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Tech Savvy: Say Cheese!

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Tech Savvy: Say Cheese!

By Jessi Pierce

Ah, another way technology has made life simpler. I am talking about photographs. My mom still swears by her film, even taking a Kodak disposable camera with her on a recent trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame (which my brother told her not to be ashamed of, a 5-year-old was using that type of camera, too).

And while there absolutely are benefits of using film and certainly nothing wrong with purchasing 24 photos at a cost of $8 with disposables, the technology development in camera use is fantastic.

I was fascinated with digital photography at a young age. My mom bought me a digital camera that yielded no more than 10 pictures at a time but I remember that feeling of being a 13-year-old with a large square — and seemingly indestructible — digital camera that could immediately show pictures; I was pretty cool.

Digital photography has allowed us immediate access, something that most in our society drool for. Photos taken last night are uploaded to Facebook or shared in digital albums like Shutterfly in an instant, only to be erased from the camera to make room for more memories.

I still enjoy a fair amount of photos that I can hold in my hand or hang on the fridge and I love looking through photo albums on my floor or on the couch instead of staring at a screen. But with family in Alaska, New York and friends around the world, what better way to share experiences and photos than digitally?

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and with the ability to comment, caption and share by the millions, that’s still true.

Take for example a photo taken of a man and his dog, sleeping peacefully on his chest in the water. A photo that was meant to mean something special to the two of them, meant something special to millions after going viral. The candid shot even landed the owner, John Unger, on “Inside Edition” and CNN as it spread around the world.

Profit began to be donated to Unger and his dog, Schoep, by those who were touched by the photo, and Unger told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “These people have been so generous to Schoep and me.”

Another example are the powerful images you see online everyday, whether it be devastating tragedy or heroic triumph. An image is powerful. Technology lets users continue to share that power. All around the world.

Picture Perfect


Photographers perform an art that I can only begin to understand. Their knowledge of lighting, posing, filters and film processing gives them the understanding to take the dreaded “family portrait” and turn it into a cherished memory. Their expertise is easily observed in the framed photos of one-of-a-kind sunsets, wildlife scenes and floral perfection that grace the front pages of newspapers, magazine covers and coffee table books. In the world of shutter speeds they are on a plane of their own.

In recent years, however, smartphones and apps have give us mere mortals a chance at creating fantastic photos and can pretend that we know all the ins and outs of photography. Of course, that’s not really true, the finer nuances of professional photography is definitely an art, and the processing and techniques they know can take years to understand and perfect. But that doesn’t diminish the fun of putting lo-fi filters on every picture we take. In the world as we know it today, using touched up pictures can help enhance ads we use, promotional material we create, and logos that we design. Photo filtering and editing apps give us a chance at that.

Smartphones and apps like Instagram and Pixlr-o-matic give pretty much anyone the ability to create professional looking photos, and then through the power of social media share them with the world. At a glance, let’s take a look at how we can use these tools to capture that perfect photo.

Most photo filtering apps allow you to start two ways — with a photo you’ve already taken or to open the app and then take a picture within the app. Personally, I’ve found that it’s faster to take a picture using your native camera app and then filtering it later with the photo app. Once you’ve selected your photo, you can crop it to a specific focal point, or digitally zoom in on a piece. After that, apply your filters. Simply put, filters change the aesthetics of that picture, making the coloration or distorting it. Depending on which app you use, you can apply more than one filter at a time, giving you limitless options. After you’ve applied your filter you can opt to share via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) or you can just save that image to your phone and share later.

I’m no artist — ask any of my art teachers and they’ll give you a smile and leave it at, “He tried hard.” They’re absolutely right. However, using these apps I have great screensavers I can use for my computer, I share them with everyone (who probably don’t care) on Facebook and I can pretend to be cool on Twitter by linking all my photos through Instagram. Have no fear all you genuine photogs out there — you’re in no danger of being replaced by apps but we’ll have a lot of fun along the way!