IntensifyPro, Public Domain Images and Productivity

photosgraphicsetcWe need images, but is public domain worth the trouble?

Images are difficult to do well and fast.  And we need lots of images for the best and most engaging articles or posts.  Or for our ebooks.  Or for games and apps.  Or…lots of other info, education or entertainment products.

One of the most popular suggestions I’ve heard is to get free images from public domain and use them to at least round out our content, if not as the complete content.  Right.

That is neither fast nor easy.  Using the public domain is most often a tedious search process, during which you may come up with the images you want, but find it takes forever to make them useable.  Many are either amateurish or out-dated.  Poorly composed.  Have horrible lighting.  And so on.

Sure, there are some sites that have great images.  But then there are the legal issues such as how do you know that the person who uploaded the image really owned the original copyright?  Do people lie?  So for safety’s sake you find yourself sticking to places like federal government sites and archive.org.

What can you do to improve low quality images?

Photoshop can do a great deal for you in rescuing the images you like.  And there are some tricks for making production faster.  I want to tell you about a product I’ve been using for the Mac.  It’s called IntensifyPro, by MacPhun. It comes as a standalone or as a plug-in for Photoshop.  I’ve used it both ways, but it’s faster to integrate it with Photoshop.  It does an amazing job just with its presets, but I can modify the settings in more ways than I can count.

Here’s an example of a photo I just grabbed from the National Park Service and was able to improve considerably in just five(!) minutes. (Not enough to make it a good photo, but enough to show how fast the process works.)  The photos and effects are clearer if you view a larger image, so be sure to click on each image to see the expanded view.

1. The original photo of a Bryce Canyon sight.

bryce public domain 2

(Click photo to see large view)

2. After applying the shadows/highlights filter.

bryce public domain 2 shadowsl

(Click photo to see large view)

3. After applying the “structured landscape” filter using IntensifyPro (and cropping the edges.)

bryce public domain 2 final

(Click photo to see large view)

As you can see, it can be quite fast to radically improve your images with the right tools. (Did you remember to click on each image so you could actually see the photo?)  I don’t know if this particular photo will be useable for more than an object lesson, but at least it was handy for practicing and demonstrating how to improve public domain stuff.  I just wanted to show you the speed of the improvements.

Yes, IntensifyPro is best used for making good photos great.  MacPhun has plenty of evidence on its site to show how that’s done.  But if it can improve a poor photo this much — in just a few minutes — just think what it can do for so-so public domain stuff and your own mediocre old vacation photos.  I’ll show more on that on a future post.

Photoshop? Filters? What else?

Now, I’m a Mac user and only make brief forays into Windows when I must.  I’m sorry that I don’t know a Windows equivalent of IntensifyPro to recommend.  You’ll have to search that for yourself.  And remember, you can do everything IntensifyPro does just by using Photoshop.  It just takes a great deal longer and requires lots more hands-on experience with Photoshop.

Also remember that there are plenty of filters for both Mac and Windows that do amazing things.  That save you time and work.  That increase your productivity.  If you’ve made the investment of time in learning Photoshop (or GIMP), invest a little more in finding filters that work for you.

I’m for doing things as fast as I can while keeping the quality of what I do as high as possible.  How about you?

Notice: I have no relationship with MacPhun (the makers of Intensify and IntensifyPro) other than being a customer and user of the product.

On the subject of don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the biggest contributing factors to poor performance and productivity is stress.  And one of the biggest contributors to stress is office and inter-office rivalries.  Rather than write a long post on the subject, I thought that today I’d just offer the poster below as a reminder of a better attitude.

Please feel free to print copies for personal use and to pin it or share the poster on Facebook.  I got the photo from pdphoto.org, a great source I use frequently.  I modified it in Photoshop, including a bit of embellishment with the new IntensifyPro from MacPhun.  To get the 8.5 x 11 poster, just right-click (control-click on Mac) on the poster and choose “save link as” to download it to your computer.  (Remember, the original photo is in the public domain but the poster is not.)

wegotapond

Productivity Product Recommendation: Comic Life 3

4444_jungle_animalsComic Life 3 is a productivity tool.

Yeah, I know it’s kind of fun and kids like to use the iOS app version to convert pics to comics to send to their friends.  Sure, you can use it to create comic strips and comic books.

But really, it’s a serious desktop application for entrepreneurs.  And ebook writers.  And bloggers.  And graphics artists.  And makers of infographics.  And marketers.  And, well, once you “get it,” you’ll think of more.

Don’t be fooled by its intuitive interface and ease of use.  Don’t be seduced by the fact you’ll actually enjoy what you’re doing.

Illustrated EBooks for Kindle.

This little program will help you make illustrated children’s books and graphic novels for the Kindle.  With its layout templates and drag-and-drop simplicity, it becomes a snap.  See?  Productivity tool.

It’s not just that you have templates that you can remodel and remix as you choose.  It’s also that you have built-in filters to convert photos to comics or illustrations.  So you don’t even have to do your own illustrations or hire an illustrator.

Graphics for Blogs

And what about bloggers?  You know you need to have photos and graphics to illustrate your posts and articles.  It communicates better and makes your points considerably clearer.  Adding a light touch or even some humor by including a comic strip now and then might be just the ticket.

Infographics and Posters

Then there are the possibilities of adapting the templates to a wide variety of layouts.  Of creating several different infographic style “pages” that you hook together in a longer document using a program like Photoshop (or Elements) or GIMP to make an awesome infographic.

Think about the posters you could create using this.

An Example

Now, just to “illustrate” what I’m talking about, the following graphic is something I created in less that 20 minutes using Comic Life 3 and a couple of illustrations I already had on hand.

(If you don’t get the spoof in the comic, it’s a play on a decades-long running commercial in the U.S. about a rabbit who wants to eat Trix cereal and is constantly thwarted by kids who tell him, “silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.”  You can see reruns of the commercials on YouTube.  It’s quite iconic.)

celia rabbit comic shopping

You can get Comic Life 3 for Windows or Mac at http://plasq.com.  (Not an affiliate link.) There’s a free trial.  And what do you have to lose?  It’s good for several hours of fun before you decide you have to get it and get down to business.  Oh, by the way, it only costs $29.00.