Digital Photo Goodies

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Maybe it's a personality flaw. The holidays are long past--and my birthday is nowhere in sight--but I'm looking around longingly for some new digital photo toys to play with anyway. Whatever the explanation, I have a hankering to fiddle with some goodies for my digital camera. I've rounded up some of the most interesting ones this week in case you want to play along with me.

Add Captions to Your Photos

Here's a free and entertaining photo tool you can try out: Bubblesnaps. Visit the Web site and upload a digital photo, then use Bubblesnaps' tools to add speech and thought balloons to spice up your image. When you're done, you can e-mail the link to the balloon-laden photo to share your creativity with others.

Make MTV-Style Videos

I have dozens of hours of video and thousands of photos stored on my computer, but I rarely have the ambition to actually sit down and edit all that footage down to an interesting DVD I can send to my parents. Thanks to Muvee AutoProducer, I no longer have to.

Muvee uses some sort of space-age technology to look for interesting parts of your videos and synchronize cuts to whatever music you choose. The results are great, and it takes very little effort to create short videos that are sure to satisfy the grandparents. Muvee AutoProducer has a free trial, and you can purchase it for $130.

Make Videos for Free

Like the idea of Muvee but don't want to pony up the cash? Then try FlipTrack. This alternative to Muvee works more or less the same--you combine images and music to create synchronized videos--but there are some important differences. While Muvee lets you combine videos and photos, FlipTrack works with still photos only. In addition, FlipTrack limits you to its own catalog of popular music. Nonetheless, it's fun to experiment with.

Measuring Your Photos

How big is that doggie in the window? If you took a picture of the pet store, iPhotoMeasure can actually tell you. I wish I had this program the last time I was house shopping, because iPhotoMeasure can help you determine the exact dimensions of rooms, furniture, and any other element in a shot. And you don't have to know anything about the size of anything in the photo for the software to size up everything in the scene.

So how does it work? You place a "DigiTarget" in the scene you're shooting. The DigiTarget is a piece of paper that you print from a PDF file included with the software. iPhotoMeasure uses the target to make all of its measurements. The program is available for $100.

Make a Photo Rubik's Cube

Finally, I recently ran across this goodie, which looks like it might make a great little gift for someone you love. For $30, you can create a customized Rubik's Cube, complete with one of your favorite photos on each side. Just upload your photos to PersonalizationMall.com and place the order.

Hot Pic of the Week

Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $15 and $50.

Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format, at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering, please read the full description of the contest rules and regulations.

This Week's Hot Pic: "Liftoff," by Randy Carson, Charlotte, North Carolina

Randy writes: "I snapped this photo while on a business trip. It was afternoon and a storm had just cleared. When I saw the break in the clouds, I pulled out my Olympus c3000z and snapped a quick shot 'just in case.' After the trip, I cleaned it up a little in Photoshop and I was very happy with the result."

See all the Hot Pic of the Week photos online.

Have a digital photo question? Send me your comments, questions, and suggestions about the newsletter itself. And be sure to sign up to have the Digital Focus Newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

This story, "Digital Photo Goodies" was originally published by PCWorld.

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