Search on SLJ.com ....
Subscribe to SLJ
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

App Review: Enlight

enlight1For months now I have been wanting to talk to you about a photo app called Enlight, the only problem is – I can’t figure out how to use it very well. This may sound like a dig at the app but it’s not, it’s an admission of my own lack of skills. The truth is, the app is an advanced app and I have seen people do amazing things with it, but I have not yet reached that level of skill.

But I want to tell you about the app anyway because the app team is doing a lot of smart things.

1. The Enlight Challenge

Weekly, the Enlight app posts a photo on their FB page and ask their followers to remix the photo using the app. The new photos are posted in the comments. First, this is a genius education opportunity that would make for a great MakerSpace type of program. Second, it gives me creative ideas and then I go back in and try and figure out how certain pictures were achieved. It’s both inspiration and education, plus incredibly smart marketing.

2. Tutorials

They also post tutorial videos on their FB page and these are incredibly helpful.

3. The Blog

They also occasionally post helpful general photography tips about things like composition and lighting. Even if you don’t use the app, it’s a good resource.

enlight6But what about the app?

The Basics:

 

  • Cost: $3.99
  • Category: Photo & Video
  • Updated: Feb 27, 2017
  • Version: 1.3.3
  • Size: 128 MB
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.1 or later.

 

This photo app is a really comprehensive, advanced and sophisticated app. It does a little bit of everything including blending, masking, painting, sketching, adding text and – one of my favorite features – it turns your photo into a type of graffiti wall art. The developers clearly know they have a good but advanced tool and are smart to work so hard in engaging users and providing educational opportunities.

Here are a couple of pictures I made using the app:

enlight2 enlight3 enlight4

Please note, they are nothing compared to what I have seen people do with this app. I highly recommend it with the acknowledgement that you will have a steep learning curve.

More Photo App Reviews at TLT:

App Review: BeFunky

App Review: Aviary

App Review: Prisma

App Review: FotoRus

App Review: Fused (with an assist from the Silhouette app)

App Review: Candy Camera

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

App Review: Prisma

Knowing my love of photo apps, several people have wanted to make sure I know about the new Prisma app. Prisma allows you to transform your picture into a work of art based on the styles of many famous artists. It’s actually a fairly easy app to you, in part because it is limited in functionality. It does all the work, so there isn’t a lot that you, the user, have to do. You can manipulate the degree to which your photo is changed, you can split the screen so only half the photo is changed or the two halves of the photo are changed to different degrees, but you don’t have to worry about things like contrast or brightness or exposure.

Let’s look at what it does. Here’s my original photo:

prisma11

There are currently 29 filters to choose from. They include things like Gothic, Transverse Line, Paper Art and Mondrian. They also have my personal favorite, Heisenberg. Yes, that Heisenberg, from Breaking Bad. Here’s what the picture above looks like using some of the filters available on Prisma. I took screen shots so you could see the name of each filter being used.

prisma9 prisma3 prisma2 prisma1 primsa8 primsa7 primsa6 primsa5 primsa4As you can see, it does in fact turn your photo into a stunning work of art. And it is very easy to use. You literally just choose your art style by clicking on it, the app does all the work, and then if you would like you can adjust the degree of filtering by swiping your finger from left to right on the screen.

I can see using this filter to create some cool pictures and then downloading them to do things like add text to make end cap signs. Or bookmarks. Or incorporating the pics into flyers or on social media.

Or you can create pictures and mod podge or transfer them onto canvas or wood blocks. Make them into buttons or key chains. There are lots of creative opportunities for this app. The best part: it was totally free.

App Review: Pokemon Go, the very basics, safety issues, and Pokemon Go and libraries

This weekend my timeline flooded with posts about Pokemon Go. Then on Sunday afternoon, The Teen came home from a friend’s house declaring they had walked 3 miles trying to catch Pokemons. So I decided I needed to figure out what this Pokemon Go is because my teens are definitely in to it.

