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Photo editors at your fingertips

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By Laura Siirila '13,
Communications Assistant

Do you have a stock pile of photos that need touching up, could be repurposed or need to be resized? Unless you are frequently using photo editors for professional projects, there is no need to purchase the expensive software when there are many free or mostly free online photo editors. Most online editors follow the same basic steps for changing a photo: 1) Upload the photo, 2) Preview changes (color, brightness, filters, text, stickers, etc.) to the photo and 3) Save and/or Publish the photo.

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When do I use an edited photo?
Edited photos have many purposes. In the classroom, they can be used in presentations or projects. Using an edited photo can make your content look more professional and improve the viewer experience. In marketing and communications, edited photos can be used in brochures, websites and social platforms to engage with viewers. Since text can be added to edited photos, they can also be used in fliers or other promotional materials.

What editor should I use?
There are many photo editors to choose from, but the following two editors are well-rated, user-friendly editors.

PicMonkey is one of the easiest online photo editors to use. To begin: upload a photo. Once a photo is uploaded, tabs on the left-hand side of the screen navigate the user through basic editing process, adding effects and filters to the photo, touching up facial features, adding text, adding overlays, adding frames, adding textures and using pre-made themes to edit photos. There are also options to create collages and start designing a piece from scratch.

Pros:

  • Enough options to allow for variety without becoming overwhelming
  • Low learning curve
  • A large collection of overlays and themes
  • Able to upload personal overlays and textures
Cons:
  • Many features require an upgraded plan to use
  • Once the tab in the internet browser is closed, the work is lost

Pixlr offers three different types of editors: the Pixlr Editor, the Pixlr Express and Pixlr O-Matic. These three editors are for a range of expertise, listed from hardest to easiest. The Pixlr Editor offers similar capabilities to Adobe Photoshop. This editor is quite comprehensive, but it takes time to learn to use properly. Pixlr Express offers an easier version of Pixlr Editor. Similar to PicMonkey, it offers several stages of editing, but it has more options than PicMonkey. For the beginner editor, this may be overwhelming. However, once you become more familiar with the settings, this becomes a useful feature of the program. Pixlr O-Matic has three editing options: effect, overlay and border.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Editors for different skill levels
  • Large number of options for Adjustment and Effect in Express version
Cons:
  • Steeper learning curve
  • Unable to upload own overlays and stickers

Recommendation
I personally recommend using Pixlr. There is a higher learning curve and the amount of options can make it overwhelming, but it has the most features and has the most power. However, I think experimenting with each programs will help you decide which editor is the best fit for your needs and experience.

Still need help?
Check out these tutorials to see if they answer your question
PicMonkey Tutorials
Pixlr Tutorials

Living with your head in the cloud

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By Brenda Senger '13, Communications Assistant


I remember when a cloud was described as "that white fluffy stuff up in the sky." Now everyone seems to be talking about a cloud as a place for storing all of their important information.

What is the cloud?
The cloud, also referred to as cloud computing, is a way to store or access information like documents, videos, or images through the internet instead of the hard drive of your computer.

How to use it?
The first step in using the cloud is identifying which system you want to use. Most forms of cloud computing works the same way: download/sign up for the system, place the information you want into your cloud, and then synchronize with the devices you would access them on.

You've likely used some sort of cloud—maybe without you even knowing it. A prime example of cloud computing that you have probably used is through CEHD's Active Directory. When you place documents, images, or videos in to your personal inbox or outbox in the directory you are able to see it when you log into the CEHD server. You can access these documents from different computers or laptops. Other examples that you may be familiar with is Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, or iCloud.

Why use it?
We can't always count on our digital devices working and when they crash it can be difficult to retain the data that was lost. When using cloud and regularly synchronizing with all of your devices, assessing data is fast and easy. You will be able to work on class presentations or power points on your laptop at home, sync with your iPad in the office, and not worry about preparing for class the next day.
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All about infographics

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By Laura Siirila '13, Communications Assistant

Infographics are popping up everywhere, but what are they?

in·fo·graph·ic /ˌinfōˈgrafik/ noun 1. a visual image such as a chart or diagram used to represent information or data.
Infographics are used to visually convey large amounts of data. They help sort, arrange, and visually present data. This infographic about infographics explains that people are 30% more likely to read an infographic over text, 40% of people respond better to visual information than text, and 90% of information is transmitted to the brain visually.


When to use an infographic
According to this article by Concentric Content Marketing, it is best to use infographics when:

  1. There is data. Data gives the graphics credibility and the graphics make the data interesting.
  2. The information is difficult to understand in written form. Not every infographic explains difficult information, but they are especially helpful for interpreting complex information.
  3. How many infographics have you used so far? Infographics are useful, but they can become less effective if overused.
  4. Does your audience like infographics? Most likely, yes, but information isn't always conveyed best visually. Consider your audience before spending time creating an infographic.

Infographics in the classroom
Infographics are useful for students and faculty. They may be especially useful in papers, projects, and presentations that deliver larger amounts of data or research. They help engage the audience, add visual interest, and reinforce the ideas being discussed.

Making an infographic
To illustrate how to use information for an infographic, I created an infographic about the School of Kinesiology using Piktochart. I chose a template, modified the text and information in each box, and then published it. There are a lot of different options for displaying text, graphics, and numerical information, so it is worthwhile to spend time adjusting each setting to become familiar with all the options.

PIktochart is one of many tools to create an infographic. Other tools include: infogr.am, easel.ly, and vizualize.me.

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