Images for a Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Images is a right’s preserved photo stock library.
Stock agencies, as opposed to royalty free CD companies, sell
individual images. The price often depends on end use. Most provide
both on-line image search facilities and the ability to phone someone,
describe the sort of shot you are after and have them do the searching
for you.

Lonely Planet Images

Anyone who travels knows of Lonely Planet, the company that makes some
of the best travel information guides around.  Lonely Planet
itself, in its publications, uses about 10,000 images a year. Initially
serving in-house use predominantly, Lonely Planet Images is a full
service stock photography agency with 23 employees and offices in three
countries: Melbourne, London and San Francisco.

LPI is what is often called a niche or boutique stock agency. It only
covers travel images, though naturally these end up including a fair
bit of lifestyle content as well. LPI currently has over 150,000 images
available for on-line ordering and download. It is adding around 600 to
800 images a week and represents over 400 photographers, the largest
group of which is Americans. Interestingly, only 25% of these
photographers work full time on travel. For the rest it is only part of
what they do.

LPI is fairly typical of most stock agencies in what photographers must
do to be represented. An initial contact has a set of guidelines sent
to the photographer who must them submit 500 original slides, with a
minimum of 50 from any country. If 10% or more of the images are
accepted, the photographer will then be offered a five-year contract.
LPI only requires image exclusivity, meaning the particular images they
accept can’t be used elsewhere. Most photographers will have other work
with one or more other stock agencies. LPI is usually approached by one
new photographer a week, with only about one in twenty being accepted
now. This is because they have so many good images now that the quality
bar is constantly rising. LPI pays a flat 50% commission on sales,
irrespective of which sales office makes the sale. This is better than
many of the bigger players.

works hard with its photographers to help them supply the sorts of
images that will sell. Regular newsletters to the photographers inform
them of the currently heavily needed topics and shot lists of exactly
what sorts of shots to supply. Being a small stock library it still has
the personal touch with its photographers, something that many stock
photographers complain is missing from the larger agencies. Because LPI
mainly supplies images for editorial use, where model releases of
people in the images is not required, LPI do not insist that all images
be model released. However, they do encourage it where possible,
because of growing advertising use of their library.

Clients can order images off the web site that has full e-commerce
facilities. It has good on-line search facilities and LPI puts a lot of
effort into noting keywords for images to make them easy to find.
Interestingly around 50% of clients still prefer to ring and speak to a
person. This seems to be partly because people are so busy these days
and partly so they can negotiate on price.

Lonely Planet Images is an excellent stock library, both for the photographers and for the image users. It can be found at

Images in this article kindly supplied by LPI to the author for use in this article. All rights reserved by LPI.

Profile â

Chris Barnaby does abstract digital art with a definite spiritual aspect.

Chris Barnaby first came to my attention through the International
Digital Art Awards. Since then we have been communicating and
discovered a lot in common. Chris is one of those really nice guys that
you sometimes luckily come across. Very serious about his art, he is a
deep thinker, which is reflected in his work.

Chris has been an artist during entire life. He started exploring
digital art back in the dim, dark days of the beginning of the home
computer age with many systems, a favorite being the commodore 64 and
Amiga computer. He created a computer artwork for his higher school
certificate in 1986. He completed an associate diploma in fine arts at
TAFE whilst exploring the possibilities of the video medium. He then
went on to art school at university but dropped out after one year due
to a stifling educational system. Chris found it was based around the
intellectualization of art rather than the practical creation of art
and enhancement of self-understanding through expression. Whilst a
tertiary education in art suits and helps some people, there are
certainly others, like Chris, that find it the totally wrong
environment to help their creativity. It is summed up in Chris’ saying,
“I want to create art history rather than theorize about it!”. So he
set about a process of self exploration and self learning.

In between the art, Chris was a programmer/analyst that worked in the
creation of artificially intelligent databases. He is currently the
curator for He uses most standard software packages. He
became a Master in Neuro Linguistic Programming and enjoys using his
hypnosis skills in the creation of his art through trancework. He
creates his art for the purpose of self pleasure and to explore the
technological medium in the rendering of experience/s of ‘the other’.
He is inspired by his experiences of ‘the other’ and the subsoncsious
mind through transcendent states of consciousness accessed via the use
of psychedelics, trance work, self-hypnosis, trance dance, meditation,
sleep deprivation, dreamwork, fasting, and overall… his intimate and
almost personal belief in his connection with spiritual aspects of

