journalism, mobile, photography, tools

Apps for taking control and exporting your iPhone ‘Live Photos’

Have enjoyed using the Live Photos feature on the iPhone (models 6 and above), creating short little animated clips alongside a photo still.

There’s only one main drawback, in that outside of Apple’s world, you can’t simply download the file as video, they don’t appear as video files on your device. A minor irritation of being locked into Apple’s world. I see great use for journalism as well as family events.

But a few weeks ago I spotted an app Motion Stills (A Google creation) for outputting them as video files or looping GIFs, also the ability to compile multiple clips into a longer clips. Get Motion Stills here from iTunes.

A post inspired by video storytelling expert Robb Montgomeryhighlighting a similar appwhich lets you easily export the Live Photo files as videos, GIFs and grab frames from the clips – plus it’s only a 6MB file size, compared to Motion Stills 33MB.

But both are handy tools if you are using LPs regularly.

content, news, publishing, socialmedia, tools

Pablo: your new favourite social media friendly image tool

I had briefly used Buffer’s Pablo social media-friendly graphic creation tool Pablo in 2015. It has options ready for best dimensions for using on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.

But with the addition of the new Pablo (sadly only) Chrome extension, getting a tweet+pic with overlaid text was roughly 1-2 minute’s work.

Find an image (or upload your own/use from stock images within Pablo), then let the extension open it inside Pablo (no need to login at this point).

Inside Pablo’s tidy interface you can add/edit text and tweak the graphic layout using a few options. But it all looks professional and works well.

Once you are happy, you can share immediately or embargo using Buffer’s algorithm, logging in to Buffer with your Twitter login.

You can also download the final image for use later.

A couple of examples:

A story via The Scotsman, a tale of flooding in Scotland

And an Bronze Age archaeological find in Cambridgeshire, via the Peterborough Telegraph



Chrome memory tip: Oh yes, it’s The Great Suspender

Should well be of interest for all Google Chrome users, which can become a memory hogger. I use it for work, so necessity dictates… and here’s a potentially frustration-saving extension that freezes inactive tabs.
Chrome extension ‘ The Great Suspender’ temporarily suspends any tabs you’re not using, thus saving any memory drain.
The Great Suspender Chrome extension screenshot
The Great Suspender Chrome extension
You can set the time before they are ‘frozen’ and you can ‘whitelist’ any you want to keep ‘alive’, well worth a try.
Have had it installed for a week and it is already making a difference to my machine’s speed and memory use.
journalism, news, tools

How to get more out of Google Chrome in the newsroom

I’ve been using Google Apps in my current job for a while now, and I’ve tried to make the most of having Chrome as a main browser.

Here are some good reasons to get into the habit of logging in to Chrome every morning and installing a couple of extensions to work more efficiently…

Login to Chrome via the 3 horizontal bars, top-right, go to > Settings > “Sign in to Chrome”…this will load your saved bookmarks, settings and any extensions each time.

And here is a list of suggested extensions and web apps worth installing for Chrome if you work in  newsroom or, frankly, any digital media role:

Efficient browsing

Screenshot of Bitly sharing in Google Chrome
Example of sharing links via Bitly in-browser
  • Awesome Screenshot – capture tweets, grab websites that might disappear, examples of our own website issues.
  • Bitly – logs you in to your link shortening account automatically, one-click to get a short URL/or share straight to specific accounts, see example screenshot, right.
  • Gestures for Google Chrome – navigate more quickly using mouse strokes.
  • AddThis – share the page to various services & bookmark.
  • Grammarly Spell & Grammar Checker – erm, checks your spelling & grammar.
  • Classic Retweet – lets you retweet allowing you to edit the tweet and add a comment.
  • OneClick Cleaner for Chrome – speeds up browser by clearing memory/cache after a busy morning/few hours.


  • Edit in Pixlr [WebApp] – for simple or advanced online photo editing with more tools, similar to Photoshop > open an image in Pixlr using mouse right-click, make simple edits, crops or use more advanced tools including blurring.
  • 2 extensions to help find the origin of an image:
    Search by Image (by Google)
    TinEye Reverse Image Search

Advanced tools

ExtensionSocial Analytics – shows interactions for the page you are on on most social platforms, likes, shares, tweets etc.

