The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 4, Number 10 17 May 2002

Copyright 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 71st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Dave discovers a unique software application, we revisit the issue of emailing images and reveal a certain method of eating rice. Spring forward!

A note of appreciation to all our subscribers after we passed the 45,000 milestone this week. We couldn't have done it without each one of you!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:
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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 45,000 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: ImageMatics StillMotion Creator

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ISMC/ISMC.HTM on the Web site.)

"Movies from your stills? Say what?!" I scratched my head.

I have to admit this sounded a little strange the first time I heard about it. But once I saw what ImageMatics StillMotion Creator (http://www.imagematics.com/index_dd1.htm) could do, a host of applications leapt to mind. And there's a definite, eye-catching "cool factor" when you see the output.

So what is it? StillMotion is a program that creates animated movies from any digital still image. If you've ever seen one of Ken Burns' documentaries, in which the camera pans across old photographs, you've seen the effect. You start with standard digital photos in any format and end with Flash-animated SWF files or standard AVI-format video files.

We've arranged a Dave's Deal (see below) for this product that both saves you money and helps support our efforts.

A SLICK TRICK

For digicam or scanner owners, this is a slick trick, the perfect way to make really compact movie files from your still images that can play through most Web browsers and many email systems. Think of it as a slide show and guided tour combined into one. Rather than emailing huge JPEG group shots from the next family gathering (which clog emails and are hard for many people to open and view), how about a compact file that pans a virtual camera across the faces of everyone in the picture? It's also a natural for the Web, adding interest to static shots and letting you selectively show tiny details in images without subjecting viewers to megabyte downloads.

While its files can be very small, it'd be short sighted to think of StillMotion solely as a tool for making tiny moving images for Web or email use. It's also a powerful tool for creating higher-resolution movies to play from a hard drive or CD-R disc. You could assemble a feature-length slide show of family moments from the last year, burn it onto a CD-R and ship the whole thing to the grandparents as a gift. Pros are using StillMotion to create sophisticated "electronic portfolios" for art directors and others interested in their work. It really breaks you out of the standard "slide show" mentality and opens up a whole new realm of creativity.

One of the most natural (even profitable) applications of StillMotion is to create virtual tours of vacation, rental or resort properties. No need for expensive panoramic gadgets or per-photo charges for virtual reality software. Just snap digital photos of the property and make a StillMotion movie from them, panning and zooming in to highlight details and maintaining interest with artful fades and transitions. At least one ImageMatics customer has already started a business doing just that.

The list of applications goes on and on:

Use up to 64 still images in color or black and white (each of which can be as large as 4K x 4K pixels or 16 megapixels) to create a movie that tells a story or just entertains.

EASY AS PIE

Since nobody reads (or understands or follows or remembers) directions, StillMotion had better be easy to use. So is it?

I went to the ImageMatics Web site and downloaded the program to find out. The demo is a full version of the product with no limitations on its features, but it does add a watermark to the movies, which will go away when the product is purchased. After downloading the product, the first thing I saw was a Read Me file, that said "nobody reads me or the directions but check out ours and we think you won't regret it." A nice touch of realism that all "readme" authors would do well to emulate. Plus, ImageMatics was right -- I didn't regret it.

The one-page Quick Start guide gives a literal 1-2-3 introduction to the program. It introduces the underlying concept of the application (keyframe animation) and takes you by the hand through the menus. A couple of mouse clicks later and you've created your first movie. In the Quick Start guide, all the terms are linked back to the online reference and user guides on ImageMatics' Web site.

At first, still photographers may find the many references to "keyframes" and "moves" in the StillMotion documentation a little foreign, but the basic concepts are very straightforward and easy to assimilate. Spend 15 minutes playing with the application (after reading the Quick Start guide) and you'll figure it right out.

The Quick Start guide gives you a six-example tutorial that takes you through the whole process. Source files and sample results for all the examples can be downloaded from the ImageMatics site so you can start playing with the application very quickly.

