Go Exploring with National Geographic — Put Their (Awesome) Photos on Your Desktop
National Geographic's wallpaper

When we want to go exploring, we (of course) pull out the couch cushions and start setting up a pillow/cushion jungle in the living room.

But when National Geographic goes exploring, they really go exploring – all around the world, to places we’ve never even dreamed of.

And they take pictures.

Awesome pictures. In fact, we can’t believe how well National Geographic’s award-winning photography lends itself to being used as desktop wallpaper on our computer – and luckily enough, National Geographic now offers many of their photos in wallpaper form. With breathtaking photos capturing topics as broad-reaching as an Old Havana playground and Pigeons in St. Peter’s Square, why, we might actually return the couch cushions back to their intended place-setting because we don’t need them anymore.

We’re about as happy right now as David Livingstone in Zanzibar!

National Geographic’s Desktop Wallpapers! [via getTRIO.com]


   
   
Turn Yourself Into a Grouchy ol’ Scrooge (or Elf!) with Internet Magic
scroogeyourself-feature.jpg

Bah. Humbug! We don’t know why, but this time of year we really can’t resist playing the grouch.

That’s why we love the wonderfully humbug-ish Scrooge Yourself – plop in some photos, and instantly turn yourself and your friends into crotchety old cumudgeons. (You can make ‘em dance, too, but we find that’s counter-intuitive to being a grouch.)

All that festive yuletide? Bah! Out the window. As a scrooge, you never have to worry about being happy again.

(But just in case you want to be mirthful – though we can’t imagine why – there’s Elf Yourself, the singing, dancing elfish equivalent of Scrooge Yourself.

The new and improved Elf Yourself cranks the yuletide up a notch, too, by allowing you to call up a toll-free number and leave a voice message, to lend your voice to your digital elf friend. You can also upload multiple photos to put together a dancing elf troupe… but with all the joy and happiness it brings, we really wouldn’t recommend it.)

Scrooge Yourself
Score one for grouches everywhere!


   
   
Make Photo Scramble Games from your Photos Online, with Befuddlr

befuddlr_feature.gifRemember those plastic scramble puzzles you used to get in cereal boxes or from the toy vending machines at the grocery store?

Now you can create a puzzle with your own photo (without pushing around hard plastic chicklets with your fingernails) with Befuddlr.

Upload your photo to the Photojojo Flickr group, go to Befuddlr and click “photojojo”, select your photo, and scramble it into an online puzzle game!

The site will even time your unscrambling attempts, making for a perfect mid-day office-wide showdown.

We did this one in 21.4 seconds. Can you beat us?

Befuddlr: Make Online Photo Scramble Puzzles from Your Photos

Photo by jessi

p.s. Our pal Amy, one of the site’s founders, tells us they’ve got lots more on the way, including user accounts and a way to challenge your friends directly!


   
   
De-Pixelize Your Photos Instantly with VectorMagic
VectorMagic - pixels be gone!

Ever had Grandma Edna email you her latest vacation cruise photos, only to find the images so small and pixelated that she and Gramps look like they were made of LEGOs?

VectorMagic has the answer. A free website from the folks down at Stanford, VectorMagic takes your raster images and turns them into smooth vector drawings.

Unlike raster images, vector drawings are made of geometric shapes instead of pixels, so you can infinitely resize them with no fuzzy or blockiness! This makes them ideal for blowing up a small photo to, say, the size of your bedroom wall.

Other programs that will do this, but VectorMagic is web-based and will run on most computers. Plus, its algorithms do an impressive job of translating photographs into realistic vectors — something others choke on.

So dump those passé pixels… and give your tiny photos a new photographic life, smooth and vectorized!

VectorMagic — Convert Photographs to Vector Images Automatically

See also…
Rsizr — Free seam-carving image resizing on the web
A magically intelligent seam-carving, image-resizing tool

The Rasterbator – Huge, Wall-sized Prints Using Your Inkjet or Laser
Turn any photo into a wall-sized poster using the printer in your home or office

BlockPosters – Turn Photos Into Posters With Block Posters
An alternative take on the giant-photo-poster-making hipness

p.s. Be one of the first to join our brand-new Photojojo fan club on Facebook! (We’re having decoder rings made up as we speak.)


   
   
Take Photos From Inside Your Mouth … with the Smiley-Cam!
The Smiley-Cam!

There’s nothing like a big “Say cheese!” to bring out the pearly whites.

But all this talk of grinning reminds us of one of our life-long curiosities — what about our teeth’s perspective? What it’s like looking out from inside our mouths?

At long last, we’ve found an answer: the Smiley-Cam!

Pinhole photography enthusiast Justin Quinnell has perfected the art of using bite-size pinhole cameras to get those difficult but illuminating inside-your-mouth-looking-out perspective shots. Even better, Justin’s selling his pinhole ‘smiley-cam’ cameras for cheap.

Finally, you can turn the tables on Uncle Herman the next time he shouts, “Say cheese!”

The Smiley-Cam — The In-Mouth Pinhole Camera
Check out Justin Quinnel’s Smiley-Cam pics or get your own from Justin for $23 bucks.


   
   
Erase Tourists from Your Vacation Photos: Three Pesky Tourist Removal Techniques
Tourist Removal - Photos by Neene and Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeg

Lounging on a beach chair in Tipumungo, margarita in hand, the waves lap at your feet. The far-off sun wanes, painting everything in brilliant color. It’s a postcard-perfect scene that any photographer would drool over.

And then there’s Sunburnt Stan.

There’s nothing like a pesky tourist with a sunburnt nose to ruin a beautiful vacation shot. What’s a photo-loving vacationer to do? It seems like everywhere you go, Stan’s there too, wading into the sea with his arm floaties or building a sand-castle on the beach. (Stan’s a persistent chap, he is.)

