a Shutterbug subscriber and recently received the June issue." So
begins a recent e-mail. "On page 74, Mr. Joe Farace describes the
xD card as being `mostly useless.' I recently purchased an
Olympus C-750 that uses xD, have used it several times and am quite pleased
with the quality of prints I get from the card. If you could, explain
your reasons for this denigration." Let's get this out of
the way first: There is nothing inherently wrong with the xD Picture Card.
I own an Olympus Stylus 400 digital camera that uses xD, love the camera
and the pictures it makes.
image collages using LumaPix's FotoFusion v3 PRO
is mostly a matter of collecting the images that you want
to use. The software does all the hard work.
Photos © 2004, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
There are so many other image storage formats that having a new one just
"to have a new one," which seems like the only reason for
xD's existence, doesn't seem reasonable. We need fewer formats,
not more. The same group that gave us the now-failed SmartMedia is touting
the xD. Don't get me wrong, I liked the Wheat Thin-sized SmartMedia
but its inherent capacity problems doomed it. Instead of developing a
new format, they should have adopted an existing one. If you had a SmartMedia
camera now, instead of xD you would feel the same way.
a finished collage can be tweaked by cropping, re-sizing,
and moving images around to produce aesthetically pleasing
What is wrong with xD? They
are so small that they're easy to lose. If you lose a card, what
are you going to do except make sure you have lots of other cards stored
someplace close to your body? The xD cards are also fragile and unable
to withstand the use that other, more rugged formats, such as CompactFlash,
can handle. Contrary to what manufacturers say, this smaller format has
rarely produced smaller cameras. Canon's Digital Elphs are tiny
and use CompactFlash cards. The Canon PowerShot SD10 is the smallest 4-megapixel
digicam available; it uses a SecureDigital card and is smaller than my
Olympus digicam that uses xD.
There are too many formats. The more formats there are the more difficult
it will be to find what you want when you need it. I think that when the
dust clears there will be just two memory card formats in widespread use:
CompactFlash for pros and SecureDigital for amateurs. But you hit it on
the head, Frank. It's just my opinion, I may be wrong.
limited edition Stylus 400, like many Olympus digital cameras,
uses the xD Picture Card for image storage.
I receive lots of imaging software to test, especially Microsoft Windows-only
products and, to tell the truth, most of it is junk. Every now and then
I find a diamond among the lumps of coal and LumaPix's FotoFusion
v3 PRO (www.lumapix.com)
is one of these gems. FotoFusion v3 PRO lets you produce high-resolution
photocompositions, such as collages, class composites, scrapbooks, contact
sheets, wedding albums, and other multi-image tasks with just a few mouse
clicks. All you have to do is select the images you want and after even
one mouse click produce a collage that is editable and saved as a template.
A resolution-independent framework lets you interactively arrange images
in multiple layers, with vector-based mattes and text and support for
My pal Barry Staver uses Gary Fong's Collage Builder
for Photoshop 6/7/CS to build the wedding collages on his
Text controls provide interactive
control over placement, size, and appearance. The results can be scaled
from e-mail to large format output without quality loss. You can even
e-mail a collage from within the program. An integrated FTP client manages
uploading collages and source images to web servers for online album publishing.
Copyright can be protected with watermarks and e-mails sent to customers
can include customizable linked banners to draw viewers to your website.
Another approach to producing collages is Collage Builder for Photoshop
6/7/CS by Gary Fong (www.digitalphotographers.net).
It's a set of Photoshop Actions, so it's compatible with both
Mac OS and Windows, and costs $98. It lets you place the first photo as
a background if you like, then size and place other images on the page,
where you can rotate, add borders, drop shadows, add type, all from within
the Actions. There's no guesswork or Photoshop expertise required,
just click the buttons and watch the page automatically build itself.
All the while you're also able to override and do other Photoshop
stuff along the way. Also included is an e-book instruction manual with
step by step images that takes you through all of the steps of building
the collage. My pal Barry Staver made all of the collages on his wedding
with Collage Builder. Select Recent Photographs, and then click on one
of the couple's photos to see them.
addition to gray, the Digital Gel-Card includes six color
patches that you can use to warm up or cool off your image,
when applying your profiles.
Profiles In Cameras
Every digital camera is unique. Most camera manufacturers apply some sort
of correction to the files, but they apply the same corrections to every
camera. So why not create a camera profile? Some experts say digital cameras
can't be profiled, but based on the observed variations in the hundreds
of cameras I've tried, I must respectfully disagree.
Integrated Color (www.integrated-color.com)
offers two profiling packages, including Commercial versions that include
a batch reference file made from a group of targets and ColorEyes 20/20
that uses a custom reference file for its target. The Commercial version
is aimed at the average photographer, but large format photographers who
want critical color or fine art reproduction will find that 20/20 is more
We used the Commercial version
to create a profile for my Canon EOS 10D. If you can read and follow instructions
and use only one light source (I used a borrowed Elinchrom monolight)
you can light the target and make an even exposure. The lighting setup
may take some time, but after you've got the shot the software will
cook up a profile quicker than your Starbucks barista can whip up a latte.
The software calculates the difference between what the camera saw and
what the reference file says the color is supposed to be. The profile
is based on using a custom color balance, so Integrated Color includes
a Digital Gel-Card that lets you shoot the card, color balance the camera,
and apply the profile with complete consistency between shots and even
under different lighting conditions. The chart includes six other smaller
patches that you can use to warm up or cool off your image when applying
your profiles (Image>Mode> Assign Profile in Photoshop CS).
Last month, I showed you some power tools that made people look beautiful.
This month, here's something to make them look like one of Van Helsing's
monsters. Monsters Ick is a set of eight Photoshop Actions that turns
people into monsters quicker than you can spell lycanthropy. Dave Harty
created the Actions and you can download a set from Adobe Studio Exchange
Monsters Ick consists of Complexator Alien, which produces wrinkly and
shadowed monsters, while in Complexator Alien 2, some skin tone is brought
back; Gunk tosses sticky neon digital "rust" onto your images,
while Gunk 2 adds "zombie juice"; Moldaction makes your portraits
look a little moldy, much like extras from Dawn of the Dead; Monster Maker
is just creepy, Monster Maker 2 is more gross, while Monster Maker 4 tosses
in the climactic scene from Brian De Palma's Carrie. All you need
is a picture (Harty said it "works best with a person") open.
Be sure to take Actions out of Button mode and click Play, but hit Stop
if you see something you like.
"It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it"
is a quote from comedian Steven Wright, just in case you thought I made