Time to Start Trading Fair!

Story Highlights

  • Everyone is drinking coffee!
  • Background info on coffee beans & what it means to be fair trade
  • The benefits of buying fair trade certified products
  • Where to find fair trade coffee
  • Fair trade vs regular coffee

“More than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee everyday — three to four cups each, more than 330 million cups a day and counting,” said a CBS News’ article Coffee Nation in 2008.

My parents, siblings, friends, teachers and coworkers all drink coffee. It’s something that keeps us going throughout the day and warm through the nights. It’s also addictive and for the most part, the more we drink it, the more we need to get the same effect. With so many people drinking coffee, I decided to reach out to everyone to make it more sustainable and more ethical by switching to fair trade coffee!

Before going into detail about why to start drinking fair trade, I figured a little background on the subject might be needed.

Background of Coffee & Fair Trade

Most coffee beans need to be grown at a high altitude in a sub-tropical regions, which is why America imports its coffee beans from South America and regions of Africa. Because the coffee growing is not going on in front of our eyes by our friends and neighbors, a lot of Americans don’t know what goes into growing the coffee beans. The truth is, more than half of the workforce in coffee plantations is done by children and slaves.

Coffee fields in Rio Sereno, Panama taken by Rich Young

The idea of fair trade began subtly in the 1940s and 1950s to help stop the child and slave labor put into making not only coffee, but sugar, tea, honey, cocoa and more. It wasn’t until about the 1980s when more countries and more people began to really catch on though. In 1994, the Fair Trade Federation began to “strengthen and promote North American organizations fully committed to fair trade.” By 2009, 110 million pounds of Fair Trade certified coffee was imported into the US (Fair Trade USA.) Although this number has grown significantly from its start, it is still nowhere close to the near 3 billion pounds of coffee imported each year.

Fair Trade is Essential!

Last year was the first year I really began to learn about fair trade. It was surprising I hadn’t learned about it in any of my classes before, especially when it’s on the food and drinks we consume. Senior agriculture business major at Cal Poly, Aura Augilar, says she comes across people all the time who aren’t aware of what it means for items to be fair trade certified.

“A lot of people don’t know about the different fair trade labels and how there are different certification processes,” she says. “I think it’s important to know where their food comes from especially if it’s from a foreign country.”

Official Fair Trade logo you would see on food and drink items.

Aura and I both agree people need to be more aware of the benefits of fair trade. “People should know that buying fair trade coffee supports the farmers and their communities and ensures fair wages and living conditions,” she says. Therefore, I composed a list of just a few benefits:

• Provides economic security for producers
• Farmers that receive fair trade can afford to keep their kids in school longer without working the plantations
• Creates a bigger demand for fair trade coffee in cafes so they can continue to sell it and support the cause
• Provides safer and better working conditions for workers
• Supports small farmers and artisan workers so they can provide essentials, like health care, to their families; lots of farmers are making less than it costs to produce the coffee
• “Fairtrade rewards and encourages farming and production practices that are environmentally sustainable” (Fair Trade Labeling Organizations)

When junior graphic communications major Kate Carothers transferred to Cal Poly and heard there was a Fair Trade Club, she joined it immediately. “Fair trade is a good cause. The more people who know about fair trade, the more likely it is that the maltreated workers will get better pay and treatment for their work.”

Where to Find Fair Trade

If finding local places that carry fair trade seems like the only thing holding you back, try finding a club like Kate did on your campus or asking a coworker or friend.

“I’m new to San Luis Obispo so at first it was hard to find places that offered fair trade coffee, but the club has helped introduce me to a few places downtown,” Kate says. “If you really look into it, it’s not hard. There are places everywhere that will sell fair trade coffee.”

If you’re one of those people that need their Starbuck fix every morning, guilty as charged, they also offer fair trade coffee.

Alex Johnson, manager of Starbucks in North Tustin says, “Unfortunately the drinks on the menu don’t use fair trade, but we have a lot of roasts that do.”

“The fair trade coffee we sell is actually really popular,” Alex says. “The roast is popular in itself and it happens to be in fair trade so it gets even more people to buy it.”

If you don’t like Starbucks or don’t have friends that know where to go for fair trade, here is a website that lists some chain coffee stores that may be near you and websites that you can order it off of!

