Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, May 24, 2010

You Oughta Be in Pictures #91: Fun with Photos

Sometimes a simple edit doesn't enhance your photos. Have no fear, image generators and fun online editing tools are here to the rescue!

There are many sites you can use to spiff up your photos. A new favorite of mine is BeFunky. Like other editing sites, BeFunky has basic and premium options. Although the basic features are not as extensive as a paid account, the free finishes are definitely worth checking out and give your photos a new life.

A couple of personal favorites are the Cartoonizer and Lomo. BeFunky also offers Goodies. You can add frames, stickers, speech bubbles and more to your photos. The one drawback of BeFunky is that the free account automatically adds its logo to your image. This may cause a distraction for your photo but if you are okay with that, try it out and see what you can come up with. You can always go to another site and crop out the URL.

is another fun site with a variety of ways to present your photos. It was originally known as FDToys and was mentioned in the original iHCPL but its so great, its worth mentioning again! If you have a collection of photos, you can make photo strips and collages. For single photos, you can transform them to motivational posters, "warholize" them, or customize it a la David Hockney!

Image Generators
Apart from adding finishes to your photos, you can plug your image into a scenario to add humor. Most often image generators use your face to plug into an image (using a celebrity body or even an art piece) but you can use the keyword search to find other scenarios. Some use GIF animation which allow your image to move.

FaceInHole and Pho.to offer a variety of scenarios and GIF animations. FaceInHole allows you to search scenarios by number of faces you want to include or by keyword search.

We didn't forget about you pet lovers either. Build your own LOLcat (or any animal or celebrity!) here. You can use a photo from Cheezburger's bank or upload your own. Whatever image you choose to use, have fun with it!

  1. FotoFlexer, mentioned in the first post, has effects similar to BeFunky and BigHugeLabs. Choose a photo to edit in FotoFlexer and either BeFunky or BigHugeLabs (Cartoonizer, Warholizer, etc). Compare the two. Were the results the same? Do you have a preference?
  2. Use one of the image generators to spiff up a profile picture. You can search Pho.to or FaceInHole for different scenarios - be creative with your search! Share your newly generated image on your blog.
HCPL Staff: Have you completed posts 89, 90, & 91? Don't forget to submit your Registration of Completion.

This module brought to you by Linda Stevens, Grace Lillevig and Veronica Garza.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You Oughta Be in Pictures #90: Sharing Photos

Once you have your beautifully edited photos, you'll want to share them with people, or at least put them online as a backup. We have looked at Flickr before, but there are other options for sharing as well. Most sites have some kind of free option and many link to social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Sharing is easy through links or codes you can use to embed the image in Blogger or other sites.

Features to look for:

  • Free and Pro options: Depending on your needs, you may want to opt for a paid option at some point
  • Photo editing
  • Customizable privacy settings
  • Easy sharing on social networks or via email
  • Printing options if you want photo prints or products
TopTenReviews provides a brief overview of photosharing sites in this short video. In addition, they provide a comparison of 10 popular services. We'll take a brief look at a couple of the most popular options.


This is what we use to store and share HCPL's photos. Flickr's free option limits the number of photos you can upload each month and only shows the 200 most recently uploaded images. However, your images will not disappear from a blog even if they don't show on your Flickr photostream. A pro option with unlimited storage is also available.

Unique features:
  • Images are permanently stored on the site
  • Integrated editing with Picnik
  • Customizable creative commons licenses
  • Take the Flickr Tour to explore the major features.
The below image is embedded directly from Flickr.



The free option on Photobucket allows for unlimited uploads of photos and videos. The limits are 500 MB of storage and 10 GB of bandwidth (this is when the content is viewed on another site you've shared your content on). This can be an issue if you have a lot of photos and share them. Photobucket does have a paid pro option with unlimited storage and bandwidth.

Unique features:
  • Create a slide show or build a scrapbook
  • For details, see the About Us section.

Unlike the other options, Picasa is free downloadable software that helps you organize your photos on your computer. It has built in image editing software to improve your photos. Once you're ready to share you can upload your albums to Picasa Web Albums. Information on Picasa features.


Have a Facebook account? So do nearly 1/2 a billion other folks. Facebook has become a major player in the photo sharing world. If most of your friends and family are on Facebook, it's a simple matter of uploading your photos to share them. When you create or edit an album on Facebook, you can "Edit Info" and set privacy levels. You can share your albums with non-Facebookers using public links.

  1. Watch the video for an overview of photosharing.
  2. If you aren't familiar with any of these sites, browse through the public areas and their features or tours.
  3. What features are important to you when sharing your photos? Are privacy or copyright/creative commons options important to you? Which site do you prefer?
This module brought to you by Linda Stevens, Grace Lillevig and Veronica Garza.

Image: used with permission from Grace Lillevig

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You Oughta Be In Pictures #89: Basic Photo Editing

With this module, will examine images on the web. We will take a basic look at photo editing, find ways to share your photos online, and tour a variety of fun image related sites. Completing all three posts in this module is worth 2 training hours. This module is available through July 31, 2010.

Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner. ~Anonymous
It doesn't matter if you are an excellent photographer or you chop off everyone's head in each picture that you take -- photo editing tools can help enhance or correct any photo. They can help you do anything from adding captions to correcting red-eyes, from cropping to adding special effects. Luckily, there are now a wide variety of free options that are very easy to use.

I find Picnik to be very intuitive and it has a wide variety of tools available for free. You don't even have to register, though you receive more benefits if you do. You can also choose the "premium" service to get even more options.

Let's start with Red Eye. The photo being edited is of my dog, Buster. He's looking at me with a heart full of love and the flaming eyes of a demon. Picnik has a quick fix for this. Upload my photo, go to edit, select Touch-up, select Red Eye, and choose "Furball." It also works for non-furry individuals.

Now, we'll move on to cropping. I like the picture of Buster, but I'd like to take out the part where you can see the dust bunnies on my floor. [Cropping is available under Basic Edits.] You can also crop to get rid of the date imprinted on your picture, if you forgot to turn that camera feature off.

Now, to everyone's favorite part: photo bedazzling. We'll change from the "edit" tab to the "create" tab to see what kind of effects are available. You can add visual effects, like sepia or neon, insert text, fix the subject's skin problems (yes, from acne to wrinkles!) or even decorate your photos for a particular holiday. Remember, anything labeled "premium" will require a membership, but I think you'll find plenty to work with free of charge.

We've looked at these effects using Picnik, but there are other quality free photo editing sites out there, it's all a matter of preference.

  • Photoshop - The free online version of Photoshop has a huge variety of tools and effects (fun effect: Pop Color), but I find it a bit more difficult to use than other sites. Registration is required.
  • Fotoflexer - Similar to Picnik, but without the many inaccessible premium parts. Very straightforward with nice effects (fun effect: Cartoon).
Tip: To resize photos (file size) for use on the web, Microsoft Office Picture Manager (available as one of your Office programs) is quick and easy to use.

  1. Upload a photo to Picnik, Photoshop or Fotoflexer. Use at least one editing feature (red-eye fix, cropping, sharpening, resizing, etc.) and one creating feature (framing, adding text, touching up, captions, etc.). Post the edited photo on your blog.

  2. Which photo editing features are important for your use? Which of the listed sites would best meet your photographic needs? Post your answer in your blog.
This module brought to you by Linda Stevens, Grace Lillevig and Veronica Garza.