Seeing is believing? Not any more!

by Alan Zisman (c) 1994. First published in Our Computer Player, May 20, 1994

"The Magic of Image Processing"
By Mike Morrison
SAMS Publishing
(c) 1993
ISBN # 0-672-30315-9
$49.95 CDN

They used to say that seeing is believing. Well, a few months ago,
Scientific American magazine featured a cover photo of Abraham Lincoln
and Marilyn Monroe, walking hand in hand.

Another scandal involving an American president? Difficult to believe
given that Lincoln was murdered in 1865, and Marilyn Monroe wasn't
even born until 1926 (facts at my fingertips thanks to ENCARTA CD-ROM).

Closer to home, a recent front page of the Vancouver Sun gave us an
article on the Vancouver Sun's continuing policy of keeping membership
closed to women. The accompanying photo showed the staid old club
building, with a home-made banner reading "No Girls Allowed" flying
from the upper floor.

While some may feel that club members were acting like 8 year old boys
in voting to continue their female-exclusion policy, they hadn't sank
to the level of the Berenstain Bears' cub in his tree house, making a
banner out of a bed-sheet.

Instead, both 'photos' were actually computer generated images...
altering reality.

Photo professionals have been able to fake shots for as long as they'
ve been able to develop negatives... what's new is that this power is
now being extended to anyone with a modern PC, and access to scanned
graphics and the right sotware.

Mike Morrison's book, "The Magic of Image Processing" is an attractive
volume, introducing this technology. It's primarily aimed at Windows
PC users, but is general enough to be of benefit to users of other
platforms wanting to get started working with photos.

The book introduces the reader to the ways that photographics images
can get to computers... from the idea of digitizing a picture, to
scanning, video, and PhotoCD. Then, it moves on to basic photo
manipulation techniques, common to all software on all platforms. It
peeks at issues of file compression, focussing especially on file
formats common to PCs. Then the current fad of morphing, including
exercises using the MorphDemo software on the accompanying disk.
Finally, the book  concludes with several chapters of exercises using
Aldus PhotoStyler.

This high-end image processing program is not included with the book,
but a coupon is included for a $10 working model of the program from

Many might have preferred the book to focus on industry-standard Adobe
PhotoShop, but the Windows version was not yet available at the time
the book was written, and the two programs are similar enough that it
would be easy to carry out most of the exercises in PhotoShop if

A real plus for this book is that it looks at some of the social
contexts of this technology-- it discusses when is image processing
acceptable, and when is it manipulation of reality. Policy guidelines
from several daily newspapers are included. (The Vancouver Sun picture
mentioned at the beginning of the article was labeled as an '
illustration' rather than receiving a standard photo credit... of
course, you have to read the fine print).

As well, there are several sections of color photos illustrating the
results of the various projects in the book, as well as a number of
examples from professional sources. Some of my favorites are the
reprints of covers of SPY Magazine, such as a pregnant Bruce Willis in
the same naked pose that Vogue Magazine used with his wife, Demi Moore.

The two high-density floppy disks are well-integrated with the book.
While not brimming with the hundreds of megs of stuff found on the CD-
ROMs featured by some books, these floppies will be usable by more
computer owners. They feature the morphing program, which is fully
functioning, except that it won't save the movies produced, and the
shareware Graphics WorkShop. GWS lets you view, resize, and covert
between a wide variety of bitmap graphics files. In addition, there
are a number of images, in several formats, that are used for the
exercises in the book.

This book is an attractive package, useful to computers users (
particularly running Windows), who are wanting to get started with
morphing, photo editing, and image enhancement.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan