The update to Digg yesterday brought with it a handful of tweaks, although notably absent was the much anticipated photos section. Keep in mind that you'll still find Digg saturated in photos, there's just not a bona fide section for them, or way to view pictures on-site. While confirmed on the official Digg blog that a special photo section is on track for October (two months from now), there's already a handful of sites to get your fix for photos made popular by real people. Here are seven of my favorites:
If you've ever used Picnik (review) before, you have an idea of how far online photo editing has come. Similarly, there's Fotoflexer, a user-friendly photo editor that offers one-click tweaks, along with some advanced tools on par with desktop class photo editing software. The service has been around since late last year, and is launching version two this morning.
Like several other online photo editors, Fotoflexer integrates major services like Flickr, MySpace, Picasa, and Facebook to pull your photos down for editing. Short of MySpace (which doesn't have an open API), you can send your edited photos back to all of them if you've plugged in your login credentials. Once you've found a photo you want to "flex," the app will jump you out to a full-screen editing canvas, where you have quick tabbed controls for all the usual editing goodies like rotation, a cropping tool and a resizer. You'll also find some fun distortion effects similar to the liquefy tool in Photoshop (as seen in the screenshot below). This is probably the most enjoyable of the bunch, since it processes the effect in real-time.
The real claim to fame however, is Fotoflexer's Smart Cutout and Recolor effects, which can help you cut out various pieces of a photo, or recolor them to match the tone of your choice. The cutout is the more useful of the two, and lets you cut people or objects out from a shot without having to trace their outline. If you've ever used Photoshop's magnetic lasso or masking tool, you'll know full well how tedious a process this can be. Instead, you use a small paintbrush to "tag" objects you'd like to keep or remove. One click later, and the app will do its best to single out those parts of the photo. If it makes slight mistakes, you can then go back in and remove or replace bits and pieces manually.
Once you've got a cutout, you can add it into another photo, or bring another shot in to the workspace. Fotoflexer lets you have as many layers as you want, and you can move them up and down, or merge them by simply right-clicking. Again, it's probably one of the few Web apps for photo editing that offers contextual menus.
Despite its beauty, there are a few snags here and there. For one thing, even in full screen, the editor remains the same size, which looks and feels very odd if you're using a wide screen monitor. The feature is being added as early as this week according to the Fotoflexer team, although in the meantime, if you're working with a landscape shot, things feel a bit cramped. There's also a lack of some of the advanced editing controls on the quick color effects. For example, clicking the "stamp" button will do its best to make your shot black and white shot with an excess of contrast, however there's no slider or option to tweak it. You either like it or you don't. Luckily, if you know what you're doing, you can achieve similar effects by using the advanced options to recreate each effect manually.
All in all, Fotoflexer is a really well put together app that could make a solid piece of standalone software. The fact that it's free and runs in your browser makes it even better.
Kingston's low-key but interesting Icons of Photography site uses a monthly magazine format to make the most of a relatively shallow content pool. Over the past year and a half, it's parlayed the four pros--Harry Benson, Colin Finlay, Gerd Ludwig, and Peter Read Miller--into 11 issues by doling out bite-sized chunks of editorial.
Accompanying each piece you'll find a handful of photos, representative of the work of the pro or the amateur supplicant. Calling them galleries would be a gross overstatement: they're five-photo, completely text-free slide shows. If the idea were to present the photos in an elegant manner, that would be one thing. But the huge, distracting Kingston logo banner and ad ruin any chance of that. So a label with the name of the photographer, and perhaps some EXIF data, might be nice.
There are four basic types of stories, all targeted toward the interested amateur. The feature "20 Questions" presents brief interviews with pros, that makes an interesting two-minute read for the uninitiated. It's a bit frustrating, though. For instance, when Harry Benson discusses his famous image of the Beatles' pillow fight, a link to or inclusion of the photo would have been really nice.… Read more
A bit late to the party and wearing surprisingly Web 1.0 clothing, Pentax today launched the beta of its new Photo Gallery--a place where your photography can see and be seen right along with the pros, but very much in an old-fashioned, lone surfer, gallery atmosphere .
The Gallery has a curator of sorts, and at least initially, posting is by her invitation only. You can solicit an invitation with an e-mail to email@example.com, at which point she'll provide you with the magic log-in or gently (I hope) turn you away and point you to Flickr or some other populist photo site. And the possibility of rejection--a key nonmonetary differentiator between the amateur and the pro--makes you feel like you're playing in the big leagues.
Being approved for posting, however, doesn't guarantee you can display anything you want; every image posted must be OK'd by the gatekeeper. However, once you've been approved, you can vote on other people's work for elevation to the Premiere Collection.
The number and quality of online photo-sharing sites, along with their burgeoning communities, have been growing exponentially ever since mainstream consumers embraced digital photography.
Flickr, Picasa, Snapfish, 23HQ, Zoomr, and Webshots (disclaimer: Webshots is owned by CNET Networks) are only a handful of the free sites that let you publish your own pics and explore other photographers' creations.
Once you've established your digital presence on a photo-sharing site, you may find yourself uploading hundreds, if not thousands, of photos to share with friends and family. While the sites have powerful technology to display, categorize, and host your images, they'… Read more
There are already a lot of useful plug-ins for downloading or uploading from online sites such as Flickr, Picasa Web, Snapfish, Webshots (disclaimer: owned by CNET Networks), and the rest, but most applications only work with one specific service.
If you want to move all of your images from one site to another (if you're one of those unhappy Flickr users, for example), and you're not looking forward to manually downloading and uploading hundreds of pictures, Migratr might be able to help. A home-brewed tool from independent developer Alexander Lucas, Migratr automatically downloads all of your photos from one site, and uploads them to the other.
It sounds great, so what's the catch? Well, Migratr only currently includes support for Flickr, Picasa Web, 23HQ, SmugMug, and Zooomr (which shouldn't even be counted because it has temporarily disabled bulk uploaders). However, downloading and uploading among the four available online photo services worked wonderfully for me. I must admit, however, that I was transferring tens of files, not thousands.… Read more
Ever wonder what your cat is up to after she wanders out into the garden? Well, Jurgen Perthold of Germany did. So he cobbled together a small camera, set it to take a photo every few minutes, attached it to his cat's collar and sent him on his way.
That's the genesis of Mr. Lee CatCam. The site features wonderful, atmospheric photographs taken from Mr. Lee's outings, including views from under cars, under bushes and up close and personal with other cats, views most humans don't get.
The site describes the technology behind the CatCam and … Read more
My colleague Phil Ryan has posted an entry over at our Crave blog about some new permit proposals in NYC that will undoubtedly make it a lot tougher for people to take photos and video of the city they love.
I'll quote Phil here: "The new rules require permits for any shoot that includes two people or more for a period of longer than 30 minutes and restrict tripod use to ten minutes, including set up and break down times. I don't know about you, but for a complicated shot, it can take me ten minutes just … Read more
If you've ever tried to set up a tripod in New York City, you know that it can be difficult enough just avoiding all the people. Then, if a police officer spots you, you also have to explain why you've set it up, which can lead to the officer telling you that you need a permit. Now, the city is planning to modify its photo and video permit rules in ways that has alarmed many local photographers and videographers. An brief announcement by the city outlines some of the changes, though a PDF of the full notice explains … Read more