Photo Editing Terms 2 - D to I

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Dodging is making a section of a photo lighter.  When this is done in the darkroom, it's usually by blocking some of the light from reaching that part of the picture.  In a photo editing program, it's a paintbrush like tool that lightens instead of painting.

Downloading is the opposite of uploading.  Downloading means to pull data from another location.  Normally it means to get data from the Internet, but in digital photography, it also means to get the pictures from the camera.  Sometimes used interchangeably with Importing.

Most photo printers and monitors measure their resolution in Dots Per Inch, or DPI.  The higher the number, the higher the resolution.

EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image Format.  Most digital images have two parts.  The first is the image itself, which is usually stored as a JPG image.  The second is the EXIF data.  EXIF data most often includes all of the photographer's information, like the date and time the picture was taken and the shutter speed and aperture set at the time.

Flipping an image is the same as reflecting it in a mirror.  Flipping is one of the basic image editing tools.

Technically speaking, a spectrum of gray shades from black to white.  A grayscale picture is the digital equivalent of a black and white photo.

The Highlights are the whitest part of a picture.  Normally, they are a very small percentage of the picture, because it's very easy to lose details in highlights.

A Histogram is a chart that graphs all of the tones in a photo.  Most programs will generate histograms, and most digital cameras can create them also.

Image File Format
The format of an image file determines the size of the file, the overall image quality, and several other things.  Common image file formats are JPG, GIF, TIFF, and PNG.

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Photo chopping involves using a photo editing program to edit a picture.  It's regarded by many as a visual parody, though some people feel it isn't much better than copyright infringement.  Photochopping is photo fakery, but the goal is humor, and not outright fraud.

In general, the goal of photo chopping is to produce a visual joke of some sort.  This could involve changing a product cover (like changing the Coca Cola label from "Coke" to "Croak" or inventing Jalapeno flavored baby food jars), adding elements to a picture (like people who weren't there or items that change the meaning of the picture), or even distorting a familiar image so that it's recognizable but different.

Since the idea is to change an existing photo, most photochopping projects don't involve creating anything from scratch.  The main focus is on merging existing images or making changes to recognizable ones.

Photochopping isn't the original name, of course.  Originally, it was called "Photoshopping," but the people who enjoy it have changed the name to avoid receiving angry letters and emails from Adobe.  Of course, it's still pretty easy to find websites that still use the original name.

Several famous (or infamous) images sent around as email jokes originally started out as photochopped images.  One, showing a historical supercomputer complete with steering wheel, and another, showing a shark apparently attacking a helicopter, were both good enough to fool quite a few people.

Some websites sponsor photochopping contests.  The site sponsor will post an original picture, as well as any rules or restrictions.  The entrants are then given a set amount of time to return their submissions, and the prize goes to the best image that stays within the rules.  Some sites even take the concept further, with "Tennis" matches, where people take turns making further a series of changes to the picture.

Online Photo Editors
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Let's say you're on vacation.  You've just taken a fantastic picture with your brand-new SupraUltraMax 18 megapixel camera, and you want to ship it home to all your friends and family.  You find an internet cafe in the middle of a foreign country, pull the chip from your camera, and get ready to email it home--and that's when you discover that your terrific new camera stores terrifically large images.  There's no way you can email a twenty-seven megabyte image back home.  What's worse, this Internet Cafe computer doesn't have any image-editing programs on it, so you can't find any way to crop or compress the image, either.  Are you stuck waiting until you get home to share your images?

Not necessarily.

With the rise of broadband, several websites have popped up on the 'net offering the ability to upload and edit pictures right there on the website.

Phixr is regarded as one of the better online editors.  They have a wide variety of tools available, like Red Eye removal, Sepia conversion, OCR recognition, and Borders.  They also have third-party agreements with such websites as Costco, Flickr, and Livejournal, allowing you to edit your photo online and immediately upload it to the other site.  However, Phixr is not a storage site--they remove all pictures about three hours after editing is done.

PXN8 (think license plate, it's pronounced Pixenate) has a feature called Bookmarklet that speeds up image loading.  An image can be uploaded and opened in PXN8 with two mouse clicks.  It has a wide variety of features and abilities, and is a favorite of reviewers because of the speed and ease of workflow.

Pixoh has one of the best interfaces of all the onlie photo editors, and one of the largest filesize limits (it will allow you to edit images up to ten megabytes in size).  Unfortunately, so far it only offers a few basic features, like rotate and resize.

