Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Adobe Flex

Adobe Flex: Article

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

I often receive photographs from readers asking me what went wrong. The picture files are too large or of poor quality.

This month, we're going to look at some ways of improving your quality both within, and outside of, Fireworks MX. We'll see how to get the picture into Fireworks MX and, once in, how to make it look better.

Getting the Picture into Fireworks MX
Getting the picture into Fireworks MX properly is the first step of the process. This may seem pretty obvious at first. However, there are a lot of little tricks that even seasoned professionals frequently overlook.

The first thing you need to determine is whether the source of the photograph is going to be a scanner or digital camera. The price of both these items has dropped considerably over the past couple of years. A good quality scanner is around $100 (you can even get them bundled with a printer and a copying machine in one), and a digital camera costs around $300.

A word about digital cameras is in order. The quality of a camera is measured in megapixels. You can get a 2 megapixel camera for around $300, or spend upwards of $1,000 for a 4 megapixel camera. In most Web situations, 2 megapixels is more than sufficient. I personally own a 2 megapixel and, at the Web setting, it provides very high quality.

Most cameras and scanners have a Web setting that will determine the size and then give you the smallest dpi (dots per inch) without significant loss of quality. For instance, a Web output might be around 72 dpi; but a high-quality printing job might be around 300 dpi.

Recently, a friend called me about all of his scanned pictures being blurry in spots. After some examination, we determined that the problem was fingerprints all over the glass of the scanner. If you do a lot of scanning, use a good lens cleaner to keep your glass free of smudges, dust, and fingerprints.

Assuming your scanner is installed properly, with all the proper drivers, you should make sure that the source that needs scanning is placed properly in the scanner. Once that is done, from within Fireworks MX, select File > Scan > TWAIN Acquire. (Note: if you are working with more than one scanner, you may first need to select File > Scan > TWAIN Select.) The image should load right into Fireworks MX.

Most digital cameras use the USB port and are recognized as another hard drive letter. All you usually need to do is use Windows Explorer (or the operating system of your choice) to drag and drop the photographs from the camera to the folder you need to put them in on your local hard drive. From there on, you can simply open them up in Fireworks.

Once the Image Is In
Once the image is inside Fireworks MX, you can do all sorts of things to improve its quality. The photograph shown in Image I is a bit scratchy and poorly shaded.

By simply selecting Filters > Adjust Color > Auto Levels, you can clean up a lot of the problems so that the Image I photograph now looks like Image II.

Understanding the Histogram
With a picture open, you can select Filters > Adjust Colors > Levels. This is called a histogram and an example of one is shown in Image III.

The histogram shows three characteristics: Shadow, Midtone, and Highlight colors. There are three sliders underneath the histogram, one for each of the characteristics.

If a picture has too much shadow, details will be hidden; too much highlight will give the picture a washed out look; and too many midtones will make the picture look dull.

There are three ways in which you can change the characteristics: you can use the sliders (if you are a beginner, this might be the easiest technique); you can use one of the three corresponding eyedroppers; or you can type the amount in one of the three Input Level fields.

You will notice that this particular photograph looks very unbalanced. We can use the histogram to do some repairs. As an example, I can select the first eyedropper (for shadow) and click it in the hair region of the photograph. The results will be something like Image IV.

This will help sharpen your photograph considerably. However, you may notice that there now seem to be too many midtones, which are creating a blotchy effect. You can use the midtone slider in the histogram to cut that down a bit.

Add a Drop of Color
You can do some interesting highlighting to a photograph by using the Brush tool and a low opacity percentage. For instance, in Image V I used the Brush tool and set the color to soft gray. I used the Soft Rounded head with a diameter of 2 and I set the opacity to about 20%. I touched up the hair and a little of the shirt area as shown in Image V.

This will take a little experimentation, and a good eye, on your part. However, you can see that there are many possibilities. I strongly suggest that you look at my discussion of blending modes in the February issue of this journal (MXDJ, Vol. 2, issue 2). Many of the ideas I show there can be easily applied to this discussion.

If you open a color photograph you will see an even more pronounced histogram (see Image VI).

The photograph that this histogram is referencing has a lot of peaks around the the midtone area.

Another possibility for adjusting color is to change the curve. You can do that using Filters > Adjust Color > Curves (see Image VII).

The Curves feature is similar to the Levels feature but it provides more precise control. Levels uses highlights, shadows, and midtones to correct the tonal range, while you can use Curves to correct for a color cast caused by improper lighting.

We simply click on the curve and drag it to find that precise balance.

The final idea you might want to try is to take an image, such as the black and white portrait used in Images I and II, and create a background for the canvas. Experiment with color, opacity, and blend modes.

Next month, we'll discuss filters and how to create some cool effects with them.

More Stories By Charles E. Brown

Charles E. Brown is the former editor-in-chief of MX Developer's Journal. He is the author of Fireworks MX from Zero to Hero and Beginning Dreamweaver MX. He also contributed to The Macromedia Studio MX Bible. Charles is a senior trainer for FMC on the MX product family.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
jonathan Chambler 03/04/04 09:37:54 PM EST

I am always interested in ways of displaying photos dynamicaly as they are uploded via a database to show in a thumnail and full size.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.