Chris defines his beliefs as: “I have a sincere belief in the
connectedness of everything. I believe that we are all part of the
creation of ‘God/dess’ and that this creation speaks to its people
through events, through art of all forms and personal experience. If
you look back on your life you will see that it has been a path that is
quite obvious. If you think also of all the small things that made you
make the choices you made to get to where you are now you will clearly
see that you have been guided. Guided by what? I personally believe
that the guide is God/dess or Spirit and this being has a hand in every
event no matter how small. I also believe that this being will
represent itself in any way that it can in this dimension and will
appear in many forms. The most unusual that has been in the past was
the Christian form of Jesus… the most modern form of this ‘other’ is
the U.F.O. and extraterrestrials. Whilst humanity further allows itself
to believe in a separation of itself from Spirit, the ‘alien other’
will appear in whatever form is necessary to ‘shake up’ our
sensibilities and allow for an experience or understanding that has to
include this Spiritual part of ourselves. We are at a time in history
where we are about to be born as a new form of consciousness. What form
this consciousness will take I have no idea of except that it will
include all being and all beings everywhere in all dimensions. My art
is a reflection of these beliefs… an honest approach at allowing the
opening of a dialogue between our selves and what we believe to be the
alien other. I believe in time we will clearly see that this “alien
other” is nothing but another aspect of our all powerful and
multidimensional selves and that we are fundamentally a creation of

Chris’ Creative Process

All of my current works start from what I call a ‘primitive’ that I
generate using a 3d program. My favorite program, at the moment for
this, is ZBrush as it is quick and fast. I have toyed with the idea of
the creation of these works in an animated and also 3dVR space. The
technology at the moment seems a little limited in what I am able to

present and express. I use a Pentium 4 – 1.6Ghz with 500MB of memory, a
Wacom tablet and output via Kodak Lambda printer at a pro photo lab on
metallic gloss paper.

My creative process is closely related to my philosophy of life which
has been with me in a kernal form from birth and then strengthened from
the experiences I have gained confirming this understanding as I live.
I firmly believe that we are all equal; ‘as above so below’ and in this
belief I form my art. My experiences throughout life have not only
confirmed this identity forming understanding, but also inform my
creative process in many ways.

I know that when I start a work it will have only the essence of the
original idea that spawned it. I prefer to keep with going with the
flow of the universe and the artwork as it happens. I know when I
create a work that my creativity will be influenced by ‘errors’ and
‘serendipity’ and I allow for this to be able to discover new ways of
representing the ideas that seem to have a need to be expressed through
my self. If I come across a new way of doing my work by accident I
always save the work at this point to be able to explore that idea
fully in other works. I sometimes develop the ‘accidental’ work to see
where it leads.

Sometimes just play with digital images and something appears other
times I start with an idea. In this instance I start with an idea that
is niggling at me to be expressed. In this instance I have been
regularly harassed by the ‘other’ to express my dreams in which the
‘other’ side of reality appears as UFO’s, UFO like objects and
extraterrestrial forms. If you look at my artworks carefully this
‘alien other’ theme has quite a strong and familiar presence to them…
this time I will be playing with the idea of a craft that represented
themselves in in one of my recent dreams

Audacity was a spin off for an album
cover that I did for a local band. The requirements for a front cover
image was that it encompass the ideas of the artist which included
their belief in magic in the city. I created this from those ideas and
the album cover features a similar ‘early’ version of this same work.
This is the completed work.

This work is designed to evoke and
emotional response with its flowing forms and colour and I believe it
does so quite successfully when seen printed full size.

This was one of my earliest works
that I did that I started to show people. I had in mind the bubbling
forms of the psychedelic waterworld when I created this. This work wa
also featured on the cover of the Heffter Review of Pyschedelic
Research journal.

I am quite obsessed with the cross
image and this work is again something I have seen inside of me whilst
I have been doing deep inner work and meditation. This is again looking
at the base  side of the generator for all of this dimension. It
appears in many forms and colours although always like a cross.

This world is reminiscent of the
experiences to be had by psychonauts when under the influence of
psilcybian mushrooms. I have personally experienced places and beings
like these and was amazed the day that I was able to finally capture
some of them for exhibit.

Thought Patterns is more of a dream
related work as I sometimes dream in colours and shapes. This work
reflects this dreaming and allows you to view it intimately and dream
along with it.

