Picture Window Pro Transformations
  by Dennis Wilkins


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Picture Window and Picture Window Pro provide a set of functions called transformations that are arranged from basic geometric adjustments through “gray scale” controls to color adjustments. In addition there are blurring and sharpening tools, composite and stacking tools to combine images, and some special effects tools including the world’s most perfect kaleidoscope!
The transformations are arranged in a logical order: you will generally use the Geometric transformations first to trim and size your image. The Geometric transformations include rotating, cropping, resizing, warping, and even pincushion/barrel distortion correction. Generally, the second kind of adjustment you will use are the Gray transformations. Gray transformations include level and color adjustment, brightness curve, tinting and light falloff compensation sometimes needed for wide-angle lenses. And for color images, you will often use the Color transformations, which include color balance, color curves, color saturation, selective color correction, and even chromatic aberration correction.
After basic image adjustments you may use some special processes such as combining parts of images, blurring or sharpening parts of images, or one of the more than a dozen Special Effects including that kaleidoscope. It is possible to go back to earlier steps and make more changes, but in general you should minimize the number of transformations to yield the best image, especially if you use 24-bit color (or 8-bit B&W) images.
Speaking of 24-bit color and 8-bit B&W images – if you are serious about your photographs, you will use 48-bit color (or 16-bit B&W) scans when scanning negatives or slides, or use the RAW mode on your digital camera to obtain 48-bit color image files. And you should use TIF format rather than jpeg. These files can be large (the original TIF files used in the examples for this article are 36 MB each), but the advantage of editing with high color resolution is worth the extra megabytes – and after all your editing is completed, you can convert the final images to 24-bit color for storage, even to high quality jpegs. If you edit 24-bit color jpegs you will not get the best quality from your work and may even end up with visible tonal “steps” or enhanced jpeg artifacts that can ruin a photograph.
With Picture Window (Pro) many transformations and tools may be applied selectively to parts of an image using masks. Masks provide amazing control, as we will see.
We will start with a typical situation. Hiking in the outdoors, you can observe many beautiful natural scenes, but what you perceive with your eyes, and maybe a good pair of sunglasses, may not be possible to capture directly with a camera. The scene below was photographed in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on a partly cloudy summer day. The scene caught my eye because the intensity of the reflected clouds in the water contrasted nicely to the soft grasses.