Manage your photo collection with JPhotoTagger

downloadWith the Holiday Season upon us, its important to have the right digital photo utilities in your tool box. You’re going to want to find your stuff and get it together quickly so that you can share them with family and friends. This is why I really like tools like JPhotoTagger. It’s a digital photo utility for Windows and it can help you keep track of all of your digital photos.

JPhotoTagger is a platform independent Photo Manager, that has a native installer for Windows. You can use it to manage and find your photos quickly through the application of keywords, descriptions and other tags. It uses autocomplete to help speed up adding or editing tags, making it easy to apply them, and then eventually, search for them. All tags are written into XMP sidecar files and JPhotoTagger’s database. Your photos aren’t modified.

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One of JPhotoTagger’s best features is its ability to work with other applications like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. JPhotoTagger automatically reads tags from new and changed sidecar files and updates it’s own database. You can tag your photos with Lightroom and JPhotoTagger, even on different operating systems, and JPhotoTagger can work with and use those tags. The app runs on any system where Java is installed.

Depending on how you have your photos organized, using utilities like JPhotoTagger can be a huge help. If your photo library is large, like mine, having some way to quickly organize and add metadata to it that will help you find what you’re looking for so you can add photos to the right folders; or to find what you want to share with friends and family can be important.

The biggest problem that I see with JPhotoTagger is that it uses and needs Java to run. Aside from the security issues, which are numerous and enough to make you not want to install it on your machine, getting Java is problematic enough, in that there are a number of different suspicious apps that really want to install when you try to go and find the install file for your platform at Java.com.  

download JPhotoTagger

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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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Create professional-looking movies and demos from your computer screen with Camtasia Studio

I create training materials all the time. Part of what I do for my day job occasionally requires me to train end users in some kind of computer based process or procedure. It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, I’m glad I have tools like Camtasia Studio. It’s a screencast tool for Windows.

Creating a great screencast happens in three simple steps: Record, Edit and Share.

Camtasia Studio’s flexible recording options allow you to capture a full screen or a window or region. You can add in music tracks, a spoken, vocal track, or your computer’s audio.  You can also include picture-in-picture video with your web camera. If you’re using PowerPoint to give a presentation that you want to record for use by invitees who couldn’t attend the initial presentation, Camtasia’s toolbar inside PowerPoint makes it easy to record your presentations, either live or from your desk.  TechSmith’s exclusive SmartFocus technology keeps track of where the action happens on your computer screen during your recording. It then produces a video that zooms in on the parts you need to show.

Once you have your content recorded, Camtasia Studio allows you to spruce it up.  You can easily create callouts by adding a graphic over your video to direct the attention of your viewers. You can also link to an external webpage or jump to a part of the video.  If you’re stuck for the right graphic to use, Camtasia Studio comes stocked with professionally-designed assets you can drag-and-drop into your video. You can also the store your callouts, title slides, and other assets for re-use and sharing later.

After you have your screencast created, the final step is sharing it with your audience.  You can share to YouTube and Screencast.com, TechSmith’s video hosting service.  You can also produce videos in a variety of formats including, MP4, FLV/SWF, M4V, AVI, WMV, MOV, RM, Animated GIF and MP3 (for audio only).

Read full review | Download Camtasia Studio

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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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Convert, resize, rotate and prepare more than 90 image formats, quick and easy with Picture Dude Image Converter

Digital photography is all the rage. It’s so compelling that most everyone that I know who isn’t computer savvy wants to jump on board. The biggest problem with people in that category, however, is that once they have their pictures, they don’t know how to enhance them. Red eye, resize/crop, etc. and similar activities become problematic. This is where applications like Picture Dude Image Converter come in handy.

Read the full review | Picture Dude Image Converter

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Capture screens and text with one the best screen capturing utilities available

If you’re a techwriter creating help files, a training creating manuals or anyone who needs to capture portions of your screen or text you can’t necessarily copy and paste, then you need to take a serious look at HyperSnap. It’s a screen and text capturing utility for Windows.

HyperSnap is the fastest and easiest way to take screen and editable text captures from any part of your Windows screen. HyperSnap combines the power of a first-class screen capture application with an advanced image editing utility.

Read the full review | Download HyperSnap

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Format Factory, the complete media converter

I think it’s time to say goodbye to all paid video converters, because Free Time team breaks the barrier and introduces on the market a complete free converter featuring all the necessary formats for video, audio and image files, including also formats for all the major portable devices: PS3, PSP, XBOX 360, iPhone/iPad/iPod, etc. With Format Factory you can convert any media file into most popular formats such as: wmv, avi, mkv, flv, mp3, wma, jpg, gif, etc. Additionally you can also add subtitles, crop video files, merge or split audio and video files or rip DVD or audio discs into video and audio files but also into popular ISO/CSO images.

read full review | download Format Factory

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Ashampoo Photo Commander 9: Efficient Management Meets Creativity

Ashampoo Photo Commander 9

The new Ashampoo Photo Commander 9 is the complete photo suite for all requirements for the management, optimization, editing and presentation of multimedia files.

In addition to that, Ashampoo Photo Commander 9 provides a lot of tools with which users can give free rein to their creativity when editing digital photos.

Ashampoo Photo Commander 9 runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 and a single license costs USD 49.99 / EUR 49.99 / GBP 34.99 / AUD 49.99 / CAD 64.99 / RMB 249.95 / CHF 64.99 / BRL 24.99.

Facts and features at a glance:
– Ashampoo Photo Commander 9 is released
– Single license price: USD 49.99 / EUR 49.99 / GBP 34.99 / AUD 49.99 / CAD 64.99 / RMB 249.95 / CHF 64.99 / BRL 24.99
– NEW: Grouping functions
– NEW: Dual-view mode
– NEW: IPTC assistent for indexing (tagging) photos
– NEW: TouchScreen support on Windows 7
– Several new features and extensive improvements
– Link: http://www.ashampoo.com

New features for more clarity and transparency
Among the highlights of Ashampoo Photo Commander 9 are new grouping functions with miniature view that enable a more clearly arranged display and a more efficient organization of digital photos. Additionally, audio- and video collections can be organized and displayed neatly.
The new dual-view mode allows the permanent comparison with the original. And the IPTC assistant allows the indexing of photos with terms (tagging). These tags, which are saved in the IPTC metadata, make the retrieval and grouping of photos easier.
Other useful features and extensive improvements provide even more comfort for all daily tasks around digital photos.

Picture optimization, editing and presentation
In addition to the sheer management functions, the Ashampoo Photo Commander 9 offers a wide range of tools for the creative editing of digital pictures. These range from picture optimization with one click, red eye removal, new photo effects, such as unsharpmask, miniature effect or blur effect as well as a new text tool, to the creation of collages, slideshows, greeting cards or HTML albums. Furthermore, many other tools and functions are available.

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