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The Five Characteristics of Successful Innovators

There is not much agreement about what makes an idea innovative, and what makes an innovative idea valuable. For example, discussions on whether the internet is a better invention than the wheel are more likely to reveal personal preferences than logical argumentation. Likewise, experts disagree on the type and level of innovation that is most beneficial for organizations. Somestudiessuggest that radical innovation (which does sound sexy) confers sustainable competitive advantages, butothersshow that “mild” innovation – think iPhone 5 rather than the original iPhone – is generally more effective, not least because it reduces market uncertainty. There is also inconclusive evidence on whether we should pay attention to consumers’ views, with somestudiesshowing that a customer focus is detrimental for innovation because it equates to playing catch-up, butothersarguing for it. Even Henry Ford’s famous quote on the subject – “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said fast…

Photo editing tips for beginners

MUNICH: Every digital camera comes with a variety of automatic functions - but that still doesn't guarantee perfection with every picture.

They can come out blurry, with the horizon at a tilt, the children's eyes red or the summit peak out of focus - any of which can be particularly annoying when you're going through your snapshots after a vacation.

But there are free programmes out there that offer help to beginners and let some of these snaps avoid the recycling bin. Automatic functions in these programmes can be the biggest boon to beginners when it comes to photo manipulation.

'They're a sensible place to start,' says Sebastian Lang of the German magazine Chip Foto Video. Only after trying those should inexperienced users turn to the manual regulation of contrast or colour saturation.

A standard beginner's mistake is the slanted horizon of a picture taken without a tripod. In landscape shots, this can make it look like the ocean is about to spill out of the picture. That tilt can be corrected - either automatically or by the user - on a computer and then edited so that only the rotated picture remains. But be careful.

'Anyone who straightens a picture and edits gives up some picture information, little details on the edge of the picture might get lost,' warns Christoph Noga, a German photo restorer.

Flash photos can make all the subjects look like they are wearing red contact lenses - the red-eye effect. Many photo manipulation programmes recognize and remove these ugly dots. Some are even free.

Aside well-known applications like or the open source programme Gimp, there are other applications out there for beginners.

'XnView is free, simply structured and offers easy batch processing,' says Noga. That allows the computer to automatically make the same change on multiple pictures. Picasa, the free software from Google, is a good alternative, he says.

Among fee-based programmes, Adobe offers Photoshop Elements for about 80 euros (114 dollars). It performs all vital functions. There's also Photomizer, for about 30 euros, which allows especially quick photo processing, says Lang. 'The programme takes on a lot of corrections at the same time - a single click optimizes the image.' There are free test versions of both programmes.

And Apple users don't have to go without. 'iPhoto for the Mac and the Photogene app for iPhone and iPad let you fix up pictures quickly and cheaply,' says Halyna Kubiv from the magazine Macwelt. iPhoto is part of the iLife 11 software package, available for 50 euros. Photogene costs 3 euros. And there's a free version of Gimp for Macs.

But even these programmes can't fix every problem. Fuzzy pictures taken quickly freehand are a particular problem.

'After-the-fact focusing won't save a blurry picture,' says Noga. But it can give the picture more luminosity. Beginners shouldn't be afraid of experimenting here, but also shouldn't overdo it.

'If the contours of the picture are too hard or look artificial, then the severity level is too high,' he says.

Most photo programmes also hit their limits with pictures that are too dark. It's possible to brighten them up digitally, but Lang warns: 'If certain areas are completely overlit or pure black, they're not salvageable on a PC.'

The wrong colour, a result of photographing without a white balance or artificial light sources, is no problem for most programmes. Lang advises relying on the automatic white balance function here. 'Manual manipulation without experience can just damage the picture.'

For those who want to try, the software can set the degree of white in the picture with a mouseclick. Other colours are then adjusted automatically.

Another problem: many photographers only notice after their vacation that little motes of dust on the lenses of their single-reflex cameras or their sensor in other models have caused pixels to appear on all their shots.

This problem can also be touched up automatically, but you can usually get a better result by working manually, says Lang.