Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    We make it easy to share on your Soapbox


    As I blogged about yesterday, we’ve built some pretty quick & simple sharing features into Windows Live Photo Gallery.  In this post I’d like to go through the steps to publish your video memories online at the recently updated MSN Soapbox service:  

    Step 1: Select a video from your library inside Windows Live Photo Gallery.
    Step 2: Click on the Publish button and then select Publish on MSN Soapbox…

    In order to enable users to publish on Soapbox, we needed a way to allow users to sign in with their Windows Live ID (a.k.a. Passport).  So, if you’re not already signed in with your Live ID in the Photo Gallery you’ll be asked to sign in when you try to publish.  Since Photo Gallery is integrated with Live ID, as soon as you sign in with your Live ID we’ll automatically know your Soapbox information so you won’t be asked to provide any information or configure anything.  If you’ve never used Soapbox before, the first time you publish a video we’ll take care of setting up your Soapbox account.

    Step 3: Fill in all of the fields on the Publish dialog:

    We’ll automatically fill in the Title using the video file name (minus the file extension, of course) and the Description using the caption (if you’ve previously set one).  Of course, you can edit these if you want to.  In addition to those fields, just like the Soapbox web upload tool, we allow you to add up to five Tags and set the Category from a list.  Finally, you can choose to make your video public or keep it private for just you and whomever you send a link to by setting it to private.  After you click the Publish button, we’ll take care of the rest…

    Since Soapbox currently has a 100MB file size upload limit, if you video is over 100MB we’ll re-encode it to the bit rate that Soapbox supports, compressing the overall file size.  Technically, there is a limit to the amount of compression we can do in order to make sure the end result is still under 100MB in file size.  To make it easy just remember as long as your video is 20 minutes or less, we’ll be able to upload it on Soapbox.  It’s that simple! Note: There are some video formats that we are unable to re-encode and if that’s the case we’ll tell you when you try to publish them.

    Again, just like the Publish on Windows Live Spaces feature, we also provide a summary dialog with a View video button here too. 

    There will be a brief period (time varies depending on length of video) when your video is being processed by Soapbox.  During this time you’ll see your video placeholder on your Soapbox account, but you won’t be able to play it back until the processing is complete. 

    Do you dig it?  What do you like/dislike about this?  What can we do to make your video sharing experience better? 

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Seamlessly publish your precious photos on Spaces


    As you (hopefully) know by now, we released our first public beta of Windows Live Photo Gallery a few days ago.  Even though we’re not quite done tinkering with it I’d like to tell you about one of the best new features we’ve worked hard on these last few months. 

    First, a question: Why do most people take photos?  OK, I admit, there isn’t a 100% correct answer to that question but I’d be willing to bet something along the lines of “to share with my friends and family” would be darn near the top.  In fact, when I was at CES earlier this year and I was working at the Microsoft Digital Memories booth, hands down the most frequently asked question I got was “Can I publish my photos to the web from the Photo Gallery?”.  Sadly, at the time, we didn’t have any features that enabled this but we heard you loud and clear!

    The brand new Publish on Windows Live Spaces feature provides a seamless and streamlined way to share your digital photos on your space directly from the same application you use to import, organize and edit them.  Allow me to walk through the play by play:

    After you’ve selected one or more photos you’d like to publish on your space, click on the Publish button and then select Publish on Windows Live Spaces…

    In order to enable users to publish on Windows Live Spaces, we needed a way to allow users to sign in with their Windows Live ID (a.k.a. Passport).  So, if you’re not already signed in with your Live ID in the Photo Gallery you’ll be asked to sign in when you try to publish.  Since Photo Gallery is integrated with Live ID, as soon as you sign in with your Live ID we’ll automatically know your space information so you won’t be asked to provide any information or configure anything.  If you’ve never even used Spaces before, no worries… the first time you publish photos we’ll take care of setting up your new space and we’ll even configure it to use one of the photo themes available on Spaces.  Nice, eh?  ;)

    OK, so after you’ve signed in the Publish on Windows Live Spaces dialog will appear (below).  You have two main choices when it comes to publishing: you can either publish your photos in a new album or to an existing one already on your space.  The default option is a new album.  The thumbnail displayed as the new album cover will be automatically chosen based on the data taken metadata.  The album title will be pre-populated with the folder name where that first image is located on your hard drive.  The idea is when you import your photos many users give the folder containing the set of photos a useful name, so we’ll assume that might be a good starting point, but you can change it.  If you're looking to allow people to enjoy great prints and full screen slides shows of your shared photos, select the Optimize photos for printing check box (checked by default in a few markets). 

