BorrowBox

The one development I could never have anticipated was that printed fiction books would suddenly become dramatically less important to me than they were. Just the other day I worked out that l must have been a member of various libraries for at least 53 years ever since being taken by my mum to the children’s library in the Durban City Hall.

In the intervening years I have probably devoured at least three printed books a week and sometimes more until one day when, having been in Brisbane for some years, I noted that my sister and niece were listening to audio books on their tablets and mobile phones and deriving a lot of enjoyment from them. I had listened to audio books on occasion but had given it up because the process simply wasn’t that convenient and because I have issues with buying audio books at the same price as the printed versions.

I was all ears once it was explained that the family had downloaded an app called BorrowBox (available for Apple iOS and Android) which allowed them to sign on as members of the Brisbane Library Service, browse athrough an extensive list of titles and download the ones they wanted free of charge, if available, or reserve them if they had already been borrowed. Once a book has been borrowed, it can be downloaded onto one or more of your devices and go with you anywhere.

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Fun with PhotoScape

Last week I downloaded the latest edition of FastStone, my favourite image viewer.

I like it because it is just as fast as its name implies and one of the quickest ways I know of to view a folder of pictures and cull the bad ones. It has a huge range of features including the ability to convert Raw files produced by a whole range of cameras.

It’s free and, if you haven’t done so already, I’d really advise you to pop along to FastStone.org and take a look. When I downloaded the latest version, I also got a list of other programs that FastStone users have downloaded and, at the top of the list, was a free program called PhotoScape, which I’d never heard of. It’s only about 16 MB in size so I snagged a copy and installed that as well.

 The PhotoScape editor.

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Worldwide Photowalk

In one of the very early posts on this blog, I confided that I had been lucky enough to win the Durban section of Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2009. With over 900 winners and the same number of walk organisers, there were a lot of prizes to post out and problems were bound to occur. I had begun to think that my prize was never going to arrive but, shortly after Christmas, a courier rolled up to the door with a copy of Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book Volume 3.

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Triscape FxFoto

While out and about on the web the other day, I heard tell of an image manipulation program called FxFoto.

Always being interested in photo-related programs, I decided to go along and see what it was all about.  It turns out that it is meant for fixing digital images and creating a wide variety of photo projects including collages, movies, scrapbook pages, and many others.

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Blurry good?

DSC_0069-Blur
I was fiddling with the trial version of Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro Photoshop plug-in and came up with this version of one of my favourite pictures, after trying a few different effects. Silver Efex seems to be a great way to convert images to black and white, offering everything you might want under under one roof, so to speak.

You can pick from a variety of presets and then customise the look of your picture by simulating the use of coloured filters, toning, and adding film grain. Using Control Point technology, you can apply effects to selected areas in a picture.

The package is pretty easy to use although I found the interface a trifle cramped, with there being no obvious was to maximise the work space to fill the entire screen. I like Silver Efex but the $199 price tag is too much for my slender means at the moment.

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The Hot Shoe Diaries

I may have mentioned that one of the most exciting developments in my photography in recent times was the discovery of off-camera flash. Or, if I wanted to be strictly accurate, my recent rediscovery of off-camera flash..

I was browsing through the B&H Photo site the other day when I noticed Canon accessories which allow you to connect off-camera flashes to your Canon film cameras. It reminded me that I once had a set of those cords, hot shoes and connector boxes, and which gave superb results. I was shooting my niece who was a toddler at the time and, if I tell you that she now has her driving license and is at university, it’ll give you an idea of just how long ago that was.

cheeky

For one reason or another, perhaps it was too limiting to work tethered with short bits of wire, I stopped doing the off-camera thing; and what a great pity that was.

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