The Floating Islands of Uros

Machu Picchu had been on my bucket list for a very long time, as was viewing the macaw clay licks in the Peruvian Amazon basin, but I knew little about the floating islands of Uros.  Luckily, Lisa, my travel consultant at Holbrook Travel, suggested a few days in the Lake Titicaca area and the floating islands of Uros as an extension to our trip. I’m so glad she did; it’s an experience not to be missed!

We stayed at the Hotel Libertador, situated on a private island on Lake Titicaca a few miles from the town of Puno. Every room has a wonderful view of the lake and with my binoculars I could see the islands in the distance. 


After breakfast, we walked down the steep steps from the hotel parking lot to the boat launch for our tour to the islands. Descending the stairs my lungs acknowledged that we were at a higher altitude than even Cusco or Machu Picchu.  At over 12,500 feet, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest lake in South America. 

Recent studies associated with the National Geographic’s Genographic Project indicate that the ancestors of today’s Uros people settled in  this area of Peru about 3,700 years ago. Repeated invasions by various groups, including the Incas and Spanish conquistadors, drove the Uros to establish an existence on the lake, building large floating islands. The totora reed, which grows abundantly along the lake, became the cornerstone of their lives. These floating reeds form the basis of their islands, and the reeds are also used to build their boats, houses, furniture and handicrafts. Approximately 2000 people inhabit over 100 floating islands, maintaining the same way of life as their ancestors did, centuries ago. Today, tourism also funds their lifestyle, and we were one boatload of such tourists, headed off to learn more about this unique way of life.


The lake was calm and the bright blue sky was dotted with clouds as we sped through the waterways between the reeds.  The multiple boats transporting tourists alternate to the various islands so that each family has an opportunity to earn some money. 


We were greeted by the women of the village.

My first impression of “our” island was the riot of bright colors – from the bright yellow arches of reeds and reed boats to the hot pink and neon green skirts of the women as they lined up along the shore to greet us.  Before we had even docked, the youngest village member hopped on our boat and smiled through the window, then helped tie up our boat.


It was the first time I disembarked from a boat that the land felt less stable than when we had been at sea. Our shoes sunk 2-4 inches in the reeds at each step.  I felt as if I was walking on a  huge, squishy sponge as we made our wobbly way to  a semicircular “bench” of woven reeds.


The head of the family here gave a demonstration on the construction of these floating islands. The dense roots of the totora reeds interweave to form a natural base that serve as the main flotation and stability devices of the island.  The Uros hand-saw large blocks of these roots that are then tied together and anchored. Multiple layers of cut reeds are then placed on top. The resulting structure is about 6 – 8 feet thick.


Constant maintenance is required, as the reeds start to rot away and disintegrate, and new layers must be added. Islands that receive a lot of tourists must replace the reeds every few weeks or months, depending on the weather, but if well maintained, an island can last up to 30 years.


The Lake Titicaca ecosystem has provided the Uros with everything they need. In addition to building with the reeds, the totora roots are also used for nutrition and medicinal purposes. Fish in the lake provide the main source of proteins and eggs from the local ibis and cormorants are also collected.

Traditional fishing boats of reeds are similar to dug-out canoes. Brightly painted boats with large animal-head prows are used mainly for tourism now, and we are given a choice of which we would like to try.


We visit a second island to learn more about family life on the islands. One family lives here – the mother and father with their children, spouses of the married children and a few grandchildren.  They live a traditional life here with the aid of a few modern conveniences. Solar panels provide electricity and their boats are powered by motors when not transporting tourists.  A nearby island houses the elementary school for the area; secondary students travel to the mainland for school. One of the young adult women is attending university in Puno, majoring in hospitality and tourism.



We visit individual houses and learn more about their daily life. The woman of the house also explains some of their native dress and customs. Pom poms attached to the braids are only proper for married women to wear.  “Engaged” couples live together for a period of time, and only after it is determined that they will make a good life together are they officially married.


The women also show off their intricate woven and appliquéd fiber handicrafts, and most of us purchase at least one treasure to take home.

