plug-in of the month is Extensis PhotoFrame 2.0, which not
only lets photographers add frame shapes to their images
but also control other aspects of the edges including color,
size, drop shadow, as well as texture.
In The Eye Of The Beholder.
Kodak sees Photo CD as a product that is "much more highly used
by the profession," while Picture CD is clearly aimed at the amateur
photographer just getting involved in digital imaging. As you can see,
the differences between Picture CD and Photo CD have more to do with their
intended audiences than anything else. As part of the design of Picture
CD, each disk holds images from a single roll of film and relies on the
familiar retail-based photographic processing method: Ordering is as simple
as checking a box on the film-processing envelope provided by your photofinisher.
After processing, which can vary from one hour to two days, depending
on retailer, consumers receive their prints along with a Kodak Picture
CD and index print in the CD's sleeve in the same envelope.
Picture CD is an autoloading CD-ROM disc that incorporates your digitized
photographs along with software that will help you work with those digital
images. When you drop the disc into the CD-ROM drive of any newer PC,
the software launches and pictures automatically appear on your monitor.
Through use of a magazine-style format, on-screen instructions guide users
through the CD's options. The disc's key features are displayed
in a table of contents, while a pop-up window displays your entire roll
of pictures within a slide show format.
Picture Disk includes not only JPEG compressed digitized
versions of your images but also useful software that allows
you to manipulate and have fun with your photographs.
Plug-In Of The Month.
In the July issue of Shutterbug, Howard Millard showed readers how to
use plug-ins to add creative edges to their digital images. Such is the
nature of computer software--especially Photoshop-compatible plug-ins--that
one of them was recently upgraded. Extensis PhotoFrame 2.0, which may
be the world's first Internet aware plug-in, offers photographers
over 1000 image frames to choose from, in addition to those available
for downloading from a companion web site. This site, in partnership with
Dynamic Graphics, can be reached from within PhotoFrame and provides access
to new frames and borders. You have the option of subscribing to a monthly
service offering new content as well as the ability to download additional
frame files from a continually expanding selection of professionally designed
frames. Users can also build their own custom frames and edges from scratch
or by adapting existing frames, providing for lots of versatility and
creativity. PhotoFrame 2.0 lets you enhance image edges by adding a variety
of special effects including drop shadows, glows, bevels, textures, blur,
noise, opacity, and blends. The new version offers real-time previews
and a new interface adds dockable palettes to maximize usable screen area.
Like Extensis Intellihance Pro 4.0, any combination of settings can be
saved, assigned a preset name, and accessed from Photoshop's menu
bar without even launching the plug-in. Mac OS and Windows versions of
PhotoFrame 2.0 cost $199.95 and are compatible with all versions of Photoshop
starting with 4.0 and up to 5.5. For more information about Extensis'
plug-ins, visit their web site at: www.extensis.com.
In Print. For some time, traditional darkroom product
companies have been introducing digitally oriented consumables, especially
photo quality paper. Ilford's new Ink Jet Photo Paper has a smooth,
high-gloss white surface and the heft and feel of a really fine quality
photographic paper. Ilford states the paper has a neutral base tint but
compared to other glossy papers I've tried I would say it leans
toward the ever so slightly warm side. The paper is designed for quick
drying and easy handling and my own tests show it to be dry to the touch
after printing photographs. The paper is supposed to be water fast and
has the ability to withstand wet smudges--the curse of many ink jet papers--or
spills. Images printed on the paper are designed to be stored in albums,
even under the kind of high humidity conditions that cause some ink jet
papers to leech ink onto the surface. If you want to make catalog sheets
or greeting cards, you'll be glad to know you can also print on
the back of each sheet. The acid test is how do images look when printed
on the paper? My test image (see my article on fine art printing in last
month's issue) was output at a quality that matched the best papers
I have tested up to this time. Ilford Ink Jet Photo Paper will initially
be available in 8.5x11" and 11x17" sizes in 15 sheet envelopes
or in 8.5x11" in 50 sheet boxes. For more information, visit their
web site at: www.ilford.com.
Snap My Scan. Agfa's new SnapScan Touch is a USB
(Universal Serial Bus) scanner that breaks with tradition by offering
a landscape orientation and shipping with six different colored handles
to match Apple's iMac and G3 or even a generic PC. The SnapScan
Touch has an optical resolution of 1200x600 pixels per inch which can
be interpolated up to 9600ppi. The USB interface means the SnapScan Touch
works with Mac OS and Windows computers and comes with all of the coolness
you would expect from an USB-based peripheral. Emphasizing that coolness
is a bear paw shaped cluster of program-mable buttons on the scanner's
top that let you e-mail, fax, or copy directly from the scanner by just
pushing one of the buttons. The ScanWise software Agfa bundles with the
scanner includes an interface that guides you through the creation of
a scan depending on how you plan to use the digitized images. Based on
a demonstration of the software that I saw, even if you've never
used a scanner before, you should be able to make picture perfect scans
using the software's "Guide Me" mode. A tabbed menu
walks you through the process from determining what kind of original is
to be scanned and whether you want to make automatic or manual color changes.
