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Photo Editing WITHOUT Photoshop [Tutorial]



i do not like photoshop, don't act so surprised...

sh sh photo courtesy of elana farley

It’s Not A Secret

I hate Photoshop, it’s no secret. It’s way too complicated for most beginners, so Flickr‘s editor, Picnik is the best alternative that offers users the basic editing tools without all the fancy gizmos. Take a few minutes to watch today’s tutorial that will introduce you to the fabulous world of photo editing without stealing images. I have hope that this tutorial will make the blogging world a prettier place, so push play already!

(to view a larger version of this video, click here)

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Maureen Francis

    May 31, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    I need this. No sound on this laptop so I will be viewing at a later date. Thanks Mrs. AR.

  2. Jay Thompson

    May 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    “This is the best $25 I’ve spent all year.”

    I agree, a Flickr Pro account is one of the best deals out there.

    Nice job on the screencast/tutorial!!

  3. Roberta Murphy

    May 31, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Miz Lani: Thanks for a terrific tutorial! I am all over this one–and almost agree with you about Austin:-)

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    May 31, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    @maureenfrancis can’t wait until you hear my voice, I didn’t use an alteration box or anything, it’s the real deal 😉

    @PhoenixREGuy (jay)- the Flickr Pro account is the most used tool in my toolbelt, I literally use it every day.

    Roberta- I’m glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to picnik-ified images on your already gorgeous blog!!! 🙂 and I’m glad you almost agree with me about Austin!

  5. Bill Lublin

    June 1, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Lani; Before I buy into this being the best $25 you’ve spent this year., I will need a list of everything else you’ve bought since 1/1/2008 😉
    Seriously – once again you make things so simple – and I get to hear the voice that motiviates Benn every day – What a bonus
    As far as Austin is better then my city – without cheeseteaks and soft pretzels, how could that be?

  6. monika

    June 1, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Thanks Lani. I use both Flicker Pro and picnik (free version) but now I’m going to upgrade to the paid version of picnik. Thanks for the demo!

  7. Eric Blackwell

    June 1, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Very cool. Lani. Thanks for the heads up on this. i will be pointing some of my 120 in this direction. There are a ton of choices for quick/easy photo editing…most of them not so good.



  8. Teresa Boardman

    June 1, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I use picnik often and recommend it to others. I found it while trying to help my daughter who is in Europe and having a hard time getting software. I bought her an account so she can edit the photos she is takining and uploading to flickr for family and friends. Picnik is awesome and you are right, muhc easier to use than the photoshop software.

  9. Mariana

    June 1, 2008 at 8:07 am

    That was – by far – the best tutorial I have ever seen. I do not understand Photoshop either and just use the basic editor on my computer. Picnic looks like it offers WAY more than that – and it is easy! Sweet!

  10. Matt Thomson

    June 1, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Teresa showed me Flickr and Picnik, I’ve passed it on to our office, and even the “computer-ly challenged” have a lot of fun with it.
    Have you tried supplementing it with the Jing Project? GREAT stuff!

  11. Thomas Johnson

    June 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks Lani! BTW, ERAHouston is the best and I can prove it!

    Nice job on getting #6, though.

  12. Athol Kay

    June 1, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Great video Lani. I think Picnik gives you a bunch of user friendly tools to work with to do basic photo editing and “arts and crafts” with. If you haven’t tried editing your photos yet, it’s worth a shot.

    Once you find yourself running into Picniks limitations, Paint Shop Pro X1 (last years version) is on Amazon for $25, though personally I think it’s it’s worth spending the $75 for X2.

    Though I warn you. I’ve discovered there is no ceiling to photography purchases. There is always a bigger better something.

  13. Barry Cunningham

    June 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Never thought about flickr..might have to check it out

  14. Cyndee Haydon

    June 2, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Lani – thanks for this great tutorial – I need to upgrade to Flickr Pro myself – interesting timing since I just maxed out my 10mb last night and it’s oh June 1st – lol. Video Tutorials – keep em coming!

  15. Matthew Rathbun

    June 2, 2008 at 9:26 am

    I got so caught up in playing with this, I forgot to say thank you for sharing!

    I love photoshop, but honestly this is so much easier and faster that It’ll be awhile before I go back! I agree the money on Flickr and Picnik are the best bucks I’ve spent in awhile.

    Very cool!


  16. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    @billlublin- if i shared my list with you, i’d have to teach you to swim with the fishes 😉 and you know what? soft pretzels are great but the foods you’ve named lead to pear butt. just saying.

    @monika- let us know how your new toy goes 🙂 examples are great!

    Eric- yeah, I’ve waded through a LOT of imaging options but this still is the fastest, most intuitive tool with basic editing. I get distracted by Photoshop and spend WAY too much time on it because I am a tinkerer.

    @tboard- we’re considering allowing a flickr pro for our 10.99 year old who is very interested (and good at) photography! 🙂

    @mizzle- are benn’s superawesome tutorials chopped liver?? 😉 lol. thank you for the compliments, i accept them in denominations of 10s, 20s, etc.

    Matt- I’ve never heard of Jing, I’ll certainly check it out!!! Thank you! 🙂

    Thomas- don’t get me started, I have a series of about 100 links on our corporate blog about why Austin is the awesomest. Houston does have sports though, so it’s got that on us. 🙂

    Athol- there is so much truth to that; there is always something bigger, better, faster, more shiny, etc. My father is a graphic designer and makes fun of my lack of Photoshop expertise since he taught me how to use it when I was like 10 but hey, I like using crayolas over fine point art pens too!

    Barry- please do and please come back with examples once you’ve used and abused it!

    Cyndee- this was my first screencast and was actually a lot of fun, so expect more in the future! We always take requests like those awful lunch time DJs (call now, operator is standing by!).

    @matthewrathbun- glad you enjoyed it! I told ya my secret wasn’t photoshop 😉

  17. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 2, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    dear readers, as seen in the comment above, i apparently have an addiction to smiley faces. i sincerely apologize. and i can quit whenever i want. 🙂

  18. Sue

    June 17, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks Lani, these tutorials are great. I’ve managed with photoshop, but Flickr and P look much more friendly. 🙂

  19. Robin

    June 23, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    You can right click on a shape and move it behind your text on Picnik. Love the tutorial.

  20. Ginger Wilcox

    July 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    This tutorial is excellent! I wish I had seen it a year ago, what a time saver. I have photoshop but find it very cumbersome.

  21. Eli Juicy Jones

    August 1, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Great tutorial! flickr pro is indeed the best buy on the web, in my opinion also. I’m always down with easier ways for people to get into photography and sprucing up their photos, and no regular people really want or need to learn Photoshop. And your screencast was great! But no hating on Photoshop! If it weren’t for the Knoll brothers we’d all be using Corel Draw 15 or MS Paint 23. I think we’re just lucky that the last few years have given us alternatives at all.

  22. Adam

    August 19, 2008 at 4:02 am

    i love photo and couldn’t live without it, but most people don’t do the type of photo editing i do… flicker pro is and great alternative, if your doing basic editing… great tutorial!

  23. Missy Caulk

    October 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks what a great tutorial. YEA !!

  24. Mary Ann

    May 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Lani…Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial…I love editing some pictures using Paint.Net…but this looks more easy and friendly.

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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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