Nik Software Ships HDR Efex Pro

Nik Software has begun shipping HDR Efex Pro, a completely new High Dynamic Range (HDR) solution designed to help photographers quickly and easily achieve a full spectrum of HDR enhancements.

Nik Software’s proprietary U Point technology is also incorporated into HDR Efex Pro, providing precise selective fine-tuning of images without the need for complicated selections or layer masks.

The software also gives photographers the ability to create dramatic HDR images from a single exposure; which is ideal for subjects that don’t lend themselves to multiple exposures, or for reprocessing previously captured single images.

HDR Efex Pro installs as a 64-bit plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS4 (Windows only) and CS5 (Windows and Mac), and as a 32-bit and 64-bit plug-in for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.3 or later (Windows and Macintosh) or Apple Aperture 2.1 or later (Mac).

MSRP for HDR Efex Pro is $159.95.

Go to www.niksoftware.com/hdrefexpro for more information.

For our original post on the product announcement, click here.

— D.B.

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New Tech Gear Announced

By Diane Berkenfeld

June has been a hopping good month for Techies (and I don’t mean the availability of the iPhone 4 in stores today). A range of new products—from hard drives to Thumbdrives, batteries, digital frames and monitors have hit the market and if not already on store shelves, almost all should be there by the end of the month. Some of the gear included definitely has the word professional written all over it, while other items may be for the consumer, but what ties them all together is digital imagery—whether by managing files, or displaying images. Read on…

Blu-ray

picture-soup.com Buffalo blu-ray writer

Buffalo Technology's MediaStation 12x External USB 3.0 Blu-ray Writer.

Buffalo Technology (www.buffalotech.com) just announced its new MediaStation 12x External USB 3.0 Blu-ray Writer. The MediaStation can write/play back Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs. The Blu-ray writer comes with CyberLink Blu-ray 3D Ready Media suite. Set up is simple and no drivers are needed. The unit supports the following media formats: BD-R SL 8x Read / 12x Write, DVD –R SL 16x Read / 16x Write and CD-R 40x Read / 40x Write.

Buffalo will be shipping the MediaStation 12x External USB 3.0 Blu-ray Writer by month’s end with an estimated street price of $349.99.

External Hard Drives

picture-soup.com western digital my studio drive

Western Digital My Book Studio LX external hard drive for Mac users.

Earlier this month, Western Digital (www.westerndigital.com) introduced its My Book Studio LX external hard drive, with FireWire 800 interface and a sleek new, cool-to-the-touch aluminum case that would complement any Mac product. The drive also supports USB 2.0. The My Book Studio LX is unique in that it utilizes a customizable e-label that lets users identify such information as contents and remaining capacity without having to boot up a computer and plug in the drive.

It will sync seamlessly with Apple Time Machine software and also comes with WD SmartWare software. And the 256-bit hardware-based encryption, typically only found on much more expensive drive systems, provides a high level of data security along with password protection. The new drives area available in 1TB and 2TB capacities. The drives come with HFS + Journaled formatting and are compatible with Mac OS X Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard.

MSRP are $199.99 to $269.99 for the 1TB and 2TB models respectively.

(l.) Iomega's new charcoal gray USB 3.0 eGo drive; (r.) Iomega's new eGo BlackBelt Mac portable drive.

Earlier this month, Iomega (www.iomega.com) introduced its Iomega eGo portable and desktop hard drive line. New models including the charcoal gray USB 3.0 eGo portable with 500GB capacity, USB 2.0 eGo in fun colors: ruby red, midnight blue, and silver, in 320GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities.

Also new is the Iomega 1TB eGo BlackBelt Mac Edition Portable Hard Drive featuring two FireWire 800 ports and a USB 2.0 port. The drive also comes with a FireWire 800 to 400 cable, and utilizes the Iomega Power Grip band to help protect the drive from accidental drops from up to seven feet.

New Iomega eGo desktop drives include the charcoal gray Iomega USB 3.0 eGo Desktop Hard Drive with USB 3.0 in 1TB and 2TB capacities; and the Iomega Mac Edition eGo Desktop Hard Drive, a 3.5-inch HDD in a silver enclosure, and featuring two FireWire 800 ports, a USB 2.0 port and three cables: USB 2.0, FireWire 800 and FireWire 800 to 400 conversion cable. The new eGo Mac Edition desktop drive is HFS+ formatted and is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities.

