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Friday, September 1, 2006

Living With A Digital Projector

Are today's digital projectors ready for photographers? Are slideshows back?

Some other things I learned using the Epson PowerLite 755c:

No more black rooms. This is something that consistently amazes me. Digital projectors today give bright, brilliant images in rooms that are much brighter than you'd expect with traditional film slide projectors. Having brighter rooms keeps your audience more attentive and allows you to interact more with them.

Software for slideshows. I used several options for putting photos together in slideshows. They all worked, but each had different ways of dealing with photos. For simple slideshows that I controlled from the keyboard, I mostly used the slideshow feature of iView MediaPro. Available for Windows and Mac, this program makes it easy to sort images for a slideshow, then reorder them by dragging and dropping.

For shows that needed some sort of text with the images, I used Apple Keynote (I use a small PowerBook laptop for my slideshows); PowerPoint works similarly. For slideshows with music and the potential of moving images (the so-called Ken Burns/PBS effect), I used Boinx FotoMagico with my Apple laptop. For Windows, Photodex ProShow Gold is an excellent program with a lot of flexibility for combining photos (which can move, too) and music.

No more keystoning. I love this aspect of a digital projector. You can project up or down at a screen and then adjust the projector so the edges are straight and parallel (removing the keystoning effect, where the projected picture appears to converge at the top or bottom). The Epson PowerLite 755c even goes a step further by automating the keystone adjustment. An interesting side effect to the latter, however: columnist Bob Krist was using this model while on a boat and the projector was too good in dealing with keystoning—it would change the frame in response to the boat's movement in the waves!

Big-screen TV. You can project video with digital projectors. Hook up your cable television, VCR or DVD player and get big-screen results. This was a lot of fun. My family loved the chance to see a film on DVD projected large. Most projectors don't yet handle HD video, though.

The best thing about having a projector around? Having a projector around! If friends or family dropped by and wanted to see images from a recent trip, it was easy to set up the projector and screen and show them. No more little photos on a laptop screen. No more crowding people around the workstation computer.

I'm thinking now about putting in a permanent mount for a projector in the family room. Many people are creating home theaters in this way. I want to be able to take any projector down and use it for classes and seminars, too, but many photographers may find it more convenient to make the projector mount more permanent (that will create fewer problems with the projector getting out of calibration or bulbs burning out too soon).

Regardless, I like being able to project photos. It's better than the old carousel projector setup. I can do music with slides and count on them always syncing properly (no out-of-step images). I can also do dissolves and other effects without using and dealing with multiple projectors and sync boxes. I can quickly do a sort of photos from a recent shoot and project them instantly. Finally, I can do interesting pans and zooms in and out of the images for that Ken Burns/PBS effect.

A digital projector truly changes how I work with my images. And I like it!

Editor Rob Sheppard's video on how to use Photoshop and Photoshop Elements for landscape photography is available from his website, www.robsheppardphoto.com. You can also find a new technique explained each month on the site.


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