Saturday, 29 May 2010

Snow for Spring

It's a Spring bank holiday weekend and it's raining. Well, obviously. It's cold too which prompted me to make this Smilebox album with January pics I love the bright colours in this one. I hope we don't get the snow this year. I was so busy taking photos I didn't protect the plants and now I'm spending time and money replacing them!

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Let It Snow
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Scrapbook created with Smilebox

Friday, 28 May 2010

Affiliate Links?

How many blogs do you see with affiliate banners for this and that? "What is she talking about? Why doesn't she just refer to the banners she has to the right?" you may well ask ...

Well, that's because most affiliate programs don't allow you to mention that you're an affiliate of the program even though they give you the banners to put on your site. Sounds daft? It's because they don't want you saying "please click on this and I'll earn 50c" or whatever. I probably broke a few rules there except I don't think I have any banners like that!

Why do I have affiliate banners on my sites?

Because I tend to have expensive sites. I upgrade to remove ads, I upgrade for more space so you can see lots of pics, I use private sites for family photos and SmugMug for better viewing. It all costs money and a few dollars here and there helps with the costs. Affiliate earnings don't make me a profit as such, she says speaking like an accountant conscious of tax returns. They simply reduce costs (or reduce losses if I'm continuing to think like an accountant who was once a tax inspector!)

Is it a good idea to turn a hobby into a business? No. Absolutely not.

Is it a good idea to turn a hobby into a business? No. Absolutely not.

I thought it was worth saying twice!

Been there, done that. I ran a team of consultants for a scrapbooking company a while back and it earned me the title of "Most hated scrapbooker in the UK". Nice. You have to wonder about the kind of people who vote in a poll like that but it's good to know there will be a scrapbooking group for them in hell when they get there.

Hobbyists tend to be hypocrites. They want to be able to buy everything but don't want anyone to make money selling it and treat you like something they stepped in if you run a scrapbooking business. Looney tunes ....

It must be fun being an employee of a craft store or website. That way you get paid but don't get blamed for running the business!

As for stating I'm earning money from something, I think mny readers are also intelligent enough to know if they click on a banner it's going to be an affiliate link.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Making Your Layouts "Move"

We did a lot of work in our garden recently and DH is very well trained when it comes to taking photos. What to do with four photos almost the same of Sharon painting the fence???

Here's the result:

This is one of the standard photo templates in My Memories Suite so it took only moments to do. The extra embellies are from Hot Flash Designs' (very appropriate ...) Mrs Fixit kit from A Cherry On Top.

Here's another one from a recent vacation in Madeira. I just HAVE to go in the sea, no matter how wild, cold and dangerous it might be. Note John is several feet up in complete safety while taking the shots! I shortened the photo boxes a little. That's easy - just "grab" the square boxes on the edge and drag them to where you want them to be. Do this BEFORE you add the photos unless you want to look like a reflection in a carnival mirror!

I think this one is enhanced by the "final" picture of me coming out of the water. John did take a close up of my chest but you don't want to see that one ... The aspirational girl in bikini and the waves are from Bella Gypsy's Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny (told you it was aspirational) kit.

Give it a go - the template is already there for you!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

How to get blood out of a stone

If there's one thing that drives you nuts when scrapbooking it's finding photos of a family event with people carrying cameras. Have you seen the photos they took? No, you haven't .... The exception in my case is my Uncle Edwin who took lots of photos at my wedding and gave them to me. I do that now at any wedding I go to. Sadly my wedding was in 1984, the era of gone-a-nasty-red prints, but we still have a few good shots.

So, how do you extract photos from the family?

First of all, show them a few of your layouts, preferably a whole album. That will show them what you can do with photos and might encourage them to hand them over.

Secondly, make it easy for them to share photos. And by share I do, of course, mean share high resolution photos. The kind of sharing we have on Facebook and some other sites shrinks the images, understandably since why would Facebook want to spend their millions of dollars on providing massive servers for millions of falling down drunk photos? The question of why Facebook users want to share their falling down drunk photos is the suject of another article (or a PhD in psychology....).

I've gone completely overboard with my "Extract family photos even if they never speak to you again" project and have a whole site dedicated to it: Horswill Family Photos. I'm not suggesting you do that although I'll report on how it goes in case some elements are useful to you. The main thing is to let family know what you need and tell them how to get it to you.

My "how to join in" page is HERE.