Prices

Kate says 3/4ths of the coffee she drinks, which is a cup a day, is fair trade and she hasn’t noticed a big difference in price. “I think some places fair trade is a little more, but I couldn’t even tell you by how much so it’s not a big deal to me.”

Alex says there’s no difference in price at Starbucks. “All the roasts typically costs the same. Fair trade shouldn’t cost more than the regular.”

The Future of Fair Trade

While Kate says the Cal Poly Fair Trade Club is focusing on getting coffee shops on university campuses to offer fair trade, Aura is reaching out to her peers to make a difference.

“I hope I’ve gotten some people to start drinking fair trade coffee,” Aura says. “If anything I’ve gotten people to be more aware of whether their coffee is fair trade or not because most people don’t even notice.”

The chart below shows that the consumption of fair trade products, not just coffee, has also grown exponentially in the US.

Photo illustrated by MIT student Koji Omiya in 2009.

With the history of fair trade, the benefits it has for small foreign farmers, and the cost not shown to create a problem, it’s time for you all to go out and drink some fair trade coffee!

More Information

If you want to know more about fair trade (certification process, countries involved, etc.) I created a list of websites with credible information.

Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade International

Global Exchange

Fair Trade Federation

Spend Dough & Learn to Know About the GoPro

Story Highlights

  • GoPro has proved why they are special from all other cameras
  • GoPro can be used for all sports (videos to watch)
  • Prices and Accessories for the GoPro
  • GoPro can be used for many other things than sports
  • What’s next for GoPro?
  • GoPro makes it fun with fun videos, daily giveaways and apps!

What’s a GoPro?

Cameras have just about everything nowadays: panorama lenses, self-timers, instant focusing, and night-vision mode. There’s even a camera that takes 3 trillion frames per second!

The only thing missing was a hands-free camera that could come along for a ride and capture people’s everyday or once in a lifetime adventures. Thanks to 37 year-old Nick Woodman, we now call that the GoPro.

Each small portable GoPro is only 2-3/8″ w x 1-5/8″ h x 1-3/16″ h

After a surf trip in Australia, Woodman was inspired to make GoPro’s first camera in 2004: a wristwatch that could capture 10 seconds of footage at a time. Seven years and five editions later, the GoPro HD Hero 3 now shoots 60 frames per second at 1080pixels, has built-in Wifi, and can capture video in 3D.

Sales representative for GoPro, Justin Delgado, says GoPro is unique because of it’s versatility.

“GoPro is the most versatile camera out there for mounting. Most other cameras can only mount one way, but the GoPro can mount in almost any way,” Justin says. “You can put it on your helmet, strap it to your chest, mount it on a ski pole if your skiing, really everything.”

The camera can also create a time lapse by setting the camera to go off at intervals of your choice: every half second, every second, every three seconds, whatever! Here is a cool time lapse of someone driving home in Florida with the GoPro strapped to their car. “360 Degree GoPro Panning Time Lapse Driving Home”

The GoPro is known worldwide and is used in movies, TV shows like Mythbusters, and music videos like Justin Bieber’s.

GoPro Sports

People are using the GoPro to capture video of snowboarding, mountain biking, jetskiing, skydiving, and more.

Junior biological sciences major Parker Kalan decided to get the GoPro because he thought it would work perfectly for the sports he plays. “Their ads appealed highly to my genre of athletics,” he says. “I love to shred, snowboarding mainly, but also surfing and skating.”

Leo Holler, VP of Sales of Brother International, says he initially got the GoPro to videotape his mountain biking trips. “I like the compact size and high quality video. I used to have a small Sony helmet cam, but it required wires connected to a video camera that you carried in a backpack,” he says. “I love being able to use it for motorcycle riding and mountain biking but I really want to try it scuba diving sometime.”

Price & Accessories

The GoPro ranges from $150-400 depending on the model and comes in white, black and silver, each color containing different features. You can purchase lots of different accessories to use with the GoPro: tripods, wrist straps, helmet straps, different mounts (EX: surfboard mounts,) TV plug-ins, 3D video system and more! The newest GoPro (HD Hero 3) just hit stores recently. You can watch a video/trailer for it here!

The GoPro is sold at Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and other local hobby stores, ski shops or camera stores.