Never fear! An ordinarily grim situation turns to triumph, with just a bit of techno-whoozical magic in the form of these three nifty websites/programs. Vacation photos will never be the same again.

Sorry, Stan – we love you, but you’ve got to go.

#1 – How to Remove Tourists from Your Photos – dsphotographic.com
Using layer masks (Photoshop required), photographer Darby Sawchuck shows how to combine the best of several vacation photos into one great photo, blissfully tourist-free.

#2 – SnapMania.com – Tourist Remover
It couldn’t be simpler: take a batch of imperfect photos, run them through the Remover, and voilá – not a tourist in sight.

#3 – Microsoft Research’s Group Shot
Plug a series of photos into this free program, then select your favorite parts from each photo; in an instant, you’ll have a perfect composite photo with the best of the whole series.

p.s. The holidays are almost here, and our friends at Moo are running a holiday card design contest. Submit your favorite photos for a chance at $8,000 in prize money!

Thanks to Neene and Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeg for lending us photos.


   
   
Got a Spare Head Lying Around? Put it to Good Use! (The Great Detachable-Head Website Showdown!)
Talking Heads

Green and yellow, orange and blue! We like popsicles, yes we do!

The fantastic flavors, the clever riddles on the stick, the menagerie of colors (and how they turn your tongue red/green/purple too)… IOHO, popsicles are the best.

Plus, we always use the popsicle sticks after all is said and done to make nifty stick people with our photographs. Cut head out of photo, paste onto popsicle stick. Easy, see?

Well folks, you now have one more thing to thank the Information Superhighway for. No longer is licking, cutting, and pasting required to get your friends’ fine faces on something with which you can perform Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.”

We’ve gathered of bucketload of shiny websites that let you use your photos to create talking avatars, dancing digital puppets, and singing telegrams — technology at its finest, yessir. Just don’t stop eating popsicles because of this — we’d hate that.

p.s. We’re very happy to have Kari, a Mom with a Camera, join the Photojojo team. Don’t be shy — Stop by and say hello!

(continued…)


   
   
Seam Carving, Magically Intelligent Image Resizing You Can Do Yourself!
rsizr-feature.jpg

The first time we saw seam carving in action, we thought it was an optical illusion. It isn’t.

For those of you who saw the demonstration video and academic paper (see links below) a month back, you know why we were so amazed. Alas, it was but a proof of concept at the time. But now you can finally use seam carving on your own images!

First, a quick summary of the technique: Typically, when you resize a photo, you just make everything in it smaller. Simple, right? Well seam carving is like a smarter version of resizing. Your computer analyzes the photo and figures out what’s important and what isn’t, then it eliminates the less important areas first as you shrink the image.

That means you can resize a photo to be half as wide without shrinking everyone in it, or even make a photo wider without making it look stretched. You can even pick areas you definitely want to leave alone, or areas you definitely want to lose, making it a super easy way to remove an ex or a stranger from a otherwise lovely photo.

Well, we’ve said enough. You need to give it a try for yourself. (Or watch the amazing demo video!)

Rsizr — Free seam-carving image resizing on the web

See also…
Picutel Smart Resize
$95 Seam Carving Photoshop plugin (PC-only)

Liquid Resize for GIMP
Free Seam Carving plugin for GIMP

Actionscript sourcecode and examples
For you Flash cowboys and cowgirls who want to build this yourself.

Seam Carving academic paper (PDF)
Dr. Ariel Shamir and Dr. Shai Avidan describe their technique in detail. (Fun fact, Dr. Avidan was hired by Adobe shortly after this hit the web… look for seam carving to pop up in a future version of Photoshop!)


   
   
Photo Slideshows are So Yesterday. ANIMOTO = Your Photos + MTV
animoto!

Picture 487 of your Jamaican vacation photos fading by as some Caribbean muzac plays in the background. Yeah, photo slideshows can be kind of a snore.

The solution? Animoto!

Think of it as a little black box filled with film & TV producers, techies, indie rockers, and robots.

You put your photos and a song in one end, shake it up, and a photo music video pops out the other end… with pro-level post-production, animated cuts synced to your music’s beat, and oh-so-much style.

And it only takes a few clicks. (Really!) The robots do all the work.

The 30 second videos are free and they’re perfect for mailing to friends or posting to your blog, MySpace, Facebook, etc. Longer videos cost a few bucks. Special for Photojojo subscribers: Sign up for free by Sunday using this link and the swell lads at Animoto will put a credit in your account for one free full-length video. (It’s okay to tell your friends.)

Animoto

p.s. Here’s a fun Animoto video we made from photos taken at a photobooth we recently set up.

(continued…)


   
   
Eternal Sunset — Watch Sunsets All Over the World, from Your Desk
eternalsunset-feature.gif

When we were little, we hated going to bed more than anything.

Sweet slumber is a much more appreciated commodity nowadays, but we still find ourselves wishing there were more hours in each day. If only we could race across the skies in a private 767, outrunning the sunset and never seeing darkness.

Well, we’ve found the next best thing.

Eternal Sunset is a website that tracks 250 webcams across 49 countries. At any given time, the sun’s setting somewhere, and Eternal Sunset will show it to you.

It won’t add hours to your day (quite the contrary) but if you’ve always dreamed of seeing the perfect sunset in Napoli, Egypt, or from atop Mount Fuji, park yourself in front of your ‘puter and watch that fiery globe fall. Over and over again.

Eternal Sunset

p.s. If it’s as beautiful in your neck of the woods as it is here, do yourself a favor and go out and shoot this weekend. Here’s a list of photo projects to get you going!

p.p.s. Amit’s in the midst of a move. Apologies in advance if it take a bit longer than normal to get back to you!


   

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