Prisma: Turning Photos Into Works of Art

Transforming a Photo with Prisma

Prisma-ing a photo of Alouette Lake.

If you have found yourself looking at all the artistic images that your friends have been sharing on social media the past few months and find yourself wishing you had such artistic talents too, I will let you in on a little secret … most of the beautiful artistic images circulating social media have been created with the aid of a mobile app, Prisma. Translation: you too can create some of these incredible works of art without attending art school.

Basically Prisma is a mobile app that provides filters to transform your photographs into works of art using the styles of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns.

To use Prisma on your photos, once you’ve downloaded the app to your smartphone, simply open the app and select a photo from your camera roll or take a new photo, and then tap the different filters and watch each one transform your photo into a different work of art.

Take for example the preceding image that Lori took at Alouette Lake, by playing with it in Prisma, I transformed it into the following works of art …

Dream Filter

Prisma Dream Filter of Alouette Lake

Waves Filter

Prisma Waves Filter of Alouette Lake

Paper Art Filter

Prisma Paper Art Filter of Alouette Lake

Coloured Sky Filter

Prisma Coloured Sky Filter of Alouette Lake

Prisma Tips and Tricks

Prisma also allows you to manipulate the intensity of the filters by running your finger left (to increase the filter’s intensity) or right (to decrease the filter’s intensity).

Altering Prisma filter intensity.

If you want to see your original photo next to your new Prisma artwork, swipe downward with your finger on the image. Swiping back upwards with your finger on the image will restore just the Prisma artwork.

Prisma Side by Side Images

By clicking on the cog icon in the top corner, you can enable or disable Prisma to ‘save your original photos’ (those you take while using the app), ‘save your Prisma artwork automatically’, and ‘turn on/off the Prisma watermarks’ on your Prisma artwork.

Prisma Settings

You can also save your Prisma artwork right after creating it, by clicking on the downward arrow icon underneath the artwork after you create it, and/or share it directly to Instagram and/or Facebook by clicking on the Instagram and/or Facebook icons underneath your Prisma artwork.

Saved!

Finally, if you wish to share the image elsewhere – to dropbox, via email, to Google+ or Twitter … etc – simply click on the upward arrow icon underneath your Prisma artwork.

Prisma Sharing

Have fun creating … err … Prisma-ing!

 

Nike Training: A Workout App to Keep You Active on the Road

Busy professionals and traveling storytellers are often on the road, which can disrupt attempts to remain loyal to a workout regime. This has happened to me too many times! I will get into a good groove of working out and then leave to travel, abandoning my trips to the gym only to have to start all over when I return. Being active is extremely important, especially when you spend a lot of time sitting behind a computer. I recently discovered the Nike+ Training Club App (NTC), and have resolved my workout commitment issues!

There are always at least 30 minutes in each day of your travel schedule that you could squeeze in one of the workouts right in your hotel room, or at a nearby park you might find. There are workouts as short as 15 minutes though, so there really are no excuses for not getting one in! I actually really like the style of the workouts as well. Most of them will have you do a particular exercise for about a minute straight and then move on, rather than a series of reps. You can sync your iTunes music to the workout as well, which makes it so much more fun!

Nike workouts

Personalizing Your Experience

When you first use the App it will ask you a series of questions to help get you started. You can input how often you would like to workout and what you have access to. This includes whether or not you have any weights, or a yoga mat for example.

workout plan

Deciding on Your Focus

You have the option to set up a plan for yourself where you would be using the Nike+ Training App at home, as well as on your travels for a period of 4-6 weeks. I have actually done this and found it really useful because as a working mom, getting to the gym is often a challenge. Working out around the house also allows your kids to see you being active and sets a good example. (In my case, it provides entertainment as they love to laugh at my struggles to keep up!)

workout app

Individual Themed Workouts

You also have the option to just select a single workout to do. You can peruse hundreds of them and pick one that fits into the amount of time you have and an area of your body you would like to focus on, even if you would just like to stretch. No excuses remember?!

Nike App

A Glimpse Into the Breakdown of a Workout

In addition to the workouts, Nike offers community interaction, both digitally and in person. There is a feed within the App displaying current informative fitness blogs by Nike and another with featured hashtags to participate with. If you’d like to get out and meet new people, you can search up live classes led by Nike trainers taking place wherever you may be with the option to register for the class through the App.

NO EXCUSES!

Quizlet ~ A Handy Study Tool

I’m past the point in parenting where I need to search and find tools to help my kids with their studying. They find innovative ways to help themselves! When I saw my daughter on her phone, I’m pretty sure I said something to the effect of, “Hey Missy! Shouldn’t you be studying?!” To which she gave me the stink eye and replied, “I am!” She has been preparing for her tests using an App called Quizlet.