GoPro is Growing in Sales & Uses

CEO Nick Woodman said in the GoPro: HD Hero 3 Launch Presentation on 6 November 2012 that GoPro has quickly become one of the fastest growing camera companies in the world. “This company recognized the larger opportunity was building passion cameras for the world full of passionate people that wanted to document and share their life experiences, but weren’t able to,” he said.

Below is a screenshot I took of a video Woodman showed at the presentation of him and his son, Huego. “This is the first time Huego was ever on a bicycle and I captured it and I can relive this for the rest of my life thanks to the product this company made,” he said.

People are finding lots of different ways to use the GoPro besides sports. Doctors are filming surgeries to teach others with, a mother wore one while giving birth, and even firefighters use it in action (see for yourself here!)

Although Parker bought the camera for snowboarding, he has found other uses out of it. “Sometimes I film my friends partying and doing dumb things at our houses,” he says. “Then I can upload them to YouTube or save the files for us to laugh at time to time.”

Leo says the GoPro is important to him not just for showing friends and family the cool footage he captured, but for himself to look back on.

“I save the videos for the future when I’m too

old and need to watch the glory days,” he says.

What’s Next?

Justin (GoPro sales rep.) says although the HD Hero 3 has just been released, GoPro is still looking to move forward. “The next thing for GoPro is probably just going to be a new camera with new features and better features. We’re always looking to improve on what we have,” he says.

Extra Fun

You can go to GoPro’s Youtube Channel to look at all the videos they post each week of activities using the camera from playing with cats to swimming with sharks!

The GoPro website has lots of cool things to check out from ‘photo of the day‘ to ‘giveaways‘ where you can enter to win a GoPro or GoPro accessories EVERY SINGLE DAY!

You can also check out the photo of the day on the GoPro App along with videos of the day. It even allows you to control your camera through the app! There’s a second GoPro app called the GoPro Guide that helps you figure out how to use your camera including assembly, troubleshooting, camera modes, settings, battery, connectivity and more!

iPhones of the USA Unite!

Go check out pictures people took all over the United States from Hawaii to New York with their iPhones. Instead of cameras, people are beginning to take pictures with their iPhones, whether to put in a photo album or to post on Instagram. The HD iPhone camera quality has improved with time and might soon even replace your camera. Go explore the stunning pictures and beautiful locations on the map!

Time to Switch to the iPhone!

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Why I decided it was time to invest in the iPhone
  • The prices of different iPhones
  • Comparisons between different iPhones and different phone companies
  • What an iPhone includes with the initial purchase
  • Different apps and programs to get once you have the iPhone
  • Apps: The greatest, the newest, and the most popular apps out there

Up until the iPhone 5 I had a Blackberry. I felt like each time I pulled it out to make a phone call or reply to a text a new person would say, “you still have a Blackberry?”

I sat back and watched while the iPhone slowly took over my friends, classmates, my entire school and finally the world. There were three determining factors that made me decide to spend the money on the iPhone.

1. Music. I hated going on runs and having to carry my phone and iPod separately. One extra thing does become a lot when it comes to running.

2. The apps. My friends were constantly on their iPhones playing with apps or talking about apps. Regardless of their popularity, a lot of apps are actually helpful too.

3. Internet Speed. I don’t know if it is just Verizon or most phones, but with the Blackberry I would have to wait minutes for websites to load. With the iPhone, those minutes have turned into milliseconds.

Although a lot of people have the iPhone already, there are some people that need some convincing that this device is essential for all. For those that do have it, you can keep reading to learn things you never knew about the phone!

PRICE:

Usually the first question that comes to mind when thinking about a new phone is “how much is it going to cost me?” The iPhone 5 starts at $199 for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon and goes up $100 as the gigabytes double. I personally think the lowest amount, 16 GB, is plenty. More GB might be necessary if you are planning on putting thousands of songs on your phone and taking lots of videos and pictures.

How does this price compare relative to other phones? Basically the same as any other smartphone. The Droid RAZR, another popular phone, starts at the same price and goes up.

Basic phones are normally at the highest $99 and go down from there, but so do older versions of the iPhone. The iPhone 4s starts $99 for all three cellular companies and the iPhone 4 starts at just $1 for AT&T and FREE for Verizon and Sprint. That’s right, I said FREE. I took a snapshot of the website just for proof!

From the AT&T website

These prices all include a 2-year contract though. So if your contract were not up, you would unfortunately have to pay more.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PHONES

iPhones:

How do you tell which iPhone to get between the 4, 4s and now 5?

