The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 21 10 October 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 238th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Anybody can build their own Photoshop with the new Configurator. We built two Photoshop panels before we realized what we were doing, in fact. And we love them! We also love the new grip for Nikon's dSLRs because, well, it's so un-Nikon. Next we explore the AE/AF Lock button on your camera. What's it for? How do you use it? And then we tell you how we solved a nasty color problem with a couple of luminance masks. Finally, we once again ask for your nominations for the most important Nobel prize -- the one for Customer Support. This is your chance to make like a state and nominate!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Sony
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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Configurator 1.0 -- Build Your Own Photoshop Panel

(Excerpted from the illustrated preview posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/CFG/CFG1.HTM on the Web site. See also John Nack's video introduction (http://www.russellbrown.com/Transfer/Configurator.mov) for another angle on this unique product.)

PASINI REPORTS

Configurator 1.0 -- Build Your Own Photoshop Panel

A week ago Adobe sent us a prerelease copy of Configurator, a program that makes it as easy as dragging and dropping to build your own Photoshop panels. And within five minutes, we'd read the short documentation, installed the application and built our first panel.

Dead easy.

But we expected it to be easy. What we didn't expect was just how useful the little panel we built would actually be.

After playing with our first panel for a few minutes and refining the layout, we built another one. And that, too, turned out to be very useful.

By being able to drag all sorts of Photoshop resources like tools, commands and Actions to one palette and being able to add tool tips to them or even longer text explanations, we were mining the Photoshop interface to build our own special purpose panel. Commands that you can't see until you click on a tool were a button on our panel. And third-party plug-ins using procedures hidden away in a script that was buried in a list of Actions were right there on another button.

And they were explained, too.

Press a button and the Photoshop engine did the work in the background, showing us the results when it was done. We didn't have to watch the Layers panel play out an action, for example. It was just done for us.

Dead cool.

Before we describe Configurator and our panels, let's take a look at what this is all about.

SOME BACKGROUND

In our preview of Creative Suite 4 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/CS4/CS4.HTM), we mentioned Adobe's plans to release Configurator on Adobe Labs shortly after it starts shipping CS4.

The little application, we explained, "lets you build your own Photoshop control panels written in Flash (without having to learn Flash). Configurator, an AIR-based application, lets you drag and drop widgets and controls to build your own tool, which can easily be shared with your coworkers."

Last week, we chatted with Photoshop Product Manager John Nack about Configurator. He's been a fan of Flash panels since 2000 when Adobe cloned the Flash Player so scripters could extend the LiveMotion authoring environment. Immediately after Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005, Nack resumed the quest. And with CS4, it will finally become a reality.

Photoshop may be the industry standard, he told us, but it has by necessity offered a general interface. So whether you are a photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, retoucher, etc. you confront the same general interface.

"We could be smarter about that," Nack said. If tools are the stars in the Photoshop sky, he wondered, who shows you the constellations? How, that is, can you customize Photoshop so those five things you do to get one result are all in one place, not five places.

Configurator is the company's answer. It's a "box of Legos for Photoshop," Nack said. You an throw anything at it from tools on the toolbar to Actions you've recorded that include third-party plug-ins. You can even add video and audio to it for documentation.

Building a panel adds context to the commands, it doesn't just reposition them. With its various forms of documentation, it allows the panel author to teach Photoshop. And with millions of users, some very passionate about sharing their knowledge, the company hopes these custom panels become the lectern from which they deliver their lectures.

To that end, Adobe has made it possible to export Configurator panels to share with others. This is a great way to standardize procedures in your own studio, but it's also a great way to share your expertise with other Photoshop users.

And the company doesn't plan to restrict this new technology to Photoshop. It expects to extend Configurator's domain to the entire suite so you can mix and match capabilities from different applications on the same panel.

Let's take a closer look at Configurator to see how it manages this magic.

CONFIGURATOR

Creative Suite 4 installs Adobe AIR and Configurator runs on top of it. Otherwise Configurator is a self-contained application, 2.4-MB on the Mac.

