Shape Collage: Automatic Photo Collage Maker

I had an email from Vincent Cheung telling me about this software he has created. He asked me to take a look, so I did. It’s really pretty neat, although admittedly I have only tried the online version so far; I think I’ll download the installable version later and give that a go.

I think I might as well let Vincent tell you in his own words:

Shape Collage can take hundreds of photos and, using a patent pending algorithm, automatically arrange them in a collage in any user-defined shape, such as a rectangle, heart, word, or logo. These collage images can be used in any digital setting, such as on blogs or as desktop wallpapers, or be printed for posters and scrapbook uses.

The Shape Collage desktop software makes creating collages effortless, but at the same time it is a very powerful program, as it has a number of advanced features, such as using custom shapes and being able to save collage images in Adobe Photoshop PSD file format with each photo in its own layer. The desktop software is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and has been downloaded over 750,000 times since February 2009.

Shape Collage Online ( is a web application that uses the Shape Collage technology to create unique collages using photos on the web. These collages also serve as an image browsing tool because the individual photos in the online collages can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Shape Collage Inc. was founded in 2009 by Vincent Cheung (who did his PhD in Computer Engineering and is an alumni of Google and Microsoft Research) to make it easy to share, display, organize, and browse large collections of digital media in creative ways.

Here is an example from Vincent’s website:

Spotlight On: Matt Preston

Rice Paper Expert, Matt Pearson
Rice Paper Expert, Matt Preston

Now, I confess that I don’t actually know Matt Preston; but if he suggests going down the pub for a pint and a chat, I’ll be there. Once he gets back from South East Asia and Australia, that is. Matt and his wife have gone on a trip:

“From September my wife and I will be embarking on an adventure in to the unknown. Travelling through South East Asia then settling in Australia for a while. It’s time to broaden our horizons.”

Doesn’t say when they’ll be back, notice. This, I think, may be the essence of why I find Matt and his work intriguing; his attitude appears to be the antithesis of my own. I can barely bring myself to visit the local supermarket without a fully planned itinerary, let alone go off to explore a few continents and see where it takes me!

What I like best about Matt’s pictures is that he approaches everything with a natural creativity which I don’t possess; he has “an eye” for a picture, as we say. This is showing clearly in the photographs coming out of Vietnam. Matt likes to wander off the beaten path and see what appears in front of him and I am not convinced the majority of us would do this. I’m sure I would stick to the tourist areas and would probably believe that everything before me was totally real, when perhaps more often than not it is manipulated for the benefit of the tourist. This is true in the case of the Rice Paper Expert image above – this image is a true reflection of life in a remote village, something revealed by exploring rather than exploiting.

Working on the Banks of the Mekong
Working on the Banks of the Mekong, Matt Preston

Both of the photos in this article have a timeless nature about them – they were both taken at the end of 2009, but they could be just about any time in the last 50 years or so (the purple plastic bowl in the Rice Paper photo prevents me daring to go further back!).

If you like these, the best thing to do is visit Matt’s site regularly – he is updating it as often as he can, subject to being able to locate suitable WiFi.

All photos: Copyright 2009 Matt Preston

New Lastolite TriFlash Bracket with Locking Shoe Mount (Press Release)


Following on from the enormous success of the TriFlash Bracket, JP Distribution is pleased to announce a new addition to the range from award winning manufacturer Lastolite; The TriFlash Shoe Lock.

This new model features an adjustable “screw locking” shoe mount, which offers an additional locking mechanism to work alongside the built in method used on the flashgun.

The dimensions of the hotshoe on the bottom of each flashgun can vary from one gun to the other. However, the TriFlash Shoe Lock can comfortably accommodate these variances, including the Nikon SB900.

The new bracket (2423) will be offered in addition to the original TriFlash bracket (2412).

JP Code 192303 / SRP £54.99 Inc vat


New Product Ranges Added to JP Distribution (Press Release)




JP Distribution is pleased to announce that Cameras Underwater have appointed JP Distribution as a distributor of Ewa Marine and Époque products. Both brands will be available with immediate effect.

For many years Cameras Underwater has successfully distributed the Ewa Marine and Époque products building a loyal customer base and they will continue to work in partnership with JP Distribution.

“We are delighted to partner with JP Distribution to further develop the Ewa Marine and Époque brands in the UK” commented Jenny Rosenfeld, of Cameras Underwater. “JP Distribution’s ability to promote our products to a wider audience will enable the brand to flourish even further in the UK market

Ewa Marine

Since 1947 Ewa-Marine have built up a worldwide reputation for high quality products and everything bearing the Ewa-Marine name is “quality made” in Germany. All products are developed and then hand made in their factory in Kirchheim, Bavaria. Each unit is subjected to a series of stringent tests before leaving the factory. The flexible housings are 100% waterproof and designed to cope with water (including sea water), snow, sand, and dust whilst allowing safe operation of the equipment at the same time.


Époque manufacturers high quality underwater photographic and video equipment, specially designed for the rugged outdoor and underwater environments. Époque products have been widely used, for over 20 years by novice and advanced photographers

Époque products are designed to be affordable for the greatest range of customers, without compromising on quality, reliability or performance. Products are designed with a System Concept, which offers expandability through the use of accessories, to satisfy the creative needs of advanced photographers as well as novices.

The Ewa Marine and Époque brands are very important additions to JP Distribution and we look forward to working closely with the dealer base to maximise the potential. Ewa Marine and Époque complement the current portfolio of Lastolite, Ilford, PocketWizard, Sekonic, Billingham, Mamiya, Gepe, Peli, Spudz, Trek-Tech and Schneider.

Paul Roper, Sales and Marketing Director at JP Distribution said: “We are really excited to be working with Cameras Underwater to develop Ewa Marine and Époque within the UK. They perfectly complement our existing portfolio of brand leading products. We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to make these outstanding brands available to customers through our established dealer network.”

The full range of Ewa Marine and Époque products will be available from JP Distribution with immediate effect. For further details please contact: –

JP Distribution
Hempstalls Lane
Newcastle Under Lyme

Telephone: 01782 753333
Fax: 01782 753399


Lastolite Launch New Flash Trigger (Press Release)

Lastolite-Flash-TriggerJP Distribution is pleased to announce a new RF Flash Trigger from award-winning manufacturer Lastolite.

With a range of 10 metres, the new battery operated (2 x AAA) RF Flash Trigger from Lastolite can be used with battery operated flash guns and studio flash systems. Simply attach the transmitter to the hotshoe on the camera, and then attach the receiver unit to the flash gun (via PC or X-sync cord) or to the studio flash head (via the sync socket). The trigger operates at 433 MHZ.

Flash Triggers JP Code SRP ex VAT SRP inc VAT
Lastolite RF Flash Trigger – 2450 192285 £43.47 £49.99
Lastolite Additional Receiver Unit – 2451 192286 £26.08 £29.99