Within Quizlet, you can create your own flashcards and then use them in a variety of ways to practice. I think this could be a great tool for any of us taking professional development courses.

digital flashcards

You can create your own flashcards by entering the terms and definitions you are trying to study.

Once your flashcards are made you can study them in a variety of ways, but another great feature of this App is being able to search general topics and study off of flashcards and study sets other users have made.

Quizlet

If, for example, you search ‘Computers’, you will find a list of already made study cards to choose from.

 

ready made flashcards

Once you select a set of terms to learn you have the option to read through them all and learn the concepts. You can then practice in the variety of ways shown on the top tabs. These same methods are available to you within your own study sets that you create.

 

study tools

This is an example of one of the study games where you need to click on matching squares.

You can use the test mode as many times as you like until you feel confident. I regularly see my daughter running through terms on her phone in the backseat of the car on the way to school. You have the option to join the App as a teacher where you could create your own study sets for students of yours to use. They have even launched an interactive feature called Quizlet Live! This has been a great study tool in our house so I wanted to pass it along to you. No intentions of putting the cue card people out of business! If you have other go-to tools we’d love to hear about them as well.

Nuzzle: A Social News Reader

Most of the time when we are using social media to engage with family, friends and followers, we don’t really want news stories or articles in general mixed in there. There are other times however, that we would just like to see those stories without other interactions intermingled. We have discovered an App for that! Meet Nuzzle, the social news reader.

 

Nuzzle

 

Nuzzle provides a clean layout of news from your friends and people you follow on Facebook and Twitter. What you see then are blog posts and articles only, without any status updates. An ‘options’ tab provides you with the following viewing options :

  • News From Your Friends
  • News From Friends of Friends
  • News You May Have Missed
  • Recently Read Stories
  • Your Custom Feeds (lists you have made within Twitter)
  • Featured Feeds

You are also able to build a network within Nuzzle by finding and following friends within the App. If you select to receive it, Nuzzle will send you a daily digest to your email highlighting top stories! To make your own social sharing easier, Buffer, Pocket and Instapaper can be signed into on the App so you can share right from a story as you read it, or save it to be read later allowing you to enjoy the read without an internet connection.

This is a free App that offers a de-cluttered experience, which is always appreciated!

 

Genius Scan: Apps for the Busy Professional on the Go

As someone who has a mobile office, I was initially unprepared for the amount of times I would receive ‘urgent’ requests for documents to be printed, signed and scanned back. There have also been times when paper sources of mine have had to be sent to someone immediately.  Of course, as a working mom, and busy professional on the go, this most often happens when I am nowhere near a computer, printer or scanner!  I have come across a couple Apps that have solved this dilemma for me: SignEasy; a Digital Signature App which I discussed in a previous post, and Genius Scan.

Genius Scan is exactly what its name suggests, a brilliant scanning tool! If you have a printed document that needs to be sent, but no scanner, this App give you the ability to take a photo of each page, make general enhancements and send it off!  It will save each page into the same document so you don’t need to send each page off separately.

Genius Scan scanning App

Cropping Your Document

After you take a photo of your document, a grid overlay comes up for you to crop and determine exactly which parts of your page to include. This is handy if you have smaller receipts where a lot of your table shows up in the photo.

Genius Scan document enhancements

Finishing Touches

Once you are finished cropping the page, the App enhances it for you. You have the option to select No Enhancement, Black and White, or Colour. Once you save the page and add any other pages to the same document file you can choose your format to send it in. I usually choose PDF and it gets sent off as a proper printable document, not like a photo you took and emailed off.

I have been using this App for a long time now and I believe there have been a few upgrades along the way providing an enhanced user experience with even more options than I have described above, and this App is free.  As someone who is always juggling work and family, I have been extremely grateful for the time and headaches I’ve been able to avoid!

Creating a Digital Signature with SignEasy

There have been countless times when I have received an email with a document that needs to be printed and signed then sent back ASAP.  On numerous occasions this has been when I am nowhere near a computer, printer or scanner!  I have come across a couple Apps that have solved this dilemma for me: SignEasy; a digital signature App, and Genius Scan (which I will discuss in my next post in ‘Apps for the Busy Professional on the Go’).

Within SignEasy, you enter and save your signature by  writing it with your finger.  You are then able to open a document directly from an email and insert your signature onto the appropriate page.  You simply pinch the signature to shrink it to the right size and drag it to place it right on the line.  The App also has the function to enter dates, addresses and other text formalities. There is an easy to follow tutorial which shows you how to digitally sign a document.

