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Not Your Average Photo Editing Software: Fotor.com

fotor.com

By now, many of us are accustomed to photo editing software; these multimedia tools allow the average photographer to create above average photos with the use of easy editing tools. There are many choices available for us to choose from and sometimes that can be overwhelming.

Another issue seems to be that once you get the hang of one tool that started out free, they begin charging you and not everyone is willing to pay.

Well, there’s a new tool on the block and that is fotor.com.

ABOUT FOTOR

Fotor was launched in May, 2012 (happy birthday Fotor!) and has from the beginning brought powerful, easy to use photo editing tools into the hands of anyone and everyone with an internet connection.

Fotor uses cloud computing to provide a suite of image processing tools ranging from basic cropping to automatic photo enhancement to fun add-ons like frames and text. Fotor has made professional-level photo editing accessible to everyday users through an easy to use and understand interface.

FOTOR WALKTHRU

The best way to speak to fotor’s abilities is to walk you through a photo editing session.

Here’s a photo that could be really nice; a father and his daughter strolling in the woods on a beautiful, sunny day. Bad news is that the photographer (me) is just your average click-happy individual who visually can see a great shot, but can’t capture it with the lens.

Image before edits

After opening the photo, tools on the left show up with easy to understand icons that when hovered over, show what the icon is used for.

Basic Edits

From here you can do things such as 1-Tap Enhance which detects the correct settings for the photo and automatically enhances it. Alternatively, you can manually enhance the pictures with options like crop, curve, rotate, tone and colors. In basic mode you can also resize your image and straighten it if you’re like me and get the angle of slightly.

1 Tap Enhance

Effects

There are so many effects to choose from that I advise you to check them all out yourself. Some of my favourites for this photo are Mini-Oven, Sunlight Spots, Hot Fudge Sunday and Yellowish. Overall there are 57 effects to choose from, all free.

fotor effects

Frames

Adding frames to your photos can really make them stand out, especially for us bloggers. There are over 60 frames to choose from, as well as the ability to add your own border, shadow effect or gallery frame.

One item I miss here is the ability to use the eyedropper tool  to select a custom colour from within your photo. This is a feature I use with other photo editing software that saves a ton of time on finding the perfect matching frame colour.

Clip Art

Now here is where it gets really fun! Adding clip art to your photos can be effective when using your photos to mark special occasions, as gift or as greeting cards. Clip Art in Fotor is really easy as you can search by ‘label’ for the prefect collection suited to your theme. You can choose from 50 different categories of clip art.

Text

A tool I use a lot for editing my photos for blogging is the text tool. I really like Fotor’s version of this feature. First you add your text into the text area and then you’re able to play around with it in terms of font style and colour. Again, I find I miss the eyedropper tool here to customize my colour choice. Hopefully this is something Fotor will carry out soon.

There are over 300 fonts to choose from for text editing. This is something that I have not seen in other photo editing software; almost every font imaginable. You can also scroll through the list with your text selected and watch it change as you scroll down.  This is a big feature in my opinion as it save on a lot of trial and error time.

fotor text

Brushes

There are three brush types to choose from; Color Splash, Mosaics and Big Aperture.

Color Splash

Allows you to bring focus to a particular part of the image by gray scaling everything except the area you select.

fotor brushes color splash

Mosaics

Turn selected parts of your photo into pixellated mosaics.

fotor brushes mosaics

Big Aperture

Perhaps my favourite feature here, you can increase/decrease the aperture of the lens to change focus and sharpness.

fotor brushes big aperature

Compare

The compare feature is definitely my favourite one. This is not something I have been able to find in other photo editing software and it is the key to good photo editing.

By selecting compare, you are able to see a side-by-side view of your original photo and the new state after you’ve applied edits. This way you are able to see if you’ve really improved your photo or not.

fotor compare feature

Save & Share

Now that you are finished creating a wonderful work of art you can save your photo in a few different ways. Save in .jpg or .png file format, or share directly to your favourite social networks.

PHOTO COLLAGE

Now here is perhaps where Fotor stands out the most; the ability to work with multiple photos. Check out all the different and fun ways to create photo collages.

Template

fotor collage

Photo Stitching

fotor photo stiching

Montage

fotor montage

Shape Collage

fotor shape collage

PHOTO CARDS

Again, another priceless feature that you don’t find with other software out there; the ability to create custom-made greeting cards with your photos.  And how timely for Mother’s Day.

fotor greeting cards

HDR PHOTOGRAPHY

Fotor also offers HDR Photography, (High Dynamic Range) which takes three photos with different exposures and combines them into a single image to bring out the best light and tone in each part of the photo.

Fotor.com is the first photo editor offering HDR features online so you can capture highlights, shadows and striking details without the need to download software.  This is not an area that I amvery skilled in working with so I encourage you to check it out yourself. It looks like it can do some amazing things!

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I love Fotor.com for editing my photos. There are so many extraordinary features that you can’t find anywhere else and because of this, it will likely be my one stop shop for my future image manipulation needs. There are a few items that I miss in fotor.com as mentioned above that I do hope to see implemented in future versions.

FOTOR APP

Fotor isn’t just for PC users, you can also download the fotor app from iTunes.

CONNECT WITH FOTOR

Get started today for free at fotor.com and follow along with the Fotor team on Facebook and Twitter.

I’d love to hear what you think of this tool as well! Happy editing!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post, however the opinions are 100% my own and are in no way influenced by fotor.com.

City Mom

PicMonkey: To Pay or Not To Pay

PicMonkeyIf you’re a blogger then you’re familiar with PicMonkey; a photo editing website that up until a few days ago, was free! Even if you’re not a blogger, you might be a fan of this free software that made your photos go from plain to pro in just a few clicks…no skill required!

What’s changed? There’s now a $4.99 a month option for the “Royale” features. Don’t worry, there is a still a free version of picmonkey.com that may meet your needs.

This is a big decision as five bucks really adds up. That’s $72 a year, and if you’re using it primarily for  blogging then it might be hard to justify the costs when most of us don’t get paid much.

BETTER PHOTOS. BETTER STATS?

This is a hard question to answer. And there might be no real way of telling. If you’re like me, you love taking photos and photo editing, so wanting to add pretty pictures to your blog just comes naturally. PicMonkey made that possible for a lot of us but now we have a decision to make.

Is it worth making the investment?

I decided to pay for one month on PicMonkey.com so that I could make a good comparison, but of course, the decision is yours depending on what features you use most.

It looks like PicMonkey did a good job of getting to know us and our habits before they started charging. A lot of my favourite features will now cost me. Check it yourself and see how your needs measure up.

PIC MONKEY FREE vs. ROYALE

Please note: this feature is Part One of the PicMonkey feature. This does not include the Themes segment of PicMonkey which will come at a later date.

Let’s get started:

BASIC EDITS

All basic edits are included in both the free version and the Royale version. Thanks PicMonkey!

  • Crop
  • Rotate
  • Exposure
  • Colors
  • Sharpen
  • Resize

EFFECTS

Effects change the way your image looks by applying funky and fun colours, balances and other manipulations. I apply some sort of effect to almost every image I edit. I think there are enough free choices to do most of your photo needs justice.

PicMonkey EffectsTOUCH UP

Touch Ups include the fun stuff like Red-eye Remover, Airbrushing and my favourite: Wrinkle Remover. Sadly, WR costs. Which will be cheaper; a yearly Botox injection or a PicMonkey membership?

PicMonkey Touch UpTEXT

If you want to add text to your photos (which I almost always do) then here are your choices. In my opinion, there are plenty of free fonts to choose from to add a variety to your images.

PicMonkey FontsOVERLAYS

Overlays enable you to add character to your images like Labels, Arrows, Comic Bubbles and more. I’m a big fan of the Labels feature and guess what? It’ll cost you!

PicMonkey OverlaysFRAMES

Ah, the Pièce de résistance, photo frames. What is a picture without a frame? This one includes my personal must-have which is the Rounded Corners feature. Thank goodness this option is free; with one click, you get perfectly rounded edges to soften your image for display.

PicMonkey FramesTEXTURES

Just as the title says, add fun textures to your images like Weaves, Paint and Metal. I’m not one to use textures much (to date) so I could live with or without these.

PicMonkey Textures

Of course, with the paid version you also get to lose the ads. Honestly, I didn’t find the advertisements that annoying. You can be the judge: ads vs. $4.99 a month?

MEMBERSHIP

The good thing is that PicMonkey doesn’t lock you into to a commitment. Meaning, you don’t have to pay for 12 months upfront. So if you really want to see which is best for you, try out a one month membership with knowledge that you can cancel at any time.

Be careful though, membership automatically renews if you don’t cancel in time. Opting out is available on the picmonkey.com website.

Happy editing!

Logo from picmonkey.com

City Mom

Celebrating the 2012 Summer Olympics Aussie Style

Here’s something you may not know about me: I traveled and worked in Australia for one year over a decade ago.  Not only was this one of the most amazing years of my life, but it was also unintentionally planned during the year the 2000 Summer Games were taking place in Sydney.

Attending the Sydney Olympics is definitely a Bucket List item in my life. At the time it wasn’t on my Bucket List. In fact I didn’t even have a Bucket List but now I’m 12 years older and life has different meaning than it once did. I realize now how short life is and how quickly the time goes by. You have to search for opportunities and grab them once they come up. Knowing this, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to cross cheering my country on in an international setting like the Olympics off my list!

LIFE MADE DELICIOUS

Life Made Delicious

I’m happy to announce that I’m a Life Made Delicious Connector (#LMDConnector) through Mom Central Canada. As a LMD Connector, I have the privilege of learning valuable information that I can share with City Mom readers. From time and cost saving recipes, to special General Mills Canada offers and perks, lifemadedelicious.ca is definitely a site you want to visit often.

Every other month, for the next 12 months, I’ll be sharing some of this great information with you. This month the inspiration for us LMD Connectors was celebrating London 2012.

As a huge Olympics enthusiast I had tons of ideas! I can’t wait to cheer on Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi and the other amazing women of the Canadian women’s soccer team. So I considered making a batch of the patriotic Oh Canada Chex Mix or a big gooey soccer cake. But what came to mind strongest was my experience in Sydney all that time ago and I thought there was no better way to celebrate the 2012 games than with some fun Aussie-inspired grub.

BANGERS & MASH

Bangers & Mash

When you think Aussie food, do you think Bangers & Mash? Or do you even know what Bangers & Mash is? For those who aren’t familiar with this fun-sounding dish, it is nothing more than sausage and mashed potatoes; pretty delicious, yet pretty simple.

With this in mind I set out on lifemadedelicious.ca to find some fun inspiration on creating an easy and inexpensive version of this Australian classic.

Here is what I came up with:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and an altered version of the Grilled Sausage Packet recipe with a side of buttery corn! Yum!

Classic, hearty and truly Australian-inspired. I loved these versatile  recipes and their cost effectiveness. Not to mention every mom’s favourite: the ease of creating the meal.

Next, it was on to dessert…

ANZAC BISCUITS

Anzac Biscuits

I found this delicious and super-easy recipe for Anzac Biscuits from alldownunder.com. Here’s a quick history on Anzac Biscuits as they are an old Australian tradition.

During WWI, wives, mothers, girlfriends and daughters would make these cookies to send to their loved ones overseas while fighting in the war. You’ll notice that this recipe does not call for eggs which are typical in most cookies recipes. Since eggs weren’t readily available back then, golden syrup was used in its place to keep the cookies bound together. There was also no refrigeration on the long trip over to the brave men fighting, so the ingredients had to be that of sustainability over a long period of time.

Try these biscuits out…they are so delicious!

So how do you and your family plan to celebrate the 2012 Olympics? Do you have any fun traditions or recipes you’d like to share? We’d love to hear all about them. What’s your favourite Olympic sport?

GO CANADA GO!

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

City Mom on Rogers Daytime London

As a show host, the excitement never ends! I’m so excited to be a guest on Rogers daytime London tomorrow (June 6).

The show airs live at 11:00 am. The City Mom segment will be live at 12:20 pm. If you didn’t have a chance to set your PVR, don’t worry. daytime London repeats at 5:00 pm, 11:00pm and the following morning at 6:00 am. So there will be many opportunities for you to catch the episode.

You’ll get to learn about my experience as a Rogers Community Producer and show host. You’ll also get the inside scoop on some of the topics we’ll cover on City Mom.

ABOUT daytime LONDON

Daytime London can be found on the Rogers website, channel 13 in London, on Facebook and Twitter.

Want to find out what’s happening in London? daytime is YOUR local TV talk show, weekdays live at 11 AM (encores 5 PM, 11 PM and 6 AM) with co-hosts Sabrina Pierson and Ken Eastwood.

Thanks for tuning in!

Exciting news for City Mom!

I must start with an apology and that is because I have been a little MIA this week. But I have a very good reason so read on…

I am happy to officially announce that City Mom is coming soon to a TV near you! In addition to the blogosphere, City Mom will become part of the television world.

ROGERS TV

Though I have been sharing Tweets and Facebook updates about my recent experiences taping City Mom on Rogers TV, I have not made the formal announcement yet.

So, starting in July, City Mom will begin airing on Rogers TV Cable 13 here in London. Exact air date is still to be determined so stay tuned!

ABOUT CITY MOM

As most of you know, I began citymom.ca to journal my thoughts on raising my daughter in an urban setting. I quickly fell in love with London’s downtown core so I started to write more and more about London and all the family friendly events taking place in the city.

I soon developed a love for the blogging world and for other mom blogs. I became more involved in the ‘mommy blogging’ community. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. But my true love is my passion for London and all it has to offer. So when the opportunity came up to take City Mom to the next level, I jumped!

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

City Mom on Rogers TV will feature spaces and places unique to London. There will also be a focus on healthy eating and meal preparation for the family.  You’ll see some fun elements of the City Mom blog on air too like fashion and interior design. Okay, okay I’ve already given away too much so you’ll just have to tune in.

For those not local to London, you’ll be able to follow along on the Rogers website . And of course, I’ll be blogging each week to provide even more exciting information about each episode.

BUSY MAMA

So it goes without saying that the life of a TV star (he he) is rather busy. Blogging is just a part-time hobby for me and I’m a work out of the home mom. Add in a community producer role and show host and well, it adds up to a lot. So don’t worry…I’m still around and will try my best to continue with writing but it may be a little sparse for the next few weeks. And as always, I so appreciate your readership and support!

FOLLOW ALONG

If you’re not already following @_CityMom on Twitter you can do so to follow along on taping days and you can stay in the loop with the hashtag #CityMomTV.

Hope to see you in July!

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why blogging is like online dating

 

If you’re a blogger, you’ll get this post. If you’re not, it may be hard for you to understand just how much the blogging life resembles online dating.

It’s hard to compare my friendships with real life people to my blogging friends. My real life friends come with a long history. They know me well. They know my past. They laugh at my jokes even when they’re not funny. They know my family. Their husbands are friends with my husband; their kids, friends with mine. They get me.

But there’s a huge part of my life that my real life friends don’t get, despite my best efforts to try to explain it.  Blogging, and all that comes with it, becomes complicated to explain to those not involved. And at the end of the day we only have so much time to chat that I tend to leave out the not so important stuff.

The more I interact with my blogging friends, the more I turn to them in times of need. Connections are created everyday and since we are all social media gurus you know you’re guaranteed to find a friend online at any given time of the day. They’re always there for you.

BUILDING THE RELATIONSHIP

First it starts out by following each other on Twitter; chatting about common interests, blogging advice and so on. Then, if all goes well you ‘friend’ each other on Facebook. Now you know you’ve become more serious. You get a more intimate look at one another’s life. Maybe you get to see pictures of their kids, their husbands and their real life friends.

Next you’ll start chatting about your day, your job, your in-laws and your husband. But you know it’s gone to the next level when you go to them for some serious advice about serious matters and they actually help you. Provide a solution to your problem or at the very least make you feel better because they’ve provided you a shoulder to cry on.

EXCHANGING NUMBERS

So far it’s remained pretty anonymous. Sure you’re friends on Facebook, you’re in each other’s Circles and you’ve given each other Klout but it hasn’t crossed over yet to the real big stuff. It’s not totally serious until you exchange numbers. This is a big step. You don’t give out your cell phone number to just anyone right?

Now you have instant access to one another any place, any time with no dependency on the Internet. You text each other for the first time and then again a few days later (because you don’t want to seem too eager) and before you know it, their name always appears at the top of your messages window. Guess what, you’re in a relationship!

THE ONLINE RELATIONSHIP

Don’t forget that at this point you still have not met each other in real life. You know their middle name, the school they went to and the ages and birth dates of all their children, but you have not met face-to-face. You’ve now Stumbled each other more than you can remember and you’ve contributed to lowering their Alexa rank but you couldn’t necessarily pick them out of a crowd.

THE FIRST DATE

Whether it’s a planned meeting or a chance encounter, the first date is always the most exciting. It doesn’t matter whether the first meeting happens on a group date like at a blogging conference or if it’s a run in at the local grocery store. Putting a face to this online name means never turning back.

How do you greet her for the first time? Do you shake hands or is that too formal considering the relationship you’ve built. Do you hug her; after all you’ve developed strong feelings for her over the past few months. But will that scare her off?

THE AFTERGLOW

Now that you’ve met and you’ve put a face to the name and the anticipation is over what happens next? Are you friends for life? Do you plan your next get together? Where does it go from here? Is she as into you as you are to her? I guess only time will tell.

This post is dedicated to my first date, Amanda from Multi-Testing Mommy. She has so graciously allowed me to share a picture from our first meeting and this (posting a pic) is a big deal for her!  My friendship with Amanda inspired this post and though we don’t live in the same city, she’s got a friend for life in me. And yes, she lived up to and exceeded my expectations!

City Mom & Multi-Testing Mommy

And to all my blogging friends (you know who you are) thanks for always being there and for sharing this journey with me!

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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