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Posts in the on1 Labs category:

Color Our Future

Posted on April 28, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

We are hard at work on the next generation of our products. One of our goals is it update and modernize the user interface and user experience. Part of that process is to update the look and feel of common controls like buttons, sliders, etc. We are considering adding an accent color for the first time. The accent color makes it easier to see what is selected and when something is on or off. Below are two accent color options, plus the silver that we currently use. Tell us what you think! Don’t like any of them? Leave a comment below.

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on1 Labs: Luminosity Masking

Posted on March 24, 2015 by Dan Harlacher


Luminosity masks are an advanced technique that allows you to blend layers (or effect in Perfect Effects) together, and modulate the amount of blending using the brightness of the photo. Wow, that was a mouthful. Let me give you an example to explain.

Let’s say you are working in Perfect Layers and you want to lighten the shadows in your photo. A simple way to do that is to duplicate the layer of the photo and set its blending mode to screen. If you are following along you will see that that the entire image becomes brighter. You will have more detail in your shadows, but at the cost of the highlights getting brighter too. You could use the masking tools like the Masking Brush to paint back in the highlights but it may take time and may not look as natural as you would like. This is a great time to use a luminosity mask instead, one of the new features in Perfect Photo Suite 9.5

To create a luminosity mask, go to the Mask menu and select Create Luminosity Mask. This will use the luminosity, or the black and white interpretation of the photo and paste it in as a layer mask. If you think about the way a layer mask works, white reveals and black conceals. So any part of your image that is dark will not get the lightening effect and any part of the image that is bright will get the darkening effect. Now in this case, that’s the opposite of what we want, so simply invert the mask using the Invert Mask command. Now the effect of the screen blending mode only gets applied to the dark areas of the photo, lightening just the shadows.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to luminosity masking. You can also copy and paste luminosity masks from photo to photo and from module to module, you can even use them in unique ways to blend textures into your photos. Of course you can blend your use of the masking tools, like the Masking Brush to edit a luminosity mask too. We hope that you find luminosity masking a powerful new tool in your arsenal.

on1 Labs: Faster Browse – Part II

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

Getting to your photos fast is important. We want to be the fastest way to view and browse your images, bar none. With each release of the Perfect Photo Suite we continue to improve the speed or Browse. While we are not the fastest yet, we are working hard to get there.

Here is a preview of some of the changes we are working on, coming soon to the Perfect Photo Suite. We have focused on three key improvements to Browse to make it faster:

  • First we have reworked the grid view that shows the thumbnails. We have made it much faster and more smooth when you scroll. You could now have a folder with hundreds of thousands of images and smoothly scroll through all of them.
  • Second we have improved Detail View when you want to look at one image at a time. Our goal is to never show you a pixelated image. We have made good progress towards this by reading ahead so that large previews are ready to view. If you arrow through your files at a normal pace of about one to two per second you should not see pixelated versions of your images. We also continue to generate thumbnails in the background when you are in Detail View.
  • Last but not least we have added a persistent cache of the thumbnails and previews so that when you go back to folder you have viewed before it is lightning fast, as we have already generated the thumbnails and previews for you.

And we are not done. There are still several areas of improvement we continue to work on to eek out even more speed for the future. Let us know what you think.

on1 Labs: Albums

Posted on March 16, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

Albums are a handy new feature we are working on for Perfect Browse. An album is a way to make a list, or collection, of photos. The cool thing about an Album is that the photos in them can live anywhere, like a local hard disk or the cloud. The other cool thing is that the images don’t get duplicated when you put them in an Album, think of it like a list of shortcuts.

You can create an Album to keep track of your favorite images, stock submissions, etc. When I’m working on a book project I create an Album to keep track of the images that I may put into the book.

Creating an Album is easy. Start by selecting a few images you want to create an Album from and simply drag and drop them onto the New Album drop area. This will create a new Album from the images. You can then drag and drop more onto the Album itself. If you create a copy when you edit an image, and it lives in an Album, the copy gets placed in the Album too.

If you are familiar with Collections in Lightroom this works in a similar way. One thing you may be asking for are Smart Albums (Albums that update their contents based on a search). While we haven’t put this into Albums yet, you can do the same thing using the Saved Filters option in the Filters pane.

We are excited to get Albums in your hands very soon. Let us know what you think.

on1 Labs: Perfect Portrait is Getting Faster

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

We often hear from our customers “I love the results from Perfect Portrait, but it is so slow.” Well we have been listening and working hard to make Portrait faster and easier to use.

In the past it would take Portrait about ten seconds to start-up on a good computer. Now keep in mind, it has a lot to do. It finds every face in your image. Then for each face it finds the eyes and the mouths. That said one of our engineers has figured out how to cut that down to about three seconds!

“I love the results from Perfect Portrait, but it is so slow.”

The next step is to make adjusting the control points for the eyes and the mouth faster to move. In the past it would take a second or so each time you adjusted a control point before you could grab and adjust the next one. If you where too fast it would beep at you when you tried to do your work. Frustrating. We have made good progress on freeing up the control points. The delay between adjusting them is shorting and you rarely get beeped at unless you have a really large face on a slower computer. That said we will not rest until you never hear that beep again.

We still have many improvements we are working on for Perfect Portrait. Tell us what you like and what you would like to see different.

on1 Labs: Line Mask Tool

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

In Perfect Photo Suite 9 we made some big changes to how masking is done in the Suite.  We added some new tools and moved and simplified others. We also removed a few tools that where not used as frequently. It was bold move that took some of our users by surprise. The majority of our users (69%) report that they can create better masks now than they could in the past.

