Last Saturday, the online image backup and storage website PhotoShelter officially launched its new stock photography outlet PhotoShelter Collection, which will compete with high-end stock houses, such as Getty Images and Corbis. With established stock image providers feeling serious pressure from microstock sites, such as Fotolia, which offer their images for as little as $1, it might seem strange for PhotoShelter to enter the game now, but they plan to distinguish themselves from the competition by giving photographers a larger commission, control over pricing, and by promising that they won't participate in what they see as the devaluation of … Read more
Today, multimedia software publisher Corel released Corel MediaOne Plus--a brand-new software program designed to let you organize, edit, share, and create projects with your digital photos and videos. The software provides users with an all-in-one solution for managing their digital photos, all the way from their cameras to finished projects like greeting cards or scrapbooks. It also lets users combine photos, videos, and music into what are called "shows," or video compilations.
The main MediaOnePlus interface consists of a large viewing and editing area on the right, with four-pronged navigation on the left: Home provides the organizational features; Enhance includes basic image editing and effects; Show lets you combine photos, videos, and music into your own remixed creations; and Create offers a variety of photo products like collages, albums, and magazine covers.
A photo-tray feature on the bottom of the interface lets you create on-the-fly media lists of photos and videos for easy access and editing. The trays are placed in a tabbed interface, and you can create as many sets of media as you'd like. You can also select multiple photos or videos from any photo tray and add them to a "storyboard," the playlist component that creates the Corel Shows.… Read more
Just last week, CNET blogger Stephen Shankland, shared his thoughts that recent changes affecting the professional photography market have a "silver lining that shouldn't be overlooked." While his optimism is a nice respite amid increasingly weary economic times, six professional photographers' trade associations are now speaking out against a new pricing scheme by stock photo giant Getty Images that offers its high-end Rights-managed and Rights-ready images, alongside its lower-priced Rights-free images, for the same low price of $49 when used on the Web. For all but the Rights-free images, this represents a price reduction of more than … Read more
If you're a Flickr user, you might be unaware there's a whole world of tools that take advantage of Flickr's API to let you tweak and repurpose your shots. This morning I've been enjoying BigHugeLabs, a site that's home to about 40 tools that let you play with Flickr photos--yours and everyone else's. Several provide simple ways to add text, or a filter to your photo. Others dig deep into the heart of service to let you turn your photos into desk kitsch and conversation starters. I've picked five of my favorites.
In a Guardian column earlier this year, Andrew Brown lamented the hard times that have befallen professional photographers. What caused the "death of an honorable profession," he argues, is an army of mostly mediocre shooters posting millions of shots at Flickr and selling to advertising agencies via "microstock" sites. Few make a living at the latter, but their gravy is "bread taken from the mouths of professionals," Brown said.
I think he has a point. But I think he misses another, less gloom-and-doom aspect of the digital photography revolution: the innumerable amateurs who are … Read more
Update 9/6/07: Okay, I got the version names confused--two years ago the "X" in the product name meant "10," then was switched to mean "X." As a result, I miscalculated the product cycle. Corel actually shipped a new version last year. So please ignore my attempt at a clever lead-in.
It's been three years since Corel acquired Jasc Software, and about two years since its last major release of Paint Shop Pro; that's a couple of lifetimes in the consumer software market. Today Corel finally announced and shipped a new … Read more
The update to Digg yesterday brought with it a handful of tweaks, although notably absent was the much anticipated photos section. Keep in mind that you'll still find Digg saturated in photos, there's just not a bona fide section for them, or way to view pictures on-site. While confirmed on the official Digg blog that a special photo section is on track for October (two months from now), there's already a handful of sites to get your fix for photos made popular by real people. Here are seven of my favorites:
If you've ever used Picnik (review) before, you have an idea of how far online photo editing has come. Similarly, there's Fotoflexer, a user-friendly photo editor that offers one-click tweaks, along with some advanced tools on par with desktop class photo editing software. The service has been around since late last year, and is launching version two this morning.
Like several other online photo editors, Fotoflexer integrates major services like Flickr, MySpace, Picasa, and Facebook to pull your photos down for editing. Short of MySpace (which doesn't have an open API), you can send your edited photos back to all of them if you've plugged in your login credentials. Once you've found a photo you want to "flex," the app will jump you out to a full-screen editing canvas, where you have quick tabbed controls for all the usual editing goodies like rotation, a cropping tool and a resizer. You'll also find some fun distortion effects similar to the liquefy tool in Photoshop (as seen in the screenshot below). This is probably the most enjoyable of the bunch, since it processes the effect in real-time.
The real claim to fame however, is Fotoflexer's Smart Cutout and Recolor effects, which can help you cut out various pieces of a photo, or recolor them to match the tone of your choice. The cutout is the more useful of the two, and lets you cut people or objects out from a shot without having to trace their outline. If you've ever used Photoshop's magnetic lasso or masking tool, you'll know full well how tedious a process this can be. Instead, you use a small paintbrush to "tag" objects you'd like to keep or remove. One click later, and the app will do its best to single out those parts of the photo. If it makes slight mistakes, you can then go back in and remove or replace bits and pieces manually.
Once you've got a cutout, you can add it into another photo, or bring another shot in to the workspace. Fotoflexer lets you have as many layers as you want, and you can move them up and down, or merge them by simply right-clicking. Again, it's probably one of the few Web apps for photo editing that offers contextual menus.
Despite its beauty, there are a few snags here and there. For one thing, even in full screen, the editor remains the same size, which looks and feels very odd if you're using a wide screen monitor. The feature is being added as early as this week according to the Fotoflexer team, although in the meantime, if you're working with a landscape shot, things feel a bit cramped. There's also a lack of some of the advanced editing controls on the quick color effects. For example, clicking the "stamp" button will do its best to make your shot black and white shot with an excess of contrast, however there's no slider or option to tweak it. You either like it or you don't. Luckily, if you know what you're doing, you can achieve similar effects by using the advanced options to recreate each effect manually.
All in all, Fotoflexer is a really well put together app that could make a solid piece of standalone software. The fact that it's free and runs in your browser makes it even better.
Kingston's low-key but interesting Icons of Photography site uses a monthly magazine format to make the most of a relatively shallow content pool. Over the past year and a half, it's parlayed the four pros--Harry Benson, Colin Finlay, Gerd Ludwig, and Peter Read Miller--into 11 issues by doling out bite-sized chunks of editorial.
Accompanying each piece you'll find a handful of photos, representative of the work of the pro or the amateur supplicant. Calling them galleries would be a gross overstatement: they're five-photo, completely text-free slide shows. If the idea were to present the photos in an elegant manner, that would be one thing. But the huge, distracting Kingston logo banner and ad ruin any chance of that. So a label with the name of the photographer, and perhaps some EXIF data, might be nice.
There are four basic types of stories, all targeted toward the interested amateur. The feature "20 Questions" presents brief interviews with pros, that makes an interesting two-minute read for the uninitiated. It's a bit frustrating, though. For instance, when Harry Benson discusses his famous image of the Beatles' pillow fight, a link to or inclusion of the photo would have been really nice.… Read more