More of the Now Ubiquitous USB Flash Drives

picture-soup.com kingston technology flash drive

Kingston Technology's DT160 flash drive.

Kingston Technology (www.kingston.com) yesterday announced the DT160 Flash drive, which combines functionality with a capless design. The rubberized thumb grip makes it an easy-to-use retractable USB Flash drive. DT160 is available in capacities from 4GB to 32GB. The drives are Mac, Windows PC and Linux compatible.

And Media Cards

Earlier this month Kingston announced that shipping of its 64GB SDXC media cards should be taking place at the end of the month.

Not Your Average Digital Frame

picture-soup.com framewizard package

Frame Wizard 15-inch frame.

The latest product that falls into the “How cool is that!” category is the FrameWizard (www.framewizard.com). Using your photos and the company’s software/digital frames, you can bring movement to your still digital images.

The company currently offers 7-inch, 8-inch and 15-inch digital frames that utilize their proprietary software (Mac and PC compatible) to make your photographs move, add elements such as snowflakes, raindrops, or falling leaves to your images, change the scenery behind your subjects, and make Matte Magic.

The company is working on a solution for professional photographers.

Sleek Computer Monitors

picture-soup.com samsung 50 series monitor

Samsung 50 Series LED monitor.

Samsung Electronics America Inc., (www.samsung.com) yesterday announced the launch of its line of 50 Series LED-backlit monitors: the 20-inch BX2050, 21.5-inch BX2250, 23-inch BX2350, and 24-inch BX2450 models. Each delivers a >95% sRGB color gamut and 170 degree horizontal viewing angle. The BX2050 monitor has a resolution of 1600×900 and VGA and DVI-D inputs; while the other three models offer a 1920×1080 resolution and VGA, two HDMI inputs and audio output ports. All monitors use Samsung’s Touch of Color (ToC) technology.

According to Samsung, the displays consume up to 40% less energy than same sized CCFL backlit monitors and are fully recyclable, containing no mercury, halogens or VOCs.

The monitors will be available in July, prices range from $229 through $359.

Pico Projectors

picture-soup.com 3m pico projector

The 3M MPro150 pico projector.

3M’s (www.3m.com) MPro150 is the latest in the company’s family of pico projectors. Designed with professionals in mind, the MPro150 includes 1 GB internal memory, a micro SD card slot and a USB input for transferring files from a laptop or netbook, allowing entire presentations to be pre-loaded onto the projector itself.  The MPro150 supports Microsoft Office applications, as well as Adobe PDF, photos and video. The Mpro 150 lets you project images up to 50-inches at 15 lumens brightness.

The unit also has an integrated MP3 player, headphone jack, and speakers so you can listen to your tunes in-between presentations. Additional features include an integrated flip stand, tripod and a variety of input cables. Optional accessories include an adapter cable for Apple products, component video cable and car charger.

MSRP for the MPro150 is $295. The company also offers the MPro 120 projector, designed more for casual users than business, with an MSRP of $325.

Battery Charging on the Go

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Duracell's Go Mobile Ni-MH charger.

Duracell (www.duracell.com) has created a Ni-MH AA/AAA battery charger that’s ideal for use by the photographer on the go. The new GoMobile chargers are not only usable plugged into the wall, but they come with a car adapter as well, and the design allows for the GoMobile charger to easily fit in the cup holder of your car. And the charger is fast, fully charging batteries in an hour.

The GoMobile comes with four Duracell pre-charged rechargeable batteries, the wall cord and car adapter. MSRP is $29.99.

picture-soup.com pandigital digital photo greeting cards

Pandigital's Digital Photo Greeting Cards come in three styles. Shown are the birthday cards.

Greeting Cards Go Digital

Pandigital (www.pandigital.net) came out with Digital Photo Greeting Cards, in three different sets of three cards: holidays, birthday, and thinking of you. The cards each let you upload 50 digital photos via USB. Once the photos are loaded, simply send the card and your recipient not only gets a handwritten note from you but up to 50 digital images that are viewable on the 1.44-inch screen built into the cards.

