November 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November 2002 Current Issue
November 2002 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

How to make the most of devices revolutionizing the way we take pictures

The digital camera, just a few years ago a rare item in most homes and businesses, is now the fastest selling electronic item next to cellular phones and PDAs. And with the blurring of the boundaries between phones, PDAs and cameras, people might soon be able to snap pictures and send them anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

In the meantime, however, many digital users likely are not getting the most they can from the cameras they already have. Are you having problems getting your pictures out of the camera, onto your PC and then transmitted in a format (and file size) you can share?

Following are some great resources that offer answers to common questions, including online forums and discussions groups, as well as shopping sites for the next toy.

A few magazines are geared to the digital photo market. The bimonthly Digital Camera (; $18 per one-year subscription) appears to cater to the professional photographer and has articles dedicated to all aspects of electronic photography and imaging. PCPhoto Magazine (; $12 a year for nine issues) offers a wide range of reviews and how-to topics. Other photography magazines such as Popular Photography and Outdoor Photography have many sections and articles dedicated to digital photography as well as film photography.

A free monthly Webzine to check out is ( Aside from the articles, readers send in their own pictures and describe how they were taken and what cameras they used.

Countless Web sites are dedicated to how to select and use digital cameras; others offer ways to showcase pictures and enter competitions. For those of us struggling to understand the terminology and basic uses of digital photography, one of the best sites to check out is ShortCourses ( Here can be found a wide range of books, reviews of equipment and software, and links to related sites. My favorite link is the “How Do I Do That?” section, which answers questions covering how the cameras’ special features work and much more. In addition to good explanations, the site has product recommendations and detailed how-to instructions.

Equipment and software reviews aplenty are found on Digital Camera Guide ( Scroll down through the advertising links to find a comprehensive glossary and lots of helpful FAQs.

It’s easy to point and click with our cameras; it’s dealing with the resulting picture where most of us run into trouble. Being able to edit the pictures and do all of the wonderful effects is why we went digital in the first place, but where to start?

Adobe has released Photoshop Elements 2.0 (, a “lite” version of Photoshop at a fraction of the price ($99 vs. $609). The software has many of the usual tools along with some “quick fix” features, a glossary and “recipes” allowing you to take control of the program.

Don’t forget that digital pictures, by their very nature, are “heavy,” meaning they take up a lot of space and bandwidth, clogging the inboxes of family and friends when we send them over the Internet. Net Graphics Optimizer from Hemera (; download for $39.99) optimizes pictures to a considerably smaller file size, sometimes providing reductions of up to 80 percent. This is a great tool if you send pictures to others, use them on your Web site or just want to take up less space on your hard drive.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

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