Free Photo Editing Software
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Are there any cheaper alternatives to Adobe Photoshop CS2's steep price?

There are a handful of products in the under-$100 price range, with products available from Adobe, Corel, and even Microsoft.  But, there are also a variety of programs available in an even lower price range--free!  Freeware programs (where the owner has released the program for download without payment) and open-source programs (where the programmer has released the code to the program for others to expand upon) are both available on the Internet for anyone who wants to take the time to look for them.

At the top of the list of free image editors is the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP.  Originally designed for Unix, GIMP is free shareware and is open source--which means programmers can add features without having to wait for a parent company to upgrade the program.  GIMP has a variety of filters, effects, tools and abilities, and some reviewers compare it favorably to Photoshop CS2.  Installation is a bit of work, since there are two install files.  And unlike other downloadable shareware or freeware programs, there are no spyware or adware programs bundled with the Gimp.

Google's Picasa program rates highly.  However, Picasa is focused more towards organizing images as opposed to editing them, so it's nowhere near the power of a Photoshop or a GIMP.  However, it still has a selection of image tools, like color correction and red eye repair.

There are other open-source or free image editing programs available.  Paint.NET is an image editor written in C#.  Pixia was originally designed for the anime (Japanese animation) community.  And OpenCanvas was originally designed as a sketch program for drawing tablets--it will remember the sketch, stroke by stroke, and will even turn the sketch into an animation that shows how the item was drawn, line by line.

History - Photoshop
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Adobe Photoshop is the market leader in photo editing software.  Originally designed by John and Thomas Knoll in 1987 for the Macintosh, the program has grown into the industry standard for computer graphics today.  Many of the most well-known features of graphics programs in use today were originally pioneered by the Photoshop system. 

The first full release of Photoshop was under the Knoll Software name, before they completed their partnership with Adobe.  The first edition of Photoshop, including the manual, fit on an 800k floppy disk with room left over.  The Macintosh computer was the only place you could run Photoshop, from the first release in 1990 until version 2.5 was finally released for the PC world in 1992.

One of the real power features of Photoshop has been modular design.  The programmers wanted to be able to make changes without altering the core engine, and along the way, they opened the ability to create filters and add-on modu0les that greatly expanded the power of the program.

Photoshop continued to add new features and power over the years.  Layers were added to the program in 1994.  Macros and adjustment layers arrived in 1996.  1998 saw the invention of the Magnetic Lasso and the addition of the History palette, which allowed for undoing several actions, not just one.  The Healing Brush, a powerful cloning tool, was added to the lineup in 2002, as well as the first support for the RAW format.

Version CS2, released in 2005, has a variety of new feature, including red-eye correction, lens correction, HDR support, and the latest revision of support for the RAW format.

Photoshop is so well known that it's name became a verb, much like Google has done.  However, since Adobe would like to protect the copyright on Photoshop, many websites have slightly changed the phrase to "photochop" instead.

White Balance and Color Cast

Light has color.

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Most people don't realize what difference light sources make in photography until they see the results--and then wonder why the picture looks absolutely nothing like what they remember pointing the camera at. 

Light of various temperatures is associated with a temperature in Kelvin.  For example, a candle is about 1500 K, a standard light bulb about 3400 K, and the flash on your camera about 5600 K.  Light from a sunset, for example, is a rich golden yellow.  Light from flourescent bulbs actually shows up as purple in some photos!  If you really want your subjects to look like people and not refugees from a planet of purple-skinned strangers, you'll need to keep White Balance in mind.

White Balance is an automatic setting on most digital cameras to account for these adjustments in light sources.  Cameras come with a variety of pre-programmed settings.  The camera recognizes that if the setting is for flourescent bulbs, then "white" is actually going to look "purple."  It will find an example in the frame that it thinks is supposed to be white, and adjust the spectrum for the picture accordingly.  Then the picture will turn out with the colors that people expect to see.  Unless your picture has wide areas of just one color, it's generally safe to let the camera decide the white balance automatically.

But, if your camera didn't do the white balancing job correctly, then you'll get purple-people syndrome, and you'll have to use your photo-editing program to make up for what the camera missed.  Most programs have some sort of color balance control, and the majority of them work the same way the camera was supposed to.  Select a point in the picture that was supposed to be white, and the computer will then adjust the entire color spectrum of the picture approprately.  Presto, no more purple people.

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