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Product Review: Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II printer

By Carrie Konopacki

I recently had the opportunity to try out the Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II inkjet printer. I was looking forward to seeing how the printer would perform and increase my workflow productivity.

To give you a little background on myself, the first true experiences I had in the photo world began with my Canon AE-1. The ability to have complete control over your picture from start to the final print became a quick addiction. I loved my Canon. Through the digital years, I dabbled with various other makes and used your standard printers. Was this Canon going to be a “love affair rekindled?” Could be.

Printer Specs and Features

When the printer first arrived, it was very overwhelming. Lets just say you need to find ample desktop space. The printer is 26.0″(W) x 7.6″(H) x 13.9″(D). It can handle output up to 13×19-inches. My first challenge was finding the printer a workspace. With the front and rear trays open, the printer will need around a 30”x40” area. The 1.6mm steel body adds to the overwhelming appeal and speaks “rough and tough.”

After taking the printer out of the box, I just needed to install the 10 single ink cartridges: Matte Black, Photo Black, Gray, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Red, and Green. The driver now installed on a Dell Inspiron 530 Intel Core 2 Quad PC, it was finally time to print. Or in my case, select the images to test print.

The Pixma Pro9500 Mark II printer utilizes a 4800×2400 dpi FINE print head, two separate paper paths, and a new printer driver. The printer is compatible with Mac OX X v.10.2.8 to 10.5.x and PCs running Windows XP/2000/Vista/7. The printer connects to computers via USB 2.0 and direct printer ports—no FireWire and no Ethernet. The printer can output 16-bit files.

The 10-color PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II printer uses Canon’s professional Lucia brand pigment-based inks. The printer was designed to output great B&W prints as well as color. Its ink system includes gray, black and matte black cartridges for printing of monochrome photographs on both fine art paper and glossy photo paper.

The printer comes with both Windows & MAC OS X: Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, Easy-PhotoPrint EX, CD-LabelPrint and Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, however most professional photographers are likely to print from whichever version of Photoshop they are using. Using the included software allows you to print directly from Photoshop and also print RAW images. These options allowed me numerous options to choose from with my inventory of prints.

Test Use

Ali. Photograph © Carrie Konopacki.

My goal was to find the most luminous, vibrant color photos and the black and white images with high levels of contrast, shadows and depth of field. And also throw in some sepia. For my printer tests, I used a variety of media, including: Canon Inkjet art & photo paper,  Fine Art paper “Museum Etching”, Fine Art paper “ Photo Rag”, Fine Art Paper, Premium Matte, Photo Paper Plus Semi Gloss, Hahnemühle Matte FineArt, Kodak Premium Photo Paper (Matte), and Kodak Photo Paper (Gloss).

Arizona Cacti. Photograph © Carrie Konopacki.

For my first print, I chose the Museum Etching media to print an image of a Cacti from a 2009 trip I took following Imaging USA. Once my enhancements were made to the image, it was time to print.

For me, the most difficult process to figure out was how to successfully operate the front feeder for the heavier and larger sized papers. After a few miss attempts and unsuccessful interpretation of the online owners manual, by sheer frustration, it became clear.

Bumblebee on Flower. Photograph © Carrie Konopacki.

I truly thought the printer had come with a malfunction. Mind you, not having used other Canon large or wide-format printers before, it took me some time to figure out exactly how the paper feed worked.

When I reviewed the online owners manual, which does give you a walk-through, with pictures and descriptive directions, I was able to figure out what to do. The front output tray needed to be placed into the feed position and paper manually fed into position from the back. Once you figure this portion out, everything else is pretty self-explanatory.

While Printing

Now that the printer was all set up, sending images to print was my next task. The printer handled anything I threw at it without any real complaints. You can even print regular documents on the printer, which I did in a pinch.

My only concern is that printing of photographs was slow.

Photo of Jake Konopacki by Herff Jones.

Using the Kodak glossy media I printed some school pictures, 2 (5×7)’s, 8 wallets, and 4 (3×5)’s in about 3 minutes. The quality was great. And the colors were representative to the true.