A TOUR

To begin, Go to The File Menu and select Load Image. Select the image file you want to start your movie with and it's loaded into the Stage in the upper right hand corner of the StillMotion screen.

The key elements are the Stage where the image is loaded, the Timeline, (at the bottom of the screen) where the movie is composed and the View Window (on the left), which lets you preview movies and set keyframes.

The whole concept of keyframes may be new to still photographers (where every frame is key), but very familiar to anyone who's had any contact with animation in the past. The idea is very simple. For any sequence in your movie, you just decide what the screen looks like at the start of the sequence and what it looks like at the end. The computer then "fills in the blanks" between, creating a smooth transition from one to the other.

The starting and ending views are called keyframes since they're "key" (meaning important or significant) frames in the animation. Changing the starting or ending keyframe changes the view at the start or end of the animation. Decreasing the time interval between keyframes speeds up the motion, while increasing it slows it down.

In StillMotion, you specify keyframe views of your subject by clicking and dragging an interactive Camera Window that appears as a yellow outline box within the View Window. The effect of your actions on the Camera Window is shown in the Stage window. When you like the way the image looks, click the key icon in the lower right hand corner of the Stage window to mark a keyframe.

To make your first movie, you'll need to specify just two keyframes, a starting one and an ending one. You tell the program where you want the keyframe to occur in the movie by clicking on the Timeline, to position the red cursor bar. You don't have to click on the Timeline for the first keyframe because the Timeline cursor always starts at zero. BUT, you do need to click the key icon or your changes won't register for the first keyframe.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

Suppose we wanted to make a movie of a certain couple's portrait, starting with a tight shot of the gent's face, pulling back to a wider view to reveal what he's so happy about (her).

Step One. We begin by resizing the Camera Window to just capture our subject's face, clicking the key icon in the View Window when we've got things framed to our satisfaction.

Step Two. We then click our cursor on the Timeline at a point corresponding to how long we want the zoom to take. Five seconds in this case.

Step Three. Once there, we resize the Camera Window to frame the wider shot we want to end with.

Step Four. A last click on the key icon and we've set up our movie.

Step Five. Go to the File Menu and select Make an SWF Movie, leave all the settings at their defaults and click OK.

That's it! The Read Me was right, it actually is easy (and even easier if you take a few moments to look at the instructions).

Selecting Save Movie File saves the work in progress and remembers the images and the moves you created.

Not happy with how the action unfolds? Changes are easy, since all you have to do is change the keyframes and the program does the rest. Change the views to zoom in or out more or just slide the key icon along the Timeline to make things happen quicker or more slowly.

MULTIPLE IMAGES & FADES

Now comes the cool part. You can have as many moves as you like, as long as you have at least two keyframes to create a movie. You can also combine multiple images and fade between them.

To add another image, select Load Image from the File Menu and choose the image you want loaded into the Work Area. The Timeline color codes each new image and shows its name in the Timeline itself. The Viewer Window lets you preview any moves you've created at any time, just by using the VCR-like controls along its bottom. You can also drag the cursor or the mouse (the video jocks call this "scrubbing") over the Timeline to preview the movie. The movie will play in sync with the Timeline cursor, jumping forward or backward to match the movement of the cursor along the Timeline.

Transitions are dead easy too. Each new image appears on the Timeline with a green arrow at its start. Moving the cursor over this arrow, the Fade control, creates a transition equal in time to the distance you stretch it along the Timeline. The fades look very professional. The Examples section in the online documentation shows you how to fade 1) through from one image to another, 2) to black or 3) to any other background.

NO HOLDS BARRED

So far we've just talked about movies, even though many still photographers will be equally interested in pure slide shows. Without any panning or zooming.

It turns out a slide show is just a special case of a movie, one in which there's no movement between the keyframes. What's neat about this is that you have complete control over how long each image displays and how long the transitions last between them, using the controls described above. No rigid "5 seconds per frame" slide show format, you can choose to linger on any given image or jump quickly past several. All with artistic transition effects to enhance the experience.

