Imaging Software; The Digital Darkroom Gets More Processing Solutions Page 2

Serif has a couple of interesting programs for the person who doesn’t want or need Photoshop but still wants control over their image editing. The first product is Digital Photo Suite 2009. With a surprisingly full-featured image-editing application, Digital Photo Suite 2009 is made up of PanoramaPlus 3 and AlbumPlus X3. At $49.99, this product is aimed at the casual user who just wants to fix and share their images with a couple of mouse clicks. In spite of this ease of use, there are still some powerful features available, particularly with PanoramaPlus 3. This application does great standard panoramas and it lets you create 360? panoramas as well as VR and movies.

For the person looking for more power, PhotoPlus X2 is a solid alternative to much more expensive programs with color management support and a number of other advanced features that you normally don’t find in this price range. The Makeover Studio includes easy redeye and blemish corrections along with skin smoothing and whitening of teeth and eyes. The application will either perform the corrections for you, or guide you through the process if you’d prefer to have more control. PhotoPlus X2 lists for $79.95.

Corel’s Painter has been a favorite of digital artists for years, and new releases are always an anticipated event, so you can be sure that news about Painter 11 made quite a few people happy. Painter is already a mature program as you might imagine with its 11th release, but Corel still adds new features and improves the usability of the application. New to Version 11 are new media and markers, better color management support with profiles being saved with documents, and recognition of embedded profiles in Photoshop files, re-sizeable color and mixer palettes, new transform tools, and better keyboard support. Painter 11 has a list price of $399.

Corel Painter 11

You may not know it, but there’s a chance you’re already using Perfectly Clear from Athentech. It’s been around in one form or another for five years now, including the auto-correction features on some of the major photo-sharing and print-service sites.

Athentech is now bringing Perfectly Clear to end users as a plug-in for Photoshop. The technology behind Perfectly Clear is based on light principles to correct color and tint, and restore faded images as well as optimize contrast and sharpness, all at the pixel level of the image. The results are very good and avoid the over-processed look that some of these types of programs tend to give the finished image.

ACDSee is a long-time standard on the Windows side of computing. It’s very well regarded for image management with lightning-fast updates of folder contents and flexible viewing options, along with full support for tagging images, and in the Pro versions, quality raw processing through a Bibble engine.

New releases of ACDSee Pro include Version 3 for Windows, and their first release for the Mac. Although the features of both platforms are similar, ACDSee has optimized the experience for each computer user interface so that the Mac version has a natural feel to it rather than looking like a port of the Windows application.

Along with nondestructive image editing and organizing, both versions include printing features for single or multiple images and contact sheets. The Windows version also has online photo sharing with a 2GB free account.

The final new product from ACDSee is Picture Frame Manager. This application is designed to work with digital photo frames from both Mac and Windows systems to offer drag and drop management of images easier. It can also automatically size your images for the selected device to optimize the space used on a memory card, and conversion of TIFF, PNG, RAW, and GIF files to standard JPEG format.

I’m a fan of Vertus’ Fluid Mask, but it’s overkill for casual use, and it does require some time to master. A new product, Play With Pictures, combines the masking technology of Fluid Mask with compositing tools to let you create photo compositions that would otherwise require Photoshop or a similar program and much more time. Play With Pictures lets you mask out areas of an image and then paste your selection into a new image. You can stack multiple layers together, change the order of layers, and do basic adjustments of image elements, including adding text. For $39.95, it’s a fun application that should fill the masking needs of a number of people.

Finally, studio and wedding photographers have been facing some difficult times. Between the economy and the explosion of digital cameras, it seems that everyone has at least one person in the family who is a “professional” photographer and willing to do the job for free or certainly for less than you can afford to do. One way, other than superior-quality images, to make your work stand above the rest is to give it a distinctive look with creative borders, and layouts. While there are any number of border-effect programs and templates available, Graphic Authority stands out with their package collections. Along with some very impressive templates for weddings, portraits, seniors, and other uses, they include a full set of matching templates with announcement cards, envelopes, and more. The Studio Collections ($199.95 each) are ideal for a photo studio that wants to put together a cohesive look with photo templates, post cards, bifold and trifold brochure layouts, storyboards, and book templates. If you don’t want the full set, you can buy mini sets for $79.95, with a single theme across the multiple layouts.

For a wider range of layouts, the Memories Collection includes 10 of Graphic Authority’s popular collections ranging from weddings to classic portrait and sports themes for $499.95. They also have an Edge Library collection with a number of backgrounds, edges, frames, and brushes that will help you get that look that is so popular these days, especially with the high school senior market. The Edge Library lists for $179.95.