When you launch the application, it presents a five-step help screen that explains the process in a nutshell.

You use the File, New Panel command to start a new panel, which can be any size to start with (and can be resized at any time). You should name it so its tab has some identification.

Then you can start adding items to it from the four sets of items on the left.

As you add an item, you can name it, rename the button, add tool tip help, position it precisely, change its size and add more attributes using the object panel on the left. Actions, for example, have to be named and their set specified. Video, in this version at least, requires a URL (use file:// for local files). You can File, Save the panel as you work on it.

There's no code to write. Just assemble your panel.

With this version, you can't duplicate the functionality of a dialog box with sliders and linked text entry boxes. But you can record an Action that uses the dialog box and link that to a button.

Once you've got things they way you want them, you can File, Export the panel. Configurator knows just where to write the panel's files.

Getting things the way you want them, we've subsequently found, isn't something that has to happen the first time you build a panel. In fact, we made several revisions as we worked with the panels and even wondered what ever made us think of doing them as distinctly different ones. Design issues, we call them.

But Configurator makes it very easy to rethink your original concept and quickly modify a panel. When you create a panel, you have to restart Photoshop so it can find it, but subsequent modifications are reflected as soon as you display the panel in Photoshop. Which is very convenient for the kind of revision you'll certainly want to indulge in.

TWO PANELS

Our first two panels were actually fun to build. We looked at two tasks we do frequently in Photoshop: resize and retouch product shots for our reviews.

We named our first one ResizerPal. The first two buttons were the obvious ones: one to resize landscape images to 250 pixels and the other to resize Portrait images to 250 pixels. Each of those is actually an Action that uses the Image Size command to resize the image with bicubic interpolation and then calls Nik Software's Sharpener Pro Display profile set at a particular value to sharpen the resized image. So we dragged the Action button icon onto our panel and associated an Action to each button and added some Tool Tip text.

Not all images are correctly oriented, so we added two buttons to rotate the image wither 90 degrees clockwise or counter clockwise. Those commands are buried a bit in the general interface. We found them by using the Search field in the right panel.

But that was when we realized we had something we would actually use. We're pretty weary of going through the menu system to find the flyout for those commands.

Fit on Screen and Actual Pixels work better for us as buttons, too, although all you have to do is click on the magnifier tool and find the button on the toolbar. Still, we cut our click-load down 50 percent with a button.

We added a Flatten Image and Revert button because sometimes we have to work on the image. And we added some tools, too.

But why not build a retouching panel of its own? Why not indeed. So we started a new panel we named RetouchPal.

That panel started with buttons for our Actions that build a Contrast Mask (to recover highlight detail and bring out shadow detail), a Highlight Mask (to just recover highlight detail) and Screen the image to lighten it (faking higher ISO sensitivity).

Then we added buttons to build adjustment layers with Levels and Curves.

Then it occurred to us to add a row of buttons to duplicate the steps we take to straighten and crop an image. We dropped the Ruler tool on the panel because that lets us draw a line on the image that should be a flat horizon or perpendicular upright. Then we added a button to Rotate the image arbitrarily using that value. Then we dragged the Selection tool onto the panel so we could mark what we wanted to crop. And finally we added a button with the Crop command. That's usually a lot of mousing around for us now reduced to four clicks.

On the last row of the panel we added an Action that sets our copyright on the images and another button for Photoshop's crop and straighten command (just for variety).

Having all that in one place on the screen is a big productivity boost. And it makes it less likely we'll forget something (like adding a copyright notice).

To activate our panels in Photoshop, we just used the Window, Extensions command and loaded them. Then we dragged them to the same panel group that holds our Actions. Now when we open Photoshop, there they are.

IN CONTEXT

The truth is that we resize most of our images quite a different way. We've tried, for example, Russell Brown's remarkable Image Processor, a JavaScript application to resize images in several steps with lots of options. But we found that too slow.

