editing with Picture Window Pro:
page introduces Picture Window Pro and gives an overview of its
al Picture Window Pro 3 by Carlos E. Mora is an excellent
Spanish language tutorial.
images produced by scanners and digital cameras are often quite good,
but rarely perfect. They may suffice as records of a scene or event,
they seldom have the dramatic impact of a great print. If your goal is
to make prints that go beyond simple simple records-- prints that
the essence people and places, the sublety of still lives, or the
of landscapes-- to create prints that stand as works of art-- you will
need to make many adjustments, large and small-- to alter the
contrast and color of all or parts of the image until it looks
right. You will need to
Image editing is the heart of the creative act of photographic
it is where you transform a well-crafted snapshot into a work of art.
is where you implement Ansel Adams' oft-repeated statement,
"The negative is
comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance."
In his youth Adams was disappointed by camera shop prints of his
photographs-- they didn't convey what he saw and felt.
launched him on a successful quest to make prints that conveyed his
about the landscape he loved. He shared his knowledge in his Basic
series, particularly in The Negative and The
that are relevant to this day. Technology has transformed the means
of image editing, but not the ends.
Adams realized that a print can never capture the tonal range
actual scene, particularly a naturally illuminated landscape. A print
a maximum tonal range of no more than 100:1. Scenes have widely varying
tonal ranges, often much greater. If you try to transfer a scene
to a print, the contrast may be too low, resulting in a flat
More often it's too high, blocking out highlights and shadows. Even if
you correct the contrast (and do nothing else), you will rarely capture
the visual experience of the scene.
Why? Because our eyes function differently when
viewing prints and viewing
scenes. As they move about a scene, they constantly adapt to
in illumination using all sorts of cues not present in a print. The
we experience is the result of numerous small and large adaptations.
we look at a print, our eyes hardly adapt. They grasp the print as a
In order to capture the feeling of a scene, those adaptations have to
put into the print. And to capture the artistic essence of the scene--
to reveal its essence-- we often have to go a great deal further.
In practice, this means if you photograph in natural
light, you must
dodge (lighten selected areas of a print) and burn (darken selected
When I started with photography I thought the master straight
(Alfred Steiglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock, and Ansel
Adams, to name a few.) who practiced "pure" photography didn't do much
dodging and burning. Wrong! They
were consummate artists
who understood the workings of the human eye. They worked very hard on
their prints, balancing every element to maximize the visual intensity.
They would have loved digital technology. As Paul
Caponigro said in a 1973 workshop,
"If I were God,
I would say 'Let there be light.' Then I'd never have to dodge or burn."
Some of the specific goals of image editing are
Adjust the geometry: crop, rotate, correct perspective distortion, etc.
- Remove dust specks and scratches.
- Correct for lens aberrations, if needed: distortion (barrel
aberration (color fringing), and light falloff (in wide angle
- Adjust the brightness, contrast, color tint, and color
saturation of the
image as a whole.
- Adjust portions of the image to bring them into balance with
as a whole. This typically involves the use of masks
and may be facilitated by sophisticated techniques such as contrast
- Sharpen the image, and, if necessary, reduce grain.
Window Pro from Digital Light and Color
Digital Light & Color
founded in 1993 by Jonathan Sachs, co-founder of the Lotus Development
Corporation and author of Lotus 1-2-3, one of the landmark programs of
personal computing. When Jonathan left Lotus in 1990, he combined his
software skills with his passion for photography to create a digital
editing program that has evolved into today's Picture Window Pro.
Window Pro is an extremely
powerful image editor that has every feature serious photographers
And it's affordable.
for the Pro version, which I recommend. A 30 day trial version is
- Full support for ICC
- Full support for
and 16-bit B&W files. This allows repetitive edits with no loss
- Outstanding masking
capabilities for adjusting
portions of an image, including creating masks based on image
- A wide array of geometrical transformations, including
rotation, warping, perspective correction (equivalent to lens tilt),
distortion (barrel and pincushion) correction, and lateral
chromatic aberration (color fringing) correction.
- Excellent tutorials
support. See the message
The inevitable question will arise, "Why not Photoshop?"
after all, the dominant image editor in graphic arts. The answer:
Window Pro is less expensive, easier to learn and easier to use. And
powerful. Photoshop is intended for advertising and display. It has an
enormous range of features most photographers will never need; features
which make it difficult to learn and less than intuitive to use. As a
a whole industry has grown up around teaching it; numerous classes are
offered and over 400 books are in print. You can start making artistic
prints of the highest quality far more quickly with Picture Window Pro.
And if needs be, you can always open the files with Photoshop. I often
talk to people who have tried digital printing but prefer the
chemical darkroom. They have one thing in common: they've struggled
Robert Schwiebert's eloquent comments sum it up.
I've been a Photoshop
user for a few years and have accumulated a number of good plug-ins and
actions to support my photographic workflow. In the past I had glanced
a PWP, but didn't really take anything seriously except Photoshop. Then
I spent some time reading your various articles that reference PWP's
and I decided to download a demo copy to work with. After spending some
quality time using the program I realized that, for photographic work,
it provides all the capabilities of Photoshop plus my add-ons, and much
more. It's hard to know where to stop in singing its praises: a clean
consistent user interface, fast image processing, exceptional
48 bit image support, lower cost upgrade path, ... I can really see why
you promote it so much, and I hope it gets a more prominent place in
market. Anyway, the upshot is that I've officially retired Photoshop.
very satisfying to have one high-quality, well-integrated tool that
my photographic needs.
Picture Window screen
|The title bar (top row)
contains the program name and version
and the usual Windows boxes for minimize, maximize and close.
The second row contains pull-down menus: File,
Edit, Transformation, Mask, Tools, Window and Help.
through this row are summarized in the table below.
The third row contains icons for
The workspace is everything below
the third row. Only a portion
is illustrated. It contains images and dialog boxes. The Levels
and Color transformation, described below,
is in progress.
Images are edited by means
which operate on the entire image or portions selected by a mask,
and by tools,
which typically operate on small areas of the image, selected by
the mouse. Transformations create a new copy of the image; tools update
the current copy.
quick guide to Picture Window Pro functions,
summarizes transformations, tools, and other operations.
by operation, at the bottom,
lists transformations by function (Color Balance, Contrast, History,
size and display
transformations have been performed, several image windows
may be open. You can access the history of these images (a chart
the transformation that created each of them) by clicking on the Windows
in the Thumbnail Browser.
true size of a digital image is its pixel size, for
3,740 pixels. You can see image size by right-clicking on the image and
selecting Display info,
Digital images are also specified by their size in inches and
in dpi (dots or pixels per inch). For example, the box on the left
1.44 x 0.93
inches at 4000.00 dpi resolution.
be overly concerned by these numbers. They refer to film in
and have no effect on the monitor display or print size. Picture Window
ignores them (you set the print size when you make the print), but some
programs use them for setting print size. If you need, you can change
without changing the image pixels using the Resize
size and proportions. Most of the time I ignore them.
When an image is opened, it is displayed at 1:1 magnification
pixel per screen pixel) if it's small enough to fit inside the screen;
otherwise it is reduced to fit the screen. The amount of reduction, for
is indicated at the top of the image window. Right-clicking on an image
brings up zoom controls, several of which have icons:
Out to Fit Screen ,
In and Resize (Expand Window),
Zoom Out ,
to 1:1, Zoom to 1:1 and Resize.
or zoom in even more, when you need to examine examine imge pixels
for example, when you use the clone tool to remove dust specks or when
you sharpen the image. Note that there are two options for zooming to
to 1:1 and Resize
usually enlarges the window to fill the screen. I often use Zoom
to 1:1 (no Resize), which has no
icon, because it leaves
the window unchanged, keeping tools and other windows uncovered.
Clicking on the Browse...
opens a Thumbnail Browser on the left of the Picture Window screen,
here on the right. Click on the Browse button
to select the folder to browse. OPT
allows you to select Tiny, Small, Medium, or Large images. Small is
I normally use Large. Thumbnails can be sorted by name, date, or size.
The thumbnail display can be used for managing image folders: you can
or delete files as you please. The Browser window can be resized
to display thumbnails side-by-side. Thumbnails are stored in a file
(similar in function to Windows XP's Thumbs.db),
which is updated when the Thumbnail Browser is opened or the folder is
Deleting a thumbnail deletes the image file itself. Be
editing is typically performed in the following sequence.
Each step involves a tool or transformation. The sequence is, of
not rigid. I tend to follow it most of the time, but there always
I'm forever finding dust specks I missed, especially after sharpening.
Then there's that last tonal adjustment... Before you start, make sure
your system is calibrated
monitor conforms to generally accepted standards (gamma
= 2.2 for Windows, etc.) and your prints match your monitor.
Transformations are applied in the following steps.
the image and make any
other geometrical adjustments using transformations in the Geometry
up the image-- remove
scratches and dust spots using the Clone or Speck Removal tools.
the overall brightness,
contrast and color. A huge arsenal of transformations is available for
this purpose: Filter and the Gray
and Color toolboxes.
if needed and adjust portions of the image.
tonal and color adjustments
are complete, sharpen the image with Unsharp Mask. Use a mask to avoid
sharpening smooth areas like skies-- sharpening increases grain. If grain
is objectionable, consider using a separate program, Neat
Image, to reduce it. It comes close to working miracles.
An example of a transformation follows. More examples can be
found in Making
fine prints Part 3: Image editing, Example:
Sunset, Providence, and Tinting
and hand coloring B&W images.
the image to be adjusted
(click on it).
the transformation. This
brings up a dialog box with sliders and other controls.
adjust a portion of the image,
select a mask
by clicking on
the box to the right of the Amount: slider and selecting a mask image.
The Amount: slider splits into two sliders. White (the masked area)
to 100% and black (the unmasked area) defaults to 0. You may need to
adjustments in the transformation
dialog box until the Preview image looks good. The original and Preview
images may be resized if necessary. With transformations that affect
detail, such as Sharpen or Blur, I usually enlarge the Preview, and
the input image, to 1:1. I may move the amount slider from 100% to 0
back to observe the effect of the transformation.
OK to complete the transformation
and close the dialog box. Click Apply to complete the transformation,
the dialog box open-- useful for continuing where you left off.
new image is named Untitled
where n is an integer that increments in steps of 2
(1, 3, 5, ...).
After several transformations, Untitled images can crowd the screen and
gobble memory: 48-bit images scanned at 4000 dpi from 35mm film can be
as large as 120 MB. You can access a chart with the history of these
(the transformation that created each of them) by clicking on the Windows
tab in the Thumbnail Browser.
You should name and save "keepers" and delete intermediate images you
longer need. It's a good idea to save an early, good version of an
before you do too much processing. I usually save a version after I've
cropped it, removed dust, and done some basic color adjustment, but
I've adjusted masked areas or done any sharpening, just in case I
something along the way.
example: Levels and Color...
Levels and Color
transformation makes a good example. It's the Swiss army knife of
for adjusting color, brightness, and contrast: easy to use and
though not as powerful as specialized transformations such as Brightness
Curve (B&W) or Color
(color), which are my favorites.
In the illustration above, the input image
the upper left, the Levels
dialog box is on the lower left, the preview image is on the upper
and the color picker (for Color
is on the lower right. The preview image usually has less resolution
the final image so it can be calculated faster. It appears
if the Default Preview
box in Preferences
is set to Auto.
If the Auto
box is checked, it is recalculated whenever an adjustment is changed.
the original and preview images are illustrated smaller than normal:
can be resized at any time.
boxes appear in most transformations.
is grayed out when Auto
performs the transformation (creates a full image), but leaves the
box open for further adjustments.
performs the transformation and closes the dialog box. Full
Range is specific to Levels
It sets Dynamic Range (the black and white pointers) so the so the
is 0% and the maximum is 100%.
allows you to set options, which may be specific to the transformation.
