Digital Innovations
Enquiring Minds Want To Know
How I Select Products For Digital Innovations

"When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?"--George Carlin

Enquiring minds want to know what it takes to have products featured in this column. I begin by asking myself if it's something I think Shutterbug readers can use and with only 10-11 columns a year, I hate to waste the space.
Before a product appears, it's evaluated for 30 days, sometimes longer. Digital imaging software and hardware are installed on a 730MHz Apple Power Macintosh G4 ( using OS X Panther or a 2.2GHz AMD Athlon XP 3000+ eMachines computer ( running Windows XP Professional. These two are networked via a wireless router that includes a broadband Internet connection. A separate eMachines 1.6GHz Windows XP home computer is not networked or connected to the Internet to keep it virus free from external sources.

The original image was made using a Nikon 28Ti on Kodak color negative film, digitized then brought into Adobe Photoshop CS where B&W's Warming filter, from their "Outdoor" set of filter plug-ins was applied to add some snap to the color of the house and enhance the mood.
© 2004, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

To find these products I attend trade shows, get suggestions from readers, and receive lots of press releases. Most press releases get tossed, some get filed, but interesting products elicit requests for review copies, but the ratio of products received vs. requests sent is low. Similarly, when asked why certain companies' products never appear in Digital Innovations, my reply is simple: Some companies won't send me products. More than a few, it appears, expect me to write about products without actually using them.

The bottom line for me is that, like the late Lester Bogen who wouldn't sell a product he would not use, I won't write about any product that I won't use myself.

(Top): The Soft Focus filter from B+W's "Portrait & Family Set" was applied to an unretouched duplicate layer and slightly reduced in opacity and selectively erased around Dusty's eyes and mouth to add some softness to the photograph. (Above): The Warming filter from B+W's "Outdoor Set" applied to a midday image of a Victorian house to give it a later afternoon look.

Plug-Ins Of The Month
When it comes to image quality, Schneider Optics ( is an industry leader. That's why I was thrilled when they added a series of digital B+W filters to their product line. These Mac OS and Windows Photoshop compatible plug-ins are available as Portrait & Family and Outdoor Sets. Each set provides six different effects that can be selected, adjusted, and applied to any image or selection. The B+W Portrait & Family Set includes Black and White (cool), Enhance Colors, Luna, Summertime, Warming, and Soft Focus. Soft Focus produces an effect similar to a "real" B+W Softar filter and I like using it with glamour and fashion images. Special effects found in the Outdoor Set include Brighten, Graduated Blue, Graduated Neutral Density, Polarizing Enhancer, Summertime, and Warming, which might be redundant if you're already using Photoshop CS and will be a godsend if you're not. Each set costs $65, and an overview of the effects possible with both sets can be seen at: www.schneider