Before we leave our home visits, we are given traditional clothing to try on, and it is a colorful, smiling group that poses for a picture with our new friends.


The Uros people we meet seem to be maintaining a fair balance of preserving their traditional way of live and adapting to modern society.  At least some of the young folks are intent on using higher education to help their families manage the influx of tourism in a beneficial manner.  I do wonder how long it will be before the younger generations reject these traditions and prefer to enter into an urban life away from the islands. I feel lucky to have been given this chance to visit and learn about this unique culture that has existed for centuries.

Boxed in by Landslides

Here’s the landslide at our lodge!IMG_1197

Luckily no one was injured, and there were generators in the dining area so we were able to have normal meals. The lack of electricity in our rooms wasn’t too much of an issue since we were basically only there to sleep. 

Another landslide in the other direction down the road, did mean that our birding the following day was limited to Bellavista Reserve where we were staying.

fbIMG_1224That wasn’t much of a hardship, since Bellavista contains 700 hectares of primary and secondary rainforest with extensive trails. Many of the cloud forest specialties and endemics can be seen right from the main parking area and at the feeders.



The plate-billed mountain toucan is one of the “prize” birds of the regions, and we were able to observe this spectacular species multiple times while at Bellavista. Although still fairly common in the area, its populations have decreased due to habitat loss, and it’s considered “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature  (IUCN).


The toucan barbet was another Choco endemic we were privileged to see at Bellavista. Typically, they are found in pairs or small groups perched silently and difficult to find. I caught many glimpses of this one and its mate, and had almost given up capturing any photos, when it finally appeared in this opening. It’s also listed as “Near Threatened”.

Rufous-tailed hummingbird             Booted-rackettail

Purple-throated woodstar (f)             Velvet-purple coronet

The hummingbird feeders were always a-buzz with activity, with as many as a dozen different species.


Brown Inca         Empress brilliant (with pink throat)  Violet-tailed sylph

Bellavista isn’t just for the birds!  In the evenings, we were able to add some new mammals to our life lists, including the olinguito, the kinkajou and the tayra, shown below.


One of the most interesting sightings, though was of this giant earthworm!


Both landslides were cleared within the next few days, and with some extra effort by our guide extraordinaire, Andres, we were able to reschedule our visit to Paz de las Aves.

Coming next:  Andean Cock of the Rock lek at Paz de las Aves


To find more of the Choco endemics, we left our lodge very early one morning for a two-hour drive to the Mashpi-Amagusa Reserve. The specific location of this forest makes it special since this area is the last foothill-forest that directly connects to the lower subtropical western forest of Ecuador, and the change in altitude provides habitat for different species than those found in higher altitudes. 

Twenty minutes before we reached our destination, we came to an area of the dirt road that was flooded and appeared to be impassable. Just as we were about to turn around, a truck came from the other direction and navigated successfully through the muck and mire. So, happily, on we went, only to arrive here:


Luckily, we had just reached the boundary of the private reserve, and the owner and our guide for the day, Sergio, was there to meet us. We only had to walk up and around the landslide; our van and driver remained behind.


Our birding adventure began with beautiful views as we walked along the road.

And it wasn’t too long before we were rewarded with a sighting of our first target bird of the day – the Orange-breasted Fruiteater.  Our guides, Andreas and Sergio, heard it first, and then we caught click glimpses of its bright colors as it hopped behind the thick foliage. Finally, we were treated to wonderful clear views of it.  He almost appeared to be showing of its dining area of fruit.


After about a mile of walking down the road with various other bird sightings, we arrived at the banana feeders – jackpot time!  We were able to see a number of colorful tanagers at a very close range. This is probably the best place in the world to see some of the Choco endemic tanagers so easily!

My favorite was the Moss-Backed Tanager:


The Glistening Green Tanager was another, certainly living up to its name!


The Black-Chinned Mountain Tanager was also striking.

Black-chinned mountain tanager

The Rufous-throated Tanager is a little more subtle in its coloring, but another endemic we were happy to find.


