Pic Collage

Pic Collage

Pic Collage is not an editing app, but I just think it’s really neat. With it you can create postcards with pictures from your phone’s photo library, Facebook or the internet. You can resize them, move them around, trim them, or use them as background. You can add text or stickers wherever you want and change the background color. It’s really easy.

You can then save the card to your phone and/or share it on FB, Twitter, via email or even as a real snail mail postcard, to people selected from your phone’s contacts. You can type in text on the back, just like a real postcard. The mailed version costs $1.99, but that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me when you consider the cost of cards and postage these days, combined with the ease of creating and sending one of these. Otherwise the app is free.

It is a simple way to share photos with those who don’t have a computer…yes, they’re still out there. In fact, my one surviving grandmother will be the recipient of the one above. And really, don’t we all love receiving real mail anyway? Maybe this will help USPS a little bit. I did my part today.

Beach Toys

Beach Toys

The weather has not been stellar this weekend, but that hasn’t stopped the acceleration of events at the boardwalk and beach. There was some sort of jet-ski celebration going on, and they were strewn all over the beach as we ran up the boardwalk this morning. I thought this a good opportunity to make it a Tiltshift weekend, after Jack’s guest post yesterday. Thanks to my trusty Spibelt, I was prepared.

Here was the original:


After the long run and a pancake breakfast prepared by Mackenzie, I edited this in TiltShift Generator. That’s about all I could manage with these things on wobbly legs and a full stomach.

Guest Post – Mini D.C.

Following is another fantastic guest post from my nephew Jack, with pictures taken during a family trip to Washington, D.C. I am so impressed with what he was able to do with an iTouch. Nice work, Jack!

I liked both of these shots, so I decided to talk about both of them at the same time, since they were both edited with Tilt-shift generator. The first one, which was originally just a bland picture of the capitol. (I’m not saying that the capitol is bland, just for the record.)

When Aunt Sara first introduced tilt-shift, I looked at it and just couldn’t see the “mini” in it. But after her post “Hatsational” I had this moment of “Ohhhhhhhh!”  and all of the sudden I got it. The pictures look like toys! What also helped this app enhance the pictures was the fact that you can adjust saturation which makes the picture brighter and the colors look better. Especially when editing this on my iPod it makes the pictures look better and as if they were from an iPhone.

It's a Plane!

This photo may be a bit confusing. But one day during April Vacation we heard about a shuttle that was going to fly over the mall on the back of a Boeing 747 to be shipped to a Smithsonian. We were all excited, so we rushed down one morning and I took a few pictures. What this app did not provide, that may have made this picture better, was a zoom feature. If it had had this, then you would have been able to see the shuttle, but there isn’t and hopefully there will be soon.

Pigeons on the Pier

Pigeons on the Pier

Seagulls are a mainstay at the beach, but pigeons only around the pier. There is always a healthy group of them here, although I have yet to find evidence of a nest. According to my limited research, their nests tend to be skimpy anyway. Our dog loves to chase them even more than seagulls for some reason and these two were seeking refuge.  Here is the original, which I edited for the final in Snapseed. I recognized after that I had made another rookie mistake – I straightened it to align the crooked light pole, because I thought it was distracting. But that made the horizon crooked, and that is probably more disconcerting to a viewer!


I could have fixed it, but I didn’t realize it until I saw it on the computer. To go back now would reject one of my personal rules of iPhoneography, which is that I will take care of every bit of the process on the phone only. Fortunately, I redeemed myself by giving it a run through Dramatic Black & White in the original orientation. There’s always another app for me to seek refuge in.


The Spice of Life

The Spice of Life

Did you hear they want to try to eradicate cinnamon? That’s right, apparently it’s too brown and dusty. It’s crazy that they’d want to do away with something just because it’s a little unattractive or inconvenient, but I guess that’s how it goes. Yeah, it can be a hassle cultivating it, but really?! It’s worth a little extra work when the possibilities are endless. Its scent alone is the epitome of warmth and joy. It’s immediately recognizable and everybody loves it. Totally flexible, it can be sweet, spicy or mellow. You can dress it up or enjoy it quite simply. I, for one, could not imagine life without cinnamon. If you are as astounded as I am, please check out this link.

Delaney’s class runs a coffee shop for teachers at her school. On Fridays, she and I bake  the cinnamon rolls. The lighting in schools is always a little rough, so I did some editing in Snapseed. Here’s the original:

I cropped and straightened it. Straightening in Snapseed is a cinch with a one-finger vertical swipe! I’m a fan of keeping priorities and pictures straight.


I applied a little tilt-shift effect with a vertical ellipse so that both her face and some of the rolls stayed in focus, and then added a frame. I’m also a fan of keeping priorities clear, in pictures and in life.