Instead, we rely on a Perl program that calls the free ImageMagick application. We slapped an AppleScript front end on that to let us quickly set options, even giving us precise control over the sharpening parameters. That runs very fast and is in fact what we used for this review to build the thumbnails with the zoom icon in the corner.

That's not the kind of scripting Configurator can do. But that's actual code writing. In the one case JavaScript and in the other Perl and AppleScript.

Instead, Configurator lets you configure a panel of Photoshop commands and tools extended with Actions that can call third-party scriptable plug-ins. If the previous two examples are like calling a caterer (and who does that every Friday night?) and using Photoshop is like going to the market to shop for ingredients for dinner (and who wants to do that on Friday night?), then Configurator is like ordering pizza with the ingredients you want delivered to your door.

The thought of which has us salivating two different ways.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon MD-D10 -- Worth Its Weight

Something has happened at Nikon. One minute we were making fun of them for their consistently ridiculous latch designs and the next, the company changes the world as we know it with the D3, D300 and D700, taking just one backward step with the new NRW Raw format on the P6000 before moving on to the D90.

Along the way, it redesigned the optional dSLR grip for the D300 and D700, making a dramatic improvement on the previous one for the D200, not surprisingly tagged the MD-200. The new $239.95 MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack, as it's officially called, symbolizes a new era at Nikon.

The D200 grip isn't really bad, not really. It's just ill conceived. Quite a few D200 owners have griped that the white plastic latches holding in the lithium ion batteries or the AA rack are too weak for the real world. The repair (it was always abuse, don't you know) isn't cheap either.

But it has other problems, too. The snout that pokes up into the grip makes the L-shaped grip a nuisance to pack. And even worse, it requires popping off the battery cover from the bottom of the D200 itself. This can only be done if the cover is angled precisely at 60 degrees where the plastic hinges can find the slot to release them. It is, to put it delicately, easy to break off a hinge from the $12 battery cover.

But the MB-D10 has none of those issues. And in fact a few virtues of its own.

PARTS

The grip itself, which resembles the D200 grip without the protruding tower, ships with two battery holders (one for EN-EL3e batteries and another for AA batteries), a holder case, a contact cap (installed on the grip), the user's manual and a warranty card. The EN-EL3e battery holder is installed in the grip. A separate battery cover for the BL-3 battery from the D3 is also available.

Despite the resemblance, there are some big differences between the two grips.

The contacts are the most obvious, moving off the tower to the top panel of the grip. But just as significant is the move of the door latch from the back side of the MD-200 to the end of the MB-D10. That frees up the back side for a new textured and molded grip that fits the hand very comfortably. The MD-200 grip simply had smooth, flat plastic there.

The AF-On button also moves a little, sitting to the left of the subcommand dial instead of below it. And a duplicate main command dial has been added to the new grip in the form of a small joystick.

There are also, surprisingly, no external screws visible on the new magnesium alloy grip when it is attached to the camera body. All the screws are on the top plate, which mates to the bottom of the camera.

The shutter release button and control lock are in the same positions and appear to be very similar.

USING THE GRIP

The big advantage of a vertical grip, generally speaking, is that it lets you hold the camera for vertical shooting (think portraits) as comfortably as you can for horizontal shooting. Usually this requires letting the camera dangle from your (firm) grip in front of your face, but with the vertical grip, you can simply hold your hand up normally, if a little higher to compensate for the position of the viewfinder.

You don't give up any camera control, either, with a shutter release button, both command dials and an AF-on button just where you think they should be. And with the new grip, you even get that joystick to navigate the LCD menu.

But to get any of these controls to pay attention to you, you have to unlock the grip with the control lock. The job of the lock is to prevent unintended use of the grip. When the two dots are aligned, the grip is active.

Although the lock occupies the same position as the power switch on the main body, there's only one way to power on the camera. And it isn't the lock.

Attaching the grip is pretty straightforward. Pop off the contact cover and pull the rubbery cover from the bottom of the camera, too. Align the bottom of the camera to the top of the grip aligning the mounting screw on the grip to the tripod socket on the camera. Then just tighten the large attachment wheel. There's even a handy arrow under the wheel to indicate which way to spin it.