The hummingbird feeders here were also extremely busy, and we saw at least 40 other species of various kinds – hummers, becards, parrots, guans, wood-creepers, flycatchers and more on our outing to Mashpi.

The landslide had been cleared by the time we were ready to leave, so our return walk was a little shorter. A group of happy campers returned to our lodge late in the afternoon. At dinner, we were reviewing all of our great finds, when the lights suddenly went out. Nonplussed, we assumed it was a power surge that would be quickly remedied.  That was not to be the case! Our waiter soon arrived with the news of a major landslide just beyond the lodge entrance that had completely covered the road and had taken out the utility pole servicing the lodge.

But more about that in Choco Endemics- Part III!

Ecuador Birding Bonus

Once I decided on a trip to the Galapagos, I knew I also wanted to add at least a few days to bird and photograph on the mainland of Ecuador. I had heard about great birding in the cloud forests not too far from Quito, and after just little bit of research, I decided that would be the perfect destination to add to the itinerary.

I chose the area around Mindo, primarily because I had heard of the nearby Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek. What I didn’t realize was that the area is considered one of the most biodiverse locations on the planet. The Choco biogeographic region extends from Panama, through Columbia, and into northwest Ecuador, from the Pacific coast to the eastern side of the Andes. Named after the Colombian state of Choco, the entire area is known for its amazingly high degree of biodiversity and the number of endemics found here. This is probably due to the separation of these tropical moist forests. Cut off from the Amazon, the mountains on the western side of the Andes have entirely different species than ones found on the eastern side.  Read More

iOS 11 Maps

The Maps app has some new features that are very useful as well as fun.  In addition to the basic directions, Maps now lets you know when you need to change lanes so you don’t miss your exit.  Also, speed limits are now shown while navigating in Maps.

The new Indoor Maps is my favorite Maps feature in iOS 11. Only a few airports and shopping malls are available so far, but many more will be added in the future.  The Miami International Airport is one that you can check out now.

In the Maps app, tap the info icon (i at the top right of the screen) to choose the default Map view, Traffic view or Satellite. If Satellite is chosen, you have the option of 2D or 3D.

The regular Map view must be selected for Indoor Maps.

If an Indoor Map has been completed for an airport, its map will include Look Inside spots. Tap on one of them to see the layout of the Gate locations and more.

If you scroll below the map you can choose to find out more details about particular venues in the airport – Shop, Food, Drinks and Restrooms. Tap on Food to see all of the restaurant and food court options in the area.

Tap on a number to show all of the individual shops located in an area. If there is more than one level in the airport, it is indicated by L1 or L2 on the indoor map.

The coolest feature in iOS 11 Maps is the way the  Flyover feature works due to the ARKit technology (the new Augmented Reality framework). It’s an extension of the 3D view of selected cities and landmarks, but now you can interact with it by moving your device. Let’s go to Paris to check it out!

First type in Paris as your destination, then tap on the Info icon. Select Satellite view, close out the info screen and select 3D. Tap on Flyover to begin your journey.


Point your device to the bottom to see street level rather than the tops of buildings. Pinch and zoom to navigate, but turn in different directions to actually change your location.

For more Flyover fun, go to Yosemite National Park or take a tour of Sydney. Australia.

iOS 11 – Control Center

I am long overdue to post anything here, and I’ll try to make up for some lost time by giving some quick tips for those of you using Apple products with iOS 11. In case you haven’t found all the new features on your own, I plan to focus on one item a day, starting with the new Control Center.

It’s one of my favorite things in iOS 11 because it gives you many more options, and it’s easy to use. Your Control Center is still accessed by pulling up from the bottom of your screen. (Unless you have the new iPhone X, but more about that next week.)

