Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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November 2003, Week 3 -- All Photos, All the Time



 PhotoImpact XL



   Five new photo editing programs came in for review in one fell swoop.   When the pile toppled over, two of them remained upright. We followed the fickle finger of fate. (Nah, we picked these.)

Ulead, we follow

  Ulead programs are killers in digital image editing, and the line that we have turned to most regularly and often over many years. All the images on our web site are edited and sized with Ulead's PhotoImpact and their latest version, "PhotoImpact XL," packs everything but the digital sink into one $90 package. I'm the sure the missing digital sink was just an oversight, after all, they did throw in the moon.


   Adding the moon to your photos is just one of hundreds of special effects. You can even select the phase of the moon. You can change the lighting of sky and subject to make it look like the photo was taken at night or in bright sunlight, in hazy light, in deep shadow, etc.


   Ulead has packaged four of their best programs into one box here. The effect is pretty seamless, so you don't easily realize you're traveling from one program to another. You can create animations, for instance, using "GIF Animator 5.0." These animations can be posted to the web.


   You can lay out and generate web ages from a choice of 2,600 custom components, optimizing images for fast downloading. Add Java script effects, like pop-up menus and rollovers (a "rollover" is an image change that occurs when you roll your mouse pointer over it). After you've done all that, the program writes the HTML code for you to post to the web.


   There are 300 animations ready for immediate use and a library of  2,000 photos and 1,000 vector images (a vector image can be resized without affecting its quality). You can spend hours with PhotoImpact XL without realizing it. This is tons of fun and lots of power. Check it out at


This place is made of adobe

 Photoshop Elements 2

   There are two new Adobe programs, but you can buy them as one.  "Photoshop Elements 2.0" and "Photoshop Album 2.0" can be bought for $99 and $49 respectively. Or you can buy them as  a package deal for $129.

  "Elements" is a heavy duty image editor but a better choice for beginners than PhotoImpact. It's a cut down version of Photoshop, Adobe's flagship product. But that one is around $500 and Elements is $99. For one-fifth the price, you get about 80 percent of the editing power. This is a great program. If you want a photo editor for home or office it's hard to beat.


   Elements takes care of the "most wanted" list. It removes "red eye," stitches together related shots to make a panorama, does "flash fill" to lighten dark and difficult to see areas of a photo, and add artist brushes effects, like oil painting strokes, or charcoal sketch. You can capture images from a still or video camera. You can add lettering on top or around any image and that lettering can be in a wild variety of styles, such as "neon glow," hollow type, rainbow type, and type curved into any shape.

 Photoshop Album


   That's a lot of editing action, but the program finishes with the two steps that are on everybody's "most wanted" list: e-mailing and printing. You can easily attach photos to any email message and if you want physical prints you can get more than one image to a page. This last solves a problem that wastes a lot of expensive photo paper in many other programs; you can print a 4x5-inch, two wallet size and two bookmark size photos all on one sheet of paper.

   Photoshop Album is the way you keep track of all those pictures. At $49 it's half the price of Photoshop Elements and has quite a few image editing tools on its own.

   But Album's primary purpose is storing images and then being able to find them again quickly. Pick a picture and you can easily email it, print multiple copies on one sheet, or make calendars and photo books.



 femme digital



   "Femme Digitale: Perfecting the Female Form on Your Computer," by Michael Burns; $30, Watson-Guptill Publications

   This book is so racy we blush to include it in a family publication, but these are modern times. The lavish use of full color illustrations has become a signature of Watson-Guptill publications. And its use here fits modern times very well because of the enormous popularity of lady warriors in video games; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, for instance. If you're a would-be game creator, there are lots of tips on how to create female game figures.

   The lavish use of color plates prompted us to check up on where this book was printed, which turned out to be China . Not too surprising, since the high cost of color plates has made their use increasingly rare in books printed in the U.S.


Kid stuff


  "NBA Backyard Basketball," from Atari, continues the enormously popular "backyard" series of sports games for children. These are the best sports game we've ever seen for young players and they're a big hit with a wide age group of around 6-16. Here the game players can adopt the identities of famous stars when they were children. For Win 98 and up

NOTE: Readers can search six years worth of past columns on our web site: You can e-mail Bob or Joy Schwabach at or