Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tech Tip Tuesday

Most of the work I do is with words and not images. But as that saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words...

Kim Komando recently wrote an email with lots of FREE image related programs that you can download.

The first one, I use every week:

Freebies for photo buffs

Photography is one of my favorite hobbies. Just put a camera in my hand and watch me go! Of course, I also like to help others improve their photos. That's why I wrote a guide about digital photography.

Snapping the shutter is only part of the process. You still need to edit, convert and organize your photos. Fortunately, I have some great free software that will help you do all that and more.

IrFanView - Do you need to resize your images before emailing them or posting them to the Web? Need to convert one file format to another? If so, you'll dig this free, easy-to-use program.

This is a terrific file viewer that lets you open and convert just about any type of image file. You can also grab some free plug-ins that expand its capabilities. For example, they'll help you uncover your photos' EXIF data. This is hidden data that reveals the camera you used, settings and more.

Image Composite Editor - Some subjects are just too big for a single photograph. We've all run into this problem. You want to capture something cool. However, it just won't fit into a single frame.

Microsoft Research has come up with a solution. You take as many pictures of a single subject as you want. The Image Composite Editor will stitch all the photos together at full resolution. You'll have a spectacular panorama in no time.

GIMP - Photoshop is the best- known image editor. It has loads of features, and it can completely transform a photo. But it will also dent your wallet. I'm talking hundreds of dollars.

Don't reach for that credit card just yet. Try GIMP. It's a free image-editing program. And it has an impressive set of tools. It can handle nearly any editing task.

RawTherapee - Digital SLR owners should have the option of shooting in RAW format. RAW format gives you more control when editing your photos. You can adjust white balance and exposure. You can also eke out more detail.

However, you need special software to process RAW files. Thankfully, RawTherapee is a free, full-featured RAW editor. It has the same features you'll find in pricey programs. It is a must for anyone serious about photography!

DNG Converter - RAW files are a boon to enthusiasts and professional photographers alike. Unfortunately, most camera manufacturers use proprietary RAW formats. And RAW formats even vary from model to model. Not all of these are supported by RAW editing programs.

Adobe does have a more standardized format called DNG, or digital negative. Adobe also provides the DNG Converter program. It can convert most RAW files into the DNG format. Most, if not all, RAW image editors support the DNG format. If your RAW files aren't supported by your software, this converter can be a real lifesaver!

Picasa - Keeping your photos organized is important. Picasa is organization software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open this program, it automatically locates all your pictures and sorts them into visual albums sorted by date.

You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups. The program also has basic photo editing features. You can even use it to upload photos to the Web.

JPEGsnoop - Digital pictures carry tons of extra information. I'm referring to EXIF data. Inside the EXIF data you can find when, where and how the picture was taken. You may even find the original image before it was cropped.

JPEGsnoop is a program that's designed to reveal EXIF data in JPEGs. It lets you see pretty much everything about the photo. Before you share a digital photo, run it through JPEGsnoop. That way, you can be sure you're not sharing too much.

Luminance HDR - Digital photos tend to lack the dynamic range of film. With limited dynamic range, photos can appear flat and non-detailed. That is why some professionals have yet to switch to digital photography.

This is where Luminance HDR can help. It is an open source program designed for creating HDR, or high-dynamic range, images. You can create HDR files from a set of images of the same scene. Simply use shots taken at different exposures. Merge the photos to create an image with more depth and detail.

TiltShift Generator - There are some great effects that can transform your pictures. Tilt-shift effects are some of the coolest. They can make objects seem less lifelike. A real cityscape can look like miniature model.

TiltShift Generator takes all the complication out of the process. The only thing this program does is the tilt-shift effect. Just upload your photos and play with the settings. Experiment with it until you get the results you want.

Cost: Free
Systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7

Click Here to Download Now >>

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