I was using Photoshop CS3, although I did try using Canon’s printer software to see how it would render my images. For the school images, I used the print package that was a part of the Canon Solutions menu options. Because the printer would be used by prosumers as well as pro photographers—and to see how well it printed—I didn’t use ICC profiles. The colors were spot on with the Jake’s school photos.

I did use the print screen option to make sure the picture I wanted had more of a vibrant color, with certain images.

The printer offers ICC capability, and can print both 8 bit and 16 bit images. The Pixma Pro9500, the predecessor to the Mark II was only able to print 8 bit image files.

The printer was remarkably quiet even without being in “Quiet Mode”, had great color and B&W image reproduction and was user friendly. There is also an easy one-click help button from the On-Screen Manual, which will help you diagnosis and resolve issues and/or questions.

With regards to the various papers that I used in testing the printer, I liked various ones for different prints. The goals is to make sure you like the final look on the paper you wanted, hence with the school picture, I knew the people I was handing them out to would be accustomed to glossy prints, so I used glossy media. For my cactus picture, I wanted to “soften” the look so I went with the Museum etching.

Overall, the Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II is a great 13-inch printer with excellent Black & White printing capabilities. The wide color range make your color prints pieces of artwork. Ink usage was within expectations of desired print quality and quantity. In addition, the quietness of the printer allows you to continue to work in the same room you are printing in with minimum distraction. I would definitely recommend this printer for those in the market.

For more information about the Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mark II printer go to the website www.usa.canon.com.

• Carrie Konopacki’s passion and expertise in photography began at the age of 16 when she took a job as a receptionist at Olan Mills Portrait Studios. From there she began a 15-year adventure as a photography professional. First as a photographer for Olan Mills, then in college, where she planned to become a photojournalist. Learning the roots behind her passion for photography, Carrie received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She has done freelance commercial photography as well as family portraiture. Most recently Carrie worked for Studio Photography magazine.


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Adobe Photoshop Turns Twenty

By Diane Berkenfeld

Today is a day of celebration as Adobe Photoshop turns 20 years old and fans of the powerhouse software program are rejoicing around the world. Festivities include an anniversary celebration hosted by NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, in San Francisco today as well as numerous organized events around the globe; a special Adobe TV broadcast reuniting the original “Photoshop team” for the first time in 18 years to discuss their early work on the software and demonstrate Photoshop 1.0 on a rebuilt Macintosh computer; Facebook and Twitter users sharing of stories online and changing their profile photo to an altered 20th anniversary logo (there are over 400,000 and growing Facebook fans for Photoshop); and Tweeting about the software by adding the tag #PS20.

The impact of Photoshop is everywhere, from the youngest digital photography enthusiast to virtually every professional photographer, to the artists at magazines and newspapers, website design, Madison Avenue and Hollywood.

In the Beginning

In 1987, Thomas Knoll developed a pixel imaging program called Display. It was a simple program to showcase grayscale images on a black-and-white monitor. However, after collaborating with his brother John, the two began adding features that made it possible to process digital image files. The program eventually caught the attention of industry influencers, and in 1988, Adobe made the decision to license the software, naming it Photoshop, and shipping the first version in 1990.

According to Thomas Knoll, Adobe predicted it would sell 500 copies of Photoshop per month. Sounds kind of like a comment made in 1943 attributed to then IBM president Thomas John Watson, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

The Photoshop team thrives off its rich beta tester program, with active and vocal users who have submitted requests and helped shape the development of features throughout the years.

“We knew we had a groundbreaking technology on our hands, but we never anticipated how much it would impact the images we see all around us. The ability to seamlessly place someone within an image was just the beginning of Photoshop’s magic,” Knoll said.

Over the past 20 years, Photoshop has evolved from a simple original display program to an application that has over 10 million users worldwide on Mac and Windows-based PCs. Countless other software companies have created software programs, Photoshop plug-ins and Photoshop actions that enrich the user experience. Not to mention the dozens of books, tutorials, workshops and other educational programs. An entire ecosystem surrounds Photoshop.

Photoshop logos through the years.

Not only has Photoshop grown from version 1.0 to where it is today at Photoshop Creative Suite (CS) 4, but Photoshop Elements, the program for enthusiasts is up to version 8, and there are even web-based solutions now, at Photoshop.com, as well as a Photoshop App., for the Apple iPhone and Android devices, as well as Photoshop Lightroom, now at version 2, (version 3 is in beta testing) for image management.

