FOR MANY WEB SITE DESIGNERS, graphic artists, and art directors, finding that "perfect" stock photo can be a big chore. PhotoDisc, a digital stock photography house in Seattle, has a more elegant and speedier solution than thumbing through countless photography books or buying CD-ROMs.

The company has put more than 50,000 digital images on its Web site (http://www.photodisc.com). To make looking for that "just right" photo easier, the Web site uses two search engines. One is the typical key word or topic search, so browsers can easily look for pictures based on themes, such as "Christmas." The other is a visual search engine, designed by San Mateo (Calif.)-based software company Virage Inc., that allows users to key in color, form, texture, and composition requests--say, a fiery orange sunset on a flat, sandy beach.

PhotoDisc says the Web site's libraries will constantly be updated with new photographs. Downloading costs are $80 per image and takes from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the resolution of the picture and the speed of the Internet connection.

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