Design

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Last week, my favourite web-based photo editor, PicMonkey, started charging users. As it turns out, PicMonkey has also been a favourite with a good number of my Lifehacker coworkers. It's easy, lightweight and makes small edits like resizing photos or creating collages (stuff we do here pretty regularly) super simple. I've been using it almost every day, multiple times a day, for years.

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Over the course of a year, I take thousands of pictures that I either share on Facebook or Instagram or leave to die on my smartphone's camera roll. While the idea is that I'll go back and look at them at some point, truth be told that rarely happens. The closest I get is when something comes up in conversation, I remember I took a picture years ago, and I search through Google Photos or my Facebook photo gallery to see if I can find it, which I do roughly 50 per cent of the time. Now, Kodak has a new app and Facebook bot designed specifically to help you unearth those awesome memories that you captured by then forgot about.

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It's easy to find stock photos of slim white people doing stereotypical activities -- women laughing alone with salad and that sort of thing. If that isn't what you're looking for, may we suggest some of these sites that break the mould?

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For decades, photo and video equipment was designed and tested with only white subjects in mind. Lighting darker skin tones takes a different approach than lighting pale ones. Ava Berkofsky, director of photography on HBO's Insecure, tells Mic how her team beautifully lights the show's black actors, and Mic reporter Xavier Harding demonstrates some of the techniques below.

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If you're the type of person who shies away from sketching anything more involved than googly eyeballs or a stick figure on the back of a napkin, it might be more due to a lack of confidence in your artistic ability than some fundamental lack of talent. But nailing the basics can change your outlook on the seemingly Sisyphean task of learning the art of art (it just takes a bit of patience).

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There's nothing wrong with being a little nervous if you're out practising your street photography. Taking pictures of unaware people in candid situations, or approaching someone for a more deliberate photo isn't easy, but if you're trying to improve, acting the part of wallflower will only hinder your progress. It's a skill you'll need to develop, but you can improve your street photography effectiveness by following a few simple rules (and cracking open a cold one).

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If you're desperate for distraction or want to get your friend's kid something that they will love but their parents might hate, an on-trend fidget toy is the way to go. While it's disputed whether or not they actually help to reduce anxiety or increase focus, fidgeting is a common human activity, and with some pocket-friendly fidget toys, you'll find yourself a distraction whether you've got your phone or not.

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The classic combo of mouse and keyboard has flexibility on its side, but any gamer can tell you that for some types of games, nothing beats the speed of a console controller. Funnily enough, the logic remains sound when you move to the realm of productivity -- in this case, editing images. As NZ photographer Ben Stewart shows, a PlayStation joypad can have its place beside your Wacom tablet in certain scenarios.

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If you're still using the office's water cooler to judge your office's morale, you might need an upgrade. Sometimes keeping track of how you feel can be as simple as pressing a button. That's what SEO specialist and programmer Katja Budnikov accomplished after constructing an office happiness tracker during her company's hackathon.

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In nature, blue is much rarer than you might think. Sure, the sky is blue when the weather's nice, and so is the ocean. But the vast majority of plants and animals are incapable of making blue pigment. Brilliantly-coloured peacocks appear blue not because their feathers are coloured that way, but because of how they reflect light. Less than 10 per cent of the world's 280,000 flowering plants produce blue flowers, which may be why they're often a symbol of the unattainable in folklore and literature.