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Friday, November 21, 2008

How to Make Photo Books

ScanMyPhotos.com is your source for the most memorable holiday photo gifts, especially custom photo books that you design yourself with our online or at our southern California photo speciality retail center. Watch the video.

What is a photo book?

A photo book is the next evolution of the photo album using your digital photos. Using very simple software, anyone can create a beautiful coffee-table style book of personal memories. There are many sizes and styles of photo books from which to choose. From hardcover, to softcover, to leather-bound or miniature, there is a photo book that’s just perfect for any event.

Steps to making a great photo book:

  • 1. Select the photos you would like to use.
  • 2. Select the size and style of photo book that is best for your project.
  • 3. Be as creative as you want. You can have full creative control over exactly where pictures are placed, the design of each page, and when and where to use text. This is ideal for using your recently scanned photos, slides and negatives from ScanMyPhotos.com. Or you may choose to have the software automatically load your photos into a predetermined template, making the entire process effortless.
  • 4. Order your book and decide whether to pick it up at the store or have it delivered to your door. Click here to order online.
  • 5. Order extra copies for family and friends!

Composing Better Photos

"Composition” means taking better photos One way to improve your photography is through better “composition,” which only means thoughtfully “composing” the image in the viewfinder for the greatest impact. After learning a few basic rules, it is easy to do because they will focus your attention on the subject and its surroundings in the viewfinder. Digital photographers have a distinct advantage of seeing the picture they have just taken on the camera’s LCD monitor. You can immediately reshoot an improved version of your previous image. This is not complicated, but it means paying attention to what you are doing. If you read a book on composition, one of the first things you would learn is the Rule of Thirds. This rule suggests that the viewfinder image should be divided equally into three imaginary horizontal sections and three vertical sections. In scenic photos, never have the horizon or the subject directly in the middle of the photo. Rather, two-thirds of the picture should show the sky (hopefully with some interesting looking clouds) or two-thirds landscape, seascape or cityscape with one-third (or less) as sky. Why? Because most scenic pictures with the horizon in the middle are boring. The same rule applies to a subject placement in the photo. For example, if you are taking a seascape and place the lighthouse in the middle of the picture, the image is very static and uninteresting. However, if the lighthouse is moved to one of one-third or two-thirds location on the imaginary grid, the overall image becomes more dynamic with greater appeal. The viewer’s eyes will travel back and forth between the open expanse of sea and the lighthouse on one side of the photo. