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Get your eBay wares ready for their close-up.
Bling! It is made specifically for anyone who photographs items to post online. In particular, they’re going after users who sell on sites like eBay; in other words, people who don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer and who need to get the best possible image online quickly.
Bling! It takes the seller through a fairly straightforward four-step process: delete the background, compose the picture, add effects, and finalize the image. The first step is based on a powerful, if not always intuitive, background-separation algorithm. Then we rotated and scaled our image to its final size. Next, Bling! It let us add effects: sharpening, drop shadows, lightening highlights, and other options. The final image-preparation step compressed the background and allowed us to choose a final image format.
The interface is user-friendly, although we recommend checking out the online tutorial to get started. Processing images with Bling! It is a lot simpler if you follow the photography tips, including shooting your subject with an appropriate background. Ideally you should shoot against a solid-color, untextured material.
The background-separation software is quite powerful—it’s essentially the same as Vertus’s professional cutout app, Fluid Mask 3 (4 out of 5 stars, Jan/08, p58). Mastering complicated masks takes practice, and there’s a bit of a learning curve. But if the background is simple, knocking it out can be accomplished with a few strategic clicks of the Delete Local brush. For any less-than-ideal background, you’ll need to resort to the app’s more precise tools. Conveniently, a live preview window lets you keep tabs on your work.
Having dispensed with the background, composing and adding effects is more intuitive. Rotating and scaling is easily accomplished with click-and-drag anchor points. And a clearly labeled toolbar makes drop-shadow customization (direction, length, intensity, and fuzziness) a cinch. Another plus: the automatic image-size presets for common sites like eBay and Amazon.
Bling! It has a built-in library of background patterns, many of which are the definition of cheesy. More design-oriented and/or conservative users will probably stick with a solid background color, with or without more subtle effects applied. Bling! It lacks tools that can be used to cover up product blemishes, an intentional omission on the part of Vertus (online buyers want to know what the goods really look like). But the app also lacks basic color-correction or white-balance-adjustment tools, which we consider almost essential, especially for beginning photographers.A useful app at a nice price, Bling! It offers an easy way to fix up product shots for posting on eBay—or for knocking out backgrounds on any photos for Web use. Basic white-balance adjustments would make it complete.