Slide Show Steps. To make a slide show with static images, just load an image, click the key, move the cursor along the time line for as long as you want to display the image, click the key again and a line appears saying "Hold." That image will now be held in place for five seconds.

A string of these and you have a basic slide show with about a minute's effort.

SPIN CONTROL

Not enough? How about a little rotation with that movie? The Camera Window that controls pan and zoom also has a handle on it for rotation (a little yellow box in its upper left hand corner). Just like any other move, you simply set the start and end views and StillMotion fills in all the "tweens" (which is what the video/animation jocks call the in-between frames).

You can rotate the window to any specific angle you want easily and accurately by right-clicking in the Camera Window. This brings up a handy dialog box that lets you manually set the position, the size of the window and the exact angle. If you want the view to spin more than a full turn, just plug in an angle greater than 360 degrees. Set your image spinning by plugging in a really large rotation angle.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER -- WITH SOUND

It's easy to combine pans, zooms, rotation, fades and image changes to create very sophisticated animation effects. Cut and paste and (of course) delete make editing straightforward.

The online Examples show a neat trick for making a "looping" movie. Copy the first image, then key and paste it in at the end of the movie you want to loop. Having the identical image and keyframe at start and end of the movie means that there'll be no abrupt jumps when it loops from the last frame back to the first one again.

The six Examples ImageMatics provides on their Web site do an excellent job of putting it all together and showing you how to do just about anything you'd want to with the product.

Another cool feature. When you have the movie the way you like it, adding sound is as easy as dropping in a WAV soundtrack file.

ADVANCED FEATURES

Beyond the basics, StillMotion offers some advanced features to add a professional moviemaker's touch to your productions. These include control over the in-between motions through options that allow for constant speed or "easing" in and out (speeding up and slowing down) at keyframe points. You can also choose whether to force the in-between motion to straight lines or to have it follow curved paths. There's also a variety of advanced features for video output.

MAKING VIDEOS

The basic version of StillMotion is limited to SWF file output. You can display SWF files using any Web browser after installing the appropriate Flash plug-in (http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download). For an extra $50, the Plus version also lets you output your movies as AVI files, which produce much smoother animation effects by avoiding the limitations of the Flash format. The Professional version can also generate output at higher resolutions, up to and including HDTV.

Any movie created with StillMotion can be output as an AVI file for use in Streaming video, Video CD, DVD, broadcast video and HDTV. In the advanced versions of the product, selecting Make Movie File instead of SWF Movie provides you with a set of menus and options that let you control every aspect of AVI file construction. Any Windows compatible CODEC may be used with the program so MPEG formats for use with professional editing systems are easily accommodated. Do note though that AVI support is only available in the Plus and Pro Versions of the product.

USING STILLMOTION

Once you get it, you've got it. The process is fast, easy and interactive -- all art and very little science. Come up with an idea, make some moves, check it out, edit it a little and you've got a movie. If you don't like the movie, edit it again. Its very fast and everything is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) -- instantly.

After showing the program to some Flash power user friends of mine, they told me that you could do all of this in Flash (except the video output), without a separate program. When we got into what it would take to do it though, it rapidly became clear that they could do it, but there was no way I would have time to either learn how to do it in the first place or to futz with the Flash code on a regular basis (Flash isn't easy).

The Flash demo on ImageMatics' site really helps you appreciate StillMotion's design. It was designed to do pan and zoom animation, period. By contrast, Flash does all sorts of stuff and requires scripting to put it all together. StillMotion creates animations from the camera's point of view. What the camera sees, the viewer sees. In Flash, you animate characters (objects) that appear, act and leave the fixed perspective of the stage. It's an entirely different game -- not the intuitive, interactive process of StillMotion. A beginner with Flash could create the same sort of final output as one could with StillMotion, but it would probably take 10 times (or more) as long.

HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

The good news is that SWF files created with StillMotion are pre-assigned a "layer" that Flash recognizes, so your StillMotion movies can be dropped into other Flash animations and have all of Flash's text and graphics effects added to them. Here again, examples are given on the ImageMatics Web site. In fact, you can even use Flash to add "hotspots" to StillMotion's SWF movies that can be used to embellish virtual tours. Click on a door and see the next room, etc.

LIMITATIONS

Of course, nothing's perfect and StillMotion is no exception.

A lot of its limitations are imposed by the realities of Flash animation. The most evident one is a jerky motion caused by the way Flash interpolates pixels when scaling (zooming) and panning. There is a tradeoff between execution speed and smoothness of animation and the Flash developers went more toward the speed end of the scale. But note that this jumpiness disappears in AVI output from the Plus and Pro versions.

Another limitation becomes evident when you add sound to a StillMotion presentation. Depending on what's going on in the animation, the video playback could either lag or race past the sound playback. There can also be a differential between the two, depending on how fast or slow the computer running the animation is.

WISH LIST

Though StillMotion is a Windows-only product, I think Mac users would scarf up this product (a little hint to the folks at ImageMatics). I'd also like to see more variety in the transitions and maybe a few more hot keys for frequently repeated operations like panning across a whole image or zooming to the center. Or maybe I'm just spoiled and lazy.

RECOMMENDATIONS

ImageMatics StillMotion Creator is a hard product to peg to any particular category. It's not just another image editing product, but rather creates a whole new category of its own. At least I'm not aware of another product out there that does the same thing. It's kind of like getting the other half of your camera you didn't know was missing. Check out the free StillMotion demo on our server (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ISMC/ISMCDaveD.exe). It includes the coupon code good for $40 off the list price. Or visit ImageMatics (http://www.imagematics.com/index_dd1.htm) for more info and examples.

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Beginners Flash: The Old Email Issue

Sharing your images is part of the fun of having a digicam. Passing your camera around in Play mode is the easy (and immediate) way -- at least until the battery dies. But after you've copied your images to your computer, you might find yourself succumbing to the temptation to email them around.

If someone has asked you to email them one or two, by all means, get to it. If they asked you to email them your full resolution images, do that, too.

But it's not socially acceptable to assume either.

When you actually send your image you'll probably realize why -- it takes forever to upload (and consequently to download) a digicam image. These are big files. And if anyone is using a dial-up connection to the Internet (even a fast one), it can resemble torture.

So if you're sending an unsolicited image, do the socially acceptable thing. Resize it.

As we wrote in "Emailing Pictures" (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS), you should always take the trouble to resize any image you want to email. In fact, some digicams even do it for you. But anyone can do it themselves. Just use your image editor, find the Image Size command and, with the proportions constrained and Resampling selected, set the longest dimension to 640 pixels (for a 640x480, roughly). You'll have a much smaller file that will look great on anyone's monitor.

Two other things help a lot, too. A little Unsharp Masking (see "nik Sharpener -- Never a Dull Moment" for our favorite settings) will restore some of the sharpness lost when the image was downsized. And saving the image as a JPEG using something like the ProJPEG plug-in (see "ProJPEG -- Flight Simulation for File Compression") can dramatically reduce file size even more.

This not only makes for more efficient communication, it also makes it easier for recipients to see and print your picture.

Whether they are using a browser (with a Web email service) or an email client, neither kind of application knows anything about resizing images. So your images are printed at 72 pixels an inch, often tiled right off the page. This drives everyone batty but retired mosaic artists.

Sure, they miss the fun of seeing your fine detail. But they just want the picture, not a computer project.

If you regularly send images to people who don't have an image editor but would like to resize them, tell them about Fuji's Exif Viewer [MW] (http://www.fujifilmsupport.com/driver/cam_idx.htm). It's free, cross-platform, shows thumbnails of everything and when they print, they can resize.

Of course, the very best way to share your images (all of them, in all their glory) is by using an online album freely available from any of the reputable online photofinishers (like http://www.ofoto.com and http://www.printroom.com to name two). You simply email the link to your album to your friends and family.