    If you don’t want to create a new photo album and just want to keep adding photos to an existing album on your space, click the Add to an existing album link (on the main Publish dialog, above) and we’ll show you the list of albums on your space.  We provide a rich look by showing you the album cover, album title, the last modified date, # of photos and eventually the permission (note: during the Beta the permission displayed will always be “Public” because we haven’t quite finished this dialog yet).

    Regardless if you choose to publish to a new album or an existing one, once you click on the Publish button on the dialogs above, the upload progress will appear.  *Power user tip* If you want to upload more than one group of photos at a time, you can!  As one group is being uploaded, you can select some more photos and repeat the publish steps.  As photos are being uploaded, the follow-up publishes will be queued up behind each other and will start automatically as the previous one completes.  Try it out!

    As each upload completes a summary dialog will appear (below).  We’re guessing most users will always want to check out the album online, maybe customize it, and then send a link to it to their friends.  The View album button gets you to the album directly.

    That’s the Publish on Windows Live Spaces feature in a nutshell.  Since we’re in Beta we’d love to get your feedback.  What do you like?  What do you hate?  What can we do to make your photo sharing experience better? 

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Changes to Photo/Video Import in the Live Photo Gallery Beta


    For most users, the first step to enjoying their photos and videos is to get their files onto their computer.  In Vista, we focused on streamlining this process, by minimizing the steps during import.  After doing so, we heard feedback from some users that they wanted more control over their import experience.  We’ve listened to this feedback, and we’ve incorporated it into new import features for the Windows Live Photo Gallery: users can now view and select photos and/or videos to import, and they also have the option of organizing photos into folders before importing.  We automatically help you create an event group, based on the timestamps of your photos.  And for those users that loved the simplicity of the Vista import experience, we will continue to provide that streamlined option in the Windows Live.  To get to this experience, simply choose the ‘Import all new items now’ option.

    View,  Selecting, and Grouping Photos and Videos to Import
    If you’d like to select the photos and videos you want to import, choose ‘Review, organize, and group items to import’.  On first use, you’ll see that we’ve automatically grouped your photos/videos into event groups, based on the timestamps of your photos and videos.  The two thumbnails you see represent the first and last item in the event group.  By default, a new event group is created if there are 4 hours or more since the time the previous photo or video was taken.  If you want to adjust this time gap, you can move the ‘Adjust groups’ slider on the bottom right corner of the dialog.  Moving it left will decrease the time in between groups, resulting in more groups.  Moving it to the right will do the reverse, therefore creating less groups.  By moving the slider to the right-most point, you can put all items into a single group.

    To view the items in a group, simply click on the link that lists the number of items in the group (ex. View 10 items), or on the group thumbnails.  Clicking on the thumbnails again will collapse the group.

    Once expanded, you can select the items in the group to be imported.  Simply use the checkboxes select individual items within a group, or select the checkbox in the header of the group to select all items within a group.
    Only checked items will be imported.

    Each group created will be saved to a different folder that you’ll see in the gallery after import. We recommend that users enter a name for each folder, so you can easily find the group of photos/videos later.  You can also assign one or more tags (separated by semi-colons) to the group of items.  Doing so will also help make it easier to find the photos and videos.

    Note: To get the most out of our automatic event group feature, you must set the date and time on your camera.

    Previously Imported Items
    We know that a lot of users don’t delete their photos/videos on their camera after importing.  In the Vista photo gallery, we automatically detected items that were already imported into the gallery, and did not import them again to eliminate duplicates.  In Live, we will show these items in the ‘Review, organize, and group items to import’ option, but by default they will be unchecked.  You can go ahead and check these items if you’d like to re-import them into your gallery.

    - Karen Wong (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Suite Public Beta!


    Back in June, we announced a private beta of the new Windows Live Photo Gallery. We got a lot of great feedback from the beta testers, but now it's time to get more people involved. This afternoon, we released a new build, and are opening it up for everyone to download and play with - come and get it!