I would explain it, but there is a direct link to the exact differences between all the phones down to the detail! This will explain it better than I can. iPhone Comparisons!

As a quick overview, as the newer iPhones come out, the processor gets faster, the camera gets better quality, the battery life gets longer and more apps become available.

iPhone v Other Phones:

Junior business major at California Polytechnic State University, Ryan Hakes, says the iPhone was an easy choice over other phones.

“The iPhone has better accessibility to maps, games, and applications for everyday use,” he says. “I can’t think of anything I would change about it.”

Arguably the best two phones on the market are Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. If you are accustomed to having a Mac, iPad, iPod or other Apple products, the iPhone may be an easy choice. If you are used to Google docs, Gmail, Google Plus and more, than the Android may be a better choice. If none of that matters, then I made a small chart of differences in the phones that may make your decision more clear.

iPhone Android
Advantages *Has iOS which means it doesn’t allow third parties to run on the phone which means it can’t get viruses *Includes Google maps and Google navigation
*Has Facetime which allows you to connect to others with Apple products *Is available for all 4 mobile cellular services
*Has Siri which can navigate and operate the phone with the touch of a button *Has more availability in programming and third party apps
Disadvantages *Is not available to T-Mobile *Does not have all the same apps available that the iPhone does

For some, including myself, the advantages and disadvantages sort of blur together. Maybe you want Facetime to connect with friends, but you also want more third party apps. One solution is to just play with both phones until you get a feel for what you like. After messing around with my brother’s Android and my best friend’s iPhone, I found the iPhone was much simpler and easier to navigate.

Cal Poly senior history major, Derek Koehler, was indecisive between the iPhone and the Android for a while.

“I would’ve traded my iPhone 4 in for an Android any day. In fact I did for a few months. I liked the bigger screen and the accessibility for homebrew applications,” he said. “But now that I have the iPhone 5 with the bigger screen, I think I’m set.”

Orange Coast College sophomore Chase Lawrence says he has never expressed an interest in the Android.

“The Androids are so slow going from app to app and the layout is just not a good setup,” he says. “The iPhone is way better and the reliability I have with Apple is much better than the Droid.”

What You Get When You Buy an iPhone

Below is a picture of the apps that come with the phone when you purchase it.

Home screen

Derek didn’t need to find and download his favorite app; it came pre-programmed in the phone as you can see above.

“My favorite app is “Reminders” because I can write something down, like a song to download or a friend to call that I know I’ll forget later, and it will send me notifications of the reminder,” he says.

Besides the apps that come with the phone, here are some of the apps I use on a daily basis.

My personal arrangement of apps. All phones vary!

In the top left corner is the utilities box, which also came with the phone and consists of Contacts, Calculator, Compass and Voice Memos. The rest are just fun apps I enjoy using.

  • Instagram edits photos with over 30 cool effects. Chase says Instagram is his favorite app on the iPhone.

“I like seeing people through the life of pictures, not through posts on Facebook,” he says.”I think Instagram is a very inventive app and it revolutionized how people share pictures.”

  • Pic Stitch takes multiple photos and makes a collage in the arrangement of your choice.
  • Flashlight takes the phone’s flash and brightens it, turning it into a flashlight. I use this walking around at night a lot.
  • Pandora plays music from stations you can personalize through a genre, artist or song. Ryan says he couldn’t live without the Pandora app.

“It’s my favorite app,” he says. “I need to be able to stream music and I can use it for any mood I’m in.”

  • PS (Photoshop) Express crops, rotates, brightens, sharpens, and does many more things to pictures you want to edit. It also has 10 different programmed effects that are different than Instagram for more variety. It can upload anything you edit instantly to email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and more.
  • Converter is not an app I expect everyone to have, but I do a lot of cooking so it helps me convert cups to tablespoons to ounces and so on. It can convert basically any measurement and can help if you are in any major or career with math and sciences.
  • AroundMe is one of my personal favorites. All you do is click on one of the categories in the pictures below and it gives you a list of related places, starting with the closest to the location of your choice. Whichever restaurant, chiropractor or gas station you click on, it takes you to a map with directions to that place.

Not only are all the apps you just saw cool, fun and useful, but they’re all FREE!