The options in Levels and
transformations have an Amount
to control the amount of the transformation. When no mask has been
(the box to the right of Amount
pure white), there is a single Amount
slider. To select a mask
image the same pixel size as the Input Image, used to select areas that
receive adjustment), click on the box on the right of the slider.
masks (loaded in PW Pro) can be selected, and a double slider appears,
as shown on the right. The double slider allows you to control Amount
separately in dark and light areas of the mask (gray is intermediate).
The default is 100% adjustment in white areas and 0% in black, but it
be inverted or set as desired.
are specific to Levels and
slider and the black and white pointers below Dynamic
Range control the midtones, shadows, and highlights,
These controls allow you to adjust both brightness and contrast.
the Full Range box on top sets the left (black) arrow to 0% and the
(white) arrow to 100%. I use Brightness
(B&W) or Color Curves
when I want
to perform these adjustments more precely, with a histogram display.
Color Balance is
used, you may
want to increase the right (white) arrow beyone 100%. Clicking the Invert
clipped pixels in preview box shows when you've gone too
Clicking on the Color
Balance box brings up a color picker window, illustrated
lower right. The Color Picker offers a number of options, including
colors by typing numbers in boxes or using standard filters (CC or
designations). The Color
affects mostly highlights. The Color
transformation has six boxes for adding or removing color casts from
midtones, and shadows.
can be set to HSV
These two spaces, which
transform RGB images into hue, saturation, and lightness or value, are
required for adjusting tones. (Lightening or darkening an RGB image
the problem of how much to adjust each setting to keep the same hue.)
should be familiar with the effect of Color
Space on saturation when you lighten or darken an image: HSV
and HSL behave
Last but not
least is the Saturation
slider. More options (Preserve Low, High, Low and High, and neither)
available in the Saturation
quick guide to Picture Window Pro functions
This table shows highlights of available
commands. I've omitted several; the entire list would be overwhelming.
You may want to use the table as a reference and skip to the example below,
illustrating the use of the versatile Levels
and Color Transformation. I do most of my tonal and color
with Brightness Curve
and Color Curves
||New..., Open... ,
Save as..., Open Photo CD ,
Print..., Print setup..., Close
thumbnails and width of the display can be resized as needed. The
tab displays a chart listing the open images with the history of the
used to create them.
a scanner or digital
camera (TWAIN interface).
the image via the
TWAIN driver (scan or load from camera).
(background, border colors, default directories, etc.)
the Color Management
Settings dialog box. Online tutorial: Color
Undo all, Copy
(whole image), Paste (load whole image)
the appearance of the image.
a copy of the image.
or rotate by multiples
of 90 degrees.
an image, add a border,
or soften the edges. Can also rotate the image by small amounts and
(resample) the image.
Normally used to change pixel size, but there are a number of options,
e.g., you can the image size in inches and dpi resolution without
the pixels. Online tutorial: Image
Resizing and Resampling Techniques.
(in fine increments),
crop, perspective correct, stretch, and warp an image.
or rotate the image
for lens barrel
or pincushion distortion.
that affect tones
in B&W images. All work with color images.)
|Levels and Color...
color balance, brightness
and contrast. The Swiss army knife of color/tonal adjustments:
and easy to use, but other commands are more powerful.
the brightness curve
(gray scale) of an image. The finest adjustment for brightness and
I perfer it when Show histograms
is selected. Online tutorial: Using
Curves and Histograms.
but handy with a mask because you can simultaneously brighten and
different regions. The Preserve options are Black, White, Black and
a B&W image
to color by setting different gray levels to selected colors.
toning: sepia, etc. Used in B&W
the light falloff
in wide angle lenses.
the image gamma.
three B&W images
of the same size into one color image. The inverse of Extract
The channels can be RGB, HSV,
that affect tones
and color in color images. Not for B&W.)
or remove a color cast.