The My Family sites are very useful. I think it was $9.95 for the first year and $29.95 thereafter. You can run them like a mini social networking site for your family or just us them for photos. The album system is somewhat limited in that they list them one after the other with no categories but members can download full size pics. So all you need to do is get your family to join and upload theirs.

Anything that people have to join creates an obstacle but I chose this system because at least the sites are completely private and that might get me more pictures. Here's hoping!

Taking A Photo of A Photo

Sometimes the best photos are on the wall. They are often high resolution professional photos and we really want them for our albums but how do we get them?

If you can take the photo out and scan it then do so. If it's a very big picture you can scan a section at a time, use photo stitching software and digitally put it back together again.

If it's taped into the frame and you might damage the photo then PLEASE don't take it out. We are not in the business of damaging valuable photos! If possible take it to a professional photographer and get then to take a photo of it and give you the image on a disc. That can be expensive so here's how to do it yourself:

Prepare the framed photo:

That basically means cleaning the glass. You don't want a photo of a century of dirt if you can help it. Try a soft glass cleaning cloth and only use a spray glass cleaner as a last resort if the glass is really dirty - the camera/scanner will pick up every smear and that will be worse than dirt. You can digitally remove specks of dirt, it's tricky to remove smears.

If there are small difficult spots of dirt or glass chips that doesn't matter - you can digitally remove those too with the scratch remover or clone tool.

Getting Prepared

First of all try to get a photo without using flash. Take the picture to a room which is well lit by a window on a bright but not too sunny day. Put the picture at your head height perpendicular to the window. This will give you light but won't let the camera focus on the window.

Bring as many artificial lights as you can into the room. Switch on the overhead light and any floor standing or desk lamps you may have. Don't have them pointing directly at the photo. Basically you are trying to fill the room with light without pointing any of it directly at the photo.

Take Your Shot

Actually you're going to take several! Always take several shots with any photo. The best shot is always the one you could have taken ...

Use a tripod if you have one. If you're standing keep your feet shoulder width apart and relax. You MUST have the camera and the picture parallel to each other or you will completely mess up the perspective of everyone's heads. Stand directly in front of it, not at an angle.

Get ALL the picture in the shot, including the frame. Take several shots!

Using Flash

It's worth taking a few flash shots as well in case they provide something useful or in case the other shots don't work out too well. Now, the problem is you will get a flash burn on the resulting photo, like this one below.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A-doing Adobe ..... and other sorry tales of software

Thinking long and hard about Adobe Photoshop and its variations. A discount page HERE makes it a little easier to decide! I'm tempted by Light Room although it's probably a tad too complicated for the likes of me. We'll see.

Speaking of software I downloaded FotoSlate 4 from ACDSee. It lets me print regular print sizes and invites me to tweak my printed settings to make them fit the printer. Well, duh, I could already do that without paying for more software. I'll try and find time to study it and write a proper review. Now the ACDSee Photo Manager, on the other hand, looks like it will be a boon. Tags that stay there no matter where you upload your photos!! Brilliant. I have the latest version pre-ordered. I'll have to clear my desk in the next few weeks so I have time to play with it!

So far I'm finding Paint Shop Album 4 is the best for faffing around before printing. I bought PS Album 5 to get to "thinify" feature (vain or what?) but it goes really weird when I'm batch resizing. Basically it resizes to a random size, not the size you've asked for. Stupid. Fortunately versions 4 and 5 run alongside each other.

Best of all - let Snapfish or your favourite processor do the printing! It really isn't worth all the effort and angst doing it yourself. I use Snapfish for photobooks and regular prints (for the occasional paper scrapbooking I do!) and Photobox for 8 x 8 prints since Snapfish don't do those. Maybe they will if we nag enough. Click on the banner on your right to get 30 free prints. Free is always good!

30 free prints? It seems to be 40 right now. Even better ...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Scrapbooks for the Horswill and Hills Families

Some of you - well, my family ....duh - may know about a huge project called the Horswill and Hills Families Photo Archive Project. You can see the site HERE.

It has basically one aim and that is to get HIGH RESOLUTION family photos out there for the family to share. Online sharing is a wonderful thing but in one or two generations no-one is going to be able to print family photos as the resolution gets continually squished by big servers like Facebook. If you want to know what I mean about resolution (or want to be able to explain it to someone else) see my article HERE.

As well as being able to access and download high res photos from Flickr we're going to make family scrapbooks. Yes, this is all a big excuse to make more scrapbooks. Digital, naturally, made using easy peasy My Memories Suite.

Now I just have to find a way to fit work in the day...