    You'll find all of the features that we talked about in the private beta, but also a few new ones. But this isn't just a beta of the Photo Gallery, it's a beta of the whole Windows Live Suite. Chris Jones (my boss) posted a roundup of the Suite on the Windows Live Wire Blog. Chris Keating did a nice write-up of some of the new Photo Gallery features on the Spaces team blog as well. You can download the Suite here, and leave us your feedback here.

    Stay tuned to this blog, we'll be posting more detailed information over the coming days and weeks about all of the features in the new Live Photo Gallery Beta. I'm also adding a bunch of links to our sister teams in Live. If you want to know more about what they are up to, check out their respective team blogs as well...

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    New photo features available on Spaces

    Before the long weekend, we turned on a few new photo features on spaces. The Spaces team blog has the scoop:

    High resolution photo upload
    Now you can share high resolution photos on Spaces. When you upload your photos, select 'Optimize photos for printing'. When you upload higher resolution photos, your photo albums look even better than before, especially when viewing them in full screen mode.


    Note: the uploading process may take longer than before because high resolution photos are significantly larger in file size. 

    Photo printing by HP Snapfish
    We’re also announcing a partnership with HP Snapfish to offer photo printing for Spaces. Photo printing is available right now in the US and we’ll be rolling out this feature to other markets in the future. 

    To create a print, visit a Spaces photos album and click 'Order prints'.


    Select the photos you want to print from that specific album, and then click 'Next'. 

    You will then be taken to the HP Snapfish website to order your prints. After you create a HP Snapfish username, you can order prints of your selected Spaces photos as well as additional photo items such as calendars, coffee mugs, posters, and greeting cards.  

    We hope you enjoy these new Spaces photos features.  As always, keep your feedback coming.  We are listening.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Updated HD Photo Plug-ins for Adobe® Photoshop® Software

    From Bill Crow's HD Photo blog:

    We've just posted updated versions of the HD Photo Plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop Software to the Microsoft Download Center.  There are now versions for both Windows and Macintosh OS X.

    There is an updated beta for Windows Vista and Windows XP, plus a new beta for both Intel and PPC Macs running OS X.

    In addition to the direct links above, you can always find the various HD Photo downloads by going to the Microsoft Download Center at and searching for "HD Photo".

    Full article (with screenshots) here:

    - pixblog


  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog Blog is another good web site with practical tips on how to take better photos. You can subscribe to their blog to stay up to date when they post new articles.

    Some recent gems:

    I think that they strike a great balance with articles that can benefit both beginners, but also have value for intermediate and advanced photographers. The great thing about photography as a hobby is that no matter what skill level you're at, or what equipment you have, you can still have fun, and there's always more to learn. The digital photography school helps remind me of that!

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Congratulations SkyDrive

    They're Beautiful bouquetFirst, we want to send a big congratulations to the Windows Live SkyDrive team on launching their public beta last night. This new addition to Windows Live allows you to store files online, up to 500 MB for free, and then access them from any computer. You can even include a module on your Windows Live Space that lets you share your files with other people. You can read all about it on the SkyDrive Team’s Space. Great work!

    Along with the release, we also included a bug fix to our Windows Live Spaces upload control. If you’ve been having trouble using Spaces to upload your photos recently, we encourage you to try again now. Thanks for your patience!

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Make a coloring book from your photos

    Here's a fun photo project that we found on fototiller - make your photos into coloring pages using Photoshop

    Have any other fun photo ideas? Send them to us, and we'll share them!

    - 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

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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!)

    - pixblog


  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Happy 4th of July! 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 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

    Announcing the Windows Live Photo Gallery, Beta 1


    On 6/27, we launched the first (limited*) beta release of the Windows Live Photo Gallery! Windows Live what??
    The Windows Live Photo Gallery is a new application that will be a free download as part of the Windows Live suite of applications. If you’ve used the Photo Gallery in Windows Vista, this application will be very familiar to you (only better). We’ve been working hard in the months since Vista shipped (has it only been a few months??) to add in some key new features based on your feedback:

    • Windows XP SP2 support: Did I mention that the Live Photo Gallery runs on Windows XP SP2? That was actually a fair amount of work in itself, but we think it was worth it to make these experiences available to a broader set of users than just those who have Windows Vista. Due to differences between the platforms, not all features will work 100% the same on XP SP2 as they do on Vista. For example, slideshow will be better on Vista (if your hardware supports it).
    • Publish to Spaces: We’ve heard from a lot of people that they want to publish their photos online to share with their friends and family members. Windows Live Spaces is a great tool for doing this, and the Windows Live Photo Gallery will make it easy to select a bunch of photos, and publish them directly to your Windows Live Space.
    • Import: We heard loud and clear that people want more control over how they import their photos - which photos get imported, what folders they go in, etc. You asked, we listened.
    • Panoramic Stitching: One of my favorite features from Digital Image Suite was the ability to take a set of overlapping photos and stitch them into one panoramic photo. We’ve brought this feature into the Windows Live Gallery.
    • More Fixes: More granular control over exposure.
    • Simplified Navigation: We’ve removed some of the lesser-used options from the navigation tree, and added some new controls to let you quickly pivot the way you view your photos. 

    That’s a high level view of the changes you’ll see introduced in this beta. We’ll dig into each of these areas over the coming weeks to provide more detail, we just wanted to give you a little taste of what’s coming up. You can read the official announcement here.
    Of course the Photo Gallery isn’t the only feature in the suite (it’s just our favorite – what can I say, we’re biased). When the suite is launched, it will include all sort of things, like Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live OneCare Family Safety…the list goes on. It’s going to be a lot of fun in Windows Live land over the coming months – stay tuned!

    * The audience for this beta is by invitation-only. If you didn’t get an invite, just remember – patience is a virtue. It will be worth the wait! 

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Frequently asked questions


    We get a lot of the same questions asked over and over, so we've added a FAQ page with answers to common questions. If you have anything you'd like to see added to this list, just let us know!


    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Create wall-size murals from your images

    Here's a link to an interesting way to display your favorite images.  Dave Banks, a writer for Wired, used some pretty interesting techniques involving Adobe Illustrator to transform a couple of his digital pictures into a wall-sized mural.  I can only guess how much manual manipulation was involved, and the results look great.
    - shawn morrissey, program manager

    Self-described "Geekdad" made custom wallpaper for his son's room with a large format print of a digital photo: He and I love to watch Formula One together, so we decided to use some photos I had taken the last time I attended the U.S. Grand Prix. A little Photoshop work made the image more interesting, but I had a problem. Even using a plugin to blow up the photo, it was only half of the resolution I needed to fill the whole wall.  The solution was found in Illustrator's Live Trace feature. With a little finesse, the photo was transformed into a scalable vector file. I emailed the image to the printer and - a short time later - the wallpaper was installed. The final product had a latex coat for protection from crayons and juice and is expected to last five to seven years. 


  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Soapbox Video

    If you follow this blog, you've probably noticed that we occasionally embed video in blog posts when it helps illustrate the point that we're trying to get across. Whenever possible, we have been using the new Soapbox video service that's currently in beta on MSN.

    As of June 1, Soapbox is now a 'public' beta, meaning that you no longer have to log in to the site to view videos (you still need to log in to upload videos). Congratulations to the Soapbox team on hitting this important milestone! You can read about it in their own words over on their team blog (I'm adding them to our list of links as well).

    I suppose I can't get away with this blog post without showing a video, so here's one demo'ing some of the Photo Tourism research that we blogged about a few months ago.

    Video: Photo Tourism: Exploring Photo Collections in 3D [2006]

    - PIXBlog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Bambi Cantrell at Microsoft

    A couple of weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to have Bambi Cantrell, another of Microsoft’s Icons of Imaging on the Microsoft campus for a workshop. Several hundred Microsoft employees were there with their cameras in hand to learn from Bambi’s extensive experience as a wedding and portrait photographer. The audience members ranged in expertise from beginner to advanced, and I think that everyone was able to walk away with some new tools to take advantage of, whether they were part-time photographers shooting weddings on the weekend, or just someone who wanted to learn how to take better family portraits.

    The workshop was broken up into three parts. The first part involved Bambi walking through a series of photos that she has taken. For each photo, she would talk about how the photo was created, what the light source was, how she set up the shot, etc. Bambi is an excellent teacher. There was something new and interesting to learn about each image. After a few images she was quizzing the crowd to ask them what the light source was and where it was coming from.