APC Power Protection

Uninterruptable power supplies are essential for anyone doing essential work on their computers.
In far northern Queensland, in Australia, power problems are a regular
part of life. The region’s tropical weather patterns, including heavy
rainfalls, lightening strikes and cyclonic winds wreak havoc on
overhead power lines, causing numerous blackouts and surges. That’s why
Cairns-based freelance photographer, John Bujack, relies on a 500VA APC
Back-UPS to keep his home computer system protected against unreliable

A qualified communications technician (Royal Australian Air Force
trained) for 30 years, John has been a photographer for the past 22
years. His photographs have been published in a range of well-known
Australian and overseas publications. Since photographic negatives and
transparencies deteriorate over time, especially in high humidity, he
acquired his computer system three years ago to ensure the longevity of
his work. John is currently converting his collection of photographs
into digital form and storing them onto CD-ROM disks. To undertake this
process, he uses a high-speed home-built computer with four hard
drives, a 21″ monitor, a 17″ monitor, plus the latest, top-of-the-line
Epson scanner and an Epson A3 size photo printer.

“I can’t afford to have a power interruption. Even a momentary rise or
fall in the voltage will corrupt my photographs when I am saving them.
In addition, my equipment is so valuable. I simply can’t afford to have
it destroyed by a surge,” explains John.

John first learned about the importance of power protection through the
unfortunate experience of a friend, who lost all his equipment to a
power surge.

“A friend of mine was doing a lot of consulting work on his computer
when a strong wind storm bought down one of those higher voltage power
lines onto a 240V power line. This not only burnt out the nearby
transformer block, but also sent a 1200V surge through all the local AC
power lines. My friend had a whole heap of material on his hard drive
and he lost the lot. The surge destroyed all his equipment – not just
the data but also the hardware itself.”

When it came time to acquire a computer for his photography business,
John made sure that he invested in a UPS. To select the right UPS for
his needs, John researched all the possible alternatives. Due to his
lifelong involvement in electronics, John first heard of APC through
advertisements in magazines like PC World and Australian Computer
Magazine. After carefully reviewing APC product brochures as well as
other brands, he made the decision to go with APC.

“I’m one of those people who doesn’t buy until I have read and read
everything I can about the product. APC just stood out as the best.
Everything else looked like a Mickey Mouse Meccano set,” laughs John.
The well-designed form factor of the Back-UPS, which has enough outlets
to protect all his equipment, was a particularly impressive feature.
Adds John, “Unlike other brands, APC Back-UPS just looked like it could
do its job.” Since all different kinds of power problems occur in
Cairns, John was also impressed by the ability of the Back-UPS to
provide battery back up as well as surge suppression. The Back-UPS
includes “surge only” outlets that offer protection for non-data
sensitive equipment like scanners and printers without reducing the
unit’s available power or battery capacity. This helps to maximize
battery power for equipment that needs it most like a computer and

For John, having an APC Back-UPS connected to his computer provides
peace of mind, as it ensures he will never lose all his expensive
equipment to a power surge like his friend did. His Back-UPS unit also
allows him to study, and experiment with, the workings of Linux without
any disruptions from unexpected blackouts. Back-UPS is compatible with
and endorsed by all leading operating systems, allowing users to freely
employ the system of their choice. This feature helps John stay
protected as he moves from a Windows to Linux system.

John firmly believes that an APC Back-UPS is an integral component of any PC system.

“Anybody who has a computer needs an APC Back-UPS. A UPS is an
essential part of a computer. It’s not an option or simply a bit of
insurance or something to consider. People should see a Back-UPS in the
same light as a PC itself. If you are going to buy a computer you need
to buy a Back-UPS as well. This point cannot be stressed enough.”

As his home PC system grows, John is contemplating upgrading to a 650VA
UPS. He has been so happy with his Back-UPS he is considering using
APC’s Trade-UPS program. This will allow him to trade in his old unit
for a new unit of his choice, while receiving an important rebate.

Your editor also uses an APC Back-UPS Pro. The lights can flicker or
even go out and you never loose any critical work. There are many good
uninterruptible power supplies around, though like John, I spent my
money on an APC model. It has worked flawlessly for one and a half
years now. If you do serious computer work, they are worth the money.
Models are available for every need and to suit all the world’s power


Profile – Joel Seah – â

Joel Seah is a printmaker who is making full use of the potentials offered by the digital domain.

Growing up in a Chinese family in Singapore, where emphasis was placed
on occidental thought, Joel’s work has evolved as: “the ideal process
through which he can interrogate the dichotomies of Eastern and Western
that have shaped my outlook, both personally and artistically”.

Maiden Voyage

His knowledge of Chinese culture comes from research rather than first hand experience,

“I identify with the Chinese-American playwright David Henry Huang’s
observation that the paradox of being Chinese today means rediscovering
what it means to be Chinese today”, said Seah. However, it can also be
observed that the ethnicity in this statement may be substituted for
any other. The continuous displacement from and reconnection to the
sense of belonging is a journey that most people undergo, in one form
or another, in an increasingly globalized society. He realized it is
certainly not unique to being ethnically Chinese.


