For some time I have been using BreezeBrowser to view and manage my image files. I find it to be one of those must have programs, a kind of "Swiss Army Knife" for image workflow. The program handles almost all image files including raw files from Cannon and Nikon as well as others. BreezeBrowser (BB) also has direct emailing capabilities with resizing and a great proofing feature for quickly preparing downsized images for slide shows or web use. BB has worked very well for me in reviewing images from my daily shots, making grouping or development decisions and culling bad photos.
View and Manage Image Files, Prepare Web Slide Shows
In the latest release of BB Pro I can assign 5 levels of priority in addition to an image tag then delete the tagged or prioritized ones that I have determined I do not want. BB also has on the fly proofing and HTML abilities which work great to prepare many images for the Internet or emailing. The proofing feature allows you to resize images, crop, ad a border, sharpen, watermark, color space conversion as well as several others things. You can then apply the selected options to the selected images and convert them as "Proofs", either from RAW or JPG files. Using BB after I have done my conversions with C1 I now have a quick and efficient way to put a group of images into a slide show and incorporate them into my web pages. In regards to Web preparation BB has a very effective HTML capability to take a group of images and put them into a sideshow with all the files needed to upload to your FTP server. This feature is very similar to the "Proofs" one and offers many of the same options. The slide shows that are used on this site were all built with BB. The few things I think BB could improve on are better printing capability, drag and drop compatibility with windows explorer, a search feature that allows you to search EXIF data and ironically a better preview itself and handling in it's RAW conversion mode. But overall this is a highly recommended program. A 30 day trial version is available for download from the BreezeBrowser website.
In Focus or Not?
One of the nice aspects of the program is it's ability to view large size previews of RAW files. BB has quite respectable raw conversion built in, however, the workflow is not suited to many images at a time and I use Capture One for all of my RAW conversions. The one issue that I have with Capture One is that it only allows a smaller size preview of a RAW image in the highest quality which makes it difficult to judge focus. Albeit C1 does have a focus preview window but I find this cumbersome and I can only see a small portion of the image at a time. Because of this I review all of my RAW shots first with BB checking for focus, exposure and composition. A special "HQ" mode can be enabled which adds sharpening to the preview which is very helpful in choosing to keep an image or trash it. I find in many landscape and nature shots focus needs to be judged by seeing the whole photo in perspective. Because while one prominent area may be in focus, if due to depth of field, another area may be blurry and ruin the photos visual draw. While on the other hand another image where the assumed prominent point may be slightly out of focus, yet other features are sharply focused, when viewed as a whole the image works and is therefore kept. I find that while this may be true in only a small percentage of photos, with my monitor, and using C1 the preview screen is too small to judge critical focus. Because many images look ok at the preview size in C1 but when view at normal full screen resolution or on a plasma display, as many of mine are, they are not acceptable because of focus issues.
The two examples above are not great ones to prove my point however I think they can pass along the idea. The two images are indeed separate shots but you will notice that due to focus, and in this case largely to the position of the Pussy Willow bloom (which could be adjusted with cropping in either photo) the out of focus portion is more of a distraction in the bottom photo than in the top. If this out of focus portion were slightly less exaggerated it would be easy to overlook this distraction till the photo became print size or full screen. And in fact even in these examples it is not easy to see other portions of the image that are not in focus enough for a good image. This is why I belive it is so important to judge this aspect in much lager previews than C1 affords at my monitor resolution.
Canon 1D Mark II with 35-350mm Lens at 300mm f/8 1/640sec IS0 400
"Declaring the glory of God
through photography of His created world"
copyright 2007 by Joseph LaQuiere