Pokemon Go is an app that you download to your mobile device. You then use it to go and “catch” Pokemons. You can use the Pokemons that you have caught to battle other players in places that are called “Gyms”.

Here’s how it works:

pokemon9

After you create your character, you follow a map on your phone to try and find Pokemons.

pokemon10

Once you are close enough to a Pokemon, you then try and catch them, hence the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” slogan. When you are close, it then gives you a prompt and turns on your camera. You can take a picture with your Pokemon.

pokemon11

You then use your finger and kind of fling the Pokeball to catch your Pokemon.

pokemon4

Once you catch it, it is added to your Pokedex. It’s like a Rolodex of all your Pokemon. Yesterday I met a man my age walking around the neighborhood, he had 42 Pokemon in his Pokedex. I have 6.

pokemon5 pokemon6

You can also apparently go to Poke Gyms and battle other players, though I have not done this. This man’s house is apparently a gym and people keep showing up at the middle of the night to do their gym battles and he kind of wishes that maybe they wouldn’t:This Guy’s House Was Turned Into A Gym On Pokémon.

Pokemon Go and Safety Issues

It’s also important to know that there are some inherent safety issues to consider in Pokemon Go, because you have to go places to catch Pokemon. For example, I had no problem with my kids walking around a certain defined radius of our local neighborhood to catch Pokemon, but not all kids will have this luxury because they live in unsafe neighborhoods. And there is also the issue that we live in a time where POC probably feel less safe walking around playing. The Mary Sue had this important post on the subject of race that you will want to read: Black Geek Writes About How His Experience of Pokémon GO Is Affected By Race. To highlight this point, on my neighborhood FB group this morning someone posted that there was a “dark skinned man” parked outside her house taking a picture and she thought he was casing the neighborhood, but many other people responded that he was just probably playing Pokemon Go. However, apparently, some robbers are in fact using Pokemon Go to target people: Robbers use Pokémon Go to target victims. So while Pokemon Go may be a lot of fun, not all players will have the same experience and it is important of us all to be mindful of that.

You’ll also want to remember not to catch Pokemon and drive, there have already been a couple of accidents related to Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go and Libraries

Some libraries have discovered that they are Poke Stops (they help you level up and give you special stuff) or Gyms and are capitalizing on that. In addition, some libraries are hosting Pokemon Clubs for players to meet and share their tips and tricks.

Bethany (@bookrarian) on Twitter is doing some cool things with Pokemon Go at their library, including setting “lures”. See also:

How local attractions are using Pokemon Go to lure visitors.

How ‘Pokémon GO‘ Can Lure More Customers To Your Local Business

Is LureSquad The First Monetized ‘Pokémon GO‘ App For Businesses?

Pokémon Go is doing what few apps can – driving real-world traffic

Why Pokemon Go and The Library is a perfect partnership – ALSC Blog

You’ll definitely want to be aware of this game so that you can be ready to talk to the people who come into your library about it. And honestly, it’s fun. I think I will keep playing.

Everything You Need to Know About Pokemon Go

CNet Article

Playing Pokémon Go Is Helping People With Mental Health Issues Feel Better

28 Things People Who Don’t Play Pokémon Go Will Never Understand

Pokémon Go Actually Started As A Google April Fools’ Prank

5 things we learned from ‘Pokémon Go’

Pokemon Go and Libraries

Pokemon Hunters WILL Visit You! : Libraries

Pokemon Go! at the Huntington Library and Gardens

Catching ‘Em All at NYPL with Pokémon GO

Cincinnati Library

Edited to Add Concerns About Privacy As Well

Pokémon Go is automatically granting permission to read your Gmail

Pokemon GO Raises Privacy Concerns with Apple Users

iOS version of Pokémon Go is a possible privacy trainwreck

You Should Probably Check Your Pokémon Go Privacy Settings

How Did You Do That? Photo Apps Version

I get a lot of email where people ask how I created such and such of a graphic. Today, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips, tricks, and filters. A decent portion of my current teen programming involves teaching teens how to do fun photo tricks and then to translate that into their own artistic creations. I myself use these tips to create images that I use on social media, both personal and for the library, on crafts that I create, and I even use them to make a variety of photo announcements. Each year I make party invitations and keepsakes for the girls designed to capture the essence of who they are in that year. I also like to design my own party invitations and holiday cards.