Joel is building a vocabulary of images and symbols that will allow him
to reconstruct this universal experience from what is particular and
specific to his own experience in “discovering what it means to be
Chinese today”. His studio practice has involved collecting found,
video taped and photographed images relating to the idea of Diaspora
from widely disparate sources, and then juxtaposing these images in
different contexts. By manipulating the images in this manner, Joel
reassesses through visual dialogue and interaction, their associated
meanings and their relation to the reconstructions of place and space.
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze states: “only that which is alike
differs and only differences are alike”. Joel’s work attempts to
redefine, rather than resolve, the disparities of identity difference.

Terra Firma

Formal training as a printmaker has influenced his exploration into
digital technologies including high resolution scanning, video capture,
digital image manipulation, as well as a variety of print output and
transfer methods. He explores ways in which these can be used to
reconstruct the process of documentation and memory as it pertains to
the ideas of immigration and dislocation. Translating and transforming
imagery through different media over a period of time conceptually
mimics the physical process of migration. Transporting imagery between
virtual and physical states, graphically and metaphorically maps the
changes that occur.

To this end, Joel has been particularly drawn to an Encad gelatin-coated paper
on which archival pigment dyes or vegetable dyes can be printed using
ink jet printers. The printed images on this paper are transient and
upon placing a receiving damp sheet of paper over the image on the
gelatin-coated paper, and running them through a printing press to
exert pressure, the image re-hydrates and transfers to the receiving
sheet. This monotype process allows the perceived sterile aesthetic of
digitally produced work to obtain a surface that is organic, tactile
and marked by human touch and accident. This allows Joel to print on
various fine art and specialty papers, like rice paper, that might not
directly go through the printer. It also introduces the chance
happenings that are so important in fine art printmaking, and also
makes each print individual.

“Still Waters” – Top is the original
digital file and below it the printed work.By using a transfer process
Joel creates a digital print will all the individuality and physicality
of any traditional fine art print. By working this way Joel can use
truly wonderful papers and away from the ‘clinical’ perfection of the
conventional digital print.

“In continuing to reconsider and confront my own perceptions towards
methodologies and attitudes in creating, I wish to pursue the ideas and
processes outlined in this statement as well as other questions that
emerge as I develop as an artist both critically and professionally”,
says Seah.

True North


Terra Nova

Introduction to 3D Modelling and Rendering, Part 2 â

An introduction to 3D for those new to it.
3D software offers many options in how we represent, and thus create,
the objects that go into our scenes.  In this part of the course
we examine basic object representations.

What Sorts of Objects

In most real scenes, the objects that we might want to
incorporate will be complex.  Unfortunately most 3D modellers and
renderers don’t support basic object types like ‘tree’, ‘car’, ‘person’
or ‘house’.  Such complex objects have to be created out of the
actual object types that the renderer supports.  The usual basic
objects types are flat objects, like planes and polygons, and 3D
objects like spheres, cylinders, cones, etc. Of course, you can also
obtain libraries of already created objects. Some 3D programs come with
lots of these, others few. There are web sites where people place free
‘models’ that you can download. There are also companies that
specialise in creating ‘models’ that you can buy.

Polygons, for reasons that will become clearer later in this series,
are the mainstay of most 3D modellers and renderers.  A polygon is
simply a shape made up of a number of straight lines, joined together
to define a closed shape.  The points that define the end of each
line are called a vertex.  Different programs allow variations on
the basic polygon.  Some programs require that polygons be totally
flat, that all the vertices lie in a flat plane.  Others allow
curved polygons.  Some require all polygons to have either three
or four sides.  Others allow you to construct polygons with
greater numbers of sides.  Many of these latter ones will actually
subdivide the polygon into three or four sided ones before rendering,
though this is usually hidden from the user.  One major advantage
of three sided polygons, triangles, is that they have to be flat. 
Only four sided or higher polygons can have some vertices not in the
same plane as the others.  A variation on the polygon that you
find in most 3D software is the infinite plane.  As its name
implies this plane is a flat surface that stretches off into
infinity.  Infinite planes are useful for things like water
levels, cloud layers, etc.

Polygons are defined by the x,y,z coordinates of their vertices. 
It is not unusual to be required to define the vertices of a polygon in
a particular order, such as clockwise or anticlockwise when looking at
the front face of the polygon.  Some software requires this to be
able to calculate the surface normal.  Surface normals are
incredibly important in 3D work as they are used to work out how much
light is hitting a surface, and thus it’s colour.  The surface
normal points up from the surface of the polygon.  Some software
treats polygons as single sided, other software as double sided. 
3D software that has single sided polygons will not display them if you
are looking at their back surface.  With such software if you want
a bowl, for example, you have to define polygons forming both the
inside and outside surfaces.  Software that uses double sided
polygons does not have this requirement, one layer of polygons can
represent both the inside, and outside surfaces, though this is not
natural, since the bowl walls would have no thickness.