Then sit back and wait for the compliments -- which is part of the fun of sharing, too!

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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read ongoing comments about the Canon S200 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee8be63

Compare Sony camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee86100

Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2

Kendall asks about choosing a scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8bef7

Visit the Casio Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6f775

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Just for Fun: Use a Spoon for Rice

The other day we went too far. We typed in "Advice" in the search field at Google. What were we thinking? Links to advice?

Actually we were looking for the title of an impossible to find book. It's the English painter Villiers David's treatise "Advice to My Godchildren." We happened across a copy before scanners were invented and, no copier in sight, we typed the whole thing up. "Use a spoon for rice," he began. And it got better.

We were thinking of David the other day as we distracted a gaggle of grownups surrounding a docent at the Legion of Honor museum. We distracted them because, like a hunter keen on his prey, we rushed past them to one or another painting. Imagine, something moving in a museum!

It occurred to us this method of museum going would be something David would have passed on to his godchildren.

On any particular visit, you have only a certain, fixed amount of time to spend in a museum. Although it may appear more than adequate, divide it by the number of things to see and it should be obvious that you are entitled to skip. And if you are expected to take any of the things there seriously, you are entitled to skip most of them.

If you were in a store, you wouldn't have this problem. You'd walk up and down the aisles stopping only when something interests you for only as long as it interests you. No one expects you to do inventory.

But in a store, you'd decide whether or not to take the thing with you. You can't really do that in the museum, despite the gift shop. That's it on the wall. Look at it or leave it.

You want to look at it. You really do. "It would be absurd," David writes, "to limit yourself to one world, when you can inhabit so many."

But now that you have the luxury of not visiting everything in the place, do actually spend some time with the one you decide to take in. Make its acquaintance. Introduce yourself. Don't just shake hands, toss off some gratuitous compliment. Just to get started. Nod a bit in reply. Give it the old, "Uh huh." Work up to a mildly challenging, "But...." Engage in conversation. Even, yes, disagree.

Despite a propensity around here to tear them down (the Legion, SFMOMA and now the de Young), we visit our museums frequently enough to have made some very dear old friends on the wall. An Edward Lear, a Whistler. A Cunningham. An Evans. A Weston. We've visited them for years. We like seeing them. They never complain about our hair or our clothes. But every now and then, just when we think we've heard everything they have to say, they drop a little secret. About life. About art. About what counts and what doesn't.

So get in there and pick a few new friends. Visit them regularly. Be polite. Charm them and you will be charmed, too.

"I expect great things of you," David writes. "You must learn to enjoy and admire the best. Just as you would prefer clean shoes to dirty ones, prefer the best brains, the best wines, the best paintings and the best looking people. The best of everything is only just good enough.

"You must," he adds, "be for ever straining to see in this world the glorious hints of heaven."

And eat your rice with a spoon. You'll have worked up quite an appetite at the museum.

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: IR Driver Project

Great idea!!! I personally can usually find the driver I need but have helped many a friend find them. Now I can just send them over here!

I have one suggestion that comes to mind, if I may put it forward. What do you think about adding a section for USB/FireWire peripherals? This would include card readers and such. This always seems to be something that people come to me looking for.

-- Orin Bassoff

(Done -- thanks for sending the links, Orin! They went up the same day on the Driver Project page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM). And we invite more. Just email us at editor@imaging-resource.com with yours. -- Editor)

RE: Drivers? How about Drives?

I have Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 Platinum. Can you help with support drives for the above CD-R/RW.

-- John P Rogers

(Just visit http://www.roxio.com/en/jhtml/cdrdatabase/database.jhtml to find out what drives Easy CD Creator supports, John. -- Editor)

RE: Review Suggestions

Mike, I realize that 99.9 percent of your readers are interested in the maximum number of pixels for the least price, but sometimes there's a reason for wanting information on the really cheap digital cameras -- such as buying several hundred for promotional purposes.