Separate controls for highlights, midtones, and shadows.
color, tone, and
saturation curves (HSV, HSL, or RGB) using curves combined with
Similar to Brightness
Curve. Online tutorial: Using
Curves and Histograms.
saturation in HSV
or HSL color space. The Preserve options are Low, High, Low and High,
a channel of a color
image: R, G, B, HSV Hue, Saturation, Value, or HSL Hue,
Luminance. The inverse of Combine Channels.
a color image to
B&W using a filter selected with the color picker. Equivalent
B&W film with a filter.
you to alter a color
without affecting the overall image. Same as the Color Mechanic
chromatic aberration (color fringing)
|Change Color Profile...
profile associated with an image. Can change image data only,
setting only, or both (default).
for pixel misregistration,
which you can get in some cheap scanners.
image type (8, 16-bit
B&W, 24, 48-bit color, 1-bit binary)
||Filter a color
image, as you would during the exposure. Specify CC value, Wratten
or RGB values. Images can also be used as filters. Exposure
is available. Many options.
images under control
of a mask.
an image the same
size as the current image filled with a graduated sequence of colors.
useful for creating simple geometric masks (B&W images) with
the image. Several
methods including simple and gaussian with adjustments.
the images. Simple
sharpen or Unsharp Mask with radius, amount, and threshold adjustments.
Online tutorial: Sharpening
|Advanced Sharpen... new
the image, remove white
or black specks, and sharpen it in a combined operation that optimizes
image quality and detail. Offers more precise and flexible control than
text to the image. Online
produce non-photographic, artistic results. The list is not complete.)
(overlay a calendar on top of an image), Difference
(shows edge locations), Emboss (combine an image
with its displaced
negative; very artsy), Grid, Halftone,
(very cool), Posterize (a classic effect), Spiral
a circular portion of the image),
Tile (quick way of making multiple
images), and others.
an image consisting
of a background page overlaid with one or more image panels. Online
the Layout Transformation.
|Stack Images new
images under the
control of amount sliders or masks. A powerful way of expanding the
range of digital cameras, when you can take multiple exposures (on a
portions of the image to be affected by transformations.
for selecting a portion of the image to adjust or to combine with
image using the Composite . Works with tonal and color transformations,
sharpening, blurring, etc. This is a powerful and important tool. Making
masks rapidly is the key to selective image manipulation-- dodging,
etc. Online tutorials: Creating
and Using Masks | Dodging
pixel values (RGB,
HSV, HSL, or RGB Density).
on an image zooms it in, centered on where you clicked. Shift-clicking
zooms the image out.
mouse to scroll
around the image (useful when the image is enlarged beyond the edges of
window with a magnified portion of the image.
pixels from one part
of an image to another, or between imges. Adjustable Radius,
colors using a brush
with adjustable Radius, Transparency, and Softness.
|Line and Arrow
line (without or
with arrow heads) on the image.
retouching small areas.
Includes Lighten, Darken, Increase Saturation, Decrease Saturation,
Sharpen, Speck Removal, Smudge, Red Eye Removal, and Add Noise. These
are performed with a brush with adjustable Radius, Transparency, and
Each function has options for fine control. You can undo mistakes with
for selecting and
arranging image windows.
to Top ,
All. Cycle through Windows
is available as an icon only. (Control-Tab also cycles through windows.)
options are available
when you right-click on an image.
Out to Fit Screen) ,
In and Resize (Zoom In and Expand Window) ,
Zoom Out ,
Factor, Zoom 1:1, Zoom 1:1 and
image information (type,
size, date, profile, etc.)
or write file comments,
saved with the file in TIFF tags, etc.
Getting Started, Contents, Search,
and Glossary are self-explanatory.
brings up context sensitive help window for the current transformation.
Settings allow you to set some obscure but important settings
are listed alphabetically by operation (i.e., function
name) (in blue)
for operations that are frequently required, not obvious, or can be
by several transformations.
the online Tutorial,
Filter the image, as you would at the time of exposure.Specify CC
Wratten designation, color temperature correction (in degrees K; 6500K
leaves the image unchanged), or RGB values (using a color picker).
compensation should be manually applied.
or remove a color cast. Separate controls for highlights, midtones, and
shadows. Easy to use.