The Grid Photo

I like the grid photo as it is a great overlook of an event, a year, or a relationship. For example, when The Teen got her black belt this summer I created a grid photo that highlighted the events of that day. I use the grid photo choice in the Photo Shake app to make my grid photos.

Black belt day

Black belt day

Hey look, it's TLT!

Hey look, it’s TLT!

A Variation on the Grid Photo: The Stacked Photo

The Teen and The Bestie

The Teen and The Bestie

I made this stacked – also called a collage photo – using the DipTic app. You can put a variety of pics together in various sequences using this app.

The Blended Photo

I am currently obsessed with blended photos, which I create using the Fused app. This is two photos blended together. The first photo is the Sunburst background that I found in the Pic Effect Free app. The second photo is of The Teen on black belt test day. Before I could use the photo I first had to turn it into a white silhouette, which I did using the Silhouette app. Then the Fused app blends the two together to create an awesome looking photo.

example57

Here’s another example. In this one, Thing 2 is turned into a silhouette and blended with a galaxy pic.

example52

The Image Overlay

Although there are many apps that can do image overlays – like Aviary and Be Funky to give a couple of examples – you can also do this using the Fused app as well. This is the foundation of one of the six – yes, six! – variations of Christmas cards I made this year.

example51

As you can see, I used a grid photo of the girls and fused it with a silhouette of a Christmas tree. I then went on to add text, snow effects (stickers in the Candy Cam app), and such to make it look like a photo card worthy of one made in a store or online.

example59The Blue Brick Wall

Another thing I am obsessed with: the blue brick wall. Here’s what it looks like:

example9

Here’s how I make it happen. First, I took a picture of a painting that The Mr. did a couple of years ago:

example7

Then I used the Stenciler effect on the Be Funky app to make it look like this:

example8

And then I just added my text. This one is quick and easy but has been one of my favorites.

Galaxy Effect

example50

Just in time for Star Wars Reads Day, I discovered a cool way to make galaxy effects on my photos. First step, use the Space Effects app to put stars and galaxy effects on your photo. And then, use the Fish Eye filter in the FotoRus app to give it that circular planet look. It helps that I was dressed up as a Jedi and had a R2-D2 prop on hand.

Some of my other favorite Be Funky effects include: Holga Art, Motion Color and Pop Art 6 (which makes it look like a comic book page).

Image Chef

While helping The Teen with a recent poetry project, I stumbled across an app called Image Chef – there is also an online version – that can help you create fun images quickly and easily. Behold:

example44 example43 example42

The Shanghai Filter

If you, like me, loved the cover of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, then you will like the Shanghai Filter. I swear they used it to make the cover of this book. This is a filter in the Hipstamatic app. Hipstamatic is an awesome – though it can get expensive quickly – app that I love. The only issue I used to have with it is that you had to select a combination of film and lens before taking your picture and it required you to really understand how they would all work together. In the newest update of the app you can now take a picture with your regular camera and then use the various films and lens on your picture to find the combination that works best for you. Hallelujah! And it goes without saying that right now my favorite is Shanghai:

example46 example39 example5

Adding Stickers for Pizzaz!

There are a lot of apps out there that have what they call stickers. My favorite to date is Candy Cam. They had a wide variety of amazing winter and holiday stickers that I used to create my various Christmas cards. I mentioned I made six of them, right? Yes, I have issues. But the stickers in Candy Cam allowed me to take my photo from this:

example64

To this:

example65By the way, the snowflake picture itself was created using the PIP feature in FotoRus.