In this case, the photos would never be printed, but would be used for posting on the Web only. But I have never been able to find any review of such cameras and information is difficult to find. Perhaps some time in the future, you might be able to review the "almost throwaway" digital cameras like the inexpensive Argus models.

-- Norm Duncan

(Thanks for the suggestion, Norm! We've always believed a digicam should be on the list of party supplies. And we always drop by the SuperStore counter to see what the latest cheapie is. We're usually discouraged by the lack of a flash. But we'll continue to investigate. -- Editor)

I bought a photo editing software package that is the best I've seen after the last six months downloading and trying out about 20 different programs. It's CompuPic Pro by Photodex (http://www.photodex.com).

It's hard for me to describe all of the different stuff you can do with it but a few highlights are: an exceptionally intuitive browser, a unique viewer with a basic assortment of image manipulation tools, an auto executing CD creator (easy to share), slide shower creator, contact sheet printer and lots of other stuff.

I have three criteria:

  1. an intuitive browser (so many are very difficult to use)

  2. a viewer/image manipulator with a variety of tools; didn't have to have a lot of tools, just some of the basic ones

  3. a print section to print contact sheets and a variety of prints on one piece of paper (multiple copies on one page is scheduled for the next version, due in July or August, Photodex told me)

I think it would be a service to your readers (of which I read your newsletter all the time) to list this program.

-- Bob Berg

(CompuPic [W] is on our review list, Bob, but thanks for the testimonial. Photodex claims CompuPic is not only easy to use but fast, too. -- Editor)
(I use CompuPic religiously because it makes thumbnails so fast, a key capability when you have to quickly size up hundreds of images like I do. -- Dave)

RE: Portable Storage

I am interested in having a portable data storage device into which I can transfer my images from a digicam. I will be using it primarily in the field and/or overseas, so it needs to be rugged, dependable, etc.

As far as I've been able to find out, you have not done a current review of what is available. There are at least 3 or 4 companies with this kind of equipment, but I'm not sure exactly what to look for.

Please consider such a review for a future issue.

-- Jon Veigel

(The trouble with these devices (of which we'd recommend the Vista, mentioned in our PMA coverage http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/PMAS02.HTML, because it has a viewing screen) is that you can copy but you can't duplicate your images with them (and they cost about $400, too). We don't feel safe until we have two copies of the same image on different media. And we have often been glad to have had a third copy. So what do we really think? Buy a little laptop. -- Editor)

RE: An Idea to Flip Over

Mike, I got bit too many times by the "which set of batteries is charged?" problem. They all look the same when they are rolling around the bottom of my camera bag, ya' know?

So, this is my cure: Using the nice clear plastic two-batteries-each holders that came with my Power-Ex batteries from (unsolicited testimonial) Thomas Distributing (http://www.thomas-distributing.com), I added a simple fix.

I took a piece of paper and inked one side red, the other side green. Then, using clear packing tape, I taped this on the inside of my plastic holder so that when the holder is open on the table, the colored paper is sticking straight up, like the stamen of a flower with the petals open. The tape starts on the inside of side A, continues across the bottom, up the middle ridge, up one side of the paper, folds over the top of the paper and runs down the other side of the paper and back across the bottom of side B.

When I put the charged batteries in, I flip the paper/tape thing over so the green side shows out. After the batteries are used and dead, I flip it the other way so the red side shows out. Simple, direct, visual. It's great.

-- Chuck Waugh

(Great idea, Chuck! We've posted Chuck's picture of this clever idea (http://imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/archive/v04/charge.jpg) so you can see why people say a picture is worth a thousand words. -- Editor)

RE: Black and White

Great Web page you have there. I just found it today after picking up a cheapie digital camera (Fuji FinePix 1300) to experiment with.

I have a lot of background in regular film based photography. I worked with an 8x10 view camera and sheet film for years in the fine art tradition.

I can never find anything about black and white photography with digital cameras! I still don't know if it's even possible, but I assume that it must be. Any suggestions on landscape photography in black and white that you might have: how to do black and white in the first place (!), which cameras might be better than others for this and any technical pointers would be most appreciated.