However one thing that we missed was a way to make a straight-line mask. If you need to mask out a geometric shape like a man-made object or a window it can still be cumbersome to use a round brush.

This lead us to work on a tool for straight-line masking. We wanted to create something easier to use than the traditional pen tool. What we have come up with is the new Line Mask Tool. It allows you to create simple polygon masks to complex paths when needed. To use it you simple click along an edge to create point-to-point line segments. When you complete your shape you can choose to mask the inside or the outside of the shape, in either white or black. You can also control the hardness or feather of the edge.

Of course the Line Mask tool works in conjunction with all the other mask tools. You can use the Line Mask tool to start a mask or to refine an existing mask.

We hope you find the Line Mask tool as handy as we do. Let us know what you think.

Do You Use Layers?

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Do you use Layers? Not the product or module Perfect Layers, but the concept of a layered workflow.

If you started your digital photo life with Photoshop, then you would probably say yes. The idea of stacking multiple copies of the same photo and using concepts like layer masks, blending modes and opacity just come as second nature. You probably also use layers as a sort-of-history mechanism so you can roll back changes or make versions within the same photos. Almost any photo you edit probably goes through a layered workflow.

If you started your digital photo life with either Lightroom or iPhoto, the concept of using layers is foreign and maybe even scary. Even if you learned to use layers via Photoshop or Perfect Layers, you use them sparingly. Only when you need to blend two different photos together to change a sky or swap a head, for example.

When we added Perfect Layers to the Perfect Photo Suite several years ago we taught our users, most of whom where Photoshop users, to use it as their “home base.” The place where they would open and save their photos and where they would access the other modules like Perfect Effects and Perfect Resize. This concept of a host and plug-ins was familiar to Photoshop users.

Flash forward a couple years and we have added Perfect Browse. For many users this is their starting point or “home base” instead of Perfect Layers. In Browse they select the photos to edit and then send them to the modules they want to work on. They only open a  photo in Perfect Layers if they need to blend multiple photos together.

We are most interested in understanding how you use the concept of a layered workflow and what tools you use to work on layers. Take a minute and answer this simple four question survey, it will help us understand how to serve you better in the future. Also, feel free to leave a comment below to keep the discussion rolling. We appreciate it.

If you don’t see the survey below, you can complete it here instead.

Noise Noise Noise

Posted on August 29, 2014 by Dan Harlacher

The Grinch doesn’t like noise and neither do we.  That’s why we are finally adding noise reduction to our products. In the past we have always left this to other tools. However not all of our customers use other tools like Lightroom or Photoshop. And for many years our customers have asked us to add noise reduction to our tools.

I’m proud to say that our photo engineers have been working hard over the past eight months to develop a really great noise reduction algorithm that maintains the photographic quality of your image (i.e., doesn’t make it look like a painting), maintains the sharp details but kills the noise.

This video gives you an early taste of the results. Keep in mind this is still in prototype stages so the controls are hidden and performance is not up to par yet. Tell us what you think.

Smart Photos

Posted on August 15, 2014 by Dan Harlacher

When you edit an image, you are applying your creative skills, judgement and mood as a snapshot in time. The results you create may be satisfying at the moment of creation but can become less satisfying over time. This can be caused by many factors:

  • Lack of time or focus while editing: “I just ran out of time and couldn’t do my best.”
  • Limitations in your technical skill or the software you are using: “I wish I could have done a better job on the retouching, but I’m not very good with the software.”
  • Change in mood or style over time: “Wow, I used to like that HDR look, but now it looks over-saturated to me.”
  • Your client wants something different: “My client says the retouching is too strong, they look like plastic.”
  • You simply overlook an element: “How did I not see that middle finger.”

Now you want to go back and fix your mistake or reinterpret your image. With traditional image editors this often means starting over. This is one of the main reasons we have always recommended a layered workflow using Photoshop or Perfect Layers. Each edit was stored on its own layer, allowing you to edit previous work without having to throw everything away. This still has limitations however. For example any work done above the step you wish to change must be redone.

We think there is a better way to do it. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could go back to any step in your editing and simply change the settings, masks or brushing you created? We are working on new Smart Photos, which will give you just that. They save a record of every module you use and what you did in it. This includes all the presets, slider settings and masks you create. All of this information is then stored in the file, which is still a Photoshop-compatible PSD. Then when you decide to re-edit the image you simply open it up, then double-click on the step you want to adjust. The module loads and returns you to just before you hit the apply button. All the settings are the same and all brushing and tweaking you did are still there. This will give you even more flexible editing in Lightroom and more powerful than Smart Filters in Photoshop. In talking to our customers over the years, this is THE number-one requested feature and we are really excited to be able to bring it to our customers… soon!

Faster Browse

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Dan Harlacher

The Browse module is less than a year old. We added it initially for our users who don’t use a tool like Lightroom or Aperture to keep track of their images. There are lots of folks who just keep their images in folders on their computer. The idea was to give them something better than a simple open file dialog to find the images they want to work on. People love using it and at the same time, want it to do much more. In Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 we added file management tasks like renaming, moving, copying, deleting etc. We made it so you can zoom-in on images for comparison. And we also made it much faster to get thumbnails of images, especially Raw files.

We continue to work hard to improve Browse based on the feedback we get from you guys. Right now, we are working on making it faster to see a larger, screen-size version of your image and faster to go from image to image. We hear from a lot of photographers that as soon as they download their images they want to start looking at them to sort and cull them. Getting useful previews fast makes that possible. You don’t have to wait several minutes to catalog the images before you can start to work with them. Now you can view screen-sized previews almost instantly and move through a large folder of images with no delay.