Create your panoramic images with Hugin

Hugin is a comprehensive imaging tool for producing panoramic chains that is as useful for the home or casual photographers as it is for professionals. It utilises the same coding as other paid software however it is a free programme to download.

Its function is to meld several photos together to produce one panoramic image, or stitches several of these together to produce overlapping pictures. The results of these processes are very effective and they allow an amateur to achieve the same results as a professional piecing the images together manually. In addition it can detect the camera and the model that you are using which helps to minimise any reduction in the quality of the photographs and prevent distortion.

The interface is initially confusing however once you get to grips with it the functionality is quite straightforward, despite the number of features it possesses. Its assistant provides features such as cropping and image reduction in order to produce the best panoramic image.

If producing chain panoramic images is your thing but you don’t want to spend money on the software needed then this is a perfect option that will produce as good if not better images than some fee-charging rivals. The fact that it is also suitable for photographers makes it a good all-rounder, especially if the crashing issues are resolved in future updates.

download Hugin

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Manage your fonts with NexusFont

NexusFont is a program designed for you to view and manage the various different fonts you use on your system, allowing you to view and test the myriad font types quickly, whether it’s seeing how the font looks in one particular size, or in bold and italic, or a different colour. You may think that this is a slightly over the top function for what is a simple enough task. However, NexusFont is of a niche appeal. For graphic designers, web designers or even if you’re just a Photoshop or InDesign nerd, fonts are everything. They are pivotal in creating unique and interesting designs.

As a result, you can become flooded with fonts, and finding the right one can be a task and a half. This is where NexusFont helps. All your fonts are available for viewing at once, with a large scroll down menu to view them. Simply type your sample text and view your options. You select what fonts you want to test with, so instead of a lengthy list of fonts, you can limit the test list. Similarly, you can group your fonts by type.

It’s quick and effortless to install and the interface is rather simple so if organising and working with various fonts is an important part of your work or hobby, then NexusFont is a must have program.

download NexusFont

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Can’t Beat the CS6 Beta: Adobe Photoshop Leads the Way

Adobe has done it again. Always at the cutting edge of innovation, they don’t disappoint with this latest advance in digital image editing software. From the reworked interface to the 65 new features, an incredible amount of thought has gone into the Adobe Photoshop CS6. And for the first time, Adobe has released a public beta of the software, meaning everyone can try it out until the official launch later this year.

What strikes you first is the refined, darker-grey UI, looking smart and modern, and making the colours in your photos really stand out. The handling of panels and tools is also extremely logical, with common features more accessible in the foreground and many of the controls moveable straight onto the canvas. The updated Mini Bridge panel now sits horizontally across the bottom of the screen, which, coupled with the darker interface, makes Photoshop not dissimilar to Adobe Lightroom, though both features can be customised to your preferences.

One thing Adobe boasts of with the CS6 is the increased speed of the software, which they hope will have a transformational effect on professional workflows. It looks pretty likely. Powered by the new Mercury Graphics Engine, delivering editing results virtually in real-time via common tools such as Liquify and Transform, and with the additional search tool in the layers panel, the CS6 will save users hours of work. The capacity of the CS6 to save files in the background also means no more sitting waiting for Photoshop to save extra-large files.

Noteworthy new features include additions to the Content Aware tools. Content-Aware Patch allows the user to select an area from an image and then let the computer fill in another image with the chosen section. Content-Aware Move enables users to select an object in a picture and move it to a new position, like magic!

A long-awaited highlight comes in the form of the built-in Lorem Ipsum dummy text generator, which allows the user to add dotted or dashed lines to shapes easily. New type styles provide consistent formatting and let designers apply type treatments speedily to their designs.

One of the major differences with the CS6 is that it includes some video editing tools. The tools are basic, and simple to apply – it’s just a case of pressing the Create Video Timeline button on the new Timeline tab, and off you go. Critics might argue that mobile phone apps can now provide the same tools without the need for shifting images from device to device, but in reality many people don’t use their mobile apps, or want to use a basic form of Adobe Premiere without having to sign up as a Permiere Pro user.

The Photoshop CS6 beta includes all of the features of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, and is simple to download. As is common with betas, there are bugs, but it’s worth ignoring these to sample the enhanced design tools, incredible performance and fantastic new features of this industry-beating beta.

Download Photoshop CS6 Beta for Windows | Download Photoshop CS6 Beta for Mac

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Bring out the best in your digital photographs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

There are a lot of digital darkrooms and photo organizing apps out there with a number of different and overlapping features. If you serious about photography and want to take serious control of your shots, then you really need the right tool for the job. This is one of the reasons why I like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It’s a multiplatform tool with the tools that professionals and prosumers need.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software helps you bring out the best in your photographs, whether you’re perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands.  With it you can create incredible, moving images. One of the best things about it is that you can fearlessly experiment with state-of-the-art, nondestructive, editing tools. If you make a mistake, it’s easy to revert to an unmodified image, or undo the changes.

Lightroom allows you to easily manage all your images, and showcase your work in elegant print layouts, slide shows, and web galleries. You can also upload them to popular, online, photo-sharing sites.  It’s easy to do all of this directly from within this one, fast, intuitive application.

If you’re an advanced amateur or professional photographer, you need a wide range of tools to keep your digital projects creative and organized. Lightroom provides all your essentials in one intuitive package.  It has a wide range of new features and enhanced capabilities, including faster performance, new world-class noise reduction, lens correction, support for DSLR video files, a process to create easy-to-share slide show videos with music, and much more.

In some cases, light, or the lack of it, can create unwanted noise in your photos, even if you know what you’re doing and you meter and light everything as well as you can.  With Lightroom, you can get just the look you want from every shot with state-of-the art image processing tools that let you easily alter contrast, tune color, convert to black-and-white, add grain, reduce noise, adjust sharpness, and more.  Tools of this quality are important, especially if you’re going to go the extra mile and have the photos professionally printed.

read full review | download Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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Gimp – a free alternative to high priced, professional programs such as Photoshop

In today’s graphic intensive world, having a decent, full featured editor is a must.  Many top of the line packages come with the features everyone wants, and unfortunately, with the price tag to go with it.  This is one of the reasons why I like GIMP. It’s a full featured, multi-platform graphics editor; and its totally awesome.

GIMP is the image editing tool of choice for many users, in large part due to its many editing tools.  It’s more common tools include a paint brush, pencil, airbrush, eraser and ink tools. You can use them to create new or blended pixels. Tools such as the bucket fill and blend tools are used to change large regions of space in an image and can be used to help blend images.

GIMP also has a selection of smart tools.  These use a more complex algorithm to enable a user to complete time consuming or difficult tasks, and include the clone tool that copies pixels using a brush, and the healing brush which copies pixels from an area and corrects the tone and color where it is being used. The perspective clone tool works in a similar way to the clone tool, but also allows a user to alter and correct distance changes. The blur and sharpen tool is a brush that blurs and sharpens sections of an image; and the dodge and burn tool is a brush that makes target pixels lighter (dodges) or darker (burns).

An image being edited in GIMP can consist of many layers. Each layer in an image is made up of several channels. In an RGB image there are normally 3 or 4 channels, consisting of a red, green and blue channel. Color sub-layers look like slightly different gray images, but when put together they make a complete image. The fourth channel that may be part of a layer is the alpha channel (or layer mask), this channel measures opacity where a whole or part of an image can be completely visible, partially visible or invisible.

Read full review | Download GIMP

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Make all your photos the best they can be with Photoshop CS5

With the holidays here and gone, it’s likely that most everyone has more digital pictures than they know what to do with. Once you’ve gone through all of them, you’ve likely found the ones that you’ll keep, the ones you’ll delete, and the ones you want to tweak. This is why I really like tools like Adobe Photoshop Extended CS5. It’s the premier photo editing tool for PC, and it’s a must have, if you can afford it.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended delivers all the state-of-the-art editing, composition, and graphic design capabilities of Photoshop CS5.  It also adds breakthrough tools for 3D design and motion editing. Now, it can also be used with creativity-boosting, mobile apps. Working with your pictures away from your computer with CS5 just got easier.

If you’ve ever had a really tricky shape or area you wanted to select, but had trouble getting it just right, you’re going to like what you see in Photoshop CS5 Extended.  Now you can get better-than-ever results when selecting these tricky image elements, such as hair. You can also eliminate background color around selection edges and automatically vary selection edges and perfect masks using PS’s new refinement tools. You can also create photo-realistic, high dynamic range (HDR) images quickly and with unprecedented accuracy. You’ll get stunning results thanks PS’s automatic ghost removal; and have greater control of  tone mapping and adjustments.