-- John

(Generally, the best approach is to capture images in full color and convert them to grayscale on the computer. Many cameras have a black & white mode, but they lock you in to whatever color-B/W conversion scheme the camera manufacturer liked. As you doubtless know, much of the magic of black & white films is how they respond to the color, rendering those colors as shades of gray. Hence the many subtle differences between emulsions, such as Tri-X vs T-Max, Plus-X, etc.... Many people neutralize the red, green and blue channels in Photoshop creating a quadtone, but that technique focuses on preserving detail rather than looking at subtleties of color/grayscale rendering.... Your camera should allow contrast adjustments, so you can shoot with lower contrast to capture all the tonal information. You'll have more to work with at the computer.... An important part of the equation is print output. Not surprisingly, most inkjet printers are optimized for vivid color rendition, not neutral, full-toned grayscale reproduction. An encouraging development, though, is Epson's 2200P printer, an upgrade to the earlier 2000P, which uses a 7-color ink system and includes both black and "light black" inks. The light black permits much smoother neutral tonal gradations and also avoids metamerism (pigments reflecting different color under different light sources) that plagued the 2000P. See our story (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1019743201.html) on it.... There are a couple of software products on the market that really delve into the intricacies of color/bw conversion. One, from loyal IR advertisers The Imaging Factory, is the $99.95 "Convert to Black & White, Pro Version" [MW]. Download a 30-day free trial version (http://www.theimagingfactory.com). -- Dave)
(This certainly sounds like a topic worthy of fuller treatment. We invite readers working in black and white to email us at editor@imaging-resource.com with their tips and techniques. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

In the first three months of 2002, 1,229,000 digicams were sold, compared with 958,000 during the same period in 2001 and 578,000 in 2000, according to NPDTechworld (http://www.npd.com). The average selling price decreased from $425 in March 2001 to $385 in March 2002. And in the first quarter of 2002, NPDTechworld said sales of memory cards reached almost 1.5 million, an increase of more than 150 percent over the first quarter in 2001.

InfoTrends (http://www.infotrends-rgi.com) reported the online photo processing industry grew 183 percent last year. And PhotoChannel Networks, a global digital imaging network company, released first quarter statistics from all retailer nodes in the network showing the average order price was $30.18 for 18 prints (of which 78 percent were for 4x6 digital prints).


Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has introduced the $599 Camedia C-720 Ultra Zoom featuring an 8x optical ultra-zoom lens (24x using digital zoom) with a 3-megapixel CCD and 1/1000 sec. shutter speed in a compact body.

Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) also introduced the $399 Camedia D-550 Zoom with a high resolution 3-megapixel CCD; 2.8x optical zoom with 3.6x digital zoom; 5 scene program modes with a "Virtual Mode Dial" (a control circle menu displayed on the LCD); improved menu navigation system; 1.8" LCD; and high-end imaging features in a clamshell body.


Digitalphotography.tv has launched Quiet Moments in Maine (http://www.digitalphotography.tv/quiet_moments), Charlie Morey's collection of 12 images taken along the Maine coast in October. The digital photo gallery offers the photographer's commentary with each image, a "Lessons Learned" page featuring photo tips related to the image, free computer wallpaper of each image and a free screensaver for members.


Toshiba (http://www.toshiba.com/taisisd/dsc) has introduced its new button-free $399 Toshiba PDR-T10 which uses its LCD as an interactive touch-screen menu. The two-megapixel PDR-T10 comes with two interchangeable, snap-on faceplates from a larger collection which includes zebra stripes, polka dots and grasshopper green.


Apple has released iPhoto 1.1 (http://www.apple.com/iphoto), featuring: brightness and contrast controls; automatic attachment to outgoing Mac OS X Mail messages with a choice of compression options; automatic desktop background; iPhoto albums can be set as the Mac OS X screen saver slideshow; self-contained QuickTime slideshow with music and transitions; iDVD support; the photo library can be searched by the comment field; view all Exif metadata; preserve file names as photo titles when importing; and improved print templates. Right, no CD support still (beyond burning from the OS). Maybe Roxio has some clue.