Within Control Center, you have easy access to all of your connectivity options, music volume, screen orientation lock, do not disturb, flashlight, alarm, calculator, camera, timer, notes, screen recording and your wallet for Apple Pay. (And others you may customize in Settings.) The Double Circle icon shows one of the great new features in Control Center – Screen Recording! It’s highlighted in red below, as I used it to record this little tutorial:

The Connectivity options include airplane mode, cellular data, wifi and bluetooth. By tapping and holding on one of those options, a new screen is launched showing additional options, including Air Drop and Personal Hotspot. Tap on either to change the current setting. (Air Drop – Everyone, Contacts Only, or Receiving Off.)

You can customize the options that you want available to you in Control Center by going to Settings/Control Center:


At the next screen, tap Customize Controls:


The apps that are currently included are shown at the top of the screen. Tapping on the red circle to the left of the name, gives you the option to remove that app from your Control Center.


The lower portion of the screen shows additional apps that can be added. Tap the green circle to move that app to the top of the screen, and it will automatically be added to your Control Center.


The order of the apps can be changed by pressing and holding on the three bars to the right of the app name and then dragging it the desired location.

Have fun with the new Control Center in iOS 11! Tomorrow we’ll explore what’s new in Maps.



Hands on with the iPhone 6s

Hands on with the iPhone 6s

If you have an iPhone and are considering an upgrade, you’ve probably already read a lot about the iPhone 6s, but I’m adding my two cents anyway!

I received my new phone in the mail last Friday, so I’ve had almost a week to try it out. Visually, there is no difference in the style of the 6s versus the 6. When I pick both phones up, it is obvious the 6s is slightly heavier, but I  really don’t notice the difference in every day use.  The extra weight is almost entirely due to the new 3D Touch display, and to me, it is well worth the added ounces. (The 6s is also made from the tougher new series 7000 aluminum but that doesn’t add to the weight. It should prevent any “bendgate” issues that surfaced with last year’s 6Plus.)

3D Touch is what makes the 6s stand out from other models. It is a totally new way to interact with your phone that I think will eventually be as ubiquitous on smart phones as pinching and zooming.

What exactly is 3D Touch?

Bascially, when you apply pressure to your screen, it will sense it and allow you to access further options. When I read about this new feature, I wasn’t sure it was something that would make that much difference, but after using it a few days I am definitely a fan. I continue to incorporate more of these short-cuts each day, and they are becoming a part of my normal interaction with my phone.

For example, when I apply pressure to the Clock icon, new options pop up on a new screen. I can then quickly create an Alarm, start the Stopwatch, or start the Timer. The screenshots below show some examples of how I use force touch most frequently. Most native apps ( Calendar, Mail, Notes, Camera, Photos, News, Videos, Contacts, Music, Safari, Maps) offer short-cut options with force touch.


Some third party apps are also already available (Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, Pinterest, Genius Scan, Pandora), and I’m sure there will be many more to follow. Most of the apps are simply short-cuts, but Magic Piano is the first app that I’ve seen that shows how force touch can be utilized in more creative ways.  Magic Piano is a free app that allows you to create your own music or to become an instant pianist by touching the circles that cascade down the screen. On the 6s, you can make the tones softer or louder by changing the pressure of your touch

Magic Piano App

These are all examples of “Quick Action”.  The other two components of 3D Touch are called Peek and Pop. If you press down on a new email or web link, you’ll get a peek at the contents. You can then swipe up to reveal a menu of options, such as Reply, Forward, Mark, or Move Message in the Mail app. If you let go, you’ll be back at the main screen, or you can press harder to “Pop” in to the actual message or link.

The News 360 app is a 3rd party app that incorporates peek and pop in a very useful way. Rather than opening an article to read, you can first take a peek by applying pressure. You are then given a 3 sentence summary of the article to help you decide if you want to pop in to read the entire article. By swiping up you can also choose to save for later, share, or let the app know whether you’d like more  similar articles, as shown below.  (News 360 is a free personalized news app for iOS.)


There is so much potential for innovative and creative ways to utilize 3D Touch, and I am eager to see what developers have in store for us.

