There’s been a great deal of controversy over the last year or so about the apparent gender-biased censorship by Facebook. This largely centres on the alleged hypocrisy in the way male nudity (or partial nudity) is treated more leniently than female partial nudity by Facebook’s censors and their lack of a coherent explanation for this.
For example, post an image of a topless woman on Facebook and there’s a fair chance it will be reported and removed fairly quickly but if you post an image of a topless man, or even extreme violence (such as beheadings or beatings) and it will stand a greater chance of being left alone.
If this also strikes you as a bit unfair, perhaps you’d like to join me in using the image below to cover the “offending” bits of any photos you fancy posting…
Just right click and save it onto your ‘puter for future use – go on, you have my blessing.
This is how it looks in situ on an actual image I posted on Facebook of the stunning Rosa Brighid…
I feel a bit of spleen-venting coming on…
If there’s one thing that makes me choke on my choccie digestive, it’s the seemingly endless Facebook status updates by photographers saying “Here’s a sneak preview of Fred and Hilda’s wedding today at…”
Aaaaargh! There’s a reason why traditionally, newspapers don’t print wedding photos until about a month after the ceremony: because you are announcing to the world (including your friendly neighbourhood villains) that the happy couple’s house is likely to be unoccupied for a fortnight and therefore a great target for burglary!
Include information about the wedding venue and even the least tech-savvy crook can often access information about the couple’s name and thereby help to locate their home address. If newspapers did what these photographers are doing, your local rag would become a kind of home-shopping catalogue for burglars. I’m imagining a couple of housebreakers sitting at home in their striped sweaters thumbing through Dullsville Weekly and deciding on that evening’s burglary schedule.
And even leaving aside the security issue, I would NEVER show wedding images to the wider world before being approved by the couple! What if you post an image online for the whole world to see FOREVER and then find that’s it’s one that the couple absolutely hate? Remember who’s paying you!
Spleen vented. Nuff said.
I’d say that the complaint I hear most about digital photography is “I just can’t get my head around Photoshop“. Of course, this is good news for those of us who earn a few squids from teaching people how to do just that. But perhaps things are about to change.
Increasingly, we are told, people are leaving the compact camera at home and using their mobile phones to take their everyday snaps. Don’t take my word for it – there are figures to back this up, not to mention the recent news that Instagram (a phone-based photo editing and sharing app which I may have mentioned briefly here in previous posts) has just been gobbled up by the mighty Facebook for a billion dollars. So people are taking – and editing – more images on their mobile phones.
Photo editing apps are accessible and simple to use, as they have to be – they are used in the main by non-photographers. One of the things that I’ve often thought about since I started using my phone to create photographs is “Just imagine how great it would be if these editing apps were available for laptops and PCs”. Well, now they, or some of them, are.
One of my favourite iPhone apps has been Snapseed, which iphoneography supremo Nettie Edwards once described as “like having a darkroom in your pocket”. In fact I reckon that three out of four of my iphoneography images goes through Snapseed at some point. It’s a wondrous bit of phone-based software, and all for just a few quid.
Here’s the best bit: Now it’s also available for PC and Mac – and for less than £20.
Snapseed’s desktop/laptop version is, as one might expect, very similar to the phone app. There are ten adjustment tools (3 “basic” and 7 “creative”). Each tool has a number of preset options, which in turn can be tweaked. Here’s a rundown…
Tune Image (“Fix/Repair/Adjust”): Use this tool to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, shadows and warmth. Adjustments can be added globally or to a selected area – so for instance, you can lighten a face by using the brightness tool to a selected area (the size of the area can be adjusted too), in a similar, but simpler way to Photoshop’s dodge tool.
Crop & Straighten (“Re-compose your shot”): Like it says on the tin, plus image rotation. When cropping, you can select the usual aspect ratios as presets.
Details (“Sharpen your photo”): Sharpening, which I never use, personally, but this does it fairly sensitively if needed.
Black & White (“the classic”): Convert your shot to mono with 6 presets plus brightness, contrast and grain sliders. Also, you can add colour filters as you would in traditional black and white film photography.
Center Focus (“put your subject in focus”): This is a very cool tool. Add gaussian blur to as much or as little of the picture as you like, leaving only a clear “sweet spot” that you can move and resize easily – no masks, no clumsy selection tools – easy. You can even add a simple vignette.
Drama (“better than Broadway”): Snapseed’s easy one-touch pseudo-HDR. 6 presets, all of which can be tweaked on strength, brightness and saturation. From the subtle to the OTT.
Frames (“the finishing touch”): Admittedly, Snapseed isn’t the best phone app for frames (I tend to use other apps for this), but the 10 basic options they give you are funky enough, and all adjustable (the size, spread and grunge effect anyway). A near instant transformation compared with the equivalent Photoshop process.
Grunge (“get a little gritty”): I LOVE this tool. Use the “shuffle” button to randomly select grunge styles until you find one you like or drag the “style” slider across to go through the 1500 (yes, 1500!!!) or so grunge styles. Then you can tweak the look via the texture strength, brightness, contrast, and saturation sliders. There are 5 texture patterns to choose from and as usual, you can select how much of the image you want to stay relatively clear while the rest gets grunged. See how long it takes you to do something similar in Photoshop!
Vintage (“the past is new again”): Replicate old film, or cross-processed film effects using the presets and/or the 4 texture patters and/or the 9 colour styles and/or the texture strength, saturation, brightness, vignette, and style strength sliders.
Tilt-Shift (“miniaturise your world”): Intended to create a tilt-shift lens effect, which it does quite convinicingly. Funky, unpredictable (but very controllable) depth of field akin to that achieved with a “lensbaby” in that you can select a linear or eliptical effect. Not my favourite feature here but has its uses.
So all in all a darn good little package for the price (15.95 Euros including VAT for the download). Suits techonophobes as well as more ‘puter-savvy togs looking for something a bit different.
But there is one major drawback: For reasons I have yet to understand, your image will be shrunk within an inch of its life by Snapseed. Feed in a 10mb file and watch in horror as it is spat out at the other end as a 2+mb file. Hopefully, this will be sorted in the not too distant. Until then, this isn’t software you will use for high definition images anyway.
Conclusion: I think this is the way that photo-editing software will go in the longer term. Apps will increasingly, I believe, migrate from phones to the household’s main computers, challenging the dominance of the bulky, over-priced, complicated editing giants. Who will want to pay £1200 for Adobe’s latest megapackage when much simpler and much cheaper options are readily available, even if it means multi-apping as one does when editing images on the phone? Snapseed can be mastered in minutes and can transform images in a much more user-friendly and intuitive way than anything Adobe (or, let’s face it, Apple or Corel) has yet developed.