Information for designers and interactive developers - Issue 2 - May 2008
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The photographer in each of us
It might come as a surprise, but safely tucked away under a truckload of other features are some very cool photo editing tools for Windows Vista. Well, actually, not just Vista. Also in the Windows Live Gallery and on the side through plug-ins, we spot some pretty nifty image editing stuff. I'll take you on a small tour through the various things you can find, for free.

First off, Windows Vista does offer a nice way to maintain a decent collection, allowing you to tag your images and search for them on keywords. With the Windows Photo Gallery you can browse your images based on date they were taken, the ratings you added to them or the folders you have put them in. By pushing the 'Fix' button in the top menu or the Photo Gallery, you get a few basic options like 'Auto Adjust', 'Adjust Exposure', 'Adjust Color', 'Fix Red Eye' or 'Crop Picture' to edit your snapshots. For most consumers that's basically all there is needed to make a picture better in case something went wrong during the taking of it. The cool part is that Windows automatically saves the original images and that with a simple 'revert to original' all the changes you made months ago can be undone.

But obviously, for many users that just isn't enough. And it's true. Some web enthusiasts really need to upload their pictures so they can share them with their community. That's where Windows Live Picture Gallery comes into sight. Apart from all the features present in the Windows Photo Gallery, the Windows Live Photo Gallery offers an easy 'Publish' button in the menu so you can publish images to your Live Space with the push of a button. And yes, we know not everyone uses his/her Live Space yet, which is why the 'Publish to Flickr' button has been added too. Just click on an image, hit the publish button and select the Flickr link. You can also add meta tags to the images to make searching for them more easily.

Of course, hitting a publish link doesn't really cut the deal for pro photographers, which is why Microsoft just released Pro Photo Tools, a set of tools for photographers to perform various tasks with their images-including RAW captures. The current version enables you to quickly geotag your photos, view and edit metadata, and more, leveraging the power of Windows and Microsoft Live Local. By leveraging the Windows Imaging Components (WIC), we're able to provide support for any RAW file format (in addition to TIFF and JPEG) for which a codec has been developed. Which means it includes most RAW file formats. Not only can you view your RAW images within Pro Photo Tools, you can also update metadata-including GPS coordinates-directly in the file. The updated metadata is stored within the RAW file, not in a cumbersome "sidecar" file. As cool as it is to have GPS coordinate information connected to your images, to really get a sense of place with your photos, you need to view them on a map. Pro Photo Tools utilizes Windows Live Local to display your images on a map of the world, including the ability to view your images on a normal map or a satellite view of the world. For the maximum in flexibility when assigning a location to an image, you can navigate to the precise location where you took a given photo and tag the photo with that location information based on a specific position on the map.

So, that's about it in a nutshell. I think that Microsoft really tries to get more tools out there for enthusiasts and pro users, and I think that by delivering them in 'stages of professionalism' we're actually on the right track to get the apps with the right functions to the right audiences.

Links for this article:
Pro Photo Tools: Windows Live Gallery
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Silverlight rehab video
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