Putting It All Together

I am not an artist. I am not a photographer. And I am not a graphic designer. I’m just a YA librarian that loves to make displays, flyers and promo materials and a mom that is obsessed with her kids. But using a variety of apps I am able to transform a really crappy picture that looks like this:

example60

Into something else altogether. First, I make the image more focused and cut out all the extra bits using filters and the vignette effect in the Aviary app:

example61

Then I add text using the Over app. There are other ways to do this, including right there in the Aviary app, but I am most comfortable using the Over app.

example62

Then, I load my saved picture into Candy Cam and add my sticker effects. In this case, I chose snow.

example63

It may seem like a long process, but I do it so often that I can create entire images in less than 5 minutes. There are probably easier ways to do this. A graphic artist could do these same things using one program I imagine. That is not my skill set. So I use apps. Often times I will use multiple apps to create one image, saving each step of the way in case I make a mistake. And in case you are wondering, my cards printed out nicely and I could mail them traditionally or electronically to whomever.

And as I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t just do this for personal use. I go through these steps to create images for various promotional materials at my library. And I have created images that I have later used in crafts to make original gifts for people.

So these are some of my favorite apps, tips and tricks. What are yours? I’m always looking for new ways to create some fun so please share in the comments.

Photo Apps Mentioned:

Aviary (general editing and filters), Be Funky (filters), Candy Cam (stickers), Diptic (collages), FotoRus (Fish eye filter, picture in picture), Fused (blending photos), Hipstamatic (Shangai effect), Image Chef (quick images), Photo Shake (grid photo), Pic Effect Free (sunburst effect), Silhouette (turn a pic into a silhouette), Space Effects Free (planet, galaxy effects)

See also: Generate Marketing Creativity with iPhone Apps

App Review: FotoRus

It’s been a couple of weeks since I talked about a photo app, so you probably thought that my obsession with photos and photo apps was dying down – but no! It is alive and well, I have just been waiting for the right moment. Like now, now feels like the right moment to discuss with you an app with a few fun new features that I have found.

fotorusFotoRus is an app that does multiple things. You can create a collage, add a sticker or edit like a pro using the pro edit feature. My two favorite things about FotoRus are the Mag Library feature (InstaMag) and the PIP (photo in a photo) feature.

Mag Library

Mag Library is short for magazine library. Here you can select a magazine spread layout and add your photos. You can’t do a lot of editing, which is the downside, but if you are looking for quick and easy layouts it is a definite plus. Even when switching to Pro Edit I couldn’t get rid of a few pieces of text that I wanted to. There are a ton of fun and creative layouts to choose from.

instamag

PIP

The PIP feature allows you to create a dual picture effect. I made holiday cards this year using the snowflake picture. There are also images like camera view finders, bottles, smart phone screens and, my other personal favorite, the audio cassette. As you can see, it kind of puts the picture in the background as an out of focus image and then it highlights it inside the selected picture.

kickysmixtape

snowflake1

The App Details

Description from iTunes:

Including Professional Edit, Beauty, Special Effects, Sticker, Secret Album, and InstaMag!

【Sticker】
Apply hundreds of stickers with funny, cute and girly themes. Make your photo more expressive!

【Classic Collage】
Over 100+ Square, Portrait, Landscape, and Strips format and styles to suit all your artistic needs!

【Pro Edit】
Over a dozen powerful and must-have editing functions such as Filters, Scenes, Adjust, Lighting, Light pen, and etc! Come check it out!

【InstaBeauty】
Try our real-time beauty camera and take the perfect-looking selfie! Use our rich function sets to further edit your selfie including: Remove blemishes, whiten skin, remove eye-bag, and many more!

【InstaMag】
The most fashionable designer-style collages and posters! Easy, beautiful, with all kinds design styles to choose from.

【PIP Camera】
The most creative and professional-studio selfie with one tap of a finger! #1 in over 40 countries! Great for making your profile photos.

【Secret Album】
Protect you secret photos from others!

This app is available for both iTunes and on Google Play. It is free and there are ads.

You can also download FotoRus for your PC. I have not done this and can’t tell you how it works on the PC, sorry.

