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PRESS RELEASE: The Plugin Site Released Version 1.01 of LightMachine
November 8, 2005 - The Plugin Site (www.thepluginsite.com) just released Version 1.01 of LightMachine, a Photoshop-compatible plugin for performing all kinds of light adjustments in photos. It combines shadow/highlight, virtual lighting and color-based correction tools for performing sophisticated corrections without the need for time-consuming selections and layer stacks.
LightMachine lets you selectively correct photos taken under bad light conditions or with inadequate camera settings and achieve results that rival photos taken under the best circumstances. Additionally it can achieve special effects like glows, sunsets, high key and selective b/w effects, replace one color with another and simulate polarizing filters. LightMachine works in dozens of graphics applications including Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro, IrfanView, PhotoImpact, Photo-Paint and Fireworks. LightMachine can be applied to 8bit and 16bit RGB images.
New in Version 1.01
LightMachine 1.01 offers many features and improvements, which make it much easier to perform shadow/highlight and light correction tasks. For example, selections from your graphics application can now be seen in the LightMachine preview, there is a new Fade slider for weakening the overall effect and a new Preset button menu with a list of all presets. Brightness, Contrast and Size sliders let you easier select smaller values and when entering a value in the edit box of a slider, the preview now updates automatically. The new Instant Sliders check box on the Prefs tab sheet instantly updates the preview while dragging a slider.
In the Virtual Studio modes you can find a new Spots button menu for selecting a certain spot and pasting spot properties to other spots. The numeric and cursor keys now allow you to select and move spots. LightMachine 1.01 can use the same settings with images of different sizes without having to readjust the spots. Additionally you can precisely see the area that is affected by an oval spot from its spot circle.
The LightMachine dialog was also localized to German. LightMachine now includes the Plugin Installer tool which is executed during setup and lets you copy the LightMachine plugin to the plugin folder of up to 25 graphics applications.
LightMachine corrects brightness, contrast and saturation in specific image areas independently from each other. It basically consists of four different filters each split up into a simple mode suitable for beginners and a Pro mode with more features for more flexibility. The Brightness/Contrast modes adjust brightness and contrast throughout the image which is nice as a starting point. The Shadows/Highlights modes give you complete control over dark and bright image areas and let you correct them completely independently from each other with the help of sophisticated masking options. The Virtual Studio modes allow you to place an unlimited number of shadow and light spots as if you were placing studio lights in a real photo studio. The intensity, size, ovality, angle, hardness and reflection properties of each spot can be adjusted precisely. Finally, the Colors modes let you selectively correct image objects of a specific color by clicking on them.
LightMachine offers brightness, contrast and saturation correction algorithms that let you bring out more details without making photos look unnatural. LightMachine's flexible shadow/highlight masking options let you quickly and easily adjust specific image areas without affecting other regions. The Virtual Studio algorithms simulate light and shadows so realistically that you will feel as though you are working in a photo studio rather than a two-dimensional photo. LightMachine offers effective methods for dealing with problematic color shifts in lifted shadows and various different saturation algorithms for avoiding color artifacts even at high saturation values.
Plenty of Tools
LightMachine uses a resizable dialog and its controls are logically organized in various tab sheets. Moving the mouse over each control instantly displays a detailed explanation in the Help box, so you don't need to read the manual before using LightMachine. Spilt Views let you display the original image side-by-side with the corrected version and the 17 different histograms can be useful as a guide. Complex corrections are made easy by LightMachine's Auto Mask feature, which lets even beginners quickly create suitable masks. Four different modes for displaying the used mask help even further. Removing color shifts in lifted shadows is a snap with LightMachine's one-click color picker. LightMachine's Logged Settings feature can remember the settings used for any image and automatically loads them whenever they are required again.
Why LightMachine is Different
LightMachine offers plenty of features for improving a much wider range of photos with better results. Other available software often only give acceptable results for the common cases, but can't cope with more difficult ones. These shadow/highlight tools usually produce contrast-burned or over-saturated results which have an unnatural look. Unlike LightMachine, they don't let you adjust shadows and highlights really independently, add artifacts along the shadow/highlight borders or don't brighten shadows or darken highlights enough to make details clearly visible.
Other lighting tools usually produce only artistic effects and are not suitable for correcting photos. They don't give you precise control over the lighting effects and offer no contrast options. They also affect the surrounding areas instead of just focusing on the target area. They do not support a Reflection feature therefore you often can't avoid blown highlights without decreasing the overall effect. LightMachine's Virtual Studio tool avoids these problems, because it was developed for producing realistic light effects for correcting photos.
Other color-based correction tools don't allow to replace the color of a specific image area with any other imaginable color. They are limited to a range of colors depending on the color that needs to be replaced. Most of these tools also don't let you selectively adjust brightness and contrast and have no features for adjusting the border smoothness. LightMachine on the other hand gives you complete control for color-based corrections.
Availability & System Requirements
LightMachine is available for Windows. A Macintosh version is planned. LightMachine sells at $69.95 (Regular License) or $39.95 (Academic/Educational License). It can be purchased at http://www.thepluginsite.com/products/photowiz. A demo version can be downloaded at the same URL.
The Plugin Site is located in Nuremberg, Germany, and develops graphics, video and web software. We also created the Harry's Filters, ColorWasher, FocalBlade, Plugin Galaxy, Plugin Commander, Edge & Frame Galaxy, HyperTyle, HTML Shrinker and Photo Galaxy products. We co-produced Alpha Magic with Hollywood FX and Pinnacle and also co-develop the FilterMeister plugin development environment with AFH Systems.
(First posted on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 08:18 EST)