We needed all the help we could get the first time we tried it, so we appreciate all those visual hints. After all, nobody from Nikon drops by with a little demo when UPS delivers the grip.

BATTERIES

The MB-D10 is remarkably versatile when it comes to batteries. In fact, you don't even have to use batteries in it.

That's because, unlike the MD-200, you don't have to take the battery out of the camera.

Of course, that arrangement is a nuisance when the battery needs recharging. Better, instead, to slip it into the grip. A locking mechanism very similar to that on the MD-200 releases the door, which then slides out to provide a bed for the EN-EL3a battery.

You can slip in the included AA battery holder instead, though, if you've loaded it with eight AA batteries.

And if you buy the optional BL-3 battery chamber cover you can slip in an EN-EL4a or EN-EL4 battery.

PERFORMANCE

There's no difference in performance using the camera battery in the grip, but using six AA batteries or the optional EN-EL4a and EN-EL4 battery will kick continuous shooting capability up from six to eight frames a second on a D300.

CONTROL

With so many possible battery configurations, including using one in the grip and another in the camera, Nikon has provided firmware control over which battery is used when.

The Battery Order option in the Custom Settings menu sets the order in which the batteries are used. A BP icon is displayed in the camera's control panel when power is being drawn from the grip.

You should also set the Battery Type indicator in Custom Settings so the camera reports the remaining charge accurately.

CONCLUSION

It isn't cheap, but the MB-D10 represents an excellent value, providing not just a comfortable vertical grip, but an assortment of power options, the least expensive of which can even increase the camera's frame advance rate. The redesign resolves all the issues the MD-200 grip had and works with both the D300 and D700.

It's a new day at Nikon and this little accessory shows how bright the sun is shining.

Return to Topics.

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:

The photokina video count is 37 at the moment, but Dave graciously picked the top four to get you started (appearing in alphabetical order):

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Locking Focus & Exposure

Your dSLR (and some digicams, too) has a Lock button that's a lot more versatile than you might imagine. It's so versatile, in fact, that it's confusing. Very confusing.

You know that half-pressing your Shutter button on a digicam will freeze both the focus and the exposure. By doing that, shutter lag is greatly reduced, often to just 0.008 second. Why? Mainly because the camera doesn't have to find focus.

The Lock button has something like the same job -- but it can hold the settings assigned to it through a series of exposures. It can be used to lock focus, exposure or both. And it can do so while you are holding the Lock button in (like the Shift key on your keyboard) or until you press the Lock key a second time (like the Caps Lock key) -- on some cameras at least.

Some cameras also let you define the Shutter button's behavior. You can set it to lock focus or exposure or both. And on a few models, you can define a function key with this same options. So you could, theoretically, have a button to lock focus, a button to lock exposure and a button to fire the shutter.

That may sound a little too unautomatic to be practical but let's take just one common example to see how it might be helpful.

It's a sunny day and you're on top of the world. Well, the top of Twin Peaks, say. And you want to shoot a 360 degree panorama. Just for fun, let's say you are not alone. There are maybe eight tourists up there with you. They'll have to be part of the shot.

That's one problem. Since they're just a few feet away from you, your autofocus lens will try to focus on them when they're in the picture, ignoring the ocean, the city, the bay and anything else in focus in the other shots.

The other problem is that the sun is south of you and your matrix metering will change the exposure, reducing it as you point further south where it's bright and increasing it as you point further north where it isn't as bright.

Both of these automatic tendencies ruin panoramas. The focus issue is obvious but the exposure issue shows up when you try to stitch the images together. The bright sky in one shot has to blend with a darker blue sky in the next. The edges are not the same exposure.

But all you have to do to solve these problems is lock focus and exposure.

The obvious way to do this is the Old Fashioned Way. Shoot in Manual mode, setting the aperture and shutter speed to expose your eastern or western view with the sun south, and using Manual focus to focus on infinity.

But you can do that with the Lock button, too. Point east, press (and perhaps hold, depending on how you've set it up) the Lock button to fix exposure and focus and then just take your shots. One button does the trick.