Basic 3D objects, like spheres, cylinders, boxes and cones are also
incredibly useful.  We can construct planets from spheres and tree
trunks from cylinders, for instance.  Since these are the basic
forms used in the construction of most man-made, and many natural,
objects, they are indispensable.  Many programs, when you use one
of these, create the basic object at a standard size.  You can
then usually modify the object by stretching it into the form you
want.  Other programs allow you to stretch out the shape when you
insert it into the scene.  This stretching process allows you to
create oval footballs from a sphere, a rectangular building from a
square cube and a long spear from a squat cylinder.  Most software
gives you the choice of doing this either by typing in numbers or by
clicking and dragging.  This stage of modifying the shape of your
objects is usually much easy if you can easily switch between different
views of the object, like front, side and top, either through having
multiple views open at once or by switching views in the one window.

Boxes, spheres, cylinders, cones, polygons and text objects are the
basic construction components available in most 3D software, as shown
in this render done with Newtek’s Inspire 3D.  In some programs all
these objects are constructed out of polygons, in others they are
primitive objects that are rendered directly.  If you examine the edges
of the sphere and cone you can see that they are constructed out of

Creating Composite Objects

If all objects are treated as individual ones, you end up with a
heap of them to try to manage.  Since most basic objects will
actually be used to construct more complex objects it is useful to be
able to group objects together that form parts of a whole.  Thus
we might create an object ‘person’ with parts ‘head’, ‘body’, ‘arm1’,
‘arm2’, ‘leg1’ and ‘leg2’.  Then ‘leg1’ consists of ‘upper’,
‘lower’ and ‘foot’.  And so on.  Building up complex objects
out of hierarchies of other parts makes life a lot easier.  If you
want to move a whole object you can simply select the top level and
move it, knowing that all the component parts will move too. 
Otherwise you would have to separately select every component and move
them, and hope you didn’t forget some small parts.

Object hierarchies are most flexible when you can give names to each
component part.  Such hierarchies are also essential to making
character animation easier, as we will see later in the series. 
Some programs allow you to readily display object hierarchies in a
diagram form that shows the relationships between parts, similar to the
folder hierarchy views that most operating systems allow you to see for
navigation purposes.  Software that doesn’t do this is certainly
harder to use for some things.

This screen grab, from Ray Dream Studio, shows a cartoon bird and it’s
hierarchical construction.  Unfortunately too few programs provide this
sort of display.

Another type of object related to the above is a polygon mesh.  A
mesh is a set of polygons which are joined together to represent a
surface of some complexity.  A good example of this is the polygon
mesh that Bryce 3D uses to represent the shape of the landscape. 
The process of creating a polygon mesh usually does not require that
the user manually position each vertex of each polygon in t
mesh.  Various other convenient methods are available.  We’ll
examine these in later parts of the course.

This close-up of part of a bird model in Ray Dream Studio shows how this program tessellates spheres into polygonal meshes.

Why Are There Differences of Approach?

There are two choices the software developers have to make: what
primitive objects are to be supported; and what rendering method is to
be used?  These two questions are interrelated, as we shall see in
Part3 of the course.  The rendering method determines what actual
primitive objects the software works with to create images.  How
we want the user interface to be will determine what primitive objects
are available to the user.  For a number of reasons that we will
examine in the next part of the course, certain rendering techniques
can only actually support polygons, whilst others can actually handle
spheres, cylinders, etc.  So a program that has to use polygons
for rendering will convert a sphere into a polygonal approximation, in
a process called tessellation, before actually rendering an
image.  This creates more primitive objects to render but allows
the renderer to be highly optimised for the handling of polygons. 
A program which can directly support spheres, say, does not have to do
this conversion and thus renders fewer objects in your scene but
requires specialised program code for each object type it supports.

These internal differences in approach are what make some 3D packages
good for some types of work and others more suitable for others. 
Some will handle transparent objects superbly, other handle interior
lighting well, for example.  Some will make dealing with certain
types of objects easy, whereas others make those objects hard but
others easy.  It is for these reasons that many people working
with 3D software will use a number of packages for different parts of
the process.  Whilst this is certainly not necessary, it can be a
useful approach.  It’s the same as people using Painter for some
things and Photoshop for others, sometimes switching backwards and
forwards between the two.

The designers of 3D software have to make a complex set of choices
based on their priorities.  These choices lead to the differences
in single or double sided polygons, whether tessellation is done and
what types of rendering options are available, to pick just
three.  Some choices will speed up the execution of the program
whilst others will slow it down.  These tradeoffs account for the
huge variety that we encounter in 3D programs.

