Archives for December 2011

My Secret Weapon: Photoscape

Ever since I got my digital camera, I have been interested in maximizing its features. I have a six-year-old Canon A510. It is only a 3.2 MP camera but it does the job for me. I have this rule that I only buy new things when the old ones break. Thus, getting a new camera anytime soon is not an option. This restriction does not deter me from finding ways to improve my photos. I always say that whatever I lack in photography equipment and skills, I make up for with some software magic.

Adobe Photoshop is the popular software to use when editing images.  When I started with tinkering my photos, it was the first application I used. However, my old computer had 256MB of RAM and this software hogged the computer memory. I often experienced freezing while editing some images.

An alternative is to look for a freeware that can do most of the editing I do in Photoshop. The best one I found is Photoscape. It is a light software and easy to use. Best of all, it is FREE!

Cool features

Except for masking, Photoscape can do most of the tasks I do in Photoshop.

It can add a little richness to a photo. With a simple tweak in the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness, a simple photograph can still be improved

Below are the before and after images I edited using Photoscape.

When a friend who lives overseas asked my help on a math problem, I turned to Photoscape to illustrate the solution to her. (I know! Nerd stuff. I am too lazy to check my solution. Let me know if there are errors. 😀 )

This is the feature I like best: Collage!

This is called Page in Photoscape. There are preset layout you can choose from and all you have to do is drag your photos into the boxes provided. I use this a lot on Facebook. I used to just upload every photo in my file. However, it can be time consuming for friends to look at each of my photo when some of them are quite repetitive.  You know, different poses same background.  (Yet I still want to show them!) Sometimes, I like to show movement in one frame. Photoscape is one cool tool for that.

Remember what I said about creating my own post card? I used Photoscape.

My secret is out.

The tree is up!

I remember a friend posted this on Facebook.

This was my reality yesterday. There was a brownout. I took it as a sign for me to do the things I planned to do that were derailed because I often got stuck surfing the Internet.  I have long planned to put up the Christmas tree this year. I have skipped six Christmases of no decorating except for this mini-tree.

Since the spring cleaning, I try to be a little more meticulous with the upkeep of the house. I felt that putting up the tree make Christmas more festive. The brownout was a sign for me to get my butt of the swivel chair and exercise my creativity. After all, I observed my mother did all that effortlessly for 26 years. I hope I acquired some of her flair for decorating.

I had to rearrange some furniture to allot some space for the tree. Moving furniture was tiring. Oh my! My mother used to rearrange the furniture every month. Yeah, she was one hardworking woman.  I got my father’s genes on that aspect.

I finally got the tree up.

I was so tempted to leave this as it is.  Ha! Take note of the time: the tree was up by 10:30 AM. I started with putting it up past  8 AM.  It took time to rearrange the furniture and I wiped off the dust on each branch.

We had boxes and boxes of ornaments yet none of the boxes contain the lights. Did we throw all the lights? I had to go out and buy three boxes of rice lights. I like the rice lights because it is tinier so it twinkles (as opposed to blinking). Since we have dozens of Christmas balls and ornaments of different colors, I decided to group the balls into threes for a change.  Thus, it took me longer to finish the decorating the tree.

This is my tree. This is the first time that I decorated our Christmas tree on my own.

I finished decorating at around 5PM yesterday.  There was already electricity even before I finished.

Butuan Lights Up!

On Friday evening, we trooped to the city’s Rizal park to witness how to it was transformed into Disneyland ( an overstatement, I know). Huge crowd turned up and I braved the crowded park to take photos.

Can you see the crowd? We were waiting for the fireworks. No dice. I guess the city government did not have the budget. The lights were a little subdued but I like it. I still feel the Christmas spirit.

Christmas is near! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Other Christmas tree ideas

If I have money to burn, this pink Christmas tree from Amazon looks cute and unique.

Apartment therapy has some nice alternatives.

 

Snail Mail

In the early 90’s, we just called it ‘mail’. Now, we have to say ‘snail mail’ as opposed to  e-mail.I went to school away from home. There was no internet and mobile phones then. One of the ways to get in touch with friends and family back home was through letters.  This may be a foreign idea to kids of today.

Here’s how it works:

We write the letter (usually, in a stationery).

We enclose the letter in an envelope ( and seal it with saliva.) We go to the post office. We pay the cost. Stamps are then handed to us. We paste the stamp to the envelope and drop it to the designated slot in the post office.

I still keep the letters I got from friends. These have become priceless possessions.  I scanned thru them last night and I found that ordinary mail only cost Php2 in 1992.

For an ordinary mail, it takes around 7 days for your mail to reach your intended recipient in the Philippines.

If you like your mail to reach faster,  it will cost more. This means more stamps.

Sometimes, special stamps are created to support a cause.

Sometimes, a metered stamp is used.

I rarely go to the post office anymore. This Tuesday though, I trooped to the post office to mail a postcard for a friend. My friend had this cool idea of mailing a post card to herself whenever she travels.  When she posted her post card on Facebook, I told her that I want to send her a postcard. When I went to Bantayan, I thought about buying her a post card.  The closest I got into a store that sells post card was a stall at the airport. One post card costs P35! The “kuripot” (stingy) in me prevailed.  I figured I can print my own post card using the photos I have from traveling.  Printing only cost me Php6. If I factor in the transportation cost to the printer, that would be Php6 plus Php16 fare (Php22). I still saved Php13.

It would have been a perfect idea. However, the trouble with having it printed was that the printing shop used a photopaper with the brand written at the back. I decided to just write my message at the back and enclose it on an envelope. Postcard fail!

I realized that technology has diminished the quality of my penmanship. I used to write legibly. I should write with pen and paper more often.

Handwritten notes are precious. This is how my father used to close his letters to me.