It seems like a lot of the things we do online now revolve around images, videos and other types of digital media that augment, amplify or otherwise complement the written word which is, after all, our stock in trade as writers.
For instance, if you want to take the advice of many bloggers, you’ll plan to include images with all your posts.
People just like pictures, they exert a powerful attraction which can help make sure your articles get read in the first place.
I’ve written here before about good sources for photos to use in your books or on your blog. Today I want to take a look at three tools you may not know about that can improve your work with photos and other kinds of illustrations.
And we might even have fun along the way.
Photopin.com is a tool that helps you access the huge inventory of images on Flickr, the internet’s largest image hosting site.
The site presents you with a very streamlined look, just a search bar on top of a pile of snapshots (which are live images, by the way, different every time you go there).
They advertise the site as “free photos for bloggers & creatives,” and it seems to have been designed very well. They seem to have put everything you would want as a user into Photopin, and nothing you don’t need.
I searched on “Boston Terrier.” The search results will give you a chance to filter the images based on Creative Commons licensing, a necessity for anyone wanting to use someone else’s images legally and fairly.
The results screen is beautiful and easy to use, with some great enhancements. You can hover over the generously-sized thumbnails to get a better look at the image.
If you want to download the image, click the “Get photo” button and a beautiful “Select an image size” dialog pops up with all your choices for pixel sizes, along with the link code for the license in a box where you can highlight and copy it for placement in your blog article. I love that!
So, with three clicks you select, download, and get the licensing code for an image. That’s impressive, and the site runs quickly, too.
Photopin is now my default for searching images on Flickr, and it’s a joy to use.
Free Online Photoeditor
Although you can find free image editing software online, sometimes you just want a quick tool to do some basic image manipulation like sizing and cropping.
For instance, all the header images here have to be sized and then cropped to 530 pixels x 275 pixels. You can always use the tools that are built into WordPress, and sometimes when I’m traveling I’ve been forced to do so, but it’s not much fun. Does slow and tedious sound like fun?
Better is a website where you can upload your image, edit it and then download it again—for free, of course.
That’s where freeonlinephotoeditor.com comes in. This is a simple to use site that works the way it says it will. Missing are those irritating blinking ads, or controls that don’t do what you think they should.
You can see in the screenshot that I’ve downloaded a photo of a Boston Terrier using Photopin, then uploaded it to freeonlinephotoeditor.com.
It was easy to scale and crop the photo for my needs and pretty quick, also.
In a couple of minutes I was done. I simply downloaded the edited file and was ready to place it in my blog. Nice.
Google Image Search
Sure, everyone uses Google all day every day, not much new there. But the wizards at Google Labs are always coming up with cool new things. Sometimes you find things you didn’t even know existed.
That’s how I found out about the awesome Google Image Search tool.
Go to any Google search screen and click “Images” in the top menu bar, which will bring up the Image Search screen.
Now you can type keywords, like “Boston Terrier” for instance, into the search bar like you always do.
But notice that camera icon over on the right side of the search bar? Click that instead, and you get an image chooser.
Maybe you knew about this, but it amazed me. What this means is that you can search for images with other images, not just with keywords.
You can either paste in the URL of an image, or upload one from your computer. I uploaded my little Boston photo. Here’s what I got back:
This has lots of uses. For instance, I had a photo from Flickr I wanted to use, but I had lost track of the page where I found the image. I just uploaded the image and Google Image Search found it in a moment.
It can also help if the only image you have for an illustration is one you don’t have permission to use. This way you can find other, similar images that may have different licensing requirements.
These the three tools have made my work with images more fun and more efficient. And in the case of Google Image Search, there’s a whole new world of image search waiting to be explored.
Do you have any free image tools you love? Let us know in the comments.