Monday, October 11, 2010

Sometimes, all you need are scissors - Picture

I've been working as a Campaign Volunteer for two local elections here in Wilton Manors.  I've produced two websites and I'm getting better at this.  I started out with a "Vector Graphics" tool by layering text and pictures on a blue background and then just posting the picture as the "content". 

Vector Graphics is a buzzword that means I draw lines to make a pretty picture.  You click on a button that looks like a star, click and drag and then all the sudden you have a big star on the screen.  Ooops too big... then you finesse it into place and alter the color and so forth.  If you like it you can copy that star all over the screen.

There are a lot of these tools, I'm using all Open Source Software - no licenses needed, it's free. 

I'm using Inkscape to do the vector graphics,  GIMP to edit pictures and take out the bits I don't like and lightly retouch them, and Irfan View to view them and crop the pictures.   I could use photoshop but that would force me to actually have to pay for a program when I am a volunteer - not going to happen.  All three programs are amazingly good at what they do.  

I have used Irfan View for more than 10 years now, and it takes the place of my Windows XP Picture Viewer.  It plays movies and music files, but I have other programs to do that.  A nice trick I am able to do with Irfan View is to look at a picture and then click-and-drag my mouse, then crop the picture.   For most people, if you have a picture that is all you need to do.  I have one picture of my Sister, brother in law, and my nephew in it where he did some finger sign to be "cute".  Sorry, Jonathan, but your finger gesture got cropped out years ago.  Don't bother. 

Gimp is used in some web development houses to do pixel level editing and the same things that Photoshop does, but it is free.  I've gotten good at using this one, and have repaired some old family photos and some posters that I had digitally, then reprinted them on heavy stock as gifts.   Interesting piece of software and very powerful.

The latest one I've used is Inkscape which will let you blend your pictures and text and the stars and other shapes to create objects. 

The point is that all that is great, but sometimes all you need is the upper right quarter of a picture.  I showed a client of mine how to do that and he's doing great with it.  View the picture in Irfan View then, ... I'm repeating myself aren't I?

For the most part, there are a lot of needs that people have that they never attempt because they don't know where to start.   The basics are all most folks need.  Tie together enough basics and you have something pretty interesting. 

Add Google Earth to the mix and you can put yourself standing back in front of your childhood home or on top of a Mountain somewhere.  Much easier than going down to the airport and actually having to deal with the evils of Air Travel isn't it?

That picture I have up at the top of this article was one of those pictures.  I thought the power lines in the foreground ruined a rather nice collection of sunset clouds and colors so I altered history and cut them out.  It took all of about 15 seconds.

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