Update Note 2014-04-10: The Photo Tools are not part of the Firestorm Viewer and do not need to be installed.
I saw these tools mentioned on Hamlet’s New World Notes in an article titled: Want to Take Great SL Images? Get Mr. Weaver’s Phototools! These are tools made for the Firestorm Viewer (Firestorm 4.1.1 (28744) Jul 9 2012 21:43:46 (Firestorm-Release)). The tools will only work with the default skins.
This is an interesting addition to Firestorm. It is a rational and logical arrangement of the controls by William (paperwork) Weaver that affects how the viewer renders with world. If you are a photographer this is going to be a way handy tool. All the settings that affect the render appearance are in a single panel consisting of 6 tabs. Some of the controls open other panels, but basically it is one new panel, but what a handy panel.
There are instructions on the Paper Works Shows blog. That is also where you download the free ZIP file. The ZIP file contains a file with a set of web pages with the instructions too. Get the ZIP files for free here: Download Second Life PhotoTools.
Installation consists of copying 4 files from the Firestorm install folders for safe keeping, in the event you want to roll back the Photo Tools install. Then copying 4 new files found in the ZIP file to the FS skins folder.
Using the Windows Explorer it can be an easy drag and drop backup and install. If you are not comfortable using the Windows Explorer to move files around, you probably want to skip the tools.
What You Get
What the tools do is add a button to the viewer menu. By default it adds itself to the bottom buttons. That button opens a new panel. The panel has a collection of settings found in Existing viewer. Some are from the Debug Settings and others are from Preferences and yet others from the Advanced and Developer menus. These are arranged to reduce the clicking and searching needed to change the look of SL.
For photographers and machinamists this will be one of the handiest tools around.
The amount of hover text that has been added will greatly help people understand what the settings do and what some of various inter-dependencies are. So, be sure to let you cursor hover of the button for a few second to get the popup text.
Where This is Going
For Firestorm 4.1.1 and other Firestorm 4.x versions this is probably it. But, the chances are good the FS Team will include this change in Firestorm 5.x version.
You can see some of that discussion in the Firestorm JIRA. See: FIRE-6004. You can see some of the viewer modifications for this feature are being made for version 5.01.
The take away is you should see this new panel in the next version, unlikely, or the version after, more likely. Until it releases you can install the panel manually.
I do most of my image tweaking in Photoshop. This tool allows people to tweak the image in the Firestorm viewer before they take the picture. You can change the light, water, sky, and all the other visual settings in the viewer to get the look you want, then just take a picture.
You can do exactly the same thing without the new panel, provided you know where all these settings are and what they do. The panel just makes it easier to get to the settings and way faster to change and experiment with the settings.
There are a number of pictures on the home page of Paper Works Shows blog. Check them out. The Mayfair picture opening the article is one. It is vastly different than what Mayfair looks like with the default Windlight settings. Just TP to Mayfair to see for yourself.
I downloaded and installed the panel on about 5 minutes total. I like having all the settings together. This is one tool I plan to keep.
Use of the tool is dependent on the viewer skin in use. So, this version is probably not going to work with the SL Viewer. Nor is it likely to work with skins other than the default Firestorm skins.
I have no idea whether the Lab will add this feature to the Linden Lab viewer. I tend to doubt it as it adds complexity. But… one never knows.