There are other apps that do some of the same things as FotoRus. For example, you can do a lot of the editing in Aviary, you can add text with Over, you can make collages with a wide variety of apps, and you can add stickers with apps like CandyCam and A Beautiful Mess. FotoRus is the only app that I have found that can do the PIP feature. And, as I mentioned, I really like the InstaMag layouts. For these features alone, I recommend this app.

For more app reviews check out the MakerSpace section or Tech Talk. Or click on the Tech Talk or App Review tag.

App Review: Image Chef

Recently, The Teen had to do a complex poetry assignment. One of the poems she had to create was a Concrete Poem, a poem that takes a shape. I would like to point out that the subject of her poem was me – go Mom! But we went looking for a way to easily create the shape poem. The most obvious answer is Tagxedo, but for me the task was an opportunity to explore new apps. This is how I stumbled upon Visual Poetry, which is a part of Image Chef. You can download Visual Poetry separately, but I highly recommend just getting all of Image Chef.

Description

“Now with video! Do amazing things with photos & text using ImageChef. Use our amazing photo and text templates, or arrange text and stickers manually. Output as images, animated GIF, or videos that you can post to Instagram.”

Image Chef is an app, but it is also an online resource as well. It is a photo manipulator, but it also does text images as well. Basically, Image Chef is a really cool resource. And, depending on what you are doing, it is really quick and easy to use. In a matter of minutes I made these three images:

imagechef1 imagechef2 imagechef3

You can do the most basic elements for free, but you have to upgrade to the Pro version to remove the watermark or get HD images. The online Pro Version costs $9.99 a week, $24 a month, $49 for months or $100 for a year. That’s a pretty steep cost in my opinion. Similarly, the app itself is free but there are in app purchases necessary to unlock the full potential of the app. However, if all you want is a quick and easy but fun visual, this is a really good starting place. It has the least amount of functionality in terms of manipulating designs, which is what makes it so quick and easy to use. So users desiring more control over the details will want to look elsewhere, but it is definitely a good starting point and a great place for fun. And it is a great place for those who want to create Memes.

It does have some GIF, animation and video options, but I have not really tried to use those yet.

Pros:

There is a large number of image options to choose from. And I do mean a large number – the publicity materials say there are “1000s”.

It is quick and easy to use.

It’s fun.

Cons:

Unless you want to pay high dollar amounts for the pro version, you are stuck with a watermark and other restrictions.

You can’t manipulate the details as much as you can on some other apps.

Bottom Line:

It’s not my go to image app, but it does some fun things that I can’t do on other apps so I am definitely a fan of the fun.

App Review: A Beautiful Mess

Last week while discussing the Candy Camera app, suggested by The Tween and the Bestie, librarian Maria Selke reminded me of the A Beautiful Mess photo app. I am a huge fan of the A Beautiful Mess (ABM) blog, so I had actually purchased the app well over a year ago. The only problem is that I had an older device with an older operating system and it never worked for me. Fast forward to today and I had to get a newer device and I decided to re-load the app and it does indeed work. But would I love the app as much as I love the blog?

The short answer is, no.

A Beautiful Mess is a blog run by two women, Elsie and Emma, that focuses on crafts, DIY, food and photography. The crafts/DIY and photography tips section are the parts I love most. So I was looking forward to this photo app.

abmlogo

Availabe for both iTunes and Androids

The 411:

Price:

$0.99 for the app itself. But you have to make a bunch of additional in app purchases if you want more functionality.

The Basics:

You can alter a photo or create a collage.

Using the backgrounds provided, you can also make whimsical quotes or create a background with a photo overlay.

There are about 25 filters in the version I have, which is the basic version.

You can add doodles and text overlays, which is the part of the app that excels.