Photoshopped or Photoshop’d has even become a part of our vernacular to describe a digital image that has been altered. According to Wikipedia, Photoshopping is slang for the digital editing of images.

We here at Picture-soup.com doubt that anyone who uses Photoshop on a daily basis would want to live without the program, having grown to depend upon it for his or her livelihood. From its ability to help you salvage old, treasured family photographs, to retouching images to the point that the alterations are impossible to notice, Photoshop allows photographers and graphic artists to do their jobs better.

Long Time Users Comment

We asked a few of the folks we consider to be Photoshop Gurus to offer their thoughts on Photoshop turning 20. Read on…

Canon Explorer of Light and Print Master, Eddie Tapp (www.eddietapp.com), a photographer and educator first began using Photoshop with version 1. “I would open an image, clone something, close it out and a week later do the same thing. It wasn’t until the next version 2.5, did I jump into what Photoshop was then… more of a creative use with images applying glows, effects, this is when I developed the 90% method of color correction along with a few other techniques… and when 5.5 came out… Color Management became available for the masses for the first time,” he explains.

“What I use to love doing in the darkroom, I now love creating in Photoshop… Photoshop gives [me] so much more control in every aspect of processing my images… I do however, miss the smell of Fixer on my fingers after processing… perhaps I should invent Channel Fixer #5…”

“Photoshop the tool has aged well, becoming more and more sophisticated as it innovates technology at each release… From what I’ve seen and heard… the next release will be a celebration of enhancements and next level imaging…”

Jim Tierney, Chief Executive Anarchist at software company Digital Anarchy (www.digitalanarchy.com) started using Photoshop with version 2.0 and was developing plug-ins for it shortly thereafter with MetaTools. “It’s been interesting to see how the uses of Photoshop have expanded and changed,” he says. “When I first started using it, it was used more for design than photography. Certainly some photographers were using it, but it definitely wasn’t a requirement. You could shoot and print without ever going through an image editing program. And if your photo got scanned in, usually it went straight into Pagemaker or Quark [Xpress]. If the photo did go through Photoshop, usually it was just to tweak the contrast… either that or to do some crazy outlandish thing [to it]. Photoshop was a new tool, digital was a new medium, and people were experimenting. There were a lot of really bad Photoshop’d images out there.”

“Layers really changed things. It became much easier to do professional looking work. Before layers, you really had to understand all aspects of the program to get good results out of it. Not too mention, that around the time of versions 2.0 and 2.5 you were lucky to have a monitor that could display thousands of colors.”

“Digital imaging… the ubiquitous digital cameras that started [showing up] everywhere that made Photoshop such a powerful tool—not only for designers and photographers, but for medical, science, law enforcement uses, etc. …brought it to the point that now everyone knows what Photoshop is. THAT is an incredible difference, especially for someone who was using it when no one knew what you were talking about.”

“And Digital/RAW really changed things for photographers. It’s now become an essential tool for photographers. Those who aren’t shooting digitally and using RAW are a dying breed.”

“So I think the most interesting things about Photoshop turning 20 is all of the things that have happened around it to make it the tool it is.”

Fashion and beauty photographer Helene DeLillo (www.helenedelillo.com) first started using Photoshop at around version 1.5, when it was for scanning software. “They never thought it would be a product except for a tool to use with scanners,” she explains.

“Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are essential tools for photographers in the production and management of their digital images. In my professional work they are invaluable. Photoshop allows me to take my fine art/Sci-Fi creative work of faeries and magical creatures to beyond this world. If I dream them flying or in an eternal forest or garden I can now seam them together and make all the lighting & textures match… My dreams become still imagery.”

“Over the last 3 months my assistant has been archiving all our old files online so that I can access any images I ever retouched or captured…It’s been an awesome process and still is not yet done. However I have been reviewing images from over 10 years ago and what a difference—imagine not having layers and every time you made a big brush stroke you had to wait; in fact the Macintosh OS would give you a coffee cup with steam [coming] off of it instead of the possessed lollypop… sometimes it would be a 15 minute wait for an action or even 30 minutes for the unsharp mask [to take effect].”

