THE NIGHT BEFORE
Imaging Companies to Try to Capture the Moment
By MIKE PASINI
The Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter
COLOGNE, Germany -- It's such a big show, it can't be held every year. So in even years, Cologne braces itself for the most comprehensive exhibition of imaging companies ever assembling, attracting an expected 160,000 visitors, including 1,600 companies from 45 countries. This year, we're one of them.
Our idea of flying is no overhead bins and lazy figure eights inside a building. But we left San Francisco at dawn Sunday morning, saw sunset in Chicago and snoozed over the North Atlantic to get here in time for Apple's Aperture announcement earlier today.
As we took pictures out the window, inspired by Julienne Kost's Window Seat, we kept running over a quote by Koelnmesse Executive Vice President Oliver P. Kuhrt, whose company organizes photokina and other international trad shows. He said, "Images express more than any other medium, which is why they are now more important than ever before in all areas of business and society as well as in the private sphere."
Images express more than any other medium?
As we flew over Ireland and the English Channel to the overcast continent and into Frankfurt, we thought he might have said images don't need translation. Struggling with our bitte and danke in this unusually polite country, we appreciated how direct an image taken from a window seat can be.
And just as we instantly fell in love with apologizing and thanking everyone for the silliest things, the exquisite tonality and brilliant color of an image is an irresistible attraction.
Appearing for the first time at photokina, Apple Computer previewed the release later this week of Aperture 1.5. The new version separates the product's database from the actual image files (long a hindrance to many users), integrates the database into iLife '06 and iWork '06, adds XMP metadata support and new adjustment tools, and introduces an API to make it easy for third-party developers to incorporate the Aperture workflow.
Open Libraries. The separation of the database from the image files themselves (previously packaged in one bundle that mystified photographers looking for their originals) means simply that importing images into Aperture can be as simple as adding their vitals to the Aperture database and leaving the pixels themselves where ever you want to keep them. Even offline. Aperture records the volume name along with the image, so if you access an image on media that isn't currently online, it can tell you where it is.
Integration. Integration with the iLife and iWork software suites is complemented by support across the company's full line of currently shipping Macs, including the Mac mini. It also includes syncing your Aperture database (which include thumbnails) to an iPod using iTunes.
Metadata Enhancements. Adding metadata to images has been streamlined by using pre-filled IPTC fields that can be saved as presets. Using a batch process, fields like captions and credits can automatically be imported to a group of images. That data can be exported as XMP side car files with the new support for Adobe's XMP architecture.
Adjustment Tools. The company was very proud of its new luminance-based edge sharpen filter, and a new color tool to tune hue, saturation and luminance for specific color ranges in an image. And the improved loupe tool makes it easy to take advantage of them.
The update will be made available later this week via Software Update, the company said, so everyone who has Aperture will have the latest version. English, German, French and Japanese localizations will be available. The $299 price tag remains intact but the update itself will be free.
The large crowd of several hundred hung around after the presentation to appreciate the new features although a curmudgeon or three were disappointed Apple didn't announce they were bundling the product with the $79 iWork suite and tossing in DNG support just for fun.
Tomorrow the fair itself opens in Cologne's new trade fair halls. The new exhibition center has already been applauded by exhibitors and visitors at several other large trade fairs asone of Europe's most modern trade fair locations.
To take advantage of the brand-new hall layout, the exhibitors have been organized in buildings that follow the imaging workflow. By transferring the imaging workflow in its entirety to the Cologne trade fair halls, photokina's new structure reflects the blurred distinction between products for the professional user and products for the traditional end consumer. The World of Imaging focuses closely on the progress made by the image, the process that will guide the visitors through the various areas and halls.
The workflow is divided into the various stages an image goes through: capture, storage, processing, output and presentation. Also covered will be imaging accessories, equipment and consumables, which are indispensable to the workflow.
In addition to show press releases, we'll be bringing you daily reports from the show floor and video of the more significant products. Stay tuned -- it should be an interesting week!