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Hardware and Software Requirements For Digital Photography

Photographers are a lot like drug addicts. They start off with a simple point and shoot automatic camera and, if the bug bites them, they start hiding spare change from their spouse to buy film or the next greatest fix… I mean toy. From then on only a twelve step program has a chance of curbing the addiction. The moment I started clicking a camera’s shutter I was hooked and there is still no redemption in sight. As I started to get good images it justified my addiction and the expenditures that followed. I’m pretty sure I never took food from the mouths of my children, but I can’t be certain. The digital revolution has even deepened the addiction with the instant gratification of image preview.

Digital cameras have saved folks so much money on film but there are many hidden costs with digital. If you want to do something with your images besides take them to one of those kiosks to print some images you will see a need for a computer and some software. You can be happy for a long time with free software like The Gimp or Picasa that does some pretty cool stuff. But, at some time, when quality becomes as important as the image itself, you are going to worry that these software programs are wrecking your image files. Things you didn’t notice will start bugging you; blocked posterized shadows, blown out highlights, loss of tone and detail. The more you tweak them the worse they look.

There will be a new high~ processing a 16 bit file. But to process in 16 bit you need Photoshop. Now you can buy Photoshop Elements for about $90 but it lacks Photoshop’s greatest tool, curves. To process without curves is like taking a hike and not really knowing where you are or where you’re going. I do all my tone adjustments with curves because you can make very precise tone adjustments without worrying about blown out highlights or blocking shadows. Blown highlights are bright highlight areas that should have detail and tone but have lost them because of camera exposure error or improper adjustments in processing. They are then rendered as pure white. Blocked shadows are pretty much the same problem except the tone and detail loss is in the shadow areas. Curves let you set the highlight and shadow points and only make adjustments to the middle tones.

You can find old versions of Photoshop on eBay and the web quite reasonably but the latest Photoshop CS4 retails for $700. Ouch! Always be careful when buying anything on eBay. If it’s too good of a deal it is probably a scam. If you are a student or have a child in high school or college you can get a big discount when buying the educational (not upgradable) version. Whatever Photoshop version you get be prepared for a steep learning curve! There are good books that can walk you through the basics and many tutorials on the internet. There are also tons of Photoshop plug-ins that do everything from improving sharpness to smoothing skin.

Another hidden cost in digital photography is your computer. Most people have computers in their homes, especially if they have children. Anyone who has purchased a digital camera in the last year has more mega pixels than they really need for their 4×6 pictures. The more mega pixels you have the larger your image files will be and the more space you need on your computer to store them. Since image files are much larger that text files your computer must also have lots of RAM and fast processors to handle dealing with so much data. I have 3GB of RAM on my computer and three external hard drives to store and back up images. My computer often gives me the hourglass figure when I’m working on large files. If your computer is three years old or more and you mostly do text work it may be too slow for 16 bit image processing. If, on the other hand, your child has just talked you into buying a gaming computer with a high end graphic card you are going to be quite happy. So to operate Photoshop and average sized image files you will need at least 1GB of RAM and at least a 1.8GHz or faster processor, otherwise prepare for some wait time. It’s also nice to have an external hard drive to store you images so you don’t use up all your computer hard drive space. Your computer also needs at least 1280×800 video display with a 16 bit video card.

Most of us still have film negatives or slides in boxes under our bed or in our closet. Memories of our younger years and images of times we still want to hold onto. Wouldn’t it be a nice winter time job to scan all those memories and store them on our computer? Many flat bed scanners scan film although there are scanners made just for film and the quality and resolution is better. When scanning slides or negatives be sure to scan them to a large enough file size and resolution needed to get a good print. I spent many hours scanning old negatives one winter only to discover I scanned them to a too small file size for the print I wanted to make.

Digital imagery has made the printing of photographs a much more exacting science. Instead of having color balance a subjective matter it can now be much more controlled. My camera, software, scanner, and printer all have the same color space. This means that all the different tools used to create, process, and print the image all use the same color palette. As your desire for finer quality prints increases the need to ‘print your own’ will be the only fix for your new addiction. You will justify the expense of the printer: so you have more control over your art.

After you have amassed the whole assortment of every facet of the photographic process your spouse and children will disown you, your house will be foreclosed, and if you still have a job, it will never again be as important as your new addiction. But it was never your fault; it was that of the person who sold you your first camera.

Online Roleplaying Games

Online roleplaying games (rpg) are increasing in popularity throughout the internet. Perhaps a major reason for this is that more and more people are staying home because of the dangers of going out doors. By playing online roleplaying games people can imagine themselves getting into all sorts of scenarios in which frequently they become the hero.

