- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Adobe Corp.'s Photoshop is, arguably, the "gold standard" for editing and manipulating digital photographs. It offers tools for improving the look of photographs, and you can convert a digital image into 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 personal computer, will set you back $599. For about a 12th 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 many programs that help organize images, the new Photoshop Album software goes a step ahead of the competition. 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 also can be done on a large number of tags. 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 also can work with Photoshop Elements, a subset of the larger Photoshop 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 features of the other two.
You've organized and fixed up your photos, so how do you share them? Photoshop Album offers a couple of neat ways, including the creation of an "album," which uses the Adobe Acrobat PDF format, for which "readers" can be found on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms. These slide shows also can 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 compact discs.
You can order prints and other professional photo services from within the software, using direct, Internet-based links to online service providers. An easy-to-follow wizard also helps users create cards, calendars, albums, Web photo pages, and even 3D Web galleries, with just a few clicks of the mouse.
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 offered by it.
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.
E-mail MarkKel@aol.com, or visit his Web site, www.kellner2000.com.

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