Blog Jul 13, 2006

You can do much more with your pics than burning them to CD or storing on your PC - here's 20 ingenious ways of getting the most from your digital photos

1 Improve a group shot
With a group photograph there’s always the risk that someone will have their eyes shut, or be looking the wrong way when the picture is taken. Microsoft Research Group Shot is a free program that lets you use parts from similar images to create the perfect composite. All you have to do is load some images and select the area you wish to change. The software will display the available variations and, when you select one, blend the images seamlessly together.

2 Share your pictures
Forget emails and websites, Photobox is a great way of passing photographs between friends and family.

3 Create group photo pools
It’s always nice to see other people’s photos from an event you went to. Flickr lets you create invite-only groups for occasions such as weddings or parties to which selected guests can contribute their pictures. It’s a nice way to pull different photo sets from the same event together and helps to build up a complete online record of it too.

4 Get an online makeover
LookWow is a free online service that lets you upload your portrait photos and then apply various tweaks and filters to improve how you look. You can use it to whiten your teeth, add a suntan, remove blemishes, balance your skin tone and even enhance your lips. There are various editing tools and effects available too.

5 Broadcast your images
FilmLoop is a freeware photocasting tool that lets you put together a loop of photographs along with some text and broadcast it to your friends. They can then view this loop and even add their own photographs or text. The loop is automatically updated for everyone whenever new photos are added to it.

6 Apply film filters
Professional photographers often use filters to enhance a photo, or to give it a different atmosphere. Opanda PhotoFilter is a collection of over 100 Kodak, Cokin and Hoya-style colour effects. It’s very easy to use and the results you can be subtle or striking.

7 Print multi-sheet posters
Hi-res digital pictures can be output at reasonable sizes, but Rasterbator from ‘rasterizes’ images so they can be printed and assembled into posters of virtually unlimited scale. All you have to do is load an image, pick a paper size and choose how many A4 sheets high (or wide) you want the finished result.

8 Create a photobook
Photobooks are like albums except the photographs are printed directly onto the pages rather than stuck behind sheets of cellophane. The layouts can be fully customised too. Visit Photobox and Bonusprint for an idea of the different sizes and prices.

9 Create a mini-photobook
A mini-photobook is a smaller and cheaper alternative to the full-sized version and is ideal for showcasing single pictures one page at a time. QOOP produces several different sized minibooks which you can buy from sites like Flickr and Photobucket.

10 Make a photo screensaver
Turning your favourite photos into a personalised screensaver is easy; you don’t even need any additional software. All you have to do is right-click a blank area of the desktop, select Properties, click on the Screen Saver tab and select My Pictures Slideshow from the drop down menu.