Online a player can become almost anyone or anything they want to be. For example they can take on the role of vampire or a warlord. It is possible to become a doctor or lawyer or any profession you choose. Those who find themselves isolated in society can role play such characters as prom queen, leading football star or a boss of a big corporation.

To be really good in online roleplaying games it is important to have good set of rules, computer hardware and software. Hardware is frequently noted as being ideal for playing games on a computer and includes a good monitor, graphics card and an integrated sound system. The right software is also important. Fast broadband is also important as the games normally require plenty of movement and therefore dial up broadband will usually be unsatisfactory.

Some claim that online roleplaying games are not actually very good because many people can confuse the real world with the world of the roleplay. For this reason players need to take stock of themselves and ensure that they are not carried away with the irreality of the play. Examples of this sort of confusion is often used in crime television programs such as Law and Order to develop some very interesting plots.

Online roleplaying games tend to use text based roles using the internet as the medium to convey communications. Some role playing are played by players taking turns. These can include play be email games and play by post games in internet forums. Other role playing games are more realistic with the use of telnet or IRC. These are often referred to as multi user (MU) or massively multi-player online role playing games (MMORPG) Some people use internet chat clients or dedicated virtual tabletop software to play what would otherwise be a traditional RPG. Any offline roleplaying game is capable of being played online.

One of the best but darkest roleplaying games available is Vampire Clans. This game has vampire clans that war against each other. While battling against each other the clans seek out new skills, new capabilities and new weapons. A player has to collect minions to do their bidding, while taking part in battles to kill off their enemies. The entire game is set in darkness, and is appropriately . creepy with ominous music and shadows.

On the other side of the emotional spectrum is a game where the player takes on the persona of a a fictional person and wander through the virtual world doing many of the things that regular people would do- including seeking a job, going on dates and even going out to eat. All of the mundane parts of life are included for realism, and the graphics are fairly bright and lifelike. The role could take on any aspect of a human personality for good and/or bad.

No matter what type of game you choose to play, no matter what persona you slip into, do not let it take over your life. Your real life is still waiting to be lived positively.

3D Gaming – What the Future Holds?

When audiences first witnessed Avatar in RealD 3D, many of us gamers instantly said, “Wouldn’t this be amazing if a video game had such great 3D?” Well, apparently the top console producers said the same thing and 3D gaming is just around the corner.

Filming a movie in 3D means having multiple cameras that capture different angles and then having all of this processed correctly to feed 3D glasses the right image to trick your depth perception. The other option is to put in 3D after the fact with computer manipulation. But this gives things a 2D “cut-out” look that is less than realistic in most cases.

The great thing about video games is the cameras are virtual. The 3D wizardry can be built in at the lowest level of the games graphic engine. Believe it or not, this kind of data is already included in many PC games! David Chechelashvili, head of 3D Hardware company XpanD says that games using Direct X 8.0 and higher already deliver this kind of information, but that hardware just doesn’t exist to display it yet. So just how soon will we see games that work with 3D TVs?

3D Games for 3D Television

Sony and Nvidia recently previewed their new 3D versions of PlayStation 3 and PC games that will work with the new 3D TVs that are just around the corner. Some games looked better than others. The strongest 3D previews featured vertigo-inducing moments of true depth perception. The PlayStation 3 would require a firmware upgrade to work with 3D TVs and games would of course be created with this in mind. The firmware upgrade is slated for release later this year.

3D Games On the Go

Nintendo is always one step a head in innovation and the next big thing. They have tried 3D before with the ill-fated Virtual Boy – a system plagued with technical issues and production compromises that completely overshadowed the 3D effects the system could provide.

However, their latest foray into portable 3D looks very promising. The Nintendo 3DS builds on the DS’s success and also contains 360 degree analog input. The 3D effects work without any glasses whatsoever and can also take 3D pictures. The plethora of big-name games set to be released for the first time in 3D makes the 3DS the portable gaming device to watch.

Nintendo boasts that the new 3D depth of these games adds to the gameplay value of classic games like Mario 64 or StarFox. Promising titles on the horizon for the Nintendo DS include reviving the Kid Icarus franchise, Mario Kart, PilotWings, Star Fox, Resident Evil, and Ninja Gaiden.

What the Future Holds

Will 3D movies and games really become a lasting part of our entertainment or only a passing fad? Only time will tell. It will take years for 3D TVs to become common and economical choices for gamers as well as time for the technology to fully mature and integrate with games. However, the possibilities for 3D video games are already panning out to be a reality.