Jewish World Review Jan. 9, 2003 / 6 Shevat 5763

New Adobe software organizes photos

By Mark Kellner | Adobe Corp.'s Photoshop is, arguably, the "gold standard" for editing and manipulating digital photographs. It offers tools for improving the way photographs look, and you can convert a digital image into any of a variety of formats.

The bad news, for most of us, is that a copy of the full version of Photoshop 7, for use on a Windows PC, will set you back $599. For about one-twelfth of that price, however, you can get a program that offers some good tools and organizing techniques for all those digital photos you took during the holidays.

Although there have been - and are - a number of programs that will help organize images, the new Photoshop Album software goes the competition one better. It employs a sophisticated 'tagging' system to organize and find images, and leverages Photoshop's image enhancement technology to provide simple one-click picture editing.

One of the things that has dogged my use of digital cameras is the way those devices identify photos, using numbers and codes that could well be hieroglyphics, as noted here before. Now, once Photoshop Album finds photos, you can select a group of shots, tag them as "vacation," and that's how they can be found.

There's more, however, as users of the software will discover. You can tag photos for multiple criteria, such as the identity of people in those photos and groupings, and then search for photos matching those tags. There appear to be an unlimited number of tags you can add to a given photo; searching can be done on a large number of tags, as well. I've yet to see another program that accomplishes anything similar with such ease and, well, grace.

Another nice way of organizing photos: the program sets up a timeline/calendar whose days include images of a picture taken or filed on that day.

Fixing photos - as far as possible - is a challenge for many digital camera users. Photoshop Album offers a "one-click" solution to correct red-eye, balance colors, and adjust contrast and brightness. It can also work with Photoshop Elements, a subset of the larger Photoshop's tools, as well as with Photoshop itself. The nomenclature can be confusing, so here's an explanation: all three are stand-alone products, but Photoshop Album can work with the other two's features.

You've organized and fixed up your photos, how do you share them? Photoshop Album offers a couple of neat ways, including the creation of an "album," that uses the Adobe Acrobat PDF format, for which "readers" can be found on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms. These slideshows can also be printed with an inkjet printer or burned onto a CD for playing on a computer or on many DVD systems that can handle video CD discs.

You can order prints and other professional photo services from within the software, using direct, Internet-based links to online service providers, and an easy-to-follow wizard helps users create cards, calendars, albums, Web photo pages, and even 3D Web galleries with just a few mouse clicks.

All these options, it should be noted, are found in software that works easily and intuitively. You won't spend a long time learning to use Photoshop Album, but there's enough depth that you're likely to spend some time, happily, exploring the many capabilities that Photoshop Album offers. Being an Adobe product, it's well engineered and should perform admirably on most systems.

To run the software, you'll need a Pentium III class processor or equivalent and higher, Windows 98 or better, 128 MB of RAM, though I'd suggest at least double that, and 150 MB of available hard disk space. A web browser, color monitor, video card with 256-color display and at least 800-by-600 resolution, as well as a CD-ROM drive will round out what you need.

The software will be available in stores and online in February; more details can be found online at

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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