Plugin Newsletter - July 2003
FOCALBLADE 1.0 - OUR NEW SHARPENING PLUGIN
COLORWASHER 1.02 UPDATE
COLUMN IN THE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE
THE DISCUSSION FORUMS: Drawing FX, Cropping Photos, Unsharp Mask, Photoshop 8, Poster Edges, Halftone, Tartans, Paint FX
POLL RESULTS: Which is your favorite image viewer?
NEW POLL: Which of these commercial plugins do you use?
FREE PLUGINS AND TOOLS: Rosenman's Pinch, Flaming Pear Freebies, fnord xMeta, Hidden Power, Actions, Fisheye Viewer, DeFish
GRAPHICS NEWS: AV Bros, Kodak, Human Software, Extensis, NewTek, FixerLabs, Panotools
PRODUCTS FROM THE PLUGIN SITE
ABOUT THE PLUGIN SITE
We just finished the second plugin in our PhotoWiz called FocalBlade. From what you noticed many people don't seem to know how much sharpening to apply to their photo. The standard Unsharp Mask tool that is available in almost very photo editing application makes the problem even worse by confusing too many beginners. Additionally it has severe side-effects and its sliders don't really do what they should. So more than three months ago I decided that it was time for developing a sharpening tools with a convenient and effective automatic sharpening feature and doesn't have the annoying effects of Unsharp Mask.
Another nice thing that happened is that I was asked to write a monthly column for the new Digital Photography magazine. It is quite a challenge to write reviews about photo correction and effects plugins when you are restricted to limited number of words. I was also pleased to see that they used my name in the column's title and also added my photo.
You will find more details about FocalBlade and my column below, as well as the latest news, chat and tools from the plugin scene.
Wishing you nice summer holidays,
FOCALBLADE 1.0 - OUR NEW SHARPENING PLUGIN
We have just released the second plugin called FocalBlade in our PhotoWiz series of photo correction plugins. FocalBlade lets you sharpen your photos for screen display and printing as well as produce great looking blur, soft focus and glow effects. It is a Photoshop-compatible plugin, which can be used in dozens of graphics applications including Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, PhotoImpact, Photo-Paint, Fireworks and Photoshop Elements and many others. It works with 8bit and 16bit RGB images.
FocalBlade features a range of automatic, semiautomatic and manual tools for sharpening photos. It is very easy to use as it offers interactive explanations for each feature, incorporates modes for various tasks (including a Novice Mode) and detailed step-by-step instructions in the manual. With FocalBlade you can sharpen photos quickly and also batch process images in Cloak mode. Moreover, FocalBlade offers many options for creating blur, soft focus and glow effects as well as for deblurring photos that are highly blurred.
For more information, visual examples of its abilities and for downloading a demo version please go to
COLORWASHER 1.02 UPDATE
Version 1.02 of ColorWasher offers a few smaller fixes and a new feature. The new Chroma check box lets you keep the chromacity constant when adjusting contrast, exposure, highlights, midtones and shadows. Activating this feature can help producing better results in some cases. Additionally a small memory leak was fixed and the version number is now displayed directly on the filter menu.
ColorWasher is a plugin for correcting the colors, the contrast and the exposure of photos. Its revolutionary algorithms help you to turn even the worst photo into a delightful visual experience. You can check the new 1.02 demo version, which now applies the effect to the image with a white pattern as a demo protection.
COLUMN IN THE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE
I was recently invited to write a two-page column in the Digital Photography (DPT) magazine from Future Publishing UK. The column is called "Harald Heim's Essential Plug-Ins" and deals with various categories of plugins related to photo correction every month. Here's a list of the topics of my current and future columns:
Issue 1 - July 2003: Color Correction Plugins
Issue 2 - August 2003: Brightness & Contrast Correction Plugins
Issue 3 - September 2003: Lighting Plugins
Issue 4 - October 2003: Color Effect Plugins
Issue 5 - November 2003: Sharpening Plugins
I'm sure you will like the magazine, because it features a lot of useful tips on producing certain effects and correcting your photos. You can view PDFs of the content pages of issue 1 as well as subscribe yourself to the DPT magazine online at
THE DISCUSSION FORUMS
Here are the latest posts from The Plugin Site Discussion Forums:
Grizzt asks "Any pluggins to change pictures to look like drawing picture to photoshop? Please help me out"
trout wrote "Hi, I have a 3.2 megapixel camera and like to crop certain parts of my highest resolution pictures. However, I obviously lose quality the smaller down I go. Is there a plugin that can help me with this problem, or do I just need a higher resolution camera? Thanks."
Drog wrote "One Unsharp Mask technique I love is done using a high radius (40-60 or so) with a low amount (15-30). This technique removes haze and, according to Michael Reichmann of luminous-landscape.com, improves dynamic range ..."
thatguy8 wrote "who has any word on the cool new features in photoshop 8? the mac review sites imply that it might not initially be offered on the Intel platform. what say you?"
Anne54 wrote "I use a very old version of Photoshop. I love it and have augmented the limitations with lots of 3rd party filters. I need a plugin that does what PS7 artistic filter "poster edges" does. Something similar to that. Does anyone know where I can find one? Free or not too expensive."
testcd asks "I produce illustrations for newspapers and would like top add halftones for shading, etc. Is there an easy way to do this in Photoshop?"
rachnasingh asks "Any plugin avbailable to make tartans / checks like we could do it in painter by fractal design. metacreation"
efi asks "were can i find freeware paint effect filter?"
For more discussions and comments please visit
Our previous poll about your favorite image viewer with 450 votes is terminated now. Here are the results:
1. IrfanView 33%
2. ACDSee 23%
3. Paint Shop Pro Album 8%
4. Other 7%
5. Photoshop Album 6%
6. Thumbs Plus 4%
7. iView 3%
8. Ulead Photo Explorer 2.5%
9. VuePrint Pro 2%
10. XnView 2%
Three years ago the same poll produced similar results with the difference that ACDSee was number 1 and IrfanView on the second place. Additionally PSP Album and Photoshop Album were not available at that time.
For older poll results please visit:
I picked 26 special effects plugin products from the plugin companies that you chose as your favorite ones in a previous poll. I compiled them into a poll with the question "Which of these commercial plugins do you use?". The aim of this poll is to see how widely these plugins are spread among plugin users, so you are allowed to make multiple selections.
Please cast your votes at the bottom of the main page at
FREE PLUGINS AND TOOLS
Richard Rosenman has extended his free filter collection (for Windows) with a new plugin called Pinch. You will probably already know this effect from Photoshop or PSP, but this plugin lets you adjust the vertical and horizontal intensity of the pinch effect independently.
Four new plugins were recently added to the Flaming Pear Freebies (for Win/Mac): Kyoto Color changes color using a special HSL color space that produces more life-like results for massive hue changes. Anaglyph Flip exchanges the left-eye and right-eye channels in red/cyan anaglyphic 3D pictures. RGB->HSL converts a normal RGB image to HSL color mode while still staying in RGB space. The color will look bizarre, but it allows you to edit the HSL channels separately. HSL->RGB converts the image back to RGB space when you have finished. All of these plugins have no dialog and controls, so they are immediately applied to the image.
fnord offers the free xMeta package (for Macintosh), a set of three simple plugins for exporting metadata from Photoshop in raw binary form. It can export ICC Profiles, EXIF camera data and IPTC press information. ICC Profiles are of particular interest, as they can be added to the ColorSync profiles folder.
Hidden Power Actions III add-on (for Win/Mac) lets you play back Photoshop actions in Photoshop Elements. 87 actions are already pre-installed. The same author also offers the Extra Elements 2 package of add-ons for Photoshop Elements.
The fieldOfView Fisheye Viewer is a free tool (for Windows & Macintosh) for quickly reviewing or inspecting single fisheye shots. The viewer can offer an almost instant impression of what the final panorama will be like and what will be visible in the panorama. It wraps the fisheye image to a piece of geometry and renders the image from a virtual camera perspective. However, it isn't very easy to use, because it requires to manually edit a configuration file. Additionally if you want to display images you can only do that by dropping them on the Fisheye Viewer icon on your desktop.
DeFish (for Macintosh) is a tool for creating environment maps from fisheye photos. It lets you map fisheye images to hemicubes and cylinders for the creation of panoramic images.
Graphics News from Graphics.com:
AV Bros. Puzzle Pro 2.0 Jigsaw Puzzle Maker Plugin
This Win/Mac plugin is dedicated to letting you turn your images into jigsaw puzzles and provides a large number of features. A demo is available.
Kodak Introduces Mac Version of Digital GEM Plugin for Noise/Grain Reduction
Previously available only in a Windows version, Mac users can now take advantage of the Digital GEM plugin's automatic noise and grain reduction abilities. Demo available.
Human Software has updated this Windows/Mac plugin, which corrects pincushion and barrel distortions in digital photos, to now also work with grayscale and RGB 16-bit images. Now if they'd only provide a demo.
Extensis Launches pxl SmartScale for Precise Scaling of Photographic Images
Pigs don't have wings, but apparently you can use this Win/Mac plugin to scale your images "up to 1600% with no discernable loss in printed quality". The demo will reveal all.
NewTek, Inc., Releases Third Free Texture Collection
The latest collection contains 50 high-resolution JPG (1,600 by 1,200 pixel) textures, available for free download. Thanks, NewTek.
Panotool Panorama Correction Plugins Updated
Now available for OS X, the five Panotools plugins include the new LensFix and the original Panotools plugins Correct, Remap, Adjust and Perspective. Win/Mac demos are available.
FixerLabs NoiseFixer 1.0 Plugin
There's simply a flood of plugins to remove noise or graininess from your images. This one is modestly priced and Win/Mac demos are available.
SpiroMaker 1.5 Plugin
You probably have nothing better to do than to create spirograph-type images in Photoshop, right? Well, Human Software hopes so, judging from this Win/Mac plugin. As always, no demo is available from the developer. Hmph.
For daily graphics news updates, visit