Agfa also bundles Mac OS and Windows Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
and image-editing software with the scanner, which has a list price of
$129. For more information about Agfa's SnapScan scanners visit
their web site at: www.agfahome.com.
The Wild Wild Web. The best way that Windows computers
can prepare images for the Internet, including e-mail, is to use Ulead
System's Smart-Saver. Originally part of the company's PhotoImpact
program, it is also available as a separate Photoshop-compatible plug-in
called SmartSaver Pro that can be installed inside your favorite image
editor. SmartSaver Pro drastically cuts the fat out of web graphics--sometimes
by as much as two-thirds. The plug-in features image slicing, HTML map
tags, flexible batch processing, background blending, and one click switching
between conversion for GIF, JPG, and PNG formats. You can slice up large
"signature" images so visitors to your web site are given
a fast preview of your site's main graphics. One of the plug-in's
most practical features are the side by side "before and after"
preview windows combined with powerful optimization that make it not only
one of the best ways to prepare graphic image files for the Internet,
but also one of the easiest. SmartSaver Pro carves these larger images
into different segments, then generates the HTML table code for you. You
can also create photographs with "Image Map" clickable hot
spots for easy web site navigation. Hot spot information is output direct
to HTML code, too. Ulead SmartSaver Pro is available for online purchase
for $59.95 and you can download a free 15 day trial at: www.ulead.com.
Photoshop Hits The Double Nickel. At PC Expo, Adobe System
announced Photoshop 5.5, which now also includes a copy of ImageReady
2.0, web production software that interacts with Photoshop software eliminating
the need to use multiple applications. Photoshop 5.5 includes a set of
advanced features for optimizing and compressing web graphics, such as
to" button that quickly transfers the image into ImageReady. Multiple
LiveView panels let you find the best compression options, translating
into shorter image download times and higher quality web graphics. A new
Lossy GIF feature dramatically reduces file size, as much as 10-50 percent
smaller than previously possible, with minimal loss of image quality.
Photoshop 5.5 also addresses the tedious and time consuming task of image
masking with its new Background Eraser and the Extract Image command.
Users can create transparency with these tools' color decontamination
capabilities so they can be composited on another background, saving hours
of working with complex selections. A new Art History Brush allows users
to create entirely new images by interactively applying realistic paint
strokes. Photoshop 5.5 has an approximate street price of $600. Users
of Photoshop 5.0 or ImageReady 1.0 can upgrade for the promotional price
of $129 (after rebate) until May 2000. For more information, call (800)
492-3623 or visit www.adobe.com/prodindex/photoshop/main.html.
In The Lab. There are many exciting digital developments going on in professional
photo labs all over the country and I will use this space to periodically
update you on new products and services you can look for in your local
or mail-order labs. Hicks Equipment company recently announced that its
patented photographic image ordering system called ProShots is now capable
of producing digital output using Kodak's Professional Imaging System
or KIPS for short. ProShots is a system pioneered by Hicks that enables
professional photographers to submit their exposed film to compatible
labs and receive back digital images that are electronically matched to
the original film. Using a standard PC, studios can use these digitized
images for sales presentations, order processing, cropping, album arrangement,
and other functions. Finished orders can be placed directly to the lab
via the Internet, eliminating the boring, time consuming process of "pasting
up" negatives on aperture cards. Software produced by Impossible
Solution now gives Kodak labs the ability to produce traditional silver-based
prints as well as enhanced digital output that will be useful for wedding
and special events photographers. This will include photographic composites
as well as images that combine text and numeric data. In addition, pro
shooters will be able to specify digital retouching and use images in
other, different ways to increase their profit potential. For more information,
visit Hicks on the web at: www.proshots.com.
Is It A Disc Or A Disk?
flat platters spinning inside a CD-ROM drive use laser-based technology
and are properly called discs. Magnetic media drives, on the other hand,
use the kind of technology that hard disks have used since they were introduced
by IBM. This technology, originally called "Winchester" after
IBM's design that used two 30MB disks, uses thin disks coated with
magnetic material. When saving a file, a read/write head writes files,
or images, directly onto the disk. On playback, the same head can read
the magnetically encoded data and display the files on your monitor. These
round objects inside the drive are called disks and that terminology has
been applied to all magnetic-based media, including floppy disks and removable
media such as Iomega's Zip and Jaz disks.