So you've bought a digital camera; now what?

Now that we have our new digital cameras, we can't wait to see our pictures. But how do we do this?

There are a number of options. The camera typically comes with a compact disk that contains one or more software programs. One of these programs is used to download the camera's images into the computer. Other programs may be included for image manipulation once the image is in the computer. Some new printers can transfer images directly from the camera to the printer for "instant" printing without even using the computer.

But what if the original image isn't perfect and we would like to make some changes? Now things can get a little more complicated.

Many software companies make so called "image manipulation" programs. Each has specific features to help transform the original image into a form suitable for printing or sharing on the Internet. Now we have to decide which program is best for our particular needs.

I use a program from Adobe Systems ( called Photoshop Elements 2.0. Adobe is a long time leader in imaging programs. Their top of the line program, Photoshop, is used in most commercial and advertising shops. Photoshop Elements 2.0 is easy to use and is their latest program for the "pro-amateur" market. It appears to be a "lite" version of the high-end program containing many of the same features. It can be obtained at discount for around $90.

First I "crop" my images; that is, cut out extraneous parts of the original. Elements can make a random crop or crop to exact sizes for printing like 4x5, 5x7 or 8x10. After cropping, it is easy to "enhance" the image by changing the brightness and/or the contrast. So an otherwise dark image can be lightened and sharpened.

"Sizing" an image for final use can be a complicated process but Elements makes this easy. The image can be sized in inches, centimeters or pixels. This way there is control over how the image will appear on a computer screen or printed page. Elements then can convert the final image into a format suitable for sending it to others on the Internet.

There are many, many other features in Elements. Images can be overlaid into a single one for special effects using "layers." Text or titles can be added. In addition there are features that can be used to remove unwanted objects from images, like power wires or other distractions. A nice feature is "picture package" for printing a number of identical or different images on a single sheet of paper. This is a quick way to get prints when you have a lot of pictures.

Digital camera owners should learn to take advantage of these excellent image manipulating programs to enhance their original images and convert them into suitable forms for printing or sharing. Incidentally, images scanned into the computer or obtained over the Internet can be manipulated using these same programs.

If you would like to hear more about image manipulation, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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