The secret to the Lock button is using it when automatic operation might change focus or exposure that you want to preserve. Because it's independent of the Shutter button, you can prefocus and pre-expose the image so all you have to worry about is catching the right moment or composing the image.

That means you can set exposure and focus independently of your final composition. Which turns out to solve a lot of problems introduced with automatic operation without requiring you to shoot in Manual mode.

The trouble with the Lock button, however, is that its behavior is slightly different on every camera. And because cameras themselves offer different metering modes and autofocus options (like single and continuous but also 3D tracking these days), you can go nuts trying to figure out how to setup the Lock button so you can remember how to use it.

So how about a few suggestions?

For sports shooting, where focus needs constant fine-tuning but exposure is relatively constant, try setting your lens to focus continuously, set the Lock button to set exposure only and make sure half-pressing the Shutter button does not lock exposure. This will start continuous focusing when you half-press the Shutter button and set exposure when you press the Lock button or fire the shutter. If your venue is outdoors with varying exposure, you might never use the Lock button, preferring to set exposure at the moment you press the Shutter button.

For more versatility, you might set focus to single mode, set the Shutter button behavior to lock both focus and exposure on a half press (like a digicam) and set the Lock button to lock either focus or exposure. That lets you use the Lock button to override what the Shutter button would do. Which option you pick depends only on whether you prefer it to override exposure or focus.

Prefocus can be a very interesting option, especially if you disable focus locking on the Shutter button (and set your AF mode to single area, too). On some cameras, if you then prefocus by pressing the Lock button (or an AF On button) on a stand-in for your subject, then recompose and hold down the Shutter button, the shutter will not fire until some object is in that prefocused spot. When you move forward or backward (for example, when taking a macro shot) or the subject can come into the frame (wildlife) at the preset focus distance, the shutter will finally fire. Can't do that in Manual mode.

That's just a few ideas to get you started. The possibilities are mind boggling. And while we're happy to discuss the concept, we can't really help with particular camera configurations (unless you want to send us your camera for a few days <g>). But a default setup with a variation or two is worth discovering.

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: A Color Correction Nightmare

Every now and then a subscriber, in desperation, sends us an image they just can't fix and asks for help. We'll do anything for our subscribers, as many of you know. And anyway, it's kind of fun. One day it may be a reality TV show. Extreme Makeover: Photo Edition!

In this case the image was a scan of a nine-year-old print made from a color negative that had been processed in the wrong soup. The trouble was that it was one of the subscriber's wedding photos, all of which suffered the same fate. You can't really reshoot a wedding. The cast tends to change.

At the time, he'd had someone Photoshop them but they were still goofy. Nothing anybody tried worked.

To us it sounded like they'd simply been cross processed. And Photoshop CS4, whose tires we'd been kicking, has a nice Curves adjustment layer with a cross-processing preset.

Didn't help.

Apparently there are a lot of different soups you can run the wrong film in. There was a greenish cast to the highlights and the shadows were blue but any simple color correction failed. Even trusty old iCorrect (http://www.pictocolor.com) got confused.

The best solution to this, frankly, is to convert the image to a black and white (the green layer alone looked better than a straight conversion from the RGB image or the lightness layer of a Lab conversion). Black and white is classic (archival even) and works very well for formal shots like weddings. And nobody will suspect the film wasn't processed correctly.

But we're not so easily mollified. We wanted to improve the color.

We'd noticed that when we fixed the highlights, the shadows went south. And when we fixed the shadows, the highlights went further south. So the natural thing was to build two luminance masks, one for the highlights and one for the shadows. And then do the color correction. Independently.

It's easy to do that in Photoshop. Just go to the Channels panel and drag the RGB combo channel down to the Load Selection icon (the first one down at the bottom of the panel), then click the Save Selection icon next to it to create an alpha channel you can rename Highlights.

Then switch to the Layers panel and click on the Adjustment Layer icon (that black and white circle) and select Curves. That brings up the Curves tool from which you can adjust your highlights. In this case we neutralized them.

