Take Notes Digitally

Mobile NoteTaker is a neat device for capturing handwriting and hand drawn illustrations.
Mobile NoteTaker is a portable handwriting capture device based on
natural handwriting as an input. Attach plain paper of any kind and use
the Pegasus electronic pen to capture, store and share handwritten
drawings, sketches, notes, and memos at meetings, lectures, and
conferences. Note that while it does not do hardwriting recognition
itself

Mobile NoteTaker has a built-in LCD to confirm input. The on-board flash memory can store between 50 to 100 pages (size A4).

The following are some of the things you can do with this device:

*    Send sketches, handwritten mails in any language writing directly into OUTLOOK.

*    Insert sketches, signatures, equations, notes into any MSOFFICE document.

*    Fill in forms, personal greeting cards and notes mail or save in dedicated files.

*    Save or distribute (Via LAN) your handwritten meeting notes.

*    Create Handwritten personal instant message using ICQ.

*    Add keywords and alarms to notes

*    Categorise and name notes

*    On screen Sticky Notes!

*    Edit any saved or new note including adding and changing line colours.

*    Pen uses a regular ink refill to write on regular paper up to A4 size.

*    Connect to Microsoft OneNOTE

*    All NotesTAKERS come STANDARD with comes with MyScript Notes!!.

When you have it connected to your PC (Windows only) you can also have
Microsoft Office XP perform handwriting recognition and turn your
writing into text.

Mobile
NoteTaker sells for $370 Australian or US$189. Getting the handwriting
recognition to work took me quite a bit of time. However, all the other
functions were up and working in minutes of opening the box. It works
very well. It has great potential for all sorts of users, from
capturing design ideas when out at a client office to the electronic
filling in of forms. The resolution is 100dpi. This makes it a bit low
for many purposes, plus it is only on or off sensing, not pressure
sensitive. However, even with all that I think this is a device with
some real potential. Given that people really need to try the device
because of its novelty, I suspect the device is a little over priced.
Still it does what it claims to do and does that extremely well, so it
is definitely worth a look.

www.tac-tik.com.au

www.pegatech.com

Photoflex MultiDisc 5 รข

Light reflectors are a great tool for good lighting.

Digital cameras have not removed the need for careful lighting. In fact
they have made life a lot easier by allowing you to check exactly how
the lighting is going to be seen by the camera.

One essential piece of lighting equipment is the reflector. Used to
bounce light into shadow areas to reduce contrast, they are ideal in
the field where using additional lights to achieve the same effect is
not possible. Photoflex make some great products, and the MultiDisc
5’n1 is definitely one of them.

The MultiDisc is a spring steel circular frame that comes with five
different covering surfaces: gold, soft gold, silver, white and
translucent. The MultiDisc folds up by twisting and then is zipped into
a small cover, making for a nice, compact item to carry and store. To
use, remove its cover, let it spring open and then choose the cover you
need.

The gold and soft gold offer an effective warming fill light. Silver
gives a stronger, more directional fill. White is a good, general fill
and translucent can be ideal for things like macro photography or
turning a harsh, point light source into a wide area one. They are
available in three sizes: 22″, 32″ and 42″. I’ve found the 32″ an ideal
all-rounder.

There is also a MultiDisc Kit, which features a 42″ (107 mm) MultiDisc
5’n1 reflector, LiteDisc Holder, and LiteStand, and Carry Bag. The only
reflector system with five reflective surfaces, MultiDisc uses
Photoflex’s proprietary double-laminated fabric. Fabrics included are
gold, soft gold, white, silver and translucent surfaces, and are housed
in an easy-to-use, zippered and handled Carry Bag.  The LiteDisc
Holder holds and positions the MultiDisc, rotating and swiveling for
precise positioning. Extending to 10’8″ (325 cm), the four-section
LiteStand 2218 offers maximum stability and security, with widened
footprint, reinforced brace supports, and thicker aluminum tubing than
its competitors.

The MultiDisc is a great product, well made and it goes its job well. Very highly recommended.

www.photoflex.com

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.

LPI
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 www.lonelyplanetimages.com.

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

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 www.corel.com

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
designs.

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 www.extensis.com

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 – www.alienskin.com

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
texture.

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!

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 – www.andromeda.com

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.



ScatterLight

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

This before and after shows one of many results.

This shots shows a coloured star-burst like effect.



Perspective

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.


Techtures

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.


VariFocus

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.

Viewfinder Australia Photo Library

Viewfinder Australia offer Australian images in CD collections.
Viewfinder Australia is a dinky-die Aussie group of photographers up in
Queensland. They currently have about eight CD collections available.
Each has 104 images, both as high resolution JPEG and medium resolution
CMYK TIFF. Viewfinder’s images are large – 30MB+ in RGB and are priced
at a level significantly lower than other CD ROMs of royalty free
photos.

They have announced the release of their latest collection of
royalty-free Australian Images “AUSTRALIAN FAUNA” on CD ROM. Featuring
the work of leading wildlife photographers, this CD ROM
contains 104 high-resolution images of selected Australian animals and
birds, many of which are now endangered. As with all of Viewfinders CD
ROMs, this is an industry product, aimed squarely at publishers and
graphic designers who want to have “ready to publish” at the highest
level of quality. All pictures are drum scanned on Viewfinder’s own
drum scanners at their Gold Coast studios. Viewfinder’s Greg Crow says
that “although this CD is somewhat specialised in its content, we know
that many designers are always looking for typical Australian pictures
such as those of frogs, birds, koalas and kangaroos  and this CD
contains all of these as well as more obscure and lesser known
creatures.”


Australian Fauna (Vol 4 of “The Australian Collection”) is available
from Viewfinder Australia Photo Library’s website www.viewfinder.com.au
at a cost of A$380.