I used to use a wonderful photo editor online to fix up, crop or make a collage for all the library pictures I take. But when the website closed down, I was in a desperate search for something just as good, just as easy to use.  I think I’ve found it in PicMonkey.

You can upload your photos and fix them using all the great tools, or even morph them into new and fantastic things using the fun options. But what I really love, is the ease with which you can merge two photos.  It’s fabulous!

Take for example, this photo of Ronald McDonald® visiting the library.

While it’s a fun picture on its own, I wanted to add someone special to it for the purposes of showing how this great tool works. Using the Eraser and Overlay tool, I was able to take this photo which has a white background:

…and erase all the white to incorporate him into the bigger picture.

Just a little bit of fun for anyone who might want to play around with photo editing sites. Do you have other great sites that you use to edit photos online?


Authors and Photos

I recently read an article in the current edition of Quill & Quire magazine about the “Delicate Art of the Author Photo”. Leah Sandals talked about how author photos are getting more sophisticated, and yet, not so.

It seems that author photos, the ones you see on the back book jacket, are changing.  Many well established authors tend to use old photos (some from as far back as the 1970’s, maybe the original photo from their first published book?), not really caring about what you see when you turn to the back to glean a few bits of information. Gone are the days when a husband or family friend took the photo you see. Now, many authors are resorting to a professional photographer to capture them in their own environment or possibly, just to look good. 

J. K. Rowling’s photo. Professional.

What Sandals noted, however, was that these photos are also become more creative, and sometimes laughable. While one author chose to use a photo of himself wrapped only in a towel to display his athletic form, that might be going too far.  I don’t care or want to see something like that.  Give me a good head shot any day. (Unless the book is about the author’s transformation from frump to fit, then it just doesn’t matter to me.) Her advice?  Use a professional photographer to get something worth putting in the book. And don’t get them done at Sears.

I know that I often look at those photos.  Sometimes, I’m surprised by what the author looks like–he couldn’t possibly be the person who wrote this book, I might think–and sometimes, they’re perfect.  One of my co-workers often comments to me about pictures.  It seems she puts a lot of weight into how the author looks. Does it influence what I think about that book?  Not usually, but if the picture is strange, I might not want to look at it again.

So, do you look at the back cover to see what an author looks like when you read a book?

Start a Phlog!

In the summer, we tend to do a little more “phlogging” than at other times of the year.  What’s phlogging, you ask? A phlog is a photo blog! More and more, phlogs are turning up as a great way for people to show off the photos they take on vacations or in their everyday lives. Facebook isn’t the best platform to shocase photos, but a simple photo blog is the perfect way. If you have a smartphone and tend to take a lot of pictures, you can download an app to a great WordPress blog format and start using it right away.

One of the most important things to think about when setting up a phlog is what your layout should look like.  You want your photos to be front and center, so choose a blog format that is designed specifically for photos.  There should be large, blank space, and ideally a blog that will allow your photos to remain full sized. (There’s nothing worse than tiny photos you have to click on to view.)  This blog would not be ideal for a phlog, with all of the links and widgets on the side columns.  We post lots of photos at times, but if I were to turn to posting strictly photos, this is not the template I would choose.  You might also go for a phlog template that has a white or black background, something that won’t compete with the colours in your pictures.

A lot of people are taking pictures with their smartphones and using Instagram to edit them into beautiful, artistic photos.  Even Instagram itself has a great photo blog, filled with tips on getting the most out of your photos. You can see what other people are doing with their photos and they have super tips and ideas to get the most out of your smartphone.

Thanks to Labellenuage for the great Instagram photo!

While we might not have a true photo blog for the library, it’s always fun to think of new ways to post what’s going on. One of our favourite blog posts with photos happened last summer for our Stuffed Animal Sleepover.  We might do something similar this year, so keep watching.

What would YOU post on a phlog?

Photo Booth Fun!

For our Frivolous Friday post, how about a little fun with an online Photo Booth? Remember pulling back the curtain, squishing inside with your friends and making goofy faces, only to stand outside the booth and wait for your strip of photos three minutes later? Well, now you can experience the idea online using your webcam! La Photocabine lets you take a picture using your webcam, choose color or black and white and then download or print your funny pictures right away! This could be a fun tool to start your March Break!

Google Street View

For our Frivolous Friday post, a story in pictures. One of our favourite things at the library is Google Street View.  Some of us use it to see the places we read about in books. Some of us just want to know where that French bookstore is located. And we’ve probably all dropped in on our homes to see what was going on the day the Google trucks went by.

But what about those unexpected images that get captured just because the cameras are pointed somewhere at the exact moment something interesting or terrifying happens?  Well, artist Jon Rafman has started the Nine Eyes of Google Streetview, a project that has him putting together all the unexpected images shot by the nine cameras on the Google trucks.

These photos are amazing, heartbreaking, funny, shocking and frustrating, but they’re all interesting.

Be warned, some of the images feature nudity and some can be disturbing, but take a few moments to scroll through the site.  You’ll be amazed and it’ll make you think about Google Street View a little differently the next time you log on.

Find me a picture!

I came across an interesting photo site recently that is not only fast, but fun as well.  Trover allows you to type in an address (either someplace you’d like to be or your current address), and it will bring up tons of photos from that designated area that are tagged somewhere on the web.  When I typed in Carleton Place, I got a few photos from the area, but many that were also from closeby, like Ottawa and upstate New York.

Have some fun and see what kinds of pictures people have posted with your address designation.  And make sure the next time you post pictures online, tag your photos with location and maybe you’ll see them on this site in the future!

Paint the day away

For my Frivolous Friday post, I have a fun website that allows you to try your hand at painting…without having to spend years at art school.  Just upload one of your favourite pictures and use their techniques to paint overtop of the photo in the style you admire most!  Psykopaint is fun and easy and I think the results are great!

Here’s my original photo:

Then…. I Psykopainted it in Monet style….

Anyway, maybe not the best use of the program, but you can see lots of great examples on their website and try your hand at either one of your own pictures, or something they’ve already uploaded!  So go ahead, have some fun and Psykopaint the weekend away!