• Abbe McCrackenAbbe McCracken

    Vacation Albums Made Easy

    July 20, 2014 | Posted by Abbe McCracken

    Ahhhh vacation.  Bonding, relaxation, adventure and 1,413 images to prove it.   Ok, maybe only 867 if you aren’t obsessed with catching every. single. moment. {guilty as charged}. And don’t forget the 212 pictures on your mobile device.  For many people, capturing these images is fun but deciding what to do with them … well, it can seem daunting.  Here are 5 easy steps and lots of great resources for making vacation albums your whole family will treasure.

    STEP 1: SELECT VENDOR AND STYLE

    Don’t start picking your images yet. Rookie mistake! Before you work with any images at all, identify which album vendors meet your quality, style and pricing goals.  I’ve made many personal albums over the years and Picaboo is easily my favorite.  I adore the Seamless Lay-Flat Books and Classic Photo Books (which also come with a lay-flat option).

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    Both meet my {very} high quality standards and both come in a variety of styles.  Everything from the modern, minimalist look that I love to the med layouts with fun doodles.  Picaboo’s Classic Photo Books start at $19.99 and the Seamless Lay-Flat Books start at $64.99. Coupons are almost always offered so keep your eyes open.  Other popular vendors include Shutterfly, MyPublisher and another one of my favorites, Artifact Uprising.  More on Artifact Uprising in a minute, but the point is explore your options before you design.

    STEP 2:  SET PAGE COUNT

    Determine the approximate page count of your finished album, then double that for the amount of images you need.  For example, if you want a 20-page book then only select your 40 best images.  If you want a 50-page book, start with your 100 best.  I rarely use that many but it’s a great starting point that will allow for a nice variety of spreads throughout your book.

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    Page count is often driven by your budget and/or the scope of your vacation . . . though my latest book is 47 pages and 90% of it was shot in one hour at one location.  Just sayin’, it’s easy to get carried away, which is why Step 3 is where you will invest the most time.

    STEP 3: CULL IMAGES

    It’s time to narrow down your images.  I know you love them all, but honestly some are blurry, some are duplicates and some simply take your breath away.  It’s important to see the differences, use the trashcan and star your favorites.  If you are too attached to let go of any, walk away for a few days.  Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need.  Your goal here is to identify the best 25/50/100 images for use in your album.  My final selections always include a combination of images from both my professional camera and my iPhone.  Here’s a spread using iPhone pictures on the left and my Nikon d610 on the right.  Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

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    STEP 4: UPLOAD AND ARRANGE

    If you prepare everything as outlined in Steps 1-3, then Step 4 will be a walk down easy street.  In fact, Steps 4 and 5 should take you an hour or less from upload to order. {Those with perfectionist tendencies may take a bit longer.  Not me.  Never.  Type A what?} Simply upload your selected images to your layout of choice and arrange the pictures in the order you want to see them.  I like to tell our vacation story, so I typically default to chronological order.  If your images didn’t automatically upload in order, then you will need to drag them to the appropriate place.  This is another good reason to work with smaller numbers of images.

    STEP 5: UTILIZE AUTOFILL

    Talk about easy, now simply click “autofill” and let it do its job.  Within minutes your book is ready to preview.  Picaboo’s autofill feature is especially good at detecting appropriate layouts and using a variety of them.  I’m always amazed at how the images fit so perfectly.  Autofill saves me time and gives me creative layout ideas but it’s not 100% perfect.  I make final adjustments before ordering because it’s easy to swap pictures, change layouts and make a whole host of additional customizations.

    BONUS BOOKS

    With so many of us shooting in square these days, it’s nice to have Instagram friendly books too.  You could easily document your whole vacation on your mobile phone then upload your selected pictures to Artifact Uprising.  The company’s best-selling Softcover Books for Instagram start at $16.99.  If you follow me on Instagram you know that I use these books to showcase my iPhone 365 project.  Each month I create a 5×5 book of my family’s daily happenings.  I adore the product and the ease of Artifact Uprising’s Mobile App.  It takes me about 20 minutes to design and order straight from my iPhone.

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    The coffee table in my family room holds all the albums I’ve ever created.  It’s a mix of old, new, tried and true but the important thing is that we see them … I mean, really SEE them.  Not a single day goes by without my kids picking up an album and reliving those moments.  I love that.  I want that for your family too.

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    Barb SubiaBarb Subia

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    1 – Everyone gets to be in the photos!

    It’s so important for kids to not just have photos of themselves as they grow up, but also images together with you, the parents. Memories of all the fun you had together as a family, and how much you love them.

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    2 – Maximum cooperation!

    This will be one photo session you won’t have to beg and plead your spouse and kids to participate in. Everyone’s already relaxed and in vacation mode, it will be easy to convice them that a photo session is going to be casual and fun.

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    3 – You get to relax!

    You won’t have to worry about bringing your expensive camera to the beach, and potentially having it ruined by sand, water, and salt. Knowing that you will be going home with professional photos, you can relax and enjoy yourself, instead of feeling the need to capture every second of the kids having a blast.

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    4 – Leave technicalities to the experts!

    Lighting in different locations can be tricky, especially at the beach – hello nuclear orange skin tones and dark faces at sunset… and that was supposed to be the photo for the Christmas card. Your local photographers are used to photographing in their environment and have the knowledge and equipment to deal with these challenges.

