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But when you use the AVS Image Converter to reduce the size of a bunch of 1,920x1,200 jpegs to 800x600, the results can be shockingly bad. On hundreds of files, there was serious artifacting – bands and ribbons of shifted color that wreck the image completely.
This should not happen. CompuPic Pro never does that. And so I uninstalled AVS Image Converter as worse-than-useless and went in search of something better.
I found it. In fact, I am so in love with FastStone's family of image-manipulation software that I bought the whole series.
It began with their freeware: FastStone Image Viewer. I downloaded it from their own site, http://www.faststone.org/
, and liked it so well I contributed some money to help defray their cost.
But good as it was, what I really needed, for my massive resizing project, was FastStone Photo Resizer.
Now, they call it "photo resizer" because the assumption is that most people will use it to change the sizes of their snapshots. But once something is an image file – a .bmp, a .gif, a .jpg, a .png – it doesn't matter whether it began in a camera, a scanner, or any other source. You can resize it with this software.
It worked beautifully. It was faster than CompuPic Pro, and the output quality was every bit as good. It also did file-handling much better than CompuPic Pro, so that I resized about 5,000 files in a dozen directories in about three minutes.
That's comparing FastStone with a program that already does a superb job of faithful resizing!
I went back online and downloaded the FastStone MaxView software. This is like the grown-up big brother of the free Image Viewer. This has the same excellent file-handling of the other programs in the family, with the added advantage of being able to go into ZIP archives and pull out images for viewing.
If the ZIP archive is encrypted, it will even prompt you for the password, so there's barely a pause. And yet the encrypted file remains safely hidden.
The remaining program in the family is FastStone Capture. Judging from the fact that the version number is 7.2, while the other software is in versions ranging from 2.5 to 4.6, FastStone Capture may well be the first program these folks created – and the perfection of its performance suggests they know how to do their job.
It has been a trend in a lot of online art galleries to put up uncopyable images. You can't just right-click and "save image." Sometimes nothing happens; sometimes you get a snippy little message about how the image is copyrighted.
I've never understood this attitude from people who are trying to sell art. It's like refusing to let your books be carried by libraries, or having a self-destruct mechanism in a book that makes it turn to dust if somebody lends it to another person.
I make my living from copyright-protected work, so I absolutely agree with copyright laws. But the way you expand your audience and find new readers/buyers/customers is by letting them read for free.
We book writers know that people borrow library books and read, not just a sample, not just as much as they can read while in the library, but the whole book. They take it home and read at their leisure.
Then they return it, and I didn't get a dime beyond the royalty for the single purchase made by the library. Was I cheated?
No! Because if I'm any good at my work, the person who read one book will want more, and will want to own the book, and will share it with friends, and ... and by making it possible to fully experience my art for free, I make far more money than if I made it impossible to get more than a brief, tiny sample.
How does this apply to art? Well, I can understand preventing me from freely downloading a large high-resolution file that would let me print out a framable-size high-quality print. That would directly compete with the product they're trying to sell.
But it's silly and churlish to keep potential customers from downloading an image no more than 600 pixels high, which they can then display on their computers for a long time. They can come to really love the artwork. They can decide that this is one they want to live with.
Then they buy the print.
Or they don't. But what have you lost? You didn't have to pay for the canvas or paper, for the giclee or regular ink print job. All you had to do was scan it and put it online, not as a thumbnail, but as a sharp 600-pixel-high file.
The smart artists make sure their website name is unobtrusively in a corner of the art, so that wherever the file goes, there goes the address where prints can be purchased.
Then, if they're lucky, the art will go viral through the whole art-loving online community, and their audience will jump from a few people visiting a particular site (or real-world gallery) to thousands, even millions, who come to love it.
This is how artists like Grant Wood became so famous they were parodied – "American Gothic" was printed and published and distributed so widely that everyone in America knew the image. It's not Wood's best work – but it has made his fame last, and has led many to find his even better works.
Many other artists are known only for one or two works – Flandrin, for instance, is known solely for his "Jeune Homme Nu Assis au Bord de la Mer" in the Louvre, which you can see by Googling "Flandrin." Chances are you'll recognize it instantly.
For some reason it has tickled the public fantasy, and while it is unsurprisingly highly valued in the gay community, it is not remotely pornographic, and many regard it as one of the finest paintings to emerge from the 19th century.
Let me show you a piece I love even more. Go to http://sn.im/lovelockedout
, and you'll see "Love Locked Out" by Anna Lea Merritt, a painting showing Amor/Eros/Cupid, traditionally represented as a naked boy, standing at the door of a tomb. It beautifully represents the grief and longing of widowhood – and it's also a perfect painting from the late 19th century.
Merritt made other fine paintings – but this is the one that keeps her name and reputation alive.
Now, what if Flandrin and Merritt had prevented their works from every being freely distributed? What if Grant Wood had closely guarded his copyright so that no one could ever see his paintings except the one customer who bought each one?
So the smart artists put up good-sized, easily viewable images that can be copied and spread around with a simple right-click.
And the really dumb galleries make it so that art is displayed, not as an image file, but as a movie file, so that copying is completely impossible. Thus you can only look at the art while you're at their site. You can't live with it and come to love it.
Or so they think.
Because FastStone Capture, using the "rectangle capture" mode (you press Shift-PrintScreen while the image you want is fully displayed on the screen), lets you take the image and make it into a file.
I believe in copyright. Even though it would benefit the artist and gallery, they don't understand that yet, and so I don't share such files with anybody. But I name the file with the artist's and gallery's name, as well as the name of the painting, and then it goes into my rotation....continued on page 3