Photoshop CS5 Extended is perhaps the most advanced image editing tool available on the internet today. With it, you can do almost anything that you can imagine with your digital photos. Its tools are state of the art and top of the line, which provide not only its strength, but its weaknesses as well. As much as EVERYONE will want to use it, the tools are often not the easiest to learn and use.  Many of its features require a great deal of skill and a steep learning curve to master. However, once you do master them, you’re going to find that this is THE tool to have, provided you can afford to purchase it in the first place.

read full review | download Adobe Photoshop Extended CS5

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Last week’s highlights #5

We left a busy week behind us with lots of good articles and reviews. Let’s take a look:

Traktor Pro 2 – the maximum freedom in DJing

If you spin tracks for a living or on the side, then you need to listen up. I’ve looked at some mixing software over the past few months, but none have really “sent” me. Traktor however, is a completely different story. It’s a DJ-ing and track mixing application and its available for both Windows and Mac, and quite frankly, it floored me.

If ain’t dirty, don’t clean it

Amid all the Holiday Hullaballoo, malware attacks can be nasty. However, beware where the warnings are coming from. You must have a malware scanner on your computer – Mac, Windows or Linux – don’t compute without one. Period. You also need to heed the warning dialogs they display. If you’ve got a bug, or if it catches one before it infects you, do what it tells you in order to get rid of it. However, do yourself a favor, mind where the dialog boxes are coming from.

Make use of a synchro calendar with GoCal

In case the default calendar app for iOS isn’t enough for you and you want something more advanced and with some additional synchronization features, GoCal can be the solution to your needs. At its core, GoCal is nothing else but a calendar client that can integrate the default iOS calendar, and the Google Calendar. Actually the Google Calendar integration is the main reason you should try this software out.

2011 Gift Guide Part 2 – Suggested Gifts

Following the 2011 Gift Guide Part1 – Ok, Great! Now what should I buy? article here are my recommendations for just about every budget level, given our recent thorough discussion about Mobile Device Ecosystems. It’s true.  The hottest ticket items this 2011 Holiday Season are all mobile – tablets, smartphones, music players, ultra-portable notebooks (the netbook is dead) – and the like will undoubtedly find their way to a gift box near you. Ecosystem aside, there are some really cool gadgets out there right now, and figuring out which basket to put all your eggs in can be confusing.

Pho.to Lab lets you create fun photo montages on your iPhone & Android

Android has some great picture and image editing apps to adjust and enhance your photos, such as Photoshop Mobile and PicSay. But what if you just want to add some cool photo frames and effects to your pictures? We all love having fun, right? Then you definitely have to try Pho.to Lab. This simple app is a winner for two reasons: first, it is very easy to use and second, it has more than 450 awesome effects for your photos!

Zemana AntiMalware

You’ll hear me say it over and over again – you simply can’t run a computer now-a-days without some kind of antivirus or security software running in the background.  You’re just asking for problems if you think you don’t need one…and if you get a virus, bug or worm, THEN what do you do??  This is why I’m thankful for applications like Zemana Anti-Malware. It’s a specialized malware scanner for Windows and it’s the kind that most people need.

NoteLege – your iPad note-taking app that takes the hassle out of organizing your notes and thoughts

We’re in the information age now. Everything gets around faster and the number of sources and amount of information we need to remember can get overwhelming. Now, for those who own an iPad, let me suggest you a great note-taking application that combines handwriting, typing, audio and video recording. The application is called NoteLedge and it’s developed by Kdan Mobile.

iOS 6 Wish List

iOS5 is out and available to all supported iOS devices. With the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumored to be coming in 2012, let’s take a quick moment to speak to a couple desired features. The release of the iPhone 4S also gave us iOS5. Battery life issues and improvements not-withstanding, any additional additions or life altering improvements will need to wait until iOS 6 is released. In light of that, I’d like to speak to a quick wish list for iOS6. The list is below, in no particular order.

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Create stunning 3D text and logos with this easy to use tool

Pictures paint a thousand words.  Sometimes, presentation is just the ticket. When you need to make an impression, it’s often best to have the right tools at your disposal.  This is one of the reasons why I like Maker 3D.  It’s a text enhancement tool for Windows. 3D design software for many ordinary people may be unfamiliar. Whenever you want to promote an image, web page, display text or graphics to add effect, your first thought may send you to tools like 3DSMax or to more complicated tools like, Photoshop. Thankfully, you don’t have to go down that road. Instead, you can use Maker 3D from Aurora 3D Software.

Read the full review | Download Maker3D

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