Here are some pictures I created with the app:

abm1

abm2

For this picture, I used a photo that I had created and filtered in the Candy Camera app, as you can see the Candy Camera watermark there. I went in and added the whimsical elements, the border and wording, using the ABM app.

abm4

This last image is made using the background feature, for obvious reasons. It is my favorite part of the ABM app.

abm3

Final Thoughts:

If I had to describe the A Beautiful Mess app in one word, it would be whimsy. This is obviously an app designed to help you create those whimsical photos with your cutesy borders and text overlays. It accomplishes that well, though I want an app that does a little more than that.

It has a list of some of the top in-app purchases, which I have not purchased:

  1. Font Pack$0.99
  2. Dainty Borders$0.99
  3. Mod Backgrounds$0.99
  4. New Phrases (One)$0.99
  5. New Phrases (two)$0.99
  6. Sketchbook & Shape Borders$0.99
  7. Arrow & Symbol Doodles$0.99
  8. Word Bubble Doodles$0.99
  9. Geo Backgrounds Pack$0.99
  10. Font Pack 2$0.99

So it’s possible that by making some additional purchases I could do more things and would be more impressed, but all those in app purchases add up and I am on a tight budget so this app is not the right app for me.

What Others are Saying:

This comparison chart allows you to look at the features of A Beautiful Mess that matter most to you and explore some other photo app options. It’s kind of a Consumer Reports feature on the ABM app.

C-Net called it “cute and crafty, but not much else.”

Canvas Pop liked the retro feel and ease of use.

Final Thoughts:

If you want to make cute, crafty, or whimsical pics, this app is probably for you. It definitely would make great blog pics for crafty/DIY blogs that were going for a certain type of audience. I think I still like OVER best for adding texts to my graphics. It’s a little costly to get the full functionality of the app, so it’s not my go to app by any means. It has a pretty decent overall rating on the iTunes store.

There is also this A Beautiful Mess Photo Ideas Book, published in 2013. I haven’t seen it, but they have great tips and ideas on their blog so it might be worth checking out.

abmbook

My top 5 photo apps are:

  • BeFunky
  • ComicBook – makes great comic book pages
  • PhotoShake – I use it to make bookmarks and grid photos
  • Over – for adding text
  • Hipstamtic – for the various lens and film combinations

Definitely check out the A Beautiful Mess photo tips and e-courses.

More Tech Talk

App Review: Candy Camera

Knowing my obsession with pictures – my last smart phone had over 14,000 of them saved by the time it bit the dust – The Tween and The Bestie came to me a couple of days ago and shared that their new favorite photo app is Candy Cam. They declared it better than Instagram – gasp. And if you work with Tweens or young Teens you know that Instagram is incredibly popular.

I tend to take a lot of pictures one, because I’m a mom who loves her kids and two, I use them on the blog, to make posters and signage for the library, etc. You can also upload pictures and use them to make GIFs, ads and short movies. So I care a lot about high quality photos. To be honest, I tend to take a regular photo and edit them afterwards so that I can manipulate the same photo over and over again until I get the picture I like. So the primary appeal of Candy Camera for traditional users, that it takes real time photos, isn’t a strong appeal for me. The app description says it is good for editing photos but I can not speak to this feature because I am not interesting in laying down $7.99 to try that part of the app out.

candycameralogo

Info page http://www.jp-brothers.com/#!candy-camera/c1j5v

So why Candy Cam? The Bestie says it has better filters and it allows you to choose a filter before snapping your pic. The Tween says it just makes the best pictures.

Candy Camera is available for both Android and iPhones. There is a free version, which is what we downloaded to review. You can purchase an upgrade for $7.99, which is kind of pricey for a camera app in my opinion. But the upgrade allows you to have more editing capacity and add stickers. I don’t care about adding stickers, but I am always interested in finding quality post photo editing options for my smart phone or tablet. However, as I mentioned, I thought $7.99 was kind of a steep asking price for a photo app.

Here are some selfies that The Bestie took using Candy Camera:

candycam1

candycam2

candycam3

Here are a couple of pictures I took of The Tween:

candycam4

candycam6

What I liked:

Candy Camera allows you to select your photo size. I am fond of the square size pictures used in Instagram while The Bestie prefers more traditional sized photos. You can set up your photo size and layout before snapping a picture. In fact, if you choose say a series of 4 pictures it will take the picture in quick succession similar to a photo booth type setting and create a collage for you.

