Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Self Service Digital Printing Kiosks

You’re off for a business meeting. You already traveled several kilometers from home and you have to be in the meeting place in 10 minutes. Then, you would find out that you left something very important – your business documents. Oh, this is really a big problem! --- Not anymore, we have lots of self-service digital printing kiosks around us now. Yeah! You heard it right. These kiosks will give us quality digital prints at any place every time that we need them.

According to the article posted at the Digital Photograph Blog last July 19, 2004, the installation of self service digital printing kiosks is the best solution to help us in editing our photos and other documents and printing them from digital memory cards every time that we badly need them and we are away from our homes or our offices. Many printing companies already began to run radio and TV ads about their kiosks to drum up their digital printing business. Today, thousands of kiosks are now found in drug stores, grocery stores, photo shops, convenience stores, hotels, copy centers, office supply retailers, electronics outlets, gasoline stations, and other non-traditional channels.

These self-service digital printing kiosks truly provide us with a convenient and cost effective way of printing. To print our photos, we only need to insert the memory card from our digital cameras into a card reader located within the stand-alone printing kiosk. After selecting the photo size and the quantity, the images are then being printed in a matter of seconds on high quality digital photo paper. We can also customize our photos with colorful borders, backgrounds and other features. Regarding the payment for the printing cost, we will just simply swipe our credit cards and the amount will then be charged to our account.

Recent technologies like inkjet, dry film processing and thermal dye sub-printing make photo kiosk installation possible in places where conventional processing is not feasible. And because of these technologies that allow for self service printing of photographs, digital printing kiosks are making their way into all sorts of venues to fulfill this demand for convenient prints. After all, these kiosks offer in-store cross-merchandising possibilities.

According to a 2002 report issued by InfoTrends Research Group, a digital imaging research firm, the kiosk sector will continue its growth through 2006, but the poor economy is slowing that growth. In its report "Photo Kiosk and Retail Digital Photofinishing Forecast," it was stated that the number of installed photo kiosks in North America increased from about 26,000 in 2000 to 28,000 in 2001. Moreover, steady growth will continue, with 2006 estimates set at 33,000 units, but that is a far cry from 2001’s prediction of 150,000 units by 2006.

The report also explains that self-service digital printing kiosks are taking on a constantly increasing share of the photo kiosk market. Nearly half the photo kiosks shipped during 2002 were expected to be digital exclusive, as compared to 16 percent in 2001. More so, faster print speeds, the placement of kiosks in more convenient locations, and connectivity to the worldwide web are all expected to attract more customers to the services of photo kiosks.

In general, we can say that the current marketplace is adjusting from print-to-print kiosks, which could handle single images at a time, to kiosks which are more focused on printing from digital images, in multiples. Surely, the leading digital printing companies are looking into this idea to become feasible soon.

by Nash Ville

Sunday, December 3, 2006

What are Pixels... and other tips for photographers.

What are pixels?

When you take hold of a digital camera, or even a traditional one, you constantly read or hear about "pixels". "This digital camera has 8.0 megapixels." "This one has 6.5 megapixels." So what are pixels exactly?

According to My Design Primer, PIXEL came from the first letters of "pix element"- pix meaning picture. It is the smallest unit on a display screen or monitor. By dividing the monitor into rows and columns of pixels, one may be able to see the pictures displayed on the monitors. The more pixels are squeezed into a monitor's surface, the smoother an image will appear on screen. They will appear like they're connected to your eye because pixels are usually so close together. A monitor with more pixels per inch (PPI) will be more expensive than a cheaper one.

The number of bits used to display each pixel determines how many colors a pixel can display. For example, a color monitor uses 8 bits per pixel in an 8-bit color mode. This makes possible the display of 256 (or 2 to the 8th power) colors on screen. Each pixel in a color monitor is made up of dots- red, blue, and green (RGB). These three dots are focused on the same spot when you look at it, creating a very smooth image. The quality of a monitor depends on its resolution. It indicates how many pixels it can display in a given area, as well as how many bits are contained in each pixel.