While I find most apps I want are free, I also don’t have a lot of apps that are for playing games. Derek, however, finds games that pass time are worth buying.

“I only buy apps that are quick to use,” he says. “The last app I bought was a blackjack app that I can open, play a few hands while waiting for a bus, then close whenever I want and the app remembers where I left off immediately.”

Opposite of Derek is Chase, who feels apps aren’t worth the money.

“Most apps I’ve bought are games, but no game is really worth buying,” he says.

App-licious

Chase, Derek and Ryan all came up with different apps they would recommend to others.

Chase recommends “ESPN Sports Center” for all sports fans.

“I like being able to see not only my favorite teams’ scores, but all the scores from different leagues,” he says. “I also like how when one of my favorite teams is playing, they send me updates on what’s going on with the game and stats of the players as well.”

Derek recommends “Twitterrific” to anyone who likes to write or get out their thoughts.

“I use it as a funny diary of my life so when I read it later I can remember quotes or events in my life,” he says. “Twitterrific makes it easy because I can post from anywhere, anytime.”

Ryan recommends that everyone has their bank on their phone. His personal bank is Chase so he uses the “Chase Mobile” app.

“I like having Chase Bank on my phone so I can check my balances whenever I want,” he says.

Cool Sites to Check Out

There are thousands of apps out there, so instead of scrolling through all of them or going through trial and error, here is a website of “The Best iPhone Apps.” This site is great for finding the top apps for any category from music to health & fitness to travel and more!

If you are a tech geek or just love finding new apps, Time magazine writer Chris Gayomali talks about new apps he finds each week! His range of apps varies so at least one week is bound to catch your eye! Check out his App of the Week blogs!

The final touch after this blog has successfully convinced you to get an iPhone is to customize it and spice it up! There are tons of awesome iPhone cases to buy now. For instance, my iPhone 5 case is clear and my best friend’s iPhone case is a penguin and stands up on two legs. You can find really cool iPhone cases on Amazon, original iPhone cases that hold credit cards or have holiday prints on Speck, and you can customize your own on Zazzle!

Blading it Up!

Topic 2: Rollerblading.

                          Highlights

  • Reasons to start rollerblading
  • Where to buy rollerblades/prices
  • Differences in different types of rollerblades
  • Protection from injury
  • Links and rollerblading blogs to check out!

Inline skates – no brakes – used for tricks & speed

Why rollerblading? Why not!

1. Rollerblading is fun. Period.

2. Rollerblading burns calories! Livestrong.com says, “a 160-lb. person burns 913 calories rollerblading at an average pace for one hour.”

Healthdiscovery.net says a 160-lb person only burns 346 calories walking for an hour and 614 calories an hour bicycling. AKA, rollerblading is a better workout.

3. This article on Livestrong.com explains in further detail how rollerblading has coordination, aeorbic, endurance, weight loss and even more benefits!

4. Rollerblading can be a way to hang out with friends and family. Take a trip to the nearest park, beach, or even neighborhood and have a good time skating with others.

5. On the reverse of number 4, if you prefer to be alone and have time to think and clear your head, pop your iPod in and skate in solitude.

California State University, Long Beach sophomore Amanda Simek prefers skating alone than with friends. “I do like riding with friends occasionally, but I like riding alone more because I can just take my dog down the neighborhood or to the park and it’s really relaxing.”

6. Why spend an extra 10+ minutes walking to school or work when you can skate!

7. Want to give your dog a workout but don’t feel like running? Take your dog on a walk skating and make them keep up!

The list of reasons can go on and on, but now it’s time to get into detail about rollerblading.

Where now people might go to a club and listen to dub-step or rap, in the 70s people would go to roller discos and listen to disco music. Roller skating hit its peaks in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Why the decline? Out of style? People want to get places faster? It’s hard to say.

Dick’s Sporting Goods sales associate and bike technician Eben Rubuttom says rollerblade sales have declined though.

“We don’t sell a lot of rollerblades, but it fluctuates depending on the season and region. Generally places closer to the ocean sell more,” he says.

University of California San Diego sophomore student Sean Roberts says he wouldn’t rollerblade as much if it wasn’t for the living by the coast. “My favorite place to rollerblade is down by the beach. I love being by the smell of the ocean and watching the sunset. It’s really peaceful.”

Although Sean doesn’t know many people that rollerblade, it doesn’t stop him.

