an Easy mode, and offers a Cloak mode for processing dozens of images quickly. ColorWasher contains seven sophisticated methods called "Cast Types" for reconstructing lost colors and details. It also features built-in mechanisms for hiding image noise, camouflaging overexposed areas, boosting contrast, keeping saturation constant, and fixing chopped histograms.

A free demo version of ColorWasher for Mac OS X or Windows can be downloaded from The Plugin Site. Although fully functional, if you apply any of the corrections possible with ColorWasher, it will also apply a watermark over the image, so you can see how it works but can't really "use" the plug-in. If you like it, ColorWasher costs $49.95.

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