A screenshot of The Tween taking a picture of The Bestie using the sketch filter.

A screenshot of The Tween taking a picture of The Bestie using the sketch filter.

You can set up a timer to snap your picture, choosing between 3, 5, 10 and 15 seconds as a countdown option.

It does have some nice fitlers.

If you upload a picture it gives you an option to create this kind of layered effect, which I adore:

A button we made feature DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy, an upcoming book that should be on everyone's best of 2015 list.

A button we made featuring DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy, an upcoming book that should be on everyone’s best of 2015 list.

I really like the way it fuzzed the outside edges. And it does allow you to kind of move the main picture from side to side and choose the positioning of the fuzzy edges.

It does have the options to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, etc. It also allows you to whiten, rotate and crop.

What I Didn’t Like:

Candy Camera was not intuitive to me to begin using and it didn’t have the best instructions. Luckily I had the tweens to teach me how to use the app.

What Others are Saying:

“Candy Camera is one of the leading ah-mazing photo editing apps to master the art of selfie. Even coming as freeware and featuring a plain interface, the application packs a real punch. Alongside standard editing options like adjustable brightness, cropping, or rotating, you can apply dozens of great looking yet natural filters in real time, which means you get the results even before you take a picture. The popular Lomo and out focusing effects are also very convenient in the app, while (please, don’t go mad with the power) the slimming and make-up functions will make you look fabulous and your ex extremely jealous.” – Source: http://articles.informer.com/5-powerful-apps-for-selfie-addicts.html

“Candy Camera comes with more than 30 filters, which you can preview in real time as you’re getting ready to take the shot. It can remove blemishes, apply make-up, and enhance your images with variety of frames.” – Source: http://www.phonearena.com/news/10-camera-apps-for-taking-the-perfect-selfie_id52635#1u3pVIpGKqjeuAgT.97

Final Thoughts:

Although both Tweens swear by this app, BeFunky is still my current fave. You can read my review of it here. You can find all of our Tech Talk posts and App Reviews here.

Price: Basic app is free. The pro package is $7.99 which I did not purchase and can not review.

What you can do:

  • Edit your photo, including cut and paste and several beauty edits
  • Choose from around 30 filters (though the filter labels are hard to read)
  • Set a short timer
  • Choose your photo size, including choosing several multi-photo format options
  • Shoot a short video

My rating: 3*, mostly because I like the wide variety of filters you can choose from

My top 5 photo apps are:

  • BeFunky
  • ComicBook – makes great comic book pages
  • PhotoShake – I use it to make bookmarks and grid photos
  • Over – for adding text
  • Hipstamtic – for the various lens and film combinations

App Review & Lego MakerSpace Fun: Giffer – Using Legos to tell stories and learn how to make Gifs

Because of time, space and money, my library MakerSpace is primarily Lego based. But that’s okay, there is a lot you can do with Legos. Last night I met with a group of Tweens and we used our Legos and an App to create Gifs.

Most of the Tweens there didn’t know what a Gif is, so that was the first thing we covered.

Then we had to storyboard an outline for our Gif. We chose animals because you could move them and show that movement pretty easily. They tend to want to build houses, which are stationary and not the best for telling a story of this kind.

So a variety of animals were built, including penguins, a zebra and a lion. A few other animals were attempted and then scrapped. Simplicity is what we needed.

After we created our animals, we started playing around with placement and movement, taking still photos along the way. Similar to an old fashioned flip book, we knew that if we did small movements and then put the still frames in a Gif maker we would get a pretty cool looking Gif.