“There’s only a few people I know who skate with me, but that’s all it takes for us to share a fun adventure together,” he says. “Plus, I think more people have rollerblades. They just won’t admit it.”

Amanda says she’s trying to get rollerblading back in style. “I always try to convince people and tell them how fun it is. It’s way more fun than running and you feel like you’re flying.”

Before this convinces you to start rollerblading, you’re going to have to buy skates if you don’t already have a pair!

Like always, there’s Craigslsit, Amazon and Ebay, but there’s multiple other options.

Target has skates ranging from $20-$120. It depends on how much you really want to rollerblade and how often you will get around to it, but the better quality the higher the price.

Walmart- $28-$150, Sports Authority-$50-$235, Dick’s Sporting Goods- $40-$320, or just about any sporting store has them as well.

Rubuttom gives insight on the prices of different blades.

“The price depends on a lot of things: manufacturing, stitching, plastic or leather, and the bearings or Abec. The Abec on a skate has to deal with the bearings. The higher the Abec, the better the blade, but the faster it wears out.”

There is a slight difference on blades depending on what you plan on using them for, but not much.

“As far as indoor and outdoor skating goes, there’s not much of a difference. But usually roller hockey skates are lighter and stronger,” Rubottom says. “Some people practice cross-country skiing with rollerblades and those have a longer boot and bearings. That’s why Bladerunner is the most popular brand, cause it’s more of a neutral ground for all types of skating.”

The next step after getting skates would be learning how to use them. However, rollerblading is not like riding a bike, it is pretty basic. Don’t get me wrong, it can be hard, especially if you are not a very coordinated person, but with a little practice, anyone can be descent at it. If you are still worried about not knowing how, Livestrong Youtube channel has a series of videos teaching beginners what to do. Here is the first of many!
Should you by knee pads, elbow pads and the whole deal? It’s really up to you and how hardcore you are planning to rollerblade. Sean has been skating since he was 5 and Amanda since she was 14 and the worst injuries from both have been a few scratches.
“I think everyone should wear a helmet and maybe wrist guards, but as far as knee and elbow pads, I don’t think it is necessary,” Rubottom says. “I definitely think young kids should wear them because they fall over more. Parents usually come in and buy the kits with the blades and the pads.”

Amanda, left, with kindergarten neighbor Darcey, geared up and ready to blade!

If you are planning on skating hardcore – tricks, jumps, etc. – this video may be an inspiration. The link is a video off YouTube, made by Michel de Souza, that I thought was beautiful. It has slow motion in all the right parts, music that blends well with the video and it just might make you look at rollerblading a little differently.
Summation
Next time you need to go to the post office or just need to workout, Amanda says you should think about rollerblading as your mode of transportation.
                   
                  “I almost always chose rollerblading over any other 
                         of transportation. It’s more fun than running or riding a
             bike and it’s still great exercise,” she says.

Steve Slater captures kid flying off a ramp at a local skate park.

If this post has made you interested in rollerblading, which hopefully it has, there are some other cool blogs and websites out there to look at. This first one is called The Rollerblading Project. There is no author to the blog but his project is to post pictures of rollerblading with certain restrictions he gives himself like no flash, no fisheye lenses, etc. So, if you are interested in seeing cool pictures, go check out that site!

This next blog, Rollerblading PR is more about videos. A guy named Nelson puts up videos of people rollerblading in half-pipes and doing tricks so they’re entertaining. The blog is in Spanish but you don’t need to know the language to watch the videos.

Photoshop Till You Drop

Highlights

  • A lot of people are afraid to buy Photoshop because of the price, but there are several options!
  • Everyone can use Photoshop no matter what age, major, job or skill level.
  • Photoshop is quick and easy to learn accompanied with online tutorials to help you every step of the way.
  • How long does is take to edit a photo?
  • Photoshop has gotten a bad rap in the past for manipulating bodies, but there are ways to avoid it and still make your picture look great!

What You Need That You Didn’t Know You Needed: Photoshop

Photoshop. You’ve heard it, seen it, known people that had it, but now it’s time for you to get it.

What is it exactly? It’s a program that allows you to upload your photo and edit it in basically any way you want. You can crop yourself into other parts of the world, give yourself purple hair, make yourself look 80 years older, you name it.

