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Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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Martin French examines the latest online photo editing application to hit the internet. The Photoshop brand from Adobe has a solid pedigree, does this transfer to the online version?

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by Martin French

Digital photography is now outstripping film based photo making, in terms of ease of use, cost and accessibility, by a massive margin. For all intents and purposes film based photography is pretty much dead so to assist the digital photographer with organizing and editing their images online a number of web based applications have been launched to encourage your image making prowess.

Having dominated the off-line image editing world for more than a decade with the Photoshop application US based Adobe software have launched a beta version of Photoshop Express, a massively simplified application that runs on any modern web browser.

Online software operates in pretty much the same way as off-line software but the big differences are usually the range of features available and the performance, in terms of speed of operation, that you can expect from the application. Also, if you don't have an active internet connection then you are out of luck, you can't use the application at all.

Photoshop Express, and its rivals, do have the added benefit, for dancers on the move, of making your images accessible and editable from any computer, anywhere in the world. Just log in, and away you go!

All About The Options

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The software has three basic windows of operation; 'My Photos', 'My Gallery' and the image editor itself. You can also browse other users online photo albums if you wish.

'My Photos' is fairly self explanatory. It's a browser for all of your photos. As soon as you upload your images, which is a fairly speedy operation because you can upload them in batches, you are ready to get started. If you plan on storing a lot of images online, you have at least 2Gigabytes of space on Express, then your internet connection speed will start to be an issue. The faster your connection, the easier it will be to use this software.

You can view images in a number of different styles; like thumbnails, a list view or a browser view, add captions, assign ratings and so-on. You can sort images in a number of ways, even by dragging them round on the screen, and assign them to various albums for organisational and viewing purposes.

You can also browse and edit images stored on other websites like Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa (Google's image sharing website). There is no Flickr option because they have their own editor called Picnik!

You can email individual images to one or a number of people from a built in address book. The images arrive in your friends inbox nicely formatted with a live link back to the original.

Each image has it's own set of built in options so you can perform a series of basic actions, like embedding the image into your own site, rotating left or right and so on.

For the most part it's just a file browser and a very effective one at that. It won't win any performance competitions, compared to off-line software, but it gets the job done.

My Gallery Your Gallery

My Gallery is the public facing portion of the software. If you want other people to be able to see and browse through your photos then you place them here. Somewhat confusingly, images are assigned to albums in the 'My Photos' section and then by ticking the box next to the albums name.

You can create albums by clicking on a number of photos and then hitting the big 'create album' button or by creating the album first and dragging images into it. Without a tick next to the public display box the album will not be added to your gallery. If you want your images to be online and accessible only to you then this is a very useful feature although not very intuitive.

The galleries themselves are pretty horrific from a photo viewing and usability experience. Unlike the file browser there is no way for others to view your images except as a slideshow. Although there are a number of options to configure this slideshow for your users none of them is particularly pleasing to the eye. A far better option would be a film strip of images with a larger main image, just like you can use in the 'My Photos' browser. The simplest method is always the best method as far as we, here in TheLabā„¢ are concerned.

Also available is a rather pointless 'Embed' option that lets you place your galleries into your own website. The only problem is that's not what this option does at all. It merely places a thumbnail image from the first picture of your gallery into your website and then you click on that image to load the slideshow on the Photoshop Express website. 'Embed' should mean just that.

Edit Edit Edit

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The editor is by far the most useful part of the entire application. Here you can perform the most common and the most basic of editing tasks on your individual photos. these tasks are organisaed into three categories; 'Basics', 'Tuning' and 'Effects'.

'Basics', the options you will use the most, deal with cropping, auto correct, exposure, red eye removal, touch-up and colour saturation. Most of the options, when selected, bring up a series of several thumbnails above the main image to choose the level of alteration you want to make. So, when you edit a colour image and click on 'saturation' button you will be given seven levels of saturation to choose from to either increase or decrease the vibrancy of the colour in the image. Hitting the big green 'tick' mark in the corner applies the changes to your image.

Changes can be previewed by simply rolling your mouse pointer over the thumbnails for a quick look at how the filter will affect the image.

As you make changes you will notice tick marks appearing next to each tool that you use to signal the alterations have been applied but not fixed. Using this method means you can stack up changes and remove the ones you are not happy with, or re-apply them, before you finally commit the changes to your photo.

Once you are happy you simply hit the big blue save button and your changes will be applied and your image altered. Don't fret though because the alterations are not permanent. Back in the file browser you can simply click on the 'photo options' button for the image and 'revert' back to the original version that you uploaded.

Although there are several stylising options available in the editor the most often used by regular users will be cropping, exposure, auto correct, and saturation. They all do a pretty good job of correcting minor problems with images and can bring a lot of life into photos where things don't look just right.

Is It Any Good.

Online applications are never going to be as good as there off-line counterparts but they are still a viable option for some of your photo editing needs and they have the added benefit of being free. Photoshop Express is a little sluggish, the application is written in Flash, but in terms of the basic operations that it offers it is perfectly usable. Most photos only need a basic bit of editing to make them shine.

If you want to do anything more complicated then this online application is not for you. Photoshop, it's much bigger brother, and even Photoshop Elements can both do far more than this offering but they, of course, will cost you money.

Many of the features on Photoshop Express are not as versatile as Flickr and its' built in editor 'Picnik'. Express is trying to look as professional as possible but still be accessible to anybody and it suffers because of this. The Flash programming is too cumbersome - (lots of pointless fade in and fade out effects) - and the slate grey presentation is just not very inviting for casual users. At the moment it's slow and a little clumsy and the sharing/embedding options need a lot of work to make the site genuinely useful for bloggers and website operators.

This is still beta software though, very much so, and it will be worth keeping an eye on over the next few months to see how it grows into a more mature application. I doubt it will get any better than Flickr/Picnik but Adobe's service should be able to offer a viable alternative. It's always good to have a choice.

You can sign-up and try out the beta test for free at the link below.

[ Photoshop Express Beta ]
[ Screencast of PS Express in Action ]
[ Adobe ]

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