    This part of the workshop gave us a great insight into Bambi’s philosophy and background, and was full of practical advice about lighting, posing, composition, and technique. Bambi made the session very ‘hands-on’, and brought up several audience members to demonstrate how she communicates with people when trying to pose inexperienced models (i.e. regular people). Instead of asking the model to move to the left, she would simply stand where she wanted the model to face and ask them to turn towards her. This is the kind of practical advice that is better to observe first hand than it is read in a book.

    For the second part of the workshop, Bambi brought in a professional model and lighting rig to demonstrate her studio technique. This gave us the opportunity to see Bambi in action as she posed an experienced model. She also pulled in our own Mike Tedesco (who organized the event) and his daughter to demonstrate techniques for working with young children. Bambi adapts her style and demeanor to the situation and has a great rapport with her subjects that really shows in the final product.

    For the final part of the workshop, we left the conference room, and followed Bambi around the building. She took her model and set up shots throughout the building, showing us how to take advantage of existing surroundings and lighting conditions to make the most of them. Who knew that the interior of a Microsoft office building could be full of so many rich photographic opportunities?

    I’m sure many in the audience were expecting a scripted, rehearsed presentation at the beginning of the evening, but by the end of the night, those expectations had been thoroughly shattered. It’s really exciting to see someone at the top of their game thinking on their feet and doing what they do best. Everyone I spoke with after the event was truly inspired to take better photos afterwards.

    Thanks Bambi!

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Spaces Update


    A few weeks ago, we released an update to Spaces that included what we thought were some improvements to the photos experience within Spaces (described here). Some of the changes we made were a hit, like opening up comments by default so you easily see what people had to say about the photos you posted.

    Some of those changes, though, were not so much of a hit. For example, in an attempt to make the photos “pop” visually, we added a border around the photos. Unfortunately, we didn’t take into consideration the diverse themes that Spaces users have adopted. In many themes, the thick white border looks bulky and distracting.

    Second, in an attempt to ensure that the photos appeared on your screen without forcing you to scroll around, we shrunk the size of the photos a bit. However, the way we did it ended up resizing the pictures poorly and made some people’s photos appear choppy.

    Well, we’re listening. As of today, we’re introducing a couple of fixes to these problems that we hope will restore the beauty of your photo viewing experience. We’ve reduced the border to a tasteful couple of pixels and tied it into your theme, so it should blend nicely. As they well know in art galleries, a tasteful frame can enhance the quality of a photo, but it should never distract from it.

    We also increased the size of the display area for photos and made it more closely match the proportions taken by typical cameras, significantly reducing the amount of distortion. Internet Explorer 7 users will see an even greater increase in quality, as we took advantage of the more advanced “bicubic” interpolation it offers (an innovation that we hope all browsers will follow).

    In the meantime, we’ve been working hard on a host of additional improvements to the photos experience, but those aren’t quite ready to show off yet. Thanks for staying with us and stay tuned!

    - Jordan Schwartz

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe


    Last night, Art Wolfe (one of Microsoft’s Icons of Imaging) was on the Microsoft campus to share some of his work with us, and talk about his new television series on PBS: Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe. Art Spent about an hour walking us through a slideshow of some of his amazing photos. The thing that immediately struck me was that Art is not only an accomplished photographer, but he is also a very knowledgeable naturalist and educator as well. He uses his photography as a tool to educate and inspire people about issues impacting the environment, society, and cultures around the world. What better way to educate viewers about the political battles surrounding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge than to share spectacular photos of the wildlife and landscapes found there?

    Art WolfeArt doesn’t merely document the locations he visits, he creates works of art from them, finding interesting patterns and colors that many of us would either take for granted or miss entirely. We saw more examples of this as Art talked about his show ‘Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe’. In the show, a film crew follows Art to the ends of the Earth as he goes about his work. Art shares his thought process and describes the techniques he employs as he creates images from all over the world. We were fortunate enough last night to have Art screen a future episode of the show for us about his visit to native tribes in Ethiopia who display amazing and unique adornments.

    I went to the lecture expecting to learn more about photography (and I did), but it wasn’t what I expected to learn. I didn’t learn about what f-stop to use or which lens is best in a given situation. Instead, I learned about the impact that photography can have on individual people, and the world. Photographers on Art’s level don’t just take spectacular images, they tell a story with them. It's not just about technical skill, but also about knowing your subject.

    If you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, Art will be giving the same presentation on Friday 5/25. More information can be found on Art’s website.

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

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