Overboard Enhancements

Overboard Enhancements

Yesterday, some friends and I guided ourselves through the VB Home and Garden Tour in a beautiful neighborhood not far from ours. Every home was full of priceless works of art, expertly decorated, and replete with immaculately cultivated surroundings. The best part, however, were the garden club volunteer “hostesses”, who too were immaculate, expert and priceless. Several had difficulty enunciating due to loss of muscle control in the facial region, thanks to quite obvious enhancements. But that’s okay, these homes spoke for themselves.

We were not allowed to take photographs inside the homes. When outside, as usual, I was drawn to water where the properties affronted it. This shot was taken just as a cloud passed over the sun at the last house we visited, and I edited it in Snapseed.

I’m starting to get the hang of using this app. Here is another original from a different property. The iPhone takes its best pictures in a lot of light, but this can wash things out. Snapseed provides a lot of mechanisms for bringing back, and yes enhancing, color and definition. Here’s another original opened in Snapseed:


A lot can be accomplished under the “Tune Image,” as seen below. You swipe up or down to make your selection, then swipe side to side to make the actual adjustments. A touch on the landscape image in the upper right will let you see how your edits compare to the original, before you actually process it by hitting the right arrow at the bottom.


I then sometimes apply a filter, usually from the “Drama” category, but again you can control how intense it is by swiping left or right. I like to enhance wood grains.



The trick with Snapseed is knowing when to stop. It’s easy to go overboard, to a point where the picture is unrecognizable from it’s original self. At least enhancements made with Snapseed, even when overdone, can speak for themselves.

For the Moment

For the Moment

It’s the oceanfront trifecta: before sunrise, before Memorial day, and before 50 degrees. In several weeks, it will be near impossible to capture a tranquil moment at this location. Locals here live for summer, but I prefer every other season, without humidity, bugs or crowds. That alone, even after 17 years of residence here, may disqualify me from ever being considered a local.

I edited this in Snapseed, an app I enjoy more and more.

Let Your Geek Hang Out

Let Your Geek Hang Out

Running in the early morning on the boardwalk is a great way to both get shots I would never otherwise encounter and satisfy my inability* to sit still for long. I even got a SpiBelt – the runner’s fanny pack – to carry my phone. I can now officially be described as an “active geek”, according to “Geeky,” the Spibelt reviewer. This is in contrast to the geek I saw on the beach with his tripod, sitting and waiting for the moment the sun crested the horizon. I, on the other hand, glanced to the left, paused briefly to withdraw phone, and got this shot. He may be able to mount his picture on the wall, but I still have proof I was there. And I got a workout in with a friend. Make that “social active geek.”

Due to time constraints, I did not edit this. Whatever your preference, moving or stationary, with or without company, be sure to let your geek hang out.

*Can you satisfy an inability?

Drama at the Bridge

Drama at the Bridge

This is another edit done in Dramatic Black & White, like the Drama Mama post. It has been sitting in my phone for a couple weeks, taken during a weekend long run. I have actually never encountered drama at this bridge, but there’s plenty to be had nearby: the Museum of Contemporary Art can barely be glimpsed through the reeds; the oceanfront is less than a mile to the East; to the West is the Little Theater of Virginia Beach, and just beyond that is the site of the F-18 crash right before Easter that miraculously killed no one.


I love this “Dramatic 1” effect that transforms the picture into something resembling a charcoal pencil sketch. More interesting than the original, I think.


Here is another example taken on JJ’s street in Saratoga Springs one morning. 20120422-122401.jpg

A little drama can go a long way. And that’s about as much as I can tolerate – just enough to keep things interesting.

Swing Battah!

Swing Battah!

I don’t know a lot about baseball, but now that we’ve entered into t-ball, I guess I’ll learn. Taking pictures will help keep me focused on this relatively slow-paced sport, during which one can easily become distracted by conversation, biting flies, or trips to the concession stand. Fortunately I’ve found an app to help keep me in the game.

One frustration with an iPhone, or any pocket camera, is the inability to capture a focussed shot when the subject is moving. 95% of kid pictures come out blurry. No more. With Fast Camera, immediately upon opening the app, pictures are taken so fast you won’t miss a thing. The trick is to get used to how quickly it works, because before you know it you have 87 shots to sift through. But none of them are blurry.

To demonstrate, I looked to James as he warmed up “on deck,” as they say, at his t-ball game. In the time it took him to swing back to starting position (is that what they call it?) and swing through once, the camera took 19 shots. Don’t ask me to comment on his form. I whittled it down to the 7 you see in this slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The app makers say it takes up to 800 pictures a minute, and while I won’t test that, I wouldn’t doubt it. It is simple to sift through and select the ones you want to view, as well as delete the ones you don’t. After yesterday’s cat post, I won’t bore you with baseball metaphors, but suffice it to say this app scores a touchdown in my mind.