Another use for polygon meshes is to represent irregular objects, like this landscape in Bryce 3D.

The result of rendering after texture
and colour is applied looks so much more detailed and more natural than
the polygon mesh it is based on.  We’ll look at why this is so in
later parts of this course.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 3

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Corel and Extensis.


Corel has a major presence in the plug-in market and I feel they are a
company to watch in the future as I feel we have yet seen only a small
part of what this company is capable of. They have been very active
picking up promising products from other developers. They have done
good things with Painter and Bryce and have been very early supporters
of Mac OS X in terms of well done shipping product. They have two
plug-in products we have examined here.

KPT Effects

KPT is a suite of nine plug-ins that are fully Photoshop 7 compatible under OS X compatible.

Channel surfing interf and channel surfing – Channel Surfing allows you
to apply blur, contrast and sharpen effects to any or all of the RGB,
Luminance, Hue or Saturation channels.

Fluid allows you to readily move the image around and as you do
so it flows as if sitting on the surface of a fluid. It creates images
or animations.

FlaxFlame II creates certain types of fractal images.
These are potentially very useful as textures and in funky web site

Gradient Lab makes it easy to create very
complex gradients and colour blends. You have a huge amount of control.

Hyper Tiling makes it easy to create interesting tiling
effects from your images. Again very useful for generating textures for
arty images.

Ink Dropper creates the effect of liquid inks dropped onto glass or oil paints dropped into a pan of water.

Lightening generates quite realistic bolts of lighting.
This is probably best used to create material for you to layer up and
manipulate in Photoshop.

Pyramid Paint turns your images into paintings. Just please don’t call it fine art.

Knockout 2

KnockOut 2 is Corel’s selective masking tool. You trace around the
inside and outside areas of the object(s) you wish to separate from
their background. It works very well once you get used to the required
way of working.


Extensis is another big player in the plug-in stakes. Probably more
famous for their excellent Portfolio and Suitcase products, they have
had a long-term presence in the plug-in market.

Intellihance Pro

Intellihance Pro makes it easy to
simultaneously compare a number of adjustments to an image before
committing to any of them. You control how many variations you see and
you can individually set each variation. A very useful tool whether
going for a natural or stylised look.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 2

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Alien Skin.

Alien Skin Software –

Alien Skin Software do filter sets.

Eye Candy 4000

Eye Candy 4000  consists of 23 filters. Some will work on a whole
image, other only on a selection or partly transparent layer.

Corona puts a glow like the Sun’s Corona around a selection in your image. You have lots of control.

Chrome allows you to put a bevel on a selection and chrome it.

Fire does what you would think, it generates flames around a
selection. You have a lot of control here and you can generate some
good effects.

BevelBoss allows you to create bevels.

Marble generates good marble textures but since you have
control over colours you can actually generate any vaguely similar

Weave is really neat. It creates those woven photography looks.
By itself could be a bit cheesy but with addition work this could be
very effective.

Smoke is like Fire but creates smoke rising from a selection.

Xenoflex 1.0

Xenoflex contains 16 plug-ins for purely special effects purposes.

Shards is a potentially very useful filter that breaks an image up in a broken mirror type effect.

Crumple gives a squished up but then straightened out look to you images.

The Television filter adds scan lines, distortion and ghosting to
your image. You can control all these things and is just the filter to
help you incorporate fake TV images in your work.


Splat! is different from other Alien Skin products in that it applied
images stored in container files on your disk to your images. Splat!
already works in Photoshop 7 and Photo-PAINT 10 under Mac OS X. It
works very well.

 Border Stamp places images around the border of an image to form a sort of frame.

Edges places a variety of edge effects, from torn paper to process dots, around the edge of your image.

Frames puts a variety of picture frames around your image.

Patchwork examines your image and places a variety of
mosaics. You can choose from ASCII art, Cross-stitch, Light peg, Mod
and Tiles effects. Resurface gives you a huge variety of surface effects to apply to your images.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 1

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Andromeda.
In this series of articles we are going to look at a number of plug-ins that work
in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-PAINT, Corel Painter, etc. Note that
all these plug-ins work on Windows and on Mac OS up to 9.2 or Classic.
Most also work on Mac OS X. In the case of plug-in sets, we are
going to show examples of selected filters from each set of what we
considered the most interesting ones.

One problem for plug-in writers is that the software makers, like Corel
and Adobe, keep rolling a lot of functionality into new releases of the
software. This is great for us but frequently means that some filters
have a limited life. If you work with older versions of the main
programs look around for people with older filter sets they are willing
to sell as you can still get good use out of them.

