BOOT CAMP 538 (19/08/08)
Freeware Top Tens part 2, Pictures and Graphics
This week’s selection of free software is concerned with
pictures and graphics and covers everything from storing and viewing them on
your computer to image editing and manipulation, proving conclusively that the
camera can and does lie.
This is an area where you can save a lot of money and
some freeware offerings are as good and sometimes better than their commercial
counterparts. It’s not a particularly fast-moving sector, though, so expect to
see a few old favourites, but even if you already have some of these programs
it’s usually worth updating to the latest version.
Before we begin off here’s
the customary disclaimers. You install these programs entirely at your own
risk, we cannot answer any technical questions and please, if you find a
program useful show your gratitude and make a donation or pay the licence fee.
& Vista, 1Mb
matter how hard you try photographs of dramatic vistas never manage to capture
the eye-boggling grandeur of the scene. Well here’s a way they can, stand still
and take a series of overlapping photographs then when you get home use
AutoStitch join them all together. AutoStitch does it all, matching the
photographs together – even if they’ve been shot out of sequence – and blend
them together seamlessly into one JPEG panorama that you can view on your PC
screen or print out.
Fast Batch Resize
Crop and Watermark, XP & Vista, 8.7Mb, http://tinyurl.com/5rbors
Let us suppose that you have a
number of photographs that you want to resize or crop in a hurry, convert them
from one image file format to another (JPEG, png, gif, tiff etc.), and for good
measure add a time/date stamp and a copyright watermark. Well, it might happen,
and if it does you’ll be glad of the appropriately named Fast Batch Resize Crop
and Watermark tool…
The Gimp, XP & Vista, 17.5Mb
It’s one of the most sophisticated photo editing tools
available, but it’s not for absolute beginners. The huge range of advanced
facilities means there’s a steep learning curve. Unless you’re familiar with
Alpha Channels. Layers and Sub-Pixel Sampling you’ll be better off cutting your
teeth on some of the less challenging editing programs we’re featuring.
IfranView, XP & Vista, 1.25Mb
Unbeatable when it comes to
opening and viewing obscure image and video file formats and converting them to
something useable. IrfanView also has some handy tools for resizing,
re-touching and printing images, creating slideshows, batch processing,
emailing, and much more
Noiseware Community Edition, XP & Vista, 10Mb, http://tinyurl.com/6zsxoe
How many of your digital
photographs are spoilt by noise and fuzz? The noise filters in image editing
programs tend to be a bit variable and can even pictures look worse. Noiseware
does the job properly with variable suppression filters that help to preserve
detail and tonal balance. The effects of changes can be instantly judged by
clicking on the image to switch between ‘before’ and ‘after’, and if you don’t
like what you see there’s an undo function.
PhotoFiltre, XP & Vista, 1.6Mb
There’s really no need to splash out on fancy image
editing software, PhotoFiltre does it all, from simple cropping and resizing,
to more advanced photo manipulation techniques, including a highly effective
Gamma Correction tool, for brightening up dull pictures and bringing out lost
detail in shadows. It’s also very easy to use, with all of the important
controls right in front of you, on the toolbar.
Photomatix, XP & Vista, 3.1Mb
Many photographs are spoilt
by flat uninteresting skies or dull, lifeless foregrounds. Most cameras have
exposure controls that let you capture one part of the scene in all its glory,
but usually at the expense of the other. The solution is to take two or three
photographs, changing the exposure settings to suit the sky, mid-ground and
foreground, then use Photomatrix’s exposure blending and tone mapping tools to
combine the best elements into one award-winning image.
N.B. Free version superimposes copyright notice
Picasa 2, XP & Vista, 5.8Mb
If you have a digital
camera you need Picasa on your PC. It’s just about the best file manager,
viewer and picture tweaker there is! It finds, displays and organises all of
the images on your PC, helps you to fix common faults, add special effects,
print and lets you share your pictures by email, uploading to the web or
copying them to CD.
PC Inspector Smart Recovery, XP & Vista, 6.1Mb, http://tinyurl.com/675pyk
One day you are going to
lose, either by accident or misfortune, irreplaceable images on one of your
digital camera memory cards. Smart Recovery can restore deleted and corrupt
image files, it works on most common file formats and memory cards, including
Smart Media, SD, MMC, Memory Stick and so on. It’s safe and non-destructive, so
what have you got to lose?
Watermark V2, XP & Vista, 0.6Mb
Once your images have been
uploaded onto the Internet there’s no telling what’s going to happen to them.
Putting your name, a copyright symbol or time and date information can help
discourage copying and mis-use. That’s just one of Watermark’s many talents,
it’ll also batch resize, rotate and rename your images with just a few clicks.
This program is still in beta form but it seems stable and safe to use.
Next Week – Freeware Top Tens part 3
version of a program
balance between the light and dark portions of an image to improve visibility
and reveal detail in darker areas
transparent text or graphic permanently burned into an image
TOP TIP -- BONUS UTILITY
Quick EXIF Editor, XP
& Vista, 1Mb
Digital images contain a wealth of hidden
information, known as EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format), this little
program displays the data and lets you edit details of when and where it was
shot, descriptions, camera name, technical info such as exposure settings and
Don't forget, there's a
full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at www.pctoptips.co.uk
© R. Maybury 2008, 3007