Dierdre Lynch, director of Photos to Send (mentioned last issue), wrote to say the film inspired by Dorothea Lange's images of Ireland will next be screened June 7-8 at the Lake Placid Film Forum and June 14 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival.


Emmanuel Radnitsky left Brooklyn for Paris in 1921 and hooked up with Marcel Duchamp, becoming a portrait and fashion photographer. Of course, by then he called himself Man Ray. And Herbet Lottman's Man Ray's Montparnasse takes us into Picasso's studio, Proust's deathbed and the salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Too bad he didn't know Amelie's address, but then she did her own photography.


Hewlett-Packard (http://www.hp.com) has introduced the $499 HP Photosmart 812 featuring Instant Share technology, which allows users to easily designate how an image will be shared. Instant Share email messages include thumbnails with a link to the Instant Share Web page (60 days storage in 200-MB) so no attachments are used.


Lemke Software has released version 4.4 of GraphicConverter [M] (http://graphicconverter.net) with improved PICT and TIFF imports, auto levels and long filename support.


FlipAlbum 4.2 [W] (http://www.flipalbum.com) has been released as a free upgrade to 4.1 registered users. New features include a command to make any color represent transparency, tools to customize and add picture frames; and in the Pro version password protection automatically encrypts all albums on the CD.


Polaroid has announced the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved procedures for the proposed sale of its business to an investor group led by One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of Bank One Corp. or to a bidder with a higher or better offer. The court set June 28 for a final hearing on the sale.


YarcPlus 1.7 [W] offers full compatibility with the Canon 1D and D60, as well as other new enhancements (http://www.pictureflow.com).


Get ready for an Edward Weston summer by flipping through Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston subtitled "A Passionate Collaboration." At 27 Weston fell in love with Mather, who was a photographer, too. They spent an inseparable eight years together, going so far as to photograph the same subjects together (the poet Carl Sandburg was one). Near the end of her life, Mather asked Weston to "pretend that I didn't exist." But we shouldn't.


SmartDraw.com (http://www.smartdraw.com) has announced the release of SmartDraw Photo to quickly organize, edit, print and share digital images. A step-by-step Photo Wizard shows how to remove red eye and scratches, crop and rotate photos, adjust exposure and color settings and apply special effects such as sepia, sharpening and much more. It also includes a free online photo sharing service with one-click emailing and printing using templates and 1,500 royalty-free stock photos and Web graphics.


Over 70 percent of American mothers over the age of 20 use computers, up from 57 percent in 2000 and 35 percent in 1994, according to preliminary results from the 2002 Technology User Profile report released by MetaFacts (http://www.metafacts.com). Eight in ten access the Internet, 31 percent have a digicam and 18 percent have a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). And that was before Mother's Day.


Addonics (http://www.addonics.com) has introduced the $49 Mini DigiDrive, a 5 oz., palm-sized USB device to read CompactFlash I, CompactFlash II, Smart Memory, Memory Stick, Micro Drive, Multimedia Card and Secure Digital Cards.


Bibble Labs (http://www.bibblelabs.com) has released Bibble 2002 3.0 for Windows featuring color By Kodak Digital Science, XP compatibility, Nikon D1H and FireWire support, enhanced D30 support (Bibble options or Canon SDK), Kodak 760/720x and Olympus E10/E20 support, improved speed and a new user interface. MacBibble is scheduled for an upgrade within three months.


Cerious Software (http://www.cerious.com) has released ThumbsPlus Version 5 [W] with support for Canon CRW and JPEG 2000 files, color profiles and metadata among the highlights.


Our notes never seem complete without a link to the latest Vuescan [MW] update (http://www.hamrick.com), version 7.5.27 now.

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

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New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
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Newsletter Forum: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=irnews
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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