The Gif maker we ended up choosing was Giffer. It is available in the iTunes store for $2.99. There is a pro version for an additional dollar. Please note, there are a variety of Gif makers you can choose:

Make an animated GIF in Photoshop Gickr Picasion GifBoom (app!) Cinemagram (also an app!) Gizmodo: How to Make a GIF in 5 Easy Steps Free Online GIFmaker Make a GIF Mashable: Make Reaction GIFs with These 7 Tools Mashable: How to Make GIFs 8 Free GIF Maker Apps 


My favorite part was that after we made our first Gif, one of the Tweens present decided we had to do it all over again because he needed to add blood – which of course was some red Legos. So here’s our Gif . . .

Karen’s Thoughts:

Overall, I liked a lot of things about the App and would give it a 3 out of 5 stars. There are a few things I would like to change:

1. You can add text, but you can’t change the color of the text. It is white, which was problematic for us. There are font choices, but no color choices to which I say boo.

2.  I’m still looking around, but it looks like they have easy sharing capabilities with Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook but I can’t find an embed code. I really wanted to easily be able to copy and paste an embed code for the above Gif to show you what it looked like but the only way I could figure out how to do that was to tweet the gif to myself and embed the tweet, so in this aspect I couldn’t use this gifmaker to make and use gifs in the way that I wanted to. So I’m going to keep researching that aspect. If anyone has an answer for me on this problem, please share it in the comments.

As for the process itself, it was really quite easy. The Tweens and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to make our story work. They did wonder why there were penguins on our Serengeti, but the answer is because I adore penguins. Penguins should be in all the things. Also, they were easy to make. We had fun and we learned some new things, not just tech things – which were awesome – but some things like storyboarding. I call this day a win.

So here’s the big question: What is your favorite Gif maker and why? I am particularly interested in something that gives you more freedom with how you share your gifs.

More Resources: 
15 Sexy, Easy-to-Use Multimedia Tools to Up Your Visual Content Game

Middle Grade Mondays: 5 Things I Love Right Now, from a Tween

Robin broke her arm, in two places!, so we are punting for this week’s Middle Grade Monday.  So I gave my Tween homework: write a post about the things that you love right now.  I added some notes because she apparently is a minimalist.  But it is always good to know what your patrons are interested in and get their point of view.  So here you go . . .
Flappy Bird

A game where you have to get a bird through pipes without hitting them. It is hard, but fun.  All of my friends are playing it.
Karen’s note: It is hard, I have only gotten a 2 on it. This game is really popular right now among the Tween set.  It is simple in concept, but actually kind of difficult in execution.  And like Minecraft, mentioned below, it has kind of that old school video game feel to it.
Minecraft
You probably have heard of this but it’s a game where you build things and in survival mode try not to get killed.  I like the create mode because you make your own world.
Karen’s note: Minecraft has been around for a while and is of course very popular.  But the tweens around me have just discovered it.  They all come over and sit around playing on their iPads after school.  Here is a cool Pinterest board for Minecraft in the Library.
Wonder Struck
This book is about a boy whose mother is dead and so he goes to the city where his father lived.  It was brilliant and amazing.  I can’t stop talking about it.
Karen’s note: I had a copy of this laying around and she picked it up and started reading it.  She did a marathon read – couldn’t put it down – and read it all in one day.  It is a huge, daunting looking volume but a lot of it is pictures so it’s not as overwhelming as you would think.  She then spent days talking about how much she loved this book and has gotten all of her friends to read it.
The Land of Stories
Okay if you have not heard of this book stop reading this and get it, this book is amazing. So two kids get a story book and get stuck in it and have to stop an evil queen.  It includes a lot of fairy tale characters and twists.
Karen’s note:  For Christmas this year we drove from Texas to Ohio and she read The Land of Stories on the way.  She picked it out and purchased it as a Christmas gift from Christie, who of course got her a bookstore gift card for a gift because she is the best auntie ever.  She seriously loved this book.  And I know she has another friend who read and loved this book.
Dork Diaries
This book is about a girl who is not so popular in school and has a rival who is super mean.  It’s funny, and a quick read.
Karen’s note: These books are still really popular in my library.  I can’t keep them in on the shelves.
These books and games are super amazing so try them now.