Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

July, 2007

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Happy 4th of July!

    ...to those of you in the US who celebrate such events :)

    We typically mark this occasion with lots of fireworks. If you want to take some great fireworks photos of your own, head over to PhotoJojo.com. They have an article entitled 11 Tips for Sparkling Fireworks Photos.

    PhotoJojo is a fun site that has tips on taking better photos, interesting or odd things to do with your camera or pictures, and cool new devices.

    The thing I like the most about their site is that they don't just point to neat things that other people have done, they show you how to do it yourself. Subscribe to their RSS feed to get the latest

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Photo Gallery

    Check out the following link for more detailed coverage of the new/changed features in the Windows Live Photo Gallery (with screenshots!)

    http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsexperience/archive/2007/06/27/announcing-windows-live-photo-gallery.aspx

    - pixblog

     

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Microsoft Pro Photo Summit

    Today and tomorrow, Microsoft is hosting the 2007 Pro Photo Summit here in Redmond, WA. The event is run by the Pro Photo group at Microsoft, a team focused on technical evangelism in the imaging community. Today also marks the launch of the newly designed Microsoft Pro Photo site and team blog. Check out their site to keep up with what Microsoft is doing in the professional photography arena. We'll continue to cover items of interest to the general consumer, and we'll cross-post items that we think are interesting to both.

    The morning, the summit started off with a keynote speech by Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch, followed by an hour during which speakers came up and had only 3 minutes to wow the audience with their technology (all such dog and pony shows should be limited to 3 minutes, it really focuses the demos!) Microsoft research had a few demos, but there was also a representative from Adobe showing off some of the new functionality in their recently released Lightroom v1.1, and a great demo of some cool-looking slideshow software called ProShow Producer.

    Following the demos we had a lively panel discussion on 'the need for speed'. Pro Photographers are all about speed. Time they spend at the computer is time spent away from making photos. Computer hardware and software are necessary tools to getting the job done, but the industry has a long way to go to streamline the workflow for photographers.

    Before we broke for lunch, Mike Tedesco announced the newest additions to Microsoft's Icons of Imaging group, and Jeff Greene handed out the awards to this years winners of the Microsoft Future Pro Photographers contest.

    More later...

    - Scott Dart (program manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Pro Photo Summit - Day 2

    Day 2 at the Pro Photo Summit. The day was dedicated to panel discussions related to the business of photography - the changing landscape of the industry that professional photographers work in.

    Still vs. Video
    Last year at the summit, the topic came up of whether or not video will eventually replace still photography. There were a few people who were already exploring this frontier - grabbing still frames from high resolution video feeds rather than capturing those frames with a still camera. After hearing about the logistical challenges faced by an organization like Sports Illustrated when going from hundreds of thousands of still images captured digitally, down to a few printed pages of a magazine, it's not surprising that this is an interesting trend to keep an eye on.

    As the resolution and ubiquity of high definition video grows, it may be appealing to dual-purpose video capture devices to produce both still and video. Due to the interest last year, a whole session was dedicated to this topic. Many photographers are finding that they have to embrace video as well to stay competitive. I don't think that we'll ever see a day where still photography disappears, but I predict that the devices themvelves will continue to converge. Today, black & white photography shot on film still exists, but is more and more being relegated to an artistic medium. Will the same thing happen to still photography someday?

    The Impact of Digital
    Digital photography is everywhere, with cameras becoming cheaper and better every year. The proliferation of cell phone cameras has brought a wave of 'citizen' journalism, by which amateur photographers are scooping traditional photo journalists when it comes to getting the first shots of significant events.

    The number of full-time photographers is starting to decline, but the number of part-time photographers is through the roof. Combine this changing demographic with the end-to-end digital workflow (enabled by digital cameras, PCs, and the internet),  and the result is a rapidly changing business landscape for professional photographers. New business models are emerging (such as micro stock), and content is being generated from new sources (your neighbor with their digital SLR in their free time).

    Digital imaging is also changing the perception of photography. Digital images can be manipulated to such a degree that they no longer reflect reality. This changes the expectations that viewers have for photographs - reality is boring compared to the images that they have seen, so they both expect to see more fantastic images, while at the same time becoming more and more distrustful of what is being represented in the photos they are viewing.

    3 Minutes to 'Wow'
    Bill Crow came up to quickly show off HD Photo. He presented this subject in more depth last year, but the reason I liked this demo was because he used the new Windows Live Photo Gallery to compare the results of HD Photo and JPEG. :)

    Digital Rights Management
    Professional photographers make their living by selling the photographs that they make. But we've heard throughout the summit (both this year and last) that one of the top challenges the industry faces is unlicensed use of photographs. We've all seen the issues faced by the music business when it comes to digital rights management. Digital photography faces many of these same challenges, although at different scales. Photographers will take millions of photographs over their career. Infringement may be overt (someone publishing an image with credit or royalties to the photographer), or more subtle (a client may have licensed a photograph for a specific use, and then utilize it beyond the original agreement - either intentionally or unintentionally).