Why doesn’t everyone have it then? Well for starters, some people don’t want to pay for it. If it was free, of course they would, but if you’re not sure you’re going to use it, then it can be a lot of money to spend. On the Photoshop website, it costs $149.99, or you can buy the month by month plan which is $50.00 a month. If you go onto other sites like Amazon however, you can find the whole program for as low as $50, or even cheaper on Ebay or Craigslist.

Below here is a picture a friend took of me during sunset at the beach. The sunset was quite incredible, but with flash it was hard to capture it. Both the pictures below the original, I edited using Photoshop. The one below the original and to the left I darkened everything but the sunset, which I saturated, making it look brighter. In the picture to the right of that, I lightened the whole photo, added a blue/purple essence, and then took away the wet spot on the ground from the original.

Both of the pictures I edited took less than a minute, but make it look a lot better in my opinion.

Sunset in Huntington Beach, Southern California
(Original photo)

Photoshop is not only for Photography majors and experts. Heather O’Connor, California Polytechnic State University sophomore, purchased Photoshop this summer “just for fun.”

“I didn’t know anything about it when I got it but I loved taking photos and wanted to start editing them,” she says.

Heather was expecting to be looking up tutorials and Googling questions for help but found herself catching on rather quickly.

“It only took me about a month on my own to learn all of the basic tools. Now I just love messing around on it to see the different ways I can edit my pictures,” she said.

If you’re still worried about not knowing how to work Photoshop, there are countless tutorial videos on Youtube as well as blogs and websites such as Worth1000. This site not only has great tutorials but has photo contests every day that show different ways you can edit photos through Photoshop. FreakingNews is another website that uploads Photoshopped pictures every day representing current news and makes fun of it.

I understand Photoshop has gotten a bad rep in the past for manipulating the bodies of models, like in this video; however, that’s not what Photoshop has to be used for, nor what I’m asking you to use it for.

Shane Thomas, 19-year-old Photography major from Newport Beach, gives some insight on different ways Photoshop can be used.

“I use Photoshop for a lot of things. I usually edit nature and surfing photos, but sometimes I’ll just take little pieces from each of my photos and splice them together to make one great and unbelievable shot,” he said.

Shane playing basketball. (Color and blur editing)

One question on your mind might be “how long would it take me to edit a photo?” Well, that’s a tricky question to answer because it depends on a few things. The first thing is experience. In the photo below, Shane exaggerated the color and shadowing and added stars into the sky, taking him only but 5-10 minutes. The same photo however could take someone with little experience using Photoshop a lot longer.

The second factor adding to time is what you want done to the photo. Shane has been using Photoshop for over a year, but pictures he wants to edit with extreme care and detail can still take him a long time.

“It depends on what I’m editing, but some [photos] can take from an hour up to six hours over the span of two days to edit,” he says.

Editing People

What if, unlike Shane, you do want to use Photoshop to edit pictures of yourself and friends? Well you’re on the same boat as Cal Poly sophomore student Julia Lee.

Julia was introduced to Photoshop her senior year of high school in a Computer Graphics class. As her interest in photography began to grow, she realized purchasing Photoshop was a necessity to make her photos look good.

“I do a lot of photo shoots with my friends and they started off looking cheesy, but as soon as I started editing them with Photoshop, people began telling me they looked like they could be in a magazine,” she said. “It makes me feel good about my photos.”

Editing people without accused of being “unethical” can be a sticky street though.

“I don’t do much to change the way they look,” Julia says. “I’ll usually make their eyes sparkly or teeth whiter or maybe fix a blemish if it’s noticeable, but they don’t mind. They’d probably kill me if I posted a bad picture of them anyways.”

Above (left) is a picture I took and edited in which I only used contrasting, coloring and cropping to help make the photo look more professional (right) without manipulating the face or body in any way.

With that said, I still believe there are scenarios in which it is acceptable to edit people’s appearances to an extent. Imagine all year your face has been perfectly clear and right when Christmas card time rolls around you have a breakout. This card is going to be seen by all family, friends, teachers and neighbors. The picture is not portraying what you look like normally and you refuse to let your family send out the photo. With one simple tool in Photoshop, your problem can be fixed.

Original photo

Photo edited using the airbrush tool

Adobe Photoshop is a product that can be used by everyone at all different skill levels for all different purposes. I think it is an investment that will go a long way, and it is a product Essential For All!