Andromeda –

Andromeda produce a large number of filters designed for photographers
or to simulate photographic effects. Their filters seems to all be
focused on allowing the digital photographer to shoot and then later
apply effects as if they had shot through some photographic filter or
used some photographic technique, like selective focus. These work very
well. As to which ones you will find useful will depend on your
shooting habits.


The interface is pretty simple. You choose from a good
selection of effects and then can finetune each of these to suit

This before and after shows one of many results.

This shots shows a coloured star-burst like effect.


Perspective – As the name suggests this provides a very quick and easy
way to put your images at interesting angles and exaggerated
perspective. Of course you could do this in Photoshop with the free
transform option but not as quickly and easily.

So if you need to do a lot of this sort of manipulation this could be ideal.


As its name implies this filter helps you apply various
filters to the current layer. A wealth of pre-defined textures are
available and these can all be modified.

A techture applied to an image. The plug-in is a good way
to quickly generate texture to apply to all or part of an image.


For images that are too sharp overall the VariFocus
filter allows you to draw the viewer’s attention to just part of the
image by progressively blurring other parts.

VariFocus produces its most realistic effect on images
that contain objects at progressively greater distances from the
camera. However you can use it creatively in many ways.

Simple Lighting Equipment for Digital Photography – Tungsten Lighting

Good photography is often about good lighting and in all the noise about studio flash and advanced lighting the old favourite, tungsten, often gets forgotten.
With all the hype about studio flash and the built-in flash
capabilities of modern digital cameras there is little attention paid
to an old yet faithful technology, tungsten. Yet tungsten has much to
offer. It’s cheap, continuous and very flexible, plus you see exactly
what you get. With the rise of these other forms of lighting the number
of manuafcturers of decent tungsten lighting equipment has dropped. In
this article we will look at a couple of manufacturers, PhotoFlex and
Lowel. In addition to those discussed below there are also a vast
number of simple tungsten lighting reflectors and stands available at a
very cheap price. A couple of these will do great service and cost
little. In fact you can even do amazingly well with a couple of those
portable outdoor halogen lamps they sell at hardware stores.

Tungsten lighting was always a hastle with film because it is so much
redder in colour than daylight. Thus you needed to use filters, either
on the camera lens or over the light, to make the light bluer. Since
digital cameras can readily accomodate a wide range of lighting all the
restrictions are off. You no longer need filters. On some cameras the
auto whte balance will get it right. On others set the white balance
manually to tungsten or by pointing the camera at a pure shite card
illuminated by the lights. In other cases just do this. Setup a shot
under the lighting and place a Kodak Gray Scale available from most
good camera stores in the shot. In Photoshop, Photo-Paint or other
software use this shot to set the white, black and mid gray points to
generate a correction. Save this correction and just apply it to all
the other shots made under this lighting setup.

The PhotoFlex Digital Lighting Kit

Aimed at professionals and advanced amateurs using digital cameras,
PhotoFlex’s Digital Lighting Kit includes a medium sized SilverDome nxt
softbox, a Starlight 3200 tungsten light and a four-section lightstand.
Designed to provide soft even lighting ideal for product and portrait
photography, it remains very portable and readily folded up when not in
use. It works beautifully. This is a seriously nice bit of kit, as all
PhotoFlex products are. Take down and put up time is short. A number of
accessories can be used, including a grid. I found the medium-sized
softbox an ideal size for many purposes, being a good combination of
broad and diffuse with compact and easily handled.

Note that PhotoFlex also make a huge range of other lighting accessories. All are very well made and worth a look.

PhotoFlex’s Digital Lighting Kit offers a useful, compact and portable (when collapsed) diffuse light source.

Right – This shot was taken using simply the PhotoFlex Digital Lighting Kit almost overhead and a curved piece of mat board.


Lowel make a very large range of tungsten, halogen and flourescent
light fixtures and accessories. What stands out with Lowel is their
small yet rugged styling that makes them ideal for location work.

Lowel’s models of interest here include the Pro-light, which is a tiny
4.3″ x 5″ x 6.7″ focusable over a 5:1 range. It can take a range of
globes, both mains and low voltage, up to 250W. The V-light is another
tiny flood light that takes a 500W halogen tube. Both of these lights
must be used with transformers as they are 110V units. The following
ones are all stock items and work off of our 240V mains. The Tota-light
is quite compact and takes up to a 800W tube. The Tota/Omni light
offers a 6:1 focusing range, from a 12 degree spot to a 53 degree flood
and 500W globes. The DP Light goes up to 1000W and focuses over an 8:1
range. The Fren-L 650 System provides a Fresnel lens, focusing over an
8:1 range and taking up to a 650W globe. The Rifa-lite is a soft light
system in three sizes up to 1000W and 32″ x 32″ front size. Lastly the
softlight 2 system takes two 800W tubes in a 28″ x 24″ x 7″ unit that
offers a puchy yet soft light.

