Photographic Innoventions: Virtual Borders

Click for Larger Image. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/250s, f/8, 400 ISO, -0.3 EV, 80mm Focal Length

This proves how popular Cinderella’s Castle really is. Just a few entries after Barrie posted about this most photographed object at Walt Disney World and here I am using this photo. I know many try to capture a unique view of the castle. I wish I could say I was trying to here. It just sort of happened and I will tell you about it soon.

Since I wanted my entries to be titled using the Epcot word of “innoventions”, I want to share with you a very innovative software product I found. In my travels to many photography websites and forums, I saw other people putting lovely and informative virtual borders around their photographs. My inquires found most used various versions of Adobe Photoshop or Elements to do so. I searched for a less expensive (read: free) alternative. I finally found a product called BorderMaker by programmer Thijs Orbitz from the Netherlands. It fit my needs perfectly.

BorderMaker is very easy to use. The website has some screenshots with very little documentation but it only took me 10 minutes to get the results you see above. Before installing BorderMaker, you have to make sure you have the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Once that is done, you can download and install BorderMaker with ease.

With BorderMaker, you can easily create custom border templates you can save for reuse or to batch process a set of pictures. It can auto-select border and text colors depending on a photograph’s color range. Other handy features let you convert a photo to other formats, show Exif data, apply sharpening, add watermarks and even resize the processed image. In the example below, I let BorderMaker choose the border and text color initially. I changed the bottom two lines of text to red. I found the Indy font online and stretched the bottom border to accommodate all the text. The software made this very easy to do.

Click for Larger Image. Copyright © Scott Thomas Photography 2007
Another BorderMaker Example. © Scott Thomas Photography 2007

Now, how did I get the image of Cinderella’s Castle? About 20 minutes after sunset this past May, I got on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (most old timers still call this the WEDway People Mover) for a leisurely ride around Tommorrowland. As I came upon the first turn past Stitch’s Great Escape, I noticed Cinderella’s Castle silhouetted against the pre-twilight sky and took a picture. The first one didn’t come out to well as my ISO setting was at 200 so the shutter speed was too slow. I got a very blurred image. I quickly bumped up the ISO to 400 and took a couple of practice shots before entering Space Mountain. From those shots I was ready. Upon coming back out above the Tommorowland Terrace Noodle Station, I went to work. Zooming in a bit, I took a series of shots with this one coming out the best. Some photos call for a title, this one was easy: “Castle at Dusk”. I think the virtural border gives the added attention this photograph deserves.

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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