More suggested lists:

photography, tools

Image editing using Google Drive and Chrome apps

If you have a plain Google or an Apps account, you can manage and edit images from within Chrome for publishing and sharing online.And the experience is pretty neat and efficient from my experiences.

Firstly, sign in to Chrome.

Install Chrome Apps for in-browser editing (I’ve used these as mobile apps and they have a similar look and feel):

Pixlr Express offers quick edit tools such as cropping, sharpening, resizing or improving quality or sharpness, plus an array of effects.

While Pixlr Editor has a Photoshop-style feel for more advanced editing with many adjustments and filters that will be familiar to Adobe suite users.

Upload images and graphics to your Drive, then when you need to correct/resiz/e edit images, view in Drive, then open with and choose the apps

Then in Pixlr Express you can save back into Drive overwriting the original or a new copy (original file type only), whilst in Pixlr Editor you can also save at different quality levels to Drive or your computer or as a PNG file and rename files, plus the ability to share with Facebook, Flickr or to Picasa.

This is a bite-sized tip included in my longer post: Fast, free and efficient image editing tools for digital publishing

photography, publishing, tools

Fast, free and efficient image editing tools for digital publishing

Need to quickly edit/crop/resize an image for publishing to web, social media? Here are some on and offline image editing tools I use/have tried:

Photoshop is great, has many uses and advanced features, but for more efficient (and free!) working with, and publishing digital images , there are plenty of online and offline options.

As highlighted during a session at the recent news:rewired digital journalism conference, Pixlr is a fast and efficient option for making quick adjustments and saving, I’m referring here to Pixlr Express (there is a more advanced fuller version Pixlr Editor – essentially an online Photosop-esque clone), screenshot below. It’s pretty quick, edits also are snappy, and be in and out in a couple of minutes. For me it’s usually for web and social media publishing, so mostly cropping, resizing, a bit of sharpening and on my way. Express screenshot
Screenshot of in action

Mobile apps are available for both versions – I’d also highly recommend them – see Pixlr mobile apps for Google Play and iOS. See also: a guide to Pixlr Express on Gizmo’s Freeware ‘Edit Your Photos Like a Pro’

One advantage of the full-fat Pixlr Editor is you can sign-up using a Google account and edit and share saved images via GMail to Picasa, flickr or Facebook which may fit some workflows – tip via Nick Summers of The Next Web at news:rewired.

Other online options include Fotor, although a little slower, still provides basic editing and more advanced tools.

Photoshop itself has an online Express Editor, again, not as quick as Pixlr in my experiences, and can only output as JPEGs, but has a good set of editing tools and effects.

For more advanced work, without the expense of Photoshop, try GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a free piece of software for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. (via Dan Thornton @badgergravling)

Smashing Magazine has some Handy Tweaks To Make GIMP Replace Photoshop.

More online photo editing tools reviewed by The Next Web.

For cloud storage, sharing and more sedate editing and image management, Picasa (naturally linked with Google+ now) has always been a solid (and free) performer. Plenty of editing tool enhancements recently to beef up its offering.

For offline image editing/screen-grabbing, I couldn’t live without FastStone Capture – see the last free version here.

A great, small, efficient tool for screengrabs or image editing – very efficient, with a simple toolset for basic edits, I’ve literally been using it most days at work for several years. Either screengrab or locate an image file, drag the image onto the floating desktop toolbar to edit. You can save out as GIF, JPEG, PCX, PNG, TGA, TIFF and PDF formats.

I find the text overlays/annotations are a useful addition. I have it installed to a USB for use on the go, only a small program file.

Update, 17 November 2014: a great collection here from Ed Walker, Five free image editing tools for journalists: Useful for creating social media graphics, batch resizing and more

Includes, Pixlr, as well as useful tools for collaging, putting shareable, social-friendly graphics together and a batch processing tool.

See also:

Image editing using Google Drive and Chrome apps