Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital Help

This department will attempt to provide solutions to problems readers may have getting into and using digital cameras, scanning, and using digital photographic images with a computer and different kinds of software. All questions sent to me will be answered with the most appropriate information I can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug web site, directly via e-mail to: editorial@shut or or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

New Digital Camera Raw File Access
Q. Two weeks ago I sat through NAPP's Photoshop World in L.A. at which Russell Brown tried to be both comedian and Photoshop expert. I think he's fairly good at Photoshop but sure has no talent for comic teaching. Anyway, reading your current Shutterbug answer on raw capture suggested I ask if Adobe's new Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in has reached your examination yet? Very highly touted by many there as "the only way" to preserve your initial image in a traditional film negative concept of the original basic RGB layers. In other words, take and download in raw, preserve to CD and then make copies to work on, always saving these as the archived files.
Tom Barber

A. I have the new Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in, and you can read my review in this issue of Shutterbug on page 98. I'll also be working with LaserSoft's new SilverFast DC-VLT, which I expect will be both more powerful and will support many more cameras than the Photoshop plug-in. Considering that a digital camera functions much like a scanner, in that it captures at greater bit depth than what is used for digital output such as printing, it makes no sense to invest in a good digital camera and then cut it short by outputting from the camera in 24-bit JPEG. In addition, that JPEG file is very often limited by some cameras to the sRGB color space. Of course, a couple of years ago, when camera memory cards were pricey, it was more difficult to use raw for capture and output.

Photoshop 7 Or Elements 2
Q. I use a new Power Mac running OS X 10.2.4, and Photoshop Elements 2.0. I just make prints for my own use and camera club competitions. I print with an Epson 1280 up to 131/2x19" size. What advantages would there be for me to upgrade to full Photoshop 7? Some months ago, I corresponded with you regarding SilverFast, and you were most helpful. Unfortunately I lost your direct e-mail address when I upgraded from a G4 Cube to this new Power Mac.
Bill Thompson

A. There are three primary functions in Photoshop 7 that are not supported in Elements 2: The Curves adjustment tool, 48-bit Mode that supports working with raw high-bit scan and digital camera files (Adobe's new Camera Raw plug-in will also be used with Elements 2), and CMYK support for output to an offset press and lithographic printing. If you are finding the tools, which are extensive, in Elements accomplish what you want to do then there is no advantage to upgrade to Photoshop 7.

Paint Shop Pro 7 And Color Management
Q. In at least two of your articles you stated that Paint Shop Pro 7 has no color management. This does not appear to be true. Under the File/Preferences menu is a "Color Management" selection that brings up a dialog box with several fields to control color management. While Jasc may not have emphasized this feature, it seems unfair to continue saying it doesn't exist. I have learned a great deal from your articles and columns. Your writings are among of my favorite parts of the magazine. Thank you for an excellent publication.
Jim Worthington

A. My comments have been based on Jasc documentation and queries I made of the company about color management. After downloading and investigating the latest Paint Shop Pro 7 I checked out what is called "color management" in Jasc Paint Shop Pro. Based on what I found in Preferences, what they are calling "color management" is really the antithesis of what is supported by Adobe and Corel as examples of true color management support. In other words, Jasc has provided the same kind of shortcut as Ulead has with PhotoImpact, which is to provide the option of setting the workspace as sRGB, a color space developed by a consortium led by Microsoft, Intel, and HP which is essentially the mean average of color which can be reproduced by a typical computer monitor.
The color space sRGB is anathema to everyone who is serious about digital photography because it is a color space with a very small gamut--typically less than 70 percent of the colors that can be captured in a scan of an Ektachrome transparency. In other words, if you bring photo images into sRGB the color space throws a major portion of the color content out to fit within the gamut of the color space.
As for the ability to specify the monitor and printer profile, that function is already provided and should be established by the operating system. The instructions on how this is accomplished are included in my February, 2003, Shutterbug article, page 156, on PC setup.

Changing Backgrounds Digitally
Q. I am hoping that you will be able to help me; I am looking to expand my mobile photography business to include some fun aspects. I am looking for the software, or the company that provides the software, that allows you to take someone's face (from a digital picture) and put it into various fun backgrounds (e.g., customer's face on Time magazine, standing next to the president, or on a model's body). I believe there is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop or it may be stand-alone software. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Michael Coniff

A. Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and just about every
photo-editing application like PhotoSuite, PhotoImpact, Paint Shop Pro, etc., has the capability you have described. If you have a current copy of Photoshop there should be an additional companion learning resource CD. You should be able to find complete instructions in this documentation that covers the three functions involved in what you want to do: Selection, Masking, and Layers. If you use Photoshop Elements its Hints and Recipes, plus the online support available from, should provide at least the basics. In addition, a couple of years ago I had an article in Shutterbug called "Cowboy & Horses" (August 2001), which was a step by step exploration of compositing parts of two images together to make one. It is very much the kind of function and technique you queried. Once you explore the recommended resources I think you will see no additional software is needed. There are, however, automated systems custom made for applications used at amusement parks and such to do what you are talking about. But for occasional, casual and fun projects their high cost is hardly justified.

Recreations How-To
Q. I would like to inquire about your recreations which were featured in an article by Andrea Keister in the February, 2003, issue of Shutterbug on pages 67-69. I found the article interesting, but it did not give any information on how you created these most wonderful digital photographs. Would you be kind enough to share your secret and allow me to emulate your works? I am strictly an amateur.
Robert L. Winkler
Aldan, PA

A. Thank you for the compliment. I am happy you find my image recreations interesting. Quite a few readers have expressed a similar interest, so I have put writing a how-to article on the techniques and tools I use on my schedule of work, and hope the resulting article will be in an issue of Shutterbug in the not too distant future.