SignEasy tap for signature

This is a sample document from within the App which shows the simplicity of the design and instruction.

digital signature

When you enter your signature, you have a nice open screen to write it with your finger. You can see how you are able to select the ink colour you need.

SignEasy signature App

Adjusting and Placing Your Signature

When your signature appears on your document you will need to shrink the size and move it to the appropriate spot. You can see from the choices at the bottom that you are also able to enter the date and any text that might be necessary for you to add within the document. After you select ‘Done’ you will have the option to share and send the document to the intended recipient.

I have been using this App for a long time now and I believe there have been a few upgrades along the way providing an enhanced user experience with even more options than I have described above, and this App is free.  As a very busy working mom I have been extremely grateful for the time and headaches it has helped me to avoid!

Instacollage : Apps My Kids Use

Instead of sharing a whole album of photos, I’ve noticed that my kids compile their favourite shots from an event and share them as just one photo collage.  It’s something they’re always excited to do when we get home.  They sit on the couch and go through all the pics we took, then go about creating their work of art.  I actually like this process because, rather than mindlessly uploading everything all at once to an album, they spend a long time reminiscing about the day and then enjoy a period of creativity.  The App they have come to love for this is Instacollage.

This is a free App, which actually provides a lot of options within it.  You start by selecting the layout you want to use.  This works best if you’ve already decided on how many photos you will be using.  There are standard straight line options, as well as many other interesting shape combinations.

This is only a small sampling of options.  If you swipe to the right while on this screen (which you can do several times), you will have even more to choose from.

This is only a small sampling of options. If you swipe to the right while on this screen (which you can do several times), you will have even more to choose from.

Once you’ve chosen the layout the fun begins! You upload your chosen photos either one at a time or all at once.  You can resize them and move them around.  You can play around with background colours and add text or special effects! You pretty much have the option to change the colour of everything.

 This is the beginning of a collage I'm thinking about making to showcase all the meals I've cooked with pumpkin so far this year!

This is the beginning of a collage I’m thinking about making to showcase all the meals I’ve cooked with pumpkin so far this year!

Adding the finishing touches is the best part.  There are multiple frames to outline your collage and the kids love the ‘stick’ feature which allows you to place fun and quirky stickers anywhere you like. Decision making has never really been my thing, so I spent quite a long time creating my first Instacollage!

Here it is! My first one made with guidance from the kids using shots from our garden! I love the white picket fence.

Here it is! My first one made with guidance from the kids using shots from our garden! I love the white picket fence.

Within the App you have the option to share your collage directly to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your camera roll, email, and Flickr.

That’s the inside teen scoop from my house to yours!

Do you have a different collage app that you like to use? We’d love to hear about it, and what you like about it!

Video Star : Apps My Kids Use

This is the first post of a new monthly series on Apps My Kids Use, keeping a tune to what’s keep our kids amused in our mobile world.

I will sometimes see my kids using a new App that I have never heard of and the next thing you know, all of their friends are using it and soon after the app becomes a big deal and a household name.  My kids are currently in high school, by the way, for a bit of age context here.  Later we shall get Erica adding to this column with apps that her much younger nieces and nephews use.  Some Apps ignite a strong addiction while others are over and done with and deleted quickly.  One App that has been used consistently in our house for over a year now is Video Star.  It has become a means of creating memories of family vacations and momentous outings, not to mention the great babysitting tool it has been for them to entertain kids!

Video Star

Within the Video Star App you create a music video.  You select a song from your own iTunes account, select a special effect to use for your scene, record a little action and stop when you are done.  When you are ready to record your next scene the App will automatically continue where you left off in the song.  This is amazing, because it allows you to film at different locations, even days apart and not have to do any editing!

Here’s a video that I made for Erica on the occasion of her birthday.  In her honour I was as silly as I could be!

You can see how this would be perfect for travel, as you can take a short clip of each place you go and end up with a music video showcasing memories from your whole vacation.  I feel you could even take this App into the business world. For example, if you are working on a film, TV, or theatrical show, you could use Video Star to get some fun behind the scenes clips to share with everyone at the end of the show.  You could certainly prepare some fun material for presentations, and get students up and active during workshops.

The only downfall with Video Star is that for sharing purposes you need to upload it to YouTube in order to maintain the digital quality.  Sharing with others via email or messaging sends a very grainy low quality version.  I hope you give yourself permission to have some fun and maybe capture a video to paste a smile on the face of your family, friends or staff this Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, or other winter holiday! As Erica will tell you, it makes the perfect gift!