    Yesterday, there was an entire panel focused on specific copyright legislation that is pending before congress this year. This isn't a problem that can be solved by technology, legislation, or litigation alone. It's a hard problem to solve, with no quick or easy answers.

    In Front of the Lens
    Members of the Creative Coalition sat on a panel discussion regarding the relationship between the people in front of the lens, and the people behind the lens. Joe Mantegna and Ernie Hudson both commented on the paradox between the fact that in one situation they may have to pay to have their photo taken (and may not even have rights to use those photos themselves), while in other settings, they may be photographed without their permission in their personal lives and again they have no control over the images and how they are used. There are issues of ethics, legality, and business at play, and as usual, there's no easy answer that satisfies the people on both sides of the lens in every situation.

    Images Everywhere
    When professional photographers take photos, they are adding to a collection of photos that they have taken over the years that is likely already terabytes in size. Managing a (growing) collection of that size, including backing it up, and accessing it is a huge problem. The members on this panel talked about a number of solutions to these problems, such as PhotoShelter, and Microsoft Windows Home Server (launching later this summer).

    Too Many Megapixels?
    There was an interesting panel discussion with representatives from Nikon, Canon, and Hasselblad. The question was: do we really need more megapixels? Some people seem to think so, but many others would rather see innovation in other areas - better dynamic range, less noise, etc. Although many people would like more megapixels, it's not the best measure of quality. If you have enough resolution to do what you need to do today, more isn't necesarily better - it's just more. More megapixels lead to bigger files to manage, slower frame rates, and will show off the shortcomings in the quality of your lenses. But that doesn't mean that the camera companies won't keep giving us more...

    Strength In Numbers
    This panel discussion had representatives from four of the professional associations for photographers: ASMP, PPA, NANPA, and WPPI. These organizations are working to address many of the issues that were discussed in the other panel discussions.

    - Scott Dart (program manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Digital Pinhole Camera

    I saw an interesting article from PC world on the MSN home page this morning about how to make and use a digital pinhole camera

    http://tech.msn.com/guides/articlepcw.aspx?cp-documentid=4967284&GT1=10240

    I was reading it, and all I could think of was...why? But then the article went on to explain:

    Why do this? Well, it's fun, and it's a completely unexpected way to use your digital camera.

    In addition, your pinhole camera is a good prop to use for teaching kids about the basic physics of photography. Try making several foil body cap inserts with different-sized holes. You can demonstrate how the smaller the hole, the sharper the image--but also the darker the preview, and the longer the necessary exposure. An infinitely small hole would give you perfectly focused results, but the exposure time would be lengthy, since only one photon of light could get through to the sensor at a time.

    Fair enough! There's even a contest you can enter.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Moo Stickers

    If you don't know Moo, you're missing out! Moo "prints things from your stuff". Things like MiniCards, which are 'calling cards' (think mini business card) with your photos on one side, and your contact into on the other side.

    Today they announced that they are adding stickers to their repertoire. You can either upload your photos from your PC, or you can import them from the web (I was able to pull in all of the photos from my blog on Live Spaces).

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Full Screen Slideshow on Spaces

    So, you shelled out good money for a 21” LCD monitor with 1600 x 1200 resolution, and now you’re wondering “why do all these web sites just show me photos in a little 600 pixel wide area?” All those bright pixels, eager to light up and show off your memories, languishing unused. It’s a crying shame.

    Fret no more. With the latest release of Windows Live Spaces, we’ve added a “View full screen” button that will unleash the full potential of your monitor and display slideshows as big as your display will allow.

    For now, it will scale up the small pictures you’ve been seeing in page, but those of you who have been playing with our Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta 1 can see that bigger things are on the horizon. If you'd like to see it in action, take a look at my photos from a recent backpacking trip to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington's Cascade Mountains (including some panoramics stitched with the Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta 1).

    Now head on over to the The Space Craft (the official Spaces Team blog) to read about all the other great stuff in this release of Windows Live Spaces.

    - Jordan Schwartz, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Live Image Search update

    The Live Search team blogged about a few updates that they recently added to their image search page

    You can now filter image searches to help you find images with faces, portraits, or black+white images. When you search for people, you also get a list of related people on the right side of the screen.

    A few examples: 
    1. without the new features – jimi hendrix
    2. with new face filtering on – jimi hendrix filter:face
    3. with new portrait filtering on – jimi hendrix filter:portrait
    4. with new black and white filtering on – jimi hendrix filter:bw

    Congrats to the Live Search team!

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    HD Photo -> JPEG XR?

    We've written before on this blog about a new imaging file format called 'HD Photo' that Microsoft has been working on. Today, Microsoft announced that efforts are underway to standardize HD Photo under the name 'JPEG XR' (XR = extended range).

    You can read more on Bill Crow's blog. We'll keep you posted here as well

     - pixblog

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