You do the exact same thing for the shadows with one extra step. Right after you drag the RGB channel down to Load Selection, Invert the Selection (Select, Inverse). Now instead of selecting the bright half of the image, you'll have the darker half selected.

With both halves of the image independently corrected we were much closer to what the scene must actually have looked like. The pews were the right color, the white flowers tied to them were neutral and the black suits were neutral. The skin tones looked natural, too.

There was just one problem. What was the real color of the dress worn by the mother of the groom, who was being escorted by her sons down the aisle?

Through our various editing attempts it had run the gamut and we weren't sure what it really was. But since everything else was in tune, we assumed it would be reasonably close. Well, we hoped.

We did just a bit more tweaking, knocking down the saturation a bit and kicking up the Vibrance (new in CS4), which adjusts colors that are no already saturated while leaving skin tones alone. Then we sent it back to our subscriber for evaluation.

He wrote back that he was pleased with the black and white conversions he'd started doing. "But great job -- you got my mom's dress color right -- it was a pale pink."

That was all we had to hear.

Return to Topics.

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 about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe

Visit the Pentax Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea2980

Holly asks how to turn a landscape photo into a portrait photo at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea9dc2/0

Edward asks about lens compatibility with dSLR bodies at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea9e42/0

Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Nobel 2008 Nominations, Please!

While that Swedish Academy is busy giving away awards that sound suspiciously like our own, we've been wondering just who you have in mind for this year's Nobel for Customer Service. You know, the one we invented to honor truly extraordinary achievement, not silly pranks like making pigs glow green.

Every year we award the Ersatz Nobel Prize for Extraordinary Customer Service in Digital Imaging based on your nominations. You send them in, we award the Nobel in the next newsletter. It's such a radically efficient process, we probably deserve a Nobel for inventing it.

Years ago, when we first thought up this Ersatz Nobel, we thought it would be a dynamite idea. And every year since, we've gotten a bang out of it -- particularly last year. In fact, last year's winner, Pamela Young, consequently had her office completely refurbished (it took seven months) and was photographed recently at the open house (let's call it) with a bottle of champagne, a rather explosive and entirely appropriate way, no doubt, to conclude her year's reign. You can never, after all, have too much of the stuff. Extraordinary Customer Service, we mean.

In fact, you might just be wondering what Extraordinary Customer Service actually is (if you've never seen it). While we hope it isn't that rare, we'll endeavor to describe it for you.

If you've had trouble with a product that was happily resolved, you remember it. It may have surprised you that the company in question went to the expense it did, or that the person you were dealing with spent so much time and energy to resolve your problem. Maybe you just called Customer Service and someone actually answered the phone.

Whatever it was, this is the time (right now) to tell us about it.

In return, fame, fortune and health (not to mention free remodeling) -- well, no promises. We'll just remind you that what goes around, tends to come around.

To submit your entry, simply email us at editor@imaging-resource.com with the Subject line "Ersatz Nobel Prize." Please.

Return to Topics.

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: CS4 Graphic Card Upgrades

So is there an upgrade replacement available for the graphics card in my G5 (ATI Radeon 9600 XT)?

-- Robert Mark

(The key point is to have enough GPU RAM for the OpenGL code in CS4, which would be a minimum of 128-MB. From the full review: "Adobe is currently recommending, as a minimum, 128-MB RAM on a card that's Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 compatible. If you plan on doing 3D, make that 512-MB RAM." -- Editor)

RE: Copyright

How about doing something in the newsletter about how to copyright images?

-- Martin Neff

(Snap the shutter, Martin. They're copyrighted. From the FAQ at http://www.copyright.gov (which has a lot more on this): "Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." And don't miss our story in the Sept. 19, 2003 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) on how to add a copyright notice to your work. -- Editor)

RE: Chihuly Revisited

FYI, here's my photos from the Chihuly exhibit at the De Young museum (http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=13qgn8xn.bu82aiq3&x=0&y=49x9ji&localeid=en_US). I was using a Canon 40D with a 16-35 f2,8 lens on 95 percent of the photos. The close up shots was with a Canon 70-200 f2.8. They were shot at ISO 800 and steady hands. It was a lot of fun shooting this exhibit. Please share with your readers. Enjoy!

