There’s about a billion programs out there that will help you fix up those bad holiday photos, but should you really need software to do that?
A new online photo editing site, Phixr.com doesn’t think so. Phixr offers most of the commonly used photo editing tools in an easy-to-use web interface. Phixr lets you upload and edit images right in your browser. You can adjust brightness and saturation, color, sharpen images, remove noise and of course, reduce the dreaded red eye problems. Don’t turn your grandmother into a vampire.
There’s a number of sites out there that offer some or even most of this functionality, but I haven’t seen any that are as simple and intuitive as Phixr.
40,000 pixels wide and 18,000 pixels tall (that 720 megapixels), made up of 169 individual photos shot over an hour-long period. The final image is 1.3 gigabytes in size. The detail is amazing, zoom in all the way and pan around — you'll be stunned by the level of sharpness. You can even make out the bottles of wine on the tables at the seaside restaurants.
The photographer, Scott Howard, used a piece of software called Autopano Pro to assemble the image. It seems pretty advanced; you just give it a string of images, and it figures out the alignment automatically, stitches the photos together and applies color correction. Scott claims that his panorama was assembled by Autopano in less than an hour. In fact, his Sydney photo is an excellent case study for the software and could very well be an advertisement for all I know. It also looks like Scott is using the Flash-powered Zoomify viewer for his images.
I suspect it's not an advertisement, but simply a brilliant shot of a beautiful city.
You probably took home some fantastic memories from your last vacation. That trip to Bangkok or London or Paris was the perfect opportunity to relax and experience another culture. You shot scores of photos at every major landmark, temple, church, beach, museum and public square. But when you got home and started looking through all of your pictures, something about them felt a little… off. Not quite perfect. What's the problem, you asked yourself. Then you realized it: In each carefully framed photo of Notre Dame, the building is obscured by some huckster selling newspapers or chewing gum. In an otherwise brilliantly composed shot of Koh Samui, there's a shirtless, sunburned retiree in gym shorts sucking down a melting gelato.
Never again, I tell you. Never again will your beautiful holiday photos be mucked up by those unphotogenic rubes. Now, there's Tourist Remover.
The new web service from futureLAB is part of their online photo management tool, Snapmania. It's pretty simple to use — just take multiple photos (4 or 5 usually does the trick, according to their how-to) of the same scene using a tripod, then feed the photos into your Snapmania account. Tourist Remover will take information from all of your photos and eliminate the differences, leaving you with a clean, obstruction-free view of the subject in the background.
Like other photo sharing sites, Snapmania offers free and paid services. The free account gives you 100MB of storage space, but your account is only active for a limited time. The paid account gives you 2GB of storage for a fee of 48 Swiss francs, or about $38.50 US per year. There is also an account option that gets you unlimited storage for 72 CHF per year, which is about $58.00 US.
In addition to Tourist Remover, Snapmania has some browser-based editing tools that look promising. Users can re-touch errors, correct colors, crop and resize. They also allow you to publish photo blogs, e-cards and slideshows. Snapmania's galleries and tools use Flash, so they won't surpass Photoshop anytime soon. Check out the live demo at Snapmania.com.
Microsoft’s new Windows Media Photo image format specification is finally seeing the light of day. The software company began lobbying for WMPhoto to replace the JPEG image format this week at WindowsHEC in Seattle. Microsoft has taken the image compression spec out of development and has labeled it as a final release. There is also word that MS is keeping the standard totally free, but licensing details are still being worked out.
According to BetaNews, a Microsoft spokesperson claims that WMPhoto will offer the same or better image quality as JPEG at half the file size. That’s twice the compression (12:1 versus the standard 6:1 of JPEG) with the same or better quality.
This claim, while unsupported as of this writing, may very well signal the slow death of JPEG. Of course, the JPEG format is currently king. It’s supported by almost every digital imaging environment on Earth and beyond. But since WMPhoto will be supported by Windows Vista when it’s released this fall, it is conceivable that we’ll see equally widespread support for WMPhoto one year from now. WMPhoto will also be the native image format for Microsoft’s XPM documents, their competing format for PDF.
Some of the new WMPhoto features: Lossless or lossy compression, multi-resolution and sub-region decoding (also called “smart compression,” this is a technique that some digital cameras employ in which less compression is applied to more detailed regions of the image), and different display formats for print and web. Digital photography and digital imaging experts are giving it a tentative thumbs-up at the moment, as noted in this CNet article.
Will Microsoft win this one? Browser developers and camera manufacturers will have no choice but to support WMPhoto, but will users respond positively?