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    5 – No post-vacation digital overwhelm!

    Returning to real life after a vacation is hard enough without having to sort through hundreds of photos to find the best ones. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a package in the mail with a book, album or prints, and indulge in reminiscence?

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    Be sure to visit our member directory to find a photographer for your next family vacation!

    Erin McMannessErin McManness

    Our Love for Old Glory

    July 1, 2014 | Posted by Erin McManness

    With Independence Day coming on Friday, there are so many opportunities to show American pride and – as photographers – to capture those beautiful patriotic moments. While the flag is used in hundreds of ways today, we did a little research on how to show respect to Old Glory when displaying and photographing the flag. These are the traditional rules and Standards of Respect for the Flag, and though we embrace all individual ways photographers choose to express their patriotism, we just couldn’t help ourselves but dig a little deeper into this fascinating history!

    Photo Credit: American House | Old Glory

    Photo Credit: “Hanging Old Glory”

    Joyce KangJoyce Kang

    Joyce told us that she gets lots of questions from her clients on how to take better pictures of their children in between professional photography sessions.  She wrote this great article to help the parents with DSLR cameras learn more about how to get better pictures from learning to use the Manual Mode:

    Taking Control: From Auto to Manual

    Taking Control: From Auto to Manual is a new series for those of you who are looking to “photography freedom”.  By learning the Manual Mode (M) on your camera, you are in the driver seat, taking full control on exactly how your images will come out.  I will show you step by step how you can get the best possible photos from your digital SLR camera.  Follow me for the next few weeks to learn the ins and outs of manual mode.

    Exposure Triangle

    Photography is all about light!  It’s about how much light is entering your camera to create the “proper” exposure for your photographs.  Three factors inter-related in getting proper exposure and you might have heard the name, Exposure Triangle.  And they are:

    • Aperture
    • Shutter Speed
    • ISO

    These factors work together in different combinations to give you the correct exposure by controlling how much light is let in into your camera.  We will cover each element in the exposure triangle so you can get the best grasp of the basics, to set a firm foundation to start taking control of our digital photos.

    Aperture:

    Aperture (or f-stop) is the size of the lens opening when the picture was taken.  The smaller the number, the larger the opening thus more light is let in, and vice versa.  Aperture is like the pupil of your eyes.  When the light is dim, your pupil opens up to let more light in; and when the light is bright, your pupil contracts to let less light in.

    Depth of Field + Focus Plane

    By changing the size of your aperture, many things will happen.  One of them is Depth of Field or DOF.  Depth of Field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that will appear focused in an image.  A large DOF means more will be focused in a scene of your image whether it’s closer or farther away from your camera.  A shallow (small) DOF means only small amount in a scene of your image will be in focus.  The DOF is affected by the size of your focal plane which is controlled by the size of the aperture.  The larger the aperture (f/1.8), the thinner is the focus plane.  The smaller the aperture (f/22), the thicker is the focus plane.

    Think of focus plane is like a hardback bound book, standing upright on a table.  At F/1.8, the focus plane is very thin (like a children’s book, such as Dr. Seuss’s ABC).  The only part that will be in focus are what’s between the front and back covers.  So at f/1.8, DOF is shallow with less in focus and more blurred.  However, in a scene shot at F/22, the focus plane is very thick (think of a reference book, like a large dictionary).  The focus plane is a lot thicker so you will have a large DOF where most of the scene will be in focus and less blurred.

    In the following examples, I used aperture of 2.8, 5.6 and 11 to show you the “thickness” of the focus plane at different aperture settings.  For the purpose of the demonstration, I placed my center focus point on line 12.

    Shot at Aperture setting F2.8

    You can see the Focus Plane is very thin.  There are only 2 lines are in focus so the DOF is very shallow, meaning most of the image is blurred.

    Shot at Aperture Setting F5.6

    You can see the Focus Plane is getting larger compare to F2.8, where now there are more lines in focus.  DOF is getting larger with F5.6.

    Shot at Aperture Setting F11

    The focus plane is obviously larger compare to F2.8.  Now this image has more scene that are in focus.  The DOF is significantly larger than at F2.8.

    As you can see, Aperture size is how to achieve the blurred background we all love.  By shooting a subject at a shallow Depth of Field such as F2.8, our subject will be clear and sharp while the background is blurred.  This is best used when you want to isolate a subject from the background elements.  However, keep in mind that since f2.8 has shallow focus plane, it requires much practice to get perfectly sharp images.

    Tip: Analyze the subject of your scene and select the BEST aperture setting for it.  For example, if your subject is moving, F8 and above might be your best bet since focus plane is thicker.  If your subject is non-moving such as a sleeping child, F4 or F5.6 might be a good choice.

    For more great tips for going Auto to Manual, check out Joyce around the web!

    Crystal JamesCrystal James

    Member Survey Response

    June 9, 2014 | Posted by Crystal James

    Happy Monday! We recently did our annual member survey and had such a fabulous response!

    We may be a little biased, but we’re pretty sure we have the best members in the world. The feedback we received will be invaluable as we move forward and grow.

    Here is a snapshot of key information about our membership. Be sure to visit our member directory to find a NAPCP photographer near you!


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