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HDR screensavers , tools for creating HDR photos

Eilean Donan Castle 314 screensaver
Eilean Donan Castle HDR screensaver

HDR photography is great way of getting a new perspective on what you can do with your own images . There are many ways of creating HDR photos , including Photomatix and and Photoshop . Photomatix is still the best tool for making HDR pictures as far as I am concerned . I used it to make my first HDR screensaver . I have just started trying out HDR PhotoStudio2 from Unified Color. The basic interface has a limited number of options compared to Photomatix .Unified Color has announced that HDR PhotoStudio, its High Dynamic Range software package formerly available only on the Windows platform, is now available for the Mac. The software is compatible with Intel systems running Leopard and Snow Leopard and requires at least a 2.5GHz dual core system with 2GB of RAM (4GB is recommended). HDR PhotoStudio gives photographers control over the colors within an image, a tool set that helps them address the effects of merging multiple exposures, and an improved workflow, the company says.
“In response to requests from photographers, we are excited to introduce HDR PhotoStudio to the Mac faithful,” said Alfred Zee, CEO of Unified Color Technologies. “With HDR PhotoStudio, Mac users can finally produce full-color HDR images that they envision, without concern that their dynamic range or colors will be clipped or shifted by applications constrained by traditional narrow gamut color models. With our technology, photographers can unlock the full color spectrum while preserving a realistic look and feel to their images.” HDR PhotoStudio’s 32-bit floating-point technology and Beyond RGB color space is designed to accurately depict and edit all the colors the human visual system can recognize. While the current evolution of HDR photography has often been characterized by oversaturated and unnatural-looking images, the makers of HDR PhotoStudio say their software enables photographers to provide a more true-to-life look for their HDR images. “Most other offerings are forced to reduce image quality to bring an HDR photo into a color range it can manage, often losing image data and clipping the full scope of colors in the process. While the current evolution of HDR photography has been dominated by oversaturated and unnatural-looking images, mainly due to these software limitations, HDR PhotoStudio enables photographers to unlock their complete photographic vision,” the company explained. The program’s tools aim to address some common difficulties in HDR photography. These include a halo reduction slider to fight the haloing problem of HDR images; a patented HDR noise reduction technique; the Veiling Glare adjustment designed to cut down on image haze from compounding lens glare; a Color Tone Equalizer which allows simultaneous management of saturation in six basic color channels; and a customizable recipe button to save macros. HDR PhotoStudio supports Unified Color’s native BEF file format which enables efficient HDR image compression, so photographers can easily manage and archive the large files, according to the company. The package includes a BEF-converting Photoshop plug-in, which enables the final HDR image to be applied to a Photoshop project. The program also supports RAW files from all the major camera manufacturers as well as TIFF, JPEG, BMP, and OpenEXR formats.
Available for immediate download via the company’s Web site, the Mac version of HDR PhotoStudio is being offered for an introductory price of $100 throughout the month of February. After that, the price goes up to its regular $150.

Braveheart statue sent back to sculptor

William Wallace statue, Wallace Monument , Stirling
Braveheart - William Wallace statue, Wallace Monument , Stirling

The controversial Braveheart statue at the Wallace Monument in Stirling has been returned to sculptor Tom Church. The William Wallace statue has divided opinion equally between those who love it and those who hate it . Historians were outraged because of its remarkable resemblance to a certain actor Mel Gibson , star of the Braveheart film. That was taking historical inaccuracies to a whole new level. However tourists visiting the Monument loved having their picture taken beside it . The 13 foot statue was 12 tonnes and carved out of gold sandstone . A new visitor centre is being built where it stood in the car park at the foot of the Monument.Church said he had been inspired to create the statue, which took him five months to carve, after watching the 1997 film. Church said: “I know the purists didn’t think too much of it but the tourists absolutely loved it. I believe it’s rightful home is at the Wallace Monument. It was the ideal place for it. I think they were maybe a bit angry that some people just wanted their picture taken with the statue and didn’t bother going into the monument.”

So what has the Braveheart phenomenon done for Scotland ? I think it has had a great effect on tourism in Scotland. The film has encouraged lots of new visitors to come over here. Beyond that it has also played well with the SNP and supporters of Independence because it is just an epic , albeit  inaccurate , film which appeals to the emotions of anyone who wants freedom for their own country . The picture of the statue featured here is available as a poster from Castle Pictures.

Stirling Castle project reveals royal court life

Historic Scotland is currently engaged in a £12 million project to return the royal palace within the walls of Stirling Castle to how it might have been in the mid-16th century.New research has revealed the cosmopolitan character of the Renaissance Scottish court at Stirling Castle .

The palace will reopen to the public in 2011 as a new Scottish visitor experience. Freelance historian, John Harrison, has been investigating original documents .Mr Harrison’s source is The Bread Book, an account of who received loaves from the royal kitchens throughout 1549 when the palace was the main residence of Scotland’s queen mother, Mary de Guise , mother of Mary , Queen of Scots . Mary, Queen of Scots was born in nearby Linlithgow Palace and she was   only 9 months old when she was crowned Queen of Scotland in the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle on September 9, 1543. On most days a loaf was granted to the Morys – or Moors – who Mr Harrison believes were probably either black Africans or Arabs originating from North Africa.

“This is a fascinating glimpse of the diversity of the royal court at Stirling in the mid-16th century. It was quite cosmopolitan at the time, with the French Mary de Guise at its head, and surrounded not just by Scots but by people from Spain, the Rhineland and what is now Belgium. There were a few English, but they were mostly prisoners. Just who the Moors were, and what they were doing, is difficult to say. They were quite low in the court hierarchy, but were part of the household and getting bread at royal expense.”
Hints have survived that there may have been Africans in Scotland even earlier. There is a poetic reference by Dunbar to a woman who has been assumed to be – ‘the Lady with the Meikle Lips’. Such references are mostly rather uncertain, and may have other explanations, and the importance of The Bread Book is its clarity at a time when record-keeping was still relatively thin. Just as fascinating is what The Bread Book adds to our understanding of the way the court was run, and who had access to the queen. The evidence suggests that rather than acting like many of the Tudor dynasty in England and taking her main meals in private, deep within the network of royal apartments, Mary de Guise would dine in the Queen’s Outer Hall.

“Quite a wide range of people had access to her, not ordinary farmers but lots of people who were fairly well-to-do, which is important as she was working hard to build and protect the interests of her young daughter – Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary de Guise was an intelligent, decisive woman and a smart operator.