“I Love Adobe Photoshop—HAPPY 20th—we love you Knoll Brothers!!!”

Photographer, author and consultant Andrew Darlow’s (http://www.imagingbuffet.com / http://www.PhotoPetTips.com) first exposure to Photoshop was with version 2.5 while he was working at a graphic arts/prepress/printing company in New York City. “Photoshop has been and continues to be an essential part of my workflow and it has helped me to do what I love best—take and make photos that express my vision—without having to deal with the many headaches that photographers have faced for so many years,” he says.

Photographer, Action Hero, and educator Kevin Kubota (www.kkphoto-design.com / www.kubotaimagetools.com) started in digital imaging when, “We can Scitex it out” was the buzz word at the studio he worked at. “That’s when it cost a few hundred bucks to send an image out to have a small blemish removed by a lab with a Scitex machine. Now anybody with Photoshop can easily do that in under a minute. Times have changed. I think I started using Photoshop at version 2 or 3. I remember it was frustrating because at that time it was very costly to have images scanned so that you could actually have something to manipulate in Photoshop. It was love at first sight though, and I ate it up—every pixel (that was pre-MEGApixel),” he says.

“Somehow I knew that this was the direction photography was headed. I eagerly adopted the early digital cameras as well—excited that I finally had a way to quickly get my images in the computer without costly scanning.”

“Being an early Photoshop adopter gave me a couple of advantages: I was able to enhance my images and show things to my clients that very few other photographers were showing at that time. It was a great boost to my business and it kept me excited about shooting…and discovering what I could do with the images in post.”

“I also learned early on how to create my own Photoshop Actions, which I then taught people how to do as well at my early workshops. I soon realized that the looks I created and the tools I used were very valuable to other photographers as well. Photoshop gave me a vehicle, and a common platform, to share these tools and techniques. It changed my life as it gave me another new business and opened new creative doors.”

“I think that Photographers generally fall in one of two camps—those that believe the art of photography happens solely in the camera, and those that believe it happens all the way from camera to presentation. Neither is right or wrong. The only thing ‘wrong’ would be to follow a path you didn’t believe in. I am in camp two. I think that there is no ‘rule’ that photography has to be pure. It’s an art form to me, just like painting. There are no rules in art—you combine tools, techniques, brushes, colors, whatever you want to create your vision. The end product is what matters, not the tools you used to get there. Photoshop has given photographers another tool to express their vision. It has helped to allow Photography to be impressionistic, modern, and fresh like few other artists tools have done. I love that.”

Photographer and instructor Gary Small (www.jsmallphoto.com) started using Photoshop in 1996, with Version 3. “It was the first version that used layers,” he notes. “Over the past 13 years, I have watched Photoshop grow and evolve into the wonderfully powerful program it is today, while at the same time, my skills and knowledge in this fantastic program have grown and evolved as well. I got to see and experience firsthand, the introduction of color management, adjustment layers, vector based text, text on a path, Liquify, Vanishing Point, Extract, Smart Objects, Healing Brush and Patch Tool, History Brush, Smart Filters, Content Aware Scaling, and so much more. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m looking forward to continuing this adventure.”

“Like Photography itself, I’ve found that there is no end to the learning process or the things you can do with Photoshop. Without a doubt, it has had the greatest and most positive impact on my career, over everything else I’ve ever involved myself in. The impact Photoshop has had on my work as a photographer as well as an image manipulator has been amazing. It has given me the opportunity to take my images to new levels, with amazing results that were not achievable prior to Photoshop hitting the scene.”

“As an educator, it is a huge rush to be able to pass along this knowledge to others who share the same passion for photography and image manipulation that I do. Seeing the excitement in others that I had when I first learned Photoshop has made the experience that much more fulfilling for me.”

Yours truly started using Photoshop around versions 5.5 or 6 and while I would not consider myself anywhere near the Guru status of those quoted above, I do know my way around the program. —DB.

Tell us what Photoshop means to you!

For more information about the Photoshop family of products, go to www.adobe.com.

Find Photoshop on Facebook at www.facebook.com/photoshop. Find Photoshop on Twitter at www.twitter.com/photoshop.

To see the NAPP Photoshop 20th Anniversary Celebration, go to www.photoshopuser.com/photoshop20th.

