Fun photo tools: One-trick ponies

Protect your images with a watermark, enlarge images and more

These photo editing toys are all one-trick ponies designed to do only one thing--but they do those one things pretty well. These programs will go nicely with the free photo editors I told you about a few weeks ago, as well as last week's free photo toys.

Protect Your Photos With a Watermark

195900-watermark_image_original

I frequently get questions about how to protect your photos online, and specifically how to watermark images so they're harder to steal. The somewhat generically named Watermark Image Software is a free program designed to address this very problem.

Watermark Image Software is really designed to work with large batches of files quickly and easily. Sure, you can use it to watermark a single photo, but that's like swatting a fly with a hand grenade.

To use the program, point it to a folder where you've stored some photos, then indicate the destination folder. If you set the source and destination to the same place, you can replace your originals, but I don't recommend that. Always choose a different folder, so you don't permanently watermark your originals. Then just specify the text (like © Dave Johnson), font, size, and color, along with where on the photo the watermark will appear. You can also choose to resize the photos at the same time, which is handy if they're headed for the Web.

One complaint: You have to indicate the font color in hex (quick: what color is #FFFFFF?), which is hardly user friendly. Here's some help, though: #000000 is black, #FFFFFF is white, and #000DDD will give you some nice blue text. Or try the Hex Color Code Chart, where you can click to choose a color and instantly see the proper hex value.

Enlarge a Photo Without Sacrificing Quality

195900-smilaenlarger_original

Have you ever needed to print a photo much larger than it was really designed to go--like trying to make a poster out of a 3-megapixel image? There are a few programs that will do this for you. In the past, I've told you about Genuine Fractals. That program uses some pretty fancy math to tease out hidden detail when enlarging an image-but it's expensive. Try a free alternative instead: SmillaEnlarger works a lot like Genuine Fractals. To use it, drag a photo into the program window and specify the new size you want.

You don't need to tweak any of the program settings to get great results. Just click the Preview button to see what the final image will look like. If you're happy, specify a name for the final image and then click Enlarge & Save. The results can be incredible, maintaining enough resolution even at very large sizes to make even Jack Bauer proud.

Make a Greeting Card

About 10 years ago, you couldn't avoid greeting card programs; they were absolutely everywhere. Everyone from Hallmark to Microsoft offered their own version, making it easy to incorporate your own photos into homemade cards.

Those days are long gone. It's surprisingly hard to find greeting card software. But Frame Photo Editor is a modern, inexpensive substitute.

Frame Photo Editor is quirky, but think of it as a sort of simple layout program. You can add backgrounds, masks, frames and vignettes, and mask your photos with a variety of silly and fun shapes. You can also write on your project with text. It's easy to get the hang of, and you can do all sorts of things with your creations, such as print, save, e-mail, and convert to Windows desktop wallpaper. You can try out the program for free for 30 days, and it's US$30 to keep.

Make a Ken Burns-Style Video From Photos

195900-photofilmstrip_original

You know those dramatic documentary sequences in which the camera slowly pans and zooms around a photo while a somber voice narrates someone's childhood? Well, you can easily make your own videos just like that.

PhotoFilmStrip lets you load one or more still photos from your collection, and then just specify start and end points for the "camera" on the image. It's very easy to do; it's just like setting a crop selection. Then tell the program how long the sequence should take, and produce your video.

It's the easiest way I've found to make these kind of videos, but be warned: I was unable to get this program to work properly in Windows 7.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags photographydigital cameras

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dave Johnson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?