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.

Making more productive changes.

Portrait Of Girl PoutingDo you have great ideas for self-made changes that seem like they should work but don’t when you try them?  Are you puzzled by resistance you have to your own choices?

The most difficult part of change management is resistance to change.  It applies to your own personal choices of performance and productivity tools as well.

Many years ago, I developed a system for myself I called “pagers,” which were one page writing forms.  The idea was to write a simple one-page article, essay, letter or other document.

A pager document could stand on its own or be combined with other pagers to make a larger document.  Thus, I’d be able to write a page per day on any project and make daily progress toward a larger goal.  Or I would have something new each day to publish.  Maybe, both.

Essentially, I designed a series of format templates to allow me to “fill in the blanks.”  So, I could get a clearer focus, a sort of outline without having to outline.  I expected it to help me get my work done faster.

I tried using it for a while and then abandoned it.

Why abandon a well-worked out system?

Instead of freeing me to create quickly, giving me a delimited structure for my ideas, it annoyed me.  I found it quite like wearing a pair of boots that were too small.  I started finding more ways to avoid writing.

I thought I created a bad system.  Or that my new productivity tool was flawed.

I was foolish.

There was nothing wrong with the system.  It was a good system that provided me with some of the best writing tools available: templates. But it also hooked the resistance of my “inner child” the same way other rules and limitations do.  Not to mention the sense of having been given an “order” to write a certain amount daily.

Do you resist your own systems as if you have the terrible twos?

There is a time in children’s lives called “the terrible twos.”  As you can guess, it happens at around two years of age. It’s a time of tantrums, disobedience and resistance to structure.

Sometimes, a kid seems to have learned only one word — “No!” — and uses it for almost everything, including things he wants and likes. Fortunately for most parents, most kids with the twos are less intense than the ones we end up calling “brats” for the rest of their childhood.

Yet, the “terrible twos” make sense.  We’re just getting big enough and in enough control of our bodies that we can actually do something.  We’re full of energy.  We want to learn new things.  Have new experiences.  Satisfy our curiosities.

It’s bad enough that we’re frustrated by the things we still don’t have the ability to do. But all the grown-ups keep telling us is that we can’t do this, that or the other thing.  They seem to just want us to sit somewhere and be quiet.  Every other word out of their mouths seems to be “No!”  We are not allowed to do anything.

There are rules for everything.  Rules that leave us frustrated and angry. Especially since we don’t yet have the language skills to explain what we want or understand explanations of why we can’t have our way.  So we rebel.

And most of us rebel against restrictions for the rest of our lives.  Even if we don’t have sitting-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming tantrums. (Although if you watch the way our politicians relate to one another, you might conclude we do still have tantrums.)

We rebel against our own rules and restrictions.  Including the good, helpful ones.

Choose systems and methods that work naturally with you.

No matter how well a system, tool or technique works, it doesn’t work if it hooks your resistance. If you need to make a change or do something new, you must choose a method of change that you won’t resist using.

What kind of change do you resist?  What do you adopt readily?  Ask yourself those questions before trying to make a choice of method.

How you make changes is as important as what you change.

Got training?

Today’s article on superperformance.com is “Training: Getting It When There’s No Money For It.”

Training is one of the most critical factors in human performance and productivity. Whether it is formal, classroom training, web-based training or on-the-job training done one-on-one, employees need it. They need it for orientation to their jobs when the are new to the company. They need it when they get transfers or promotions. They need it when the company reorganizes or downsizes and they end up doing more or different work. They need it to grow within their jobs and within the organization.

Without it they often find their current abilities inadequate. Far too often, they find that they had the qualifications to get the job, but lack sufficient knowledge or skills to actually perform well on that job at that particular organization.

I could go on and on about all the reasons employers should provide training. But what I wrote so far gives a long enough introduction. It’s sufficient to understand that when employers can’t or won’t find the money for training, employee performance will suffer.

Regardless of your position in the organization, whether a manager or an employee, you can seize a leadership role and find a way to get training for yourself or for those who report to you.

That’s what the article is all about. It’s about getting the training you or others need, regardless of the money issue.

I also cover the small business owner’s need to get training for himself/herself and employees in the same creative, low-cost and no cost ways.

Read the article: http://superperformance.com/get-training-when-there-is-no-money-for-it.php