  Built for speed

While 3D Touch is my favorite aspect of my new phone, there are other changes worth mentioning. The first thing I noticed was the speed. Everything is faster. The touch ID reads my fingerprint so quickly I don’t even see the lock screen before it immediately transitions to my home screen. All of the new iOS 9 features work very smoothly, apps

Fun with photos

The new 12 megapixel camera with a five-element lens is another winning feature. I’ll save the details on that for my next post where I’ll compare images from the iPhone 5, 6s, 6s Plus and my Canon 7D Mark ii.


If you have an iPhone 4s, 5 or 5s, there is no question that it is worth the upgrade. If you have an iPhone 6, you will be fine until the iPhone 7 is released, especially if your phone is still under contract. The iPhone 6 still takes great photos for a smart phone, and we have all lived without 3D Touch until now. There are already rumors circulating that the iPhone 7 will be waterproof, and it will be the new best thing we want next year.


While the battery life is supposed to be improved, I still need to charge my phone at least each night, and some times more frequently, especially if I am using the camera or experimenting with new features! I would really like to see a major improvement in battery life in the next iteration of the iPhone.

Double those exposures!

Here’s the promised tutorial for creating blended images with the Enlight App for the iPad.

First select your two images. The first should be a landscape image that  has a lot of detail.

The second should be a portrait of an animal or a person.  It helps if the background of the portrait isn’t too complicated or busy, but you can always fix that with a few additional steps.

For my first image, I chose a landscape of Mt. Denali reflected in Wonder Lake.


The second was of a big boar grizzly bear walking past Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska.


To eliminate the background, I followed these steps:

Tap Image > Adjust> Tools > Basic tab. I then set Offset to 100. (Swipe across the screen to change the desired amount from 0-100.) The image is now totally white.  To “bring back” only the bear, I then tapped Mask and used the Eraser ( Wipe ) to selectively “paint” back the bear. I then saved this as my new image.


Next, I selected my Denali image and then tapped Tools > Mixer  and selected my bear portrait.    I “pinched” and “zoomed” the bear image until it covered a portion of the landscape image that I liked.


Back to the Tools tab, I then selected Blending > Lighten.  For your image, experiment to see what works best for your subjects ( Overlay, Burn, Screen) and change the intensity by changing the amount (swipe right or left on screen).

Finally, return to the Tools  and use the paint brush or eraser to add or subtract details to achieve your desired final result.


For me, the most difficult part of this process is choosing two images that will work well together to combine as an interesting new photo.

Have fun!

My Life in the Cloud

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have begun making digital copies of all of my important personal documents. I’m doing this for a number of reasons. The first is for emergency preparedness. In the event of an emergency, such as fire or hurricane, I will at least have a record of everything for the worst case scenario. Even though a scan of a birth certificate or passport isn’t valid, a copy of the original usually makes it easier to obtain a replacement document. It also helps me stay organized. As I accumulate more documents that need to be stored and saved, paper copies are not practical, but digital files take up no physical space.

Here are some of the documents I would recommend scanning to PDF files:

•Birth certificates

•Marriage certificates

•Social Security cards

•Drivers’ licenses


•Insurance policies (auto, home, life, etc.)

•Health insurance cards

•Property deeds

•Vehicle titles

•Wills and trusts

•Tax returns (for the past three years)

•Bank account numbers

•Credit cards (including issuer’s contact information)

A flat-bed scanner can be used in conjunction with your computer, or a scanning app, such as Scanner Pro, can be used with your iPhone or iPad.  If you’re using a scanner or scanning with your printer, make sure you set it to save as a PDF file and set the resolution at 300 dpi. Apps such as Scanner Pro will automatically save as PDF files. PDF files ( or Portable Document Format) can be viewed and read by any device used today, and this format will likely remain compatible in the future.

Once you have your documents scanned, you will need a way to read, organize and store your files. I have chosen to use the GoodReader app on my iPad. In GoodReader, I created various folders to organize my docs – Banking, Licenses/Certificates, Policies, Taxes, Medical,Receipts, etc, then moved my files to the appropriate folders.

