Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2

Digital Color Photography For The Colorblind
Q. I was wondering if you have any advice for those photographers out there who are colorblind (8 percent of men). I have learned to not touch the color settings when working in Photoshop, but I always wonder if there is any way to be able to adjust color settings (other then the "honey, does this look ok?" check) so that it not only looks good to me, but the other 92 percent out there.
Any ideas from other readers out there? I think this topic would make a great article!
Kevin P. Duffy

A. There really is not much I can offer because computer photographic editing is almost entirely perceptually controlled. Even though there is a lot of image adjustment automation available it is not close to 100 percent accurate, so it really cannot be relied on to provide good color quality if not checked by someone else with good color sight, as you do.
However, there remains even today a contingent of photographers who do a lot of black and white photography and many photo enthusiasts who work in black and white exclusively. To me that would be the logical solution to colorblindness--do photography in black and white. Unfortunately, there is a certain perversity about human nature that says otherwise. As soon as many individuals confront a limitation they become more determined to put rational and logical considerations aside and do just the contrary. There are stories in the media everyday about a one-legged marathon runner or someone blinded who is striving to be a race car driver.
The best I can offer is to put this issue in the Digital Help column and see what kind of response we get from other photographers who are limited by colorblindness. It would be presumptuous of me to provide advice on something I cannot really experience myself.

Adapting To Change And Software Upgrades
Q. I use Windows XP and an Access 2002 database to store embedded bit-mapped images of selected photographs. They used to go into the table as a bit-mapped file.
I decided to replace Adobe's Photoshop 5.0 and after loading Adobe's Photoshop Elements 3.0 and Premier Elements all new images now go into the Access database as "package" instead of "bit-mapped." The display of these new photos in Access has extremely poor resolution with the file name displayed at the bottom of the image.
Do you have any idea what was changed during the loading of these photo-editing programs and how can I get Access to store a bit-mapped image again without compromising these new programs?
Rich Crane

A. I don't really recall if it was Photoshop 6.0 or 7.0, but all recent versions of Adobe's Photoshop, when it saves files in standard formats, generates a thumbnail that is embedded in the file header. This allows functions like the File/Open dialog window to display a thumbnail of the content without having to open the file to see the content of the image for visual identification purposes.
Apparently your Access database recognizes this newer kind of Photoshop saved file as a "package-type" file format. So, what you are actually seeing displayed by the database is the thumbnail rather than the full-resolution content of the file.
As far as I have noticed there is not a preference available to turn off thumbnail generation in File/Save in Photoshop Elements 3.0, as it is an integral part of the support for the application's Browser function. But the next time you save an image file, use the File/Save command that opens a dialog and check yourself to be sure if there is or is not a check box for thumbnail generation. I don't have a Windows copy of Elements 3.0 running on a PC (just Apple Mac) or I would check it myself.

I Don't Like To Make Comparisons Of Products, But...
Q. Your images and words are reliable and remarkable. It's a solid review. Can you say whether the difference in density between the Microtek Artixscan 1600f (1800f ed.) and the Epson Perfection 4990 PHOTO will make an appreciable difference and, if it will, at what sizes the difference will become noticeable? The advantage of being able to scan 8.5x11 (or 8x10) prints on the Epson is a strong point, and your illustrating the way it can produce contact sheets is equally appealing. Thanks for your intelligence and care.
Steve Lautermilch

A. Thanks for your words of appreciation. I am glad what I try to do is accomplished in my reports and seems to serve its purpose.
Regarding the Microtek ArtixScan 1800f, which is the scanner I think you are referring to, it has two particular advantages. One is that it uses a high-quality three-line CCD linear array, compared to the six-line CCD array used in the Epson. This provides some advantage in scanned image sharpness and detail, even though the total optical resolution of the Epson 4990 is much higher. And two, the glassless film carrier system of the ArtixScan 1800f also provides some physical advantages.
Personally, for 6x7cm and larger film scans I would choose the Microtek ArtixScan 1800f if most of my scans were of negatives. Otherwise I would probably be more satisfied with the Epson 4990 all around, especially considering the advantage Digital ICE provides with color negative and E-6 transparency films, which saves me from having to manually clean dust and dirt from the scanned images.

New Filters In Adobe's Photoshop CS2
Q. Not because of a burning desire, but because in the future it would be there, I wanted to learn the new Bridge system in CS2. However, I am intrigued by two new filters--Smart Sharpen and Reduce Noise. I have become quite proficient with the Unsharp filter and Median/Despeckle/Gaussian Blur in Photoshop CS. Do these new filters represent a real advance? Are they worth learning? And, if they are worth learning, can you give me some tips? I don't find the controls particularly friendly and I can't find any real documentation on how someone might use them successfully. Thanks again for all your help.
Judy Grose

A. Both of the new CS2 filters--Smart Sharpen and Reduce Noise--are a distinct improvement over what has been available in Photoshop in the past. I agree that the controls in both filters are not particularly intuitive. I believe that these filters are particularly effective and better than those of the past with higher MPX digital camera raw files and for scanned film images. I don't know of any way to deal with learning them other than to just zoom the magnification of the image to 100 percent and then try various setting levels and options to see what the effect is--good old-fashioned trial and error. No harm can be done unless you click the OK button and save the changes to the file. The Advanced features are largely limiters so you can protect either highlights or shadows from the effect of the filter, so if you are using sharpening it will not also enhance noise in deep shadows.