How-To: Creating the Cowboy Denim Theme

This is partly a how-to article, but mostly a collection of useful tips for Photoshop and Alien Skin Eye Candy filters. I'm using the Cowboy Denim theme I recently created for the T-Mobile Sidekick as an example. The WQVGA version pictured here is part of the final result.

Almost without trying, this theme became a cornucopia of Eye Candy effects. I use Eye Candy Impact on a regular basis in commercial work, but Sidekick themes are a good chance to pull out some of the crazier stuff. Go check 'em out at Alien Skin's web site.

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Review: Alien Skin Exposure

When it comes to photo editing, I'm a do-it-yourselfer. I like to set levels and color adjust by hand, tweaking until I get it just right. Many Photoshop filters I've tried leave me unimpressed -- they tend to clobber any subtlety in the image, screaming, "look at my dazzling filter effects!"

But Alien Skin's Exposure filter is... wow.

Exposure claims to bring "the look and feel of film to digital photography." I don't have any wistful longing for "the film look" but I was suitably impressed by their samples, so I downloaded the demo. It turns out Exposure isn't just about the film look — it's a superb tool for all kinds of photo correction tasks.

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IPTCInfo Perl Module

Ever wish you add information to your photos like a caption, the place you took it, the date, and perhaps even keywords and categories? You already can. The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) defines a format for exchanging meta-information in news content, and that includes photographs. You can embed all kinds of information in your images. The trick is putting it to use.

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Dealing With Lame Autofocus

Blurry airplane

Do you ever wind up with pictures like the one shown here? Digital camera owners will probably say "yes" a little too often. In the neverending quest for technological advancement, most camera makers build automatic focusing (AF) mechanisms into every camera they make, and frequently do not include a good manual override. When the camera gets confused and won't focus right, you're hosed.

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External Flash Techniques

Bounce flash photo

Many people will wonder: my camera has a flash on it, so why would I want another one? The answer is simple: the built-in flash on most cameras is far from worthy compared to even a low-end external flash. You can get much better results with a decent external unit, easily justifying the cost and extra effort of carrying it around.

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