-- Frank Jang

(Thanks, Frank! Frank's an event photographer based in South San Francisco -- and, agreed, the Chihuly exhibit was quite an "event." -- Editor)

RE: Canon ERR 999

(Perhaps you recall the Aug. 15 story about ERR 999 on our sister-in-law's Rebel XT? It turned out her 17-85mm IS lens was the culprit. She was leaving for Europe in two days and asked us what to do. Buy a lens or a digicam? We had a long chat but we didn't find out what she had decided until we got this email. -- Editor)

I purchased the 18-55mm IS lens you recommended prior to my trip, but really missed the range of my old lens. It did the trick while I was gone, however, and was lighter too. Got my old lens back, repaired for $110. So now I have a backup in case something happens again. Thanks so much for your advice!

-- Your Darling Sister-in-Law

RE: Whatever Happened To ...

Folks, I thoroughly enjoy your most informative newsletter.

Have a question: What has happened to the Kodak P812 Digital Camera? A couple of years ago I saw one at Sam's Club. Played with it and intended to buy one within a month or two. For a modestly priced camera it appeared to have three very desirable features: (a) optical image stabilization, (b) hot shoe and (c) ability to sync companion external flash with higher shutter speeds than the typical default speeds ranging around 1/60 second. Incidentally, it appears to me that Panasonic has one or two cameras in the $300 price range with similar features and I am impressed with their choice of lenses. Thanks much for your attention.

-- Don Fleming

(There's a the P712 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P712/P712A.HTM) and a Z812 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/Z812IS/Z812ISA.HTM) but that's as close as we can get to a P812. Not even Kodak's support site mentions a P812. Fortunately, as you note, there are cameras with similar or better features (we really like the Panasonic LX3). All of which reminds us of a routine Lenny Bruce used to do about refrigerators. He wondered what it was like when they were finally retired and sent to a second hand shop. "There they are, an army of refrigerators, expensive one and budget jobs, rich and poor. If one of them were socialistically minded, he might say, 'Some of us are old and some are quite modern with roll-out trays and automatic cube dispensers, but while we are here, we are all the same ... because we're all defrosted.'" Same with digicams. At some point, no matter how fancy they are, they all become discontinued. -- Editor)

RE: Gigapixel Image Construction

Here's something you might want to take a look at for novelty value: "gigapixel" image construction. A friend of mine brought this to my attention: http://www.gigapan.org/viewGigapan.php?id=2934

-- Clayton Curtis

(Now that's an image that could use 64-bit addressing! Thanks, Clayton. -- Editor)

RE: Lee Miller

I've been on vacation for a while, so I'm just catching up on my emails and just got around to reading your Aug. 29 feature "Shooting the Unseen" on Lee Miller.

I have to say, it was an absolute pleasure to read, really standing out as an article, well-written, quietly engaging and truly absorbing. Such a rare thing I have to say.

Thank you for the pleasure and the insight.

-- Sherelle

(Thanks so much for the kind words, Sherelle! That's an exhibit we keep revisiting in our mind, if for nothing else than the inspiration. She was certainly a remarkable person. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has begun shipping its Photoshop Elements 7 and Premiere Elements 7. At the same time, the company warned customers it had "discovered an issue with uploading files to Photoshop.com via the sync/backup services" in the new products.

"At this time," the company said, "files that are 200-MB or larger cannot be uploaded. If a 200-MB or larger file is added to a synced album, the file will not be synced. The status icon will indicate it is being synced, but the process will never complete. Please note that this only affects the sync/backup services; other Photoshop.com membership services are not affected. Most customers may not experience this issue because photo files are well below the 200-MB limit. However, this will affect video files, as virtually all video files are over 200-MB."

They're working on a solution.