RIFAS – The Lowel RIFA provides a good diffuse light source in three different sizes at a great price.

DP on stand – The DP light offers a good strong tungsten light that can work with a range of accessories.

TOTA – The Tota light is a good flexible unit.

OMNI – The Omni is a very compact yet flexible light source with a range of accessories to modify the light.

Kodak Gray Scale – The Kodak Gray Scale is an essential tool for all
photographers. They come in several sizes and is an essential purchase.

Shooting Real Infra-Red With Digital Cameras

All digital cameras can shoot infrared shots with the use of a filter.

Infra-red film has been (and still is) quite widely used both in
scientific photography and in more creative forms of photography, where
both areas make use of the very different tonalities (and colours)
produced. What is not widely known is that most, if not all, digital
cameras are also sensitive to IR and can be used to produce monochrome
IR shots. This was not something I had really thought about until a
combination of things happened. Firstly I saw an ad for a Phase One
digital back containing a shot by New York based photographer Les
Jorgensen done with an IR filter. Secondly, there was a discussion in
the internet news group about shooting IR with
hobbiest level digital cameras. Both got me thinking.

Armed with the knowledge that it was possible, I set out to test it. Of
the three digital cameras I had access to at the time (we are talking
some time back), a Kodak DC210, an Agfa ePhoto 1280 and the then new
Kodak DCS520/Canon EOS 2000, all were IR sensitive. I tested this first
with the Kodak DC210 by shooting the little light emitting diode on the
end of my TV remote control while I had a button pressed. Since remotes
use IR this is a good, easy test. It worked, so I grabbed my Hoya R72
Infrared filter, camera and tripod and headed to the local park. What I
found was that the DC210 produced good results if some overexposure
compensation was dialed in. With the other two cameras mentioned the
autoexposure did not need adjustment.

The results will look shocking. It has a strong magenta shift and is
very flat. But that’s where the beauty of digital comes in, drag the
image into Photoshop or some similar program, change the image to
monochrome or grey scale mode and then do an Autolevel adjustment or
play with the curve to stretch the contrast. Depending on the camera
used, the result is either a grainy looking, arty image or a smooth and
fine grained image suitable for many purposes. Since most consumer
level cameras do not have filter threads just hold the filter over the
lens, including any exposure-metering window if there is one.

Since this first start I have tried it with every digital camera that I
have been testing, and all can produce IR images. With some cameras it
is better to use a strong red filter rather than one that blocks all
visible light but most work with an infrared filter. Note that
professional level cameras often have an IR filter installed in front
of the CCD to obtain better colour. Even with this installed you can
still shoot IR. Removing this filter simply allows you to shoot further
into the IR part of the spectrum, and with shorter exposures.

Shooting IR with a digital camera certainly beats doing it with film.
No loading and unloading the camera in the dark and guessing what your
results are. You can also happily mix IR with normal shots as needed.
Because it is so convenient it is surprising that little if anything
has been written about it. One possible source of confusion may be
that, I remember, when Kodak brought out their first DCS camera it was
available in Mono, colour and IR models, implying that only the IR
model was IR sensitive. Since I have yet to find a digital I couldn’t
shoot IR with, this is obviously a fallacy.

Shooting digital IR is a fun and very easy option to explore. Get out there and do it.

The straight, unmanipulated image shot with a Kodak DC210 camera and a Hoya IR filter. Doesn’t look much does it.

After conversion to monochrome and a contrast stretch the image is much more interesting.

A raw image taken with the Kodak DCS520 professional camera and the
Hoya IR filter. This was shot at an ISO setting of 200, f2.8 and 1/8
second exposure, which is +1 stop overexposed.

After conversion to mono and the application of Autolevels.

The Nikon Coolpix 950 can produce very lovely IR images. This was shot in mono mode and autolevels applied.

This is a straight, unmanipulated shot from the Nikon 950.

After autolevels the contrast range is much better.

The tonal range you can get is great, and it’s a lot easier than using IR film.

Here we have the shot straight from the camera which tends to be a bit flat.

The application of autolevels, as here, or using curves or contrast controls an improve the image significantly.

You don’t have to convert the images to monochrome.  Here we have
removed some of the colour cast so that the bright parts of the clouds
are white.  We then punched up the saturation using the
Image>Adjust>Hue/Saturation command to get an interesting,
false-colour image.