Color Space: set to RGB, this gives the finest control of color balance
using curves combined with histogram display.
A single adjustment. Simple, but not very powerful.
a single Color without
affecting overall balance
Correction: An amazing transformation, identical to the Color
Photoshop plugin. Can be further refined with a Mask.
Curve: (B&W images) or Color Curves:
(V or L channel for
color images). Best if Show histograms
is selected. Shift-click on the upper bar to add a control point.
to remove it.
illustration on the right
shows how Brightness Curve (identical to Color
the V or L channel) is used to increase contrast. Curves gives
control and flexibility.
The Curves transformations
combine adjustment with histograms (plots of pixel value distribution,
from 0 to 255). This is valuable because most fine prints have some
black region; histograms show you the distribution of pixel values.
I use curves transformations
for most of my color and tonal adjustments. Color Curves
hue and saturation in HSV and HSL color spaces; it is good for color
in RGB color space, though I usually use Filter.
Can also rotate the image by small amounts and soften the border.
areas: Use any of the lighten or darken transformations (below) with a
areas: Use Miscellaneous
or Darken. Be sure to set the desired options.
several transformations have been performed, several image windows may
or the Browse icon
with the Windows tab selected shows the history of each open image--
source and the transformation used to create it.
You should name and save
"keepers" and delete intermediate images that are no longer needed,
if consume lots of memory. (Right-click on the image and click on
info to see the amount of memory used.) It's a good idea to save an
good version of an image, before you do much processing-- before
and operations that require masking.
aberrations and deficiencies
distortion: corrects pincushion and barrel distortion.
light falloff at edges of wide angle lenses.
Corrects lateral chromatic aberration (color fringing).
Simple, but handy with a mask
can simultaneously brighten and darken different regions. The Preserve
options: Black, White, Black and White, Neither, are important.
Allows you to adjust shadow, midtone, and highlight level.
or Color Curves allow you to perform fine
adjustments with the help
of a histogram display. My
(view camera shift, rise)
with OPT set to rigid.
Angle can be entered in a box at the bottom of the dialog box.
for multiples of 90 degrees.)
powerful and easy to use, with several options. All transformations in
this section work with HSV or HSL color space.
curves: a little
more powerful and complex: works with curves, displays histogram. I
do this along with a lightness or value adjustment.
Simple, no options.
soft focus lens isn't
unsharp or out of focus: it diffuses light from highlights into
To approximate soft focus, click on Transformation,
then select a Gaussian blur with a fairly large radius (you'll have to
do some trial-end-error to get the effect you desire). Click OK, then
on the original image and click on Transformation, Composite...
Select the blurred image for the Overlay. Set Operation to Lighten,
to None, and adjust Overlay Amount for the desired effect. Have fun
with other operations and moving sliders. This is best done after dust
removal but before tonal adjustments. You can achieve a similar effect
without Composite by adjusting the Amount slider in
but the result is a little less like a soft focus lens.
You can undo mistakes with any of the tools,
and Line and Arrow.
This page introduced Picture
Window Pro and outlined its capabilities. To review the
basics of image
editing, read Making
fine prints Part
3: Image editing or the online tutorials, The
Basics of Digital Images, the Tutorial
chapter from the Picture Window electronic manual, and Nine
Tips for Making Better Prints. The key to serious image
selective adjustment with masks. Making masks quickly is a vital skill.
To learn more, read Making masks
or the online
and using masksand
For more depth, look at the
advanced pages on
image editing in Example:
masking (a very powerful
technique for balancing
contrasty images), and Tinting
hand coloring B&W images.
and text copyright © 2000-2015 by Norman
Norman Koren lives in Boulder, Colorado, founded Imatest LLC in 2004, previously worked on magnetic recording technology. He has been involved with photography since 1964.