How to remove the red-eye in pictures

Somewhere somehow, red eyes seem to attach itself to our photographs. This makes our friends and loved ones look like the version of the Exorcist. To avoid the red eye from haunting us, Fireworks MX 2004 has a tool for removing this effect on photos.

The Red-eye Removal tool works by removing all the shades of red within a certain range that are within the selected area. These, in turn, will be replaced by a neutral color range of gray and black.

To remove the red-eye effect, Macromedia has provided the following steps for the Red-eye Removal tool:

  1. Select the bitmap that exhibits the red eye effect. You can only use the Red-eye Removal tool on a bitmap, and not on a vector image.
  2. Choose the Red-eye Removal tool from the Tools panel. This tool can be found in the Replace Color tool pop-up menu.
  3. Click with the tool in the section that exhibits the red eye effect. The tool instantly transforms the red shades, to the tolerances set in the Property inspector for the tool.
  4. Since the tool only looks for red pixels, it should cleanly remove the red eye. Adjust the tolerance settings to fine tune the Red-eye Removal tool for your image.
by Granny's Mettle

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Making money with digital photography and live events

A few years ago I became interested in digital photography, mainly for web publishing and personal reasons. You know, how nice is it now to NOT have to deal with film, scanning pictures, and the costs of developing all of those "not great" photos that you didn't know were so bad until you paid to have them developed!

So, at the time I got my first digital camera a friend of mine was playing in a rock band, and needed pictures for their web pages and promotional printings and ads. When I first began to do their photography, I had NO IDEA what it all would lead to... and now I will reveal to you some of the MANY ways to make money, part-time, with your love for photography!

Now, at the clubs my friend's band played in- a lot of the time they would be in a line-up of 3 bands for the evening, of which I shot live pictures of my friend's band's performance. Then I got another idea, I'm there already, usually to finish the night with the band, so I started to take pictures of the other bands. Afterwards, as they were breaking down their equipment, I introduced myself as the other bands photographer, and explained that I liked their music and look- and also took pictures of them also.

I got the names of the band members, jotted down notes about which instruments each one played, and then got a mailing address to reach them. I told them that I was going to print up some proof sheets and send them off to them... all were very agreeable and willing (and why not, it doesn't cost them a thing).

Then I printed the proof sheet(s), and selected three of what I thought were the best- of which I made a little bigger on a seperate sheet and used Photoshop to refine and enhance the images prior to printing (all on my little ink-jet printer).
  • I composed a form letter that I could customize for each mailing explaining details like:
  • The first proof sheet was all of the raw digital images
  • The second one with the larger images was digitally self enhanced
  • I would professionally print any pictures they wanted for XXX cost (considering mailing costs, printing costs at a local printing shop, labor for digital enhancement, and healthy profit margin)
  • For any order I would give them a CD with ALL of the photos in digital form for them to use any way they wanted
  • Add my contact information
  • And finally my availability to book shootings with them in the future

Now I could personalize this form letter and send it with the proof sheets to the band, and when I would call them about a 8 days after I made the mailing to ask them if they recieved the proof sheets and which ones they liked (and I liked)- and I simply asked for an order.

It was amazing how well this worked, and I expanded the idea.

I would go to fund-raising events, marathons, special events hosted by radio station personalities... always getting the contact information for reaching whoever is in charge of promotions and following the same system!

As you go along, you realize some other benefits to you new "business"- like free admissions (and no club cover charges), press passes, exciting opportunities to meet interesting people and celebrities, discount drinks, and much more! It's amazing what people will GIVE you, if you just ask!

Then there are the home-business tax deductions that are eye-opening in themselves!

As soon as you can, upgrade to more professional equipment so you can not only "play" the part, but also "look" the part. Print up business cards, and make up your own porfolio of your "best" digitally enhanced photos of all kinds of subjects and previous shootings.

Seriously, this could turn your love for digital photography into an exciting lifestyle and an income that could surpass your present one!

But then again, I know I have only just scratched the surface with professional digital photography, and I'm sure you now have just entered a "think-tank" that will spur many more ideas for you to make digital photography more than just a love. Make it a great life!

by Richard Meredith