Creating Your Digital Darkroom

If you have ever been in a photographer's darkroom, you know how personal it is. It is like a person's kitchen or workshop. You can do the same with the digital darkroom. While there are quite sophisticated ready-made programs that will do virtually anything you want, you can also buy, integrate, and customize your own set of tools.

Combining Programs

Your photographs will have a more individual look if you put together your own unique combination of software. For example, a photo file management program may allow you to launch a different program to edit the picture with. So after viewing the file and making some basic corrections, you can launch a program from within the photo file management program that will bring up the photo you are working on along with the new program.

Adding Plug-ins

Plug-ins are small, often customized tools that attach to your main program and work just like another tool in that program. Many photo and graphics programs will accept the Photoshop standard for plug-ins and there are many free and paid plug-ins available. See Chapter 17 for a free plug-in source.

Drag and Drop

In Windows you can often drag and drop an image into another program. For example, with many photo file management programs, you can select a picture and then drop it into the work area of another graphics program.

Applets and Utilities

If you decide that you want to customize your digital darkroom, look for very small programs called applets and utilities. Generally, each one of these will do one basic thing, such as remove noise from nighttime or underexposed images. Yet this one tool could be an important addition to your toolbox if you do a lot of nighttime photography, for example. To find out more about such programs, see Chapter 17.

When you work with two separate programs, close the picture file in the first program before working on it in the second program. If you don't do this, you may get error messages or find that one of the programs erased changes you meant to keep.

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