It isn’t practical to store all of those documents on an iPad or iPhone, but you have several different options for keeping your copies safe – an external drive, USB flash drive, or various cloud services.  There are pros and cons for each, as well as security concerns that I will address. The process I follow combines some of the above. I have begun using iCloud Drive as my primary means of initial back-up as it is a service I can manage on any of my iOS devices as well as my Mac computer.

First, I uploaded all my files to iCloud. It’s a seamless process with GoodReader, as there is a dedicated file for iCloud. Any files that you don’t want backed up should be placed in the    Downloads foldeIMG_2694r. These files will be available on that device but won’t take up space in your cloud storage. Use this for anything that can be easily found and downloaded again. For example, I don’t back-up my camera manuals that I like to have available to read on my iPad, because it’s easy to go to  the manufacturer website and download them again. Similarly, I choose to keep copies of certain files based on the particular device. I keep a copy of my driver’s license and passport in my iPhone GoodReader files, while the tax return copies are on my computer.


All of the important documents are stored on my iCloud Drive. Before I explain the “how”, let me explain the “why”.  I want at least one of my back-up methods to be with a cloud service because those files can then  be accessed from anywhere. If the digital files are only on my computer or external hard drives they would mostly likely also be destroyed with the originals should there be a disaster at my home. The obvious concern about cloud storage is security and access by hackers to your important information.

Although Apple came under fire in recent years because stolen photos of celebrities were apparently hacked from iCloud and published online, this was more about Apple ID passwords being comprised from successful phishing attacks elsewhere than iCloud itself being vulnerable.

Apple uses a minimum of 128-bit encryption to protect everything within iCloud, including, photos, messages and your documents. For iCloud keychain, used to store and transmit passwords and credit card date, 265-bit encryption is utilized. These encryption keys are created on your own devices and Apple can’t access them. Your data is actually very secure both on Apple’s servers and during transfer. To safeguard your information, it is most important to take precautions so that the data cannot be easily accessed from your iPhone, iPad or computers. This means minimally using a Passcode for all of your devices, including your computer, and using Touch ID when available.  (For added security, use two-step authentication. This is probably the best way to ensure that your device is not easily hacked. I will not explain that now, but I will write a future post on this process, if there is interest.)

To use iCloud Drive, go to your device Settings/ iCloud and make sure iCloud drive is “On”.  IMG_2695

iCloud is a subscription service that offers 5GB free space to anyone with an Apple iD and iOS device.  Paid options can be increased to 1TB for $19.99.  I currently use the 200 GB plan for $3.99 a month after recently upgrading from 20 GB for $0.99 a month. For $48 annually this is more than enough for me to secure all of my important data as well as many of my favorite and frequently used photos. I can choose to downgrade or upgrade my plan at any time, and the amount is automatically deducted monthly from my chosen account.

Dropbox and Google Drive can share and store files in a similar manner, but I like the automatic integration that iCloud provides across all of my devices. (For comparison prices, Dropbox offers 2 GB storage free and $9.99 a month for I TB. Google drive offers 15 GB free, 100 GB for $1.99 a month and 1 TB for $9.99)

To access iCloud drive files from a computer, go to and log in with your Apple ID and password. The first screen shows everything that is backed up with iCloud, including Photos, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, and a separate folder called iCloud Drive. This is where your downloaded files reside. Click on iCloud Drive to access anything else you have saved here. My drive houses all of my PDF file in GoodReader, word docs created with Pages, spreadsheets created with Numbers, Keynote presentations and photo files.



Additional files can be dragged and dropped from my computer into the appropriate folders to upload them to the cloud to be stored. I can also select any files and download them for access directly on my computer.


To access my PDF files in iCloud Drive from my iPad or iPhone, I open GoodReader and tap iCloud.  All of my Folders are immediately visible. I open the folder I need, tap on the pertinent document and it is downloaded to my device. It is then available for me to read, add notes, email or print. Any changes can then be uploaded back to iCloud.