The company also released final versions of DNG Converter 4.6 and Camera Raw 4.6. The new versions add support for Raw files generated by the Canon 1000D (Digital Rebel XS/EOS Kiss F), Canon 50D, Fuji FinePix IS Pro, Kodak EasyShare Kodak Z1015 IS, Leaf AFi II 6, Leaf AFi II 7, Leaf Aptus II 6, Leaf Aptus II 7, Nikon D700, Nikon D90, Nikon Coolpix P6000, Olympus SP-565 UZ, Pentax K2000 (K-m), Sigma DP1 and Sony A900.


Michael Tapes and Imagenomic have collaborated on an Instant JPEG From Raw utility, a free operating system plug-in to extract the JPEG preview from Raw files. In addition to extracting the embedded JPEG, the utility can also create a smaller thumbnail of the image, appending the size to the root filename in a subfolder. In fact, the utility can process whole folders doing both operations at the same time. Registration (http://www.rawworkflow.com/instant-jpeg-from-raw-utility) is required to get the download links.

We compared our Raw+JPEG images to the extracted JPEGs this utility produces. Some cameras let you pick the size of the JPEG you record, others don't (typically limiting you to the smallest JPEG). We shoot with the largest size JPEG, which yields a 4288x2845 pixel image. The images this utility extracts from the Raw file are only 1024x680 pixels, fine for screen display but a little less than we'd want to print. The extraction was instant, though.


Think Tank Photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com) has announced its new Urban Disguise 35 shoulder bag, which can accommodate a 13.3-inch laptop with a standard-size dSLR or up to a 10-inch laptop with a pro-size dSLR with lens attached. It features a large opening for easy access to equipment, attaches to a roller and can be used as a backpack with the Shoulder Harness (sold separately).


O'Reilly (http://www.oreillynet.com) has published Photoshop Elements 7: The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage, covering the new release as well as Adobe's new online photo-sharing and storage service. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596521332/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Nikon has announced a new series called Look Good in Pictures starring style guru and television personality Carson Kressley (http://www.LookGoodinPictures.com). Throughout the fall series, Kressley will give practical advice on how to embrace photogenic qualities in a variety of everyday situations such as vacations, holidays, nights out on the town and weddings.


LaCie (http://www.lacie.com) announced its new 700 series of LCD monitors designed for color accuracy includes the $1,599 20-inch LaCie 720, $2,299 24-inch LaCie 724 and the $4,599 30-inch LaCie 730. The 700 series uses RGB-LED backlight and provides gamuts of up to 123 percent of Adobe RGB, the company said. Backlight is adjusted in real time with the embedded ColorKeeper technology which constantly analyzes the backlight's brightness and chromaticity.


Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $34.95 GraphicConverter 6.2.1 [M], adding Curves, KML creation, RW2 support, JAlbum export, faster PhotoRaw browser imports and more.


Human Software (http://www.humansoftware.com) has released Edit for Aperture 1.5 [M] with a new Image Resizing module for cropping, reducing or enlarging images, which can be combined with sharpening in one step.


School of Visual Arts (http://prevnewsva.schoolofvisualarts.edu) presents Seamless, an exhibition of thesis work from the first graduating class of the Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography program. The exhibition, curated by artist and SVA faculty member Dan Halm, will be on view from Oct. 23 through Nov. 15 at the Visual Arts Gallery, at 601 West 26 Street, 15th floor, New York City.


Arthur Bleich will host an eight-day dSLR photography, printing and imaging workshop cruise for 20 participants sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to St. Maarten, St. Lucia and St. Kitts, in the Southern Caribbean, March 29 to April 6, 2009. Each enrollee will also receive up to $1,000 in hardware and software. All-inclusive costs begin at $2,332, with non-attendee companions paying less than half. For more information visit http://www.dpcorner.com/cruise or call (800) 652-2267.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.4.90 [LMW] with Acer and HP ScanJet USB fixes, mouse wheel zooming, HP PhotoSmart C4500 support, improved responsiveness while scanning and more.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

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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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Happy snapping!

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

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