4 Humble Tools for Beautiful Photos & Video

Yellow, Focus on Colored LeavesA reader asked if I would share my photography tools. Here are four I use, why I chose them, and what I love about them. Do you use any of these? Let’s share.

SLR vs. Bridge/Super Zoom

When I needed a new camera (Here’s why), I took a month to decide. I chose a super zoom because it is:

  • Unassuming
  • Tight
  • Light

and for its:

  • Value
  • Efficiency
  • Features

This feature rich camera has macro, wide angle, and telephoto without changing lenses. It keeps the dirt out. There’s maximum flexibility and a faster shot in less time. It doesn’t attract attention which is great for traveling, and it’s light weight.

The Camera: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX200v [$349]

My previous camera was an earlier version of this one. It has a long-lasting, rechargeable battery. I can shoot pictures all day. There’s a built in user manual. It has the equivalent of a 27 – 810 mm lens. It takes great video. It has many interesting features. These are five that I love and use.

  1. The [SCN] Scene Setting
    • Background Defocus for that bokeh effect
    • Soft Nap for shooting a subject with a soft background
    • Handheld Twilight for low light scenes with no tripod
    • Gourmet for natural shots of food
    • Beach for water scenes with rich blue color
    • Fireworks – Is this cheating?
    • Advanced Sports for set focus on a moving subject
  2. Movie Mode
  3. Sweeping Panoramic
  4. Partial Color (see this post’s photo)
  5. Continuous Shooting for multiple shots
Photo Editing Software: PicMonkey.com [free basic or premium $33/year]

You can edit photos, make a collage, or design a facebook cover photo. You don’t have to be a software wizard to use it. It includes:

  • Basic Edits like crop, resize, and straighten
  • Effects like soften, and clone – good for that one goofy eye in an otherwise perfect picture
  • Touch Up like red eye remover
  • Text with interesting fonts like Bleeding Cowboy and Emily’s Candy
  • Overlays like doodly hearts and comic bubbles
  • Frames like Polaroid, photo corners, and film edge
  • Textures like light trails
  • Themes like Winterland and Trick or Treat

It’s a great tool for fun and creativity.

Video Editing Software: Corel VideoStudio Pro X6 [$31]

You can import video from any phone or camera and export it in a variety of formats including MP4 for YouTube. I am learning how to use it. There are lots of free tutorials.

Eye App: NTB [free]

The most enjoyable tool of all is the eye app, NTB, a.k.a. Notice The Beauty. Beauty can be appreciated with any eye, no fancy or expensive extras required except perhaps glasses. Take a photo when something catches your eye.

Line up the photo. Take the picture using the rule of thirds and the rule of feeling:

When the photo looks right and feels right take the picture.

Good results don’t have to break the bank. What are some of your favorite tools and techniques? How does photography renew your spirit?

Marie LaForce About Marie LaForce

Writer | Photographer | Explorer |Dreamer | Intentional Disciple of Christ


  1. Ahhh, thank you for this Marie. I love and use the Eye App/NTB a lot, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the options in choosing and using more professional cameras. Your info here is very helpful on that front!
    In terms of iPhone photo apps, someone tipped me off to ReTouch, which is a handy, free way to “photoshop out” little things in photos.

  2. I love and use the Eye App/NTB a lot, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the options in choosing and using more professional cameras. Your info here is very helpful on that front!

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