My iCloud Drive now has all of my files stored securely, but it’s also good to have additional back-ups. If something should happen to me and family members needed to access my files, they might not readily have access to my latest Apple ID and password. I recommend copying all of the files also to a USB thumb drive/flash drive and storing in a bank safety deposit box and/or giving a thumb drive with the files to a family member.  Thumb drives are small and can be easily lost, so for added protection, files can be encrypted before copying them. A number of free encryption tools are available. This requires remembering a password to open them. If you don’t feel confident with this process, you can consider purchasing a flash drive with hardware encryption built in. (Kanguru Defender is one of the options available that has both Mac and Windows support. There are a number of storage options, starting at $69.95 for 4 GB.)

Let me know if you have questions, and please share any additional thoughts you have on storing and digitizing your important documents.

Here are step-by-step instructions for two of the examples I showed in yesterday’s post. Rather than a complete overview of the app, this shows how the Artistic/Urbanize options can transform your photos in a  few easy steps.

The original butterfly photo had been edited in Photoshop including a texture layer to achieve this current look.

The right sidebar shows all of the editing menus that can be selected in the Enlight app. Tapping on an option shows submenus. I selected Artistic > Urban.


The Urban Menu opens to a variety of presets that can be used. After selecting one ( I chose Paisley), swiping left or right changes the degree of the transformation.




I chose to keep a lot of color in the image, so used Paisley at 7.  I wanted the butterfly to retain its original bright orange so I tapped on the Mask option on the bottom right of my screen. Masking can be used to cover or reveal parts of an image. In this instance, I wanted to reveal the original colors in the butterfly that had been “covered” by the Paisley preset. (Think of it as a layer or mask that was hiding the original image. To reveal the butterfly, I chose the Wipe or “erase” tool. Because I wanted to bring back all of the color, I first set the strength to 100.


Just as in the previous menu, the numbers or strength of an action can be changed by swiping from right to left. After tapping on Wipe to select it ( notice the icon turns blue now)  I “painted” with my finger to erase the preset layer and show the orange and blacks underneath. The first time I wasn’t careful enough and parts of the plant were also erased.


I fixed this by selecting the “Apply” or brush icon and carefully painted over those areas to reapply the Paisley preset. When I was satisfied with the result, I tapped the checkmark at the top to return to the main menu. Since I was finished with the image, I then tapped the icon with the arrow, and then chose to Save Photo. I also could have opted to “Save the Session” so that I could continue editing at another time or emailed, posted on Facebook, etc.


The poodle photo was taken with my iPhone 4s a few years ago and while I liked the expression of the poodles, I didn’t like the busy and dark background. I thought a new “artistic” background might help, so again I went to Artistic > Urban to find a texture to overlay on the original image.


After some experimentation, I settled on Volkswagen at 55 because I thought the turquoise and brown would go well with the poodles original color. ( I could have changed the colors by accessing the Tools menu in the middle of the screen at the bottom, but I wanted to edit the photo in as few steps as possible. We’ll save the potentials of the Tools Menu for another day.) I also liked the effect with the texture of the furniture and the design made by the window blinds. I didn’t like that the poodles had faded away, but I knew that I could fix that with a Mask.


I followed the same process that I did for the butterflies by setting the strength to 100, then with the Wipe tool I carefully erased the Volkswagen preset to reveal the poodles again. This took a little more patience as I erased and brushed again over the finer areas of fur. By pinching and zooming I enlarged the screen to see these areas better. A stylus would have helped with smaller areas, but I continued to “finger” paint and not worry so much about the details.


I clicked the Check Mark  at the top right of the screen to return to the menu and decided I wanted to brighten the image a bit. To do this quickly and easily, I tapped on Image > Adjust then chose the HDR Preset at 94. ( HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and I knew it would brighten the image as well as bring out the detail.)


Satisfied with my editing for now, I saved the image as I did with the previous example.


There is so much more that can be achieved with Enlight! Next time I’ll show how I merged two photos using the Mixer tool to achieve this image:


Have fun exploring and experimenting with your photos!

(Future Posts:  Saving and organizing back-up digital files for important docs, Impressions of the Apple Watch, Travels in Alaska)