To see the Adobe TV Photoshop 20th Anniversary Broadcast, go to http://tv.adobe.com/go/photoshop-20th-anniversary.

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Product Review: Auto FX Software's Photo/Graphic Edges Platinum Edition v.7

By Diane Berkenfeld

I’m going to begin the review of Auto FX Software’s Photo/Graphic Edges Platinum Edition v.7 at the beginning—with installation. Photo/Graphic Edges will take about 30 minutes to install, not the five to 10 minutes that the installer says. And it may not look like it is doing anything right away, but be patient because it will install correctly. The software is Mac and Windows-based PC compatible and will work as a plug-in with Photoshop versions 7 through CS4 or as a stand-alone program. on a computer running at least MAC OS X (on an Intel or PPC Mac) or on a Windows-based PC, running Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

This version of Photo/Graphic Edges includes 32 new edge, border and frame effects. With all of the edges, frames, borders and overlays, adornments and embellishments you have thousands of options. For the pro photographer who wants to be able to add edges to a wide variety of images from baby and child photography to teens, seniors, couples and families, Photo/Graphic Edges provides edges, borders and frames appropriate for all. The software also features powerful tools to alter the edges, frames and borders. Many of them can be tweaked in a number of ways, from changing the hue, opacity, and other characteristics.

One of the additions to this version is the ability to add multiple layers to create unique images. You can save these new borders, edges and frames as presets so you can use them again. Photo/Graphic Edges Platinum Edition v.7 includes 300 pre-made layouts and instant effects, as well as the ability to add your own presets. Other new features include new storyboards and the ability to brush on edges. Auto FX Software has also improved the program with the addition of a new rendering engine and interface updates. An example of this is larger content previews. The content collections have also been reorganized so it’s easier to find what you want. And a favorites feature has also been added.

Using Photo/Graphic Edges

The software is simple to use, as a Photoshop plug-in or a stand-alone product, you launch the software, open an image and choose an edge, frame or border. You can add embellishments, adornments and overlays. If you don’t like the edges you’ve chosen, simply delete that layer and choose another. The edges and frames load pretty quickly too, so you won’t find yourself waiting.

When you are done with one image, and want to move on to another, you just open the new image and that automatically closes the first. It would be nice in a future version to have a ‘close image’ choice in the File menu, if only because everyone associates the word with the act of closing a working file.

When working with Edges, regardless of the one you choose, they reshape to fit the dimensions of the photo. When you are working with Frames, the Transform tool allows you to scale and position the photo as you want. There are actually two transform tools, transform frame/edges and transform photo so you can tweak the frame or edges and the photo exactly how you want. Auto FX notes that the Transform tools are dynamic and non-destructive.

Images can be saved as Bitmap, JPG, TIFF, and PSD files, however the software saves the PSD files flattened but with full transparency, so you can’t make any changes among the layers when opened in Photoshop. You need to do all photo editing and manipulation in Photoshop before you import the photo into Photo/Graphic Edges. One other thing you need to be aware of is that when you’re working with an image and Quit out of the stand-alone program, it will quit without asking if you want to save what you’re working with, so just don’t be too quick with your keyboard shortcuts. When you’re working with the plug-in, and Quit, it cancels the plug-in and returns you back to the host program, for example Photoshop.

I love the photo realistic darkroom edges like the filed out film holders, Polaroid film and Polaroid transfers. One of the cool things about the software is that you can add backgrounds for a full layout. Backgrounds include colors, gradients, textures, and more. Many of the frames and edges are for a single image, but there are also two-up and quad frames that can each hold a different photo. You can add text to images as well. There are frames that are designed to look like actual frames, as well as scrapbook style frames, embellishments and layouts. There are also geometric, digital, traditional, artistic, and more modern edges and frames as well as vignettes.

For software that incorporates so much content—a thousands items—you’ll have plenty to browse from, to find that exact frame or edge for your images. Photo/Graphic Edges Platinum Edition v.7 offers photographers such a wide range of options, that practically anything is possible. So much so, in fact, that you should definitely take a look at the manual before you begin, it comes as a PDF file. You might also want to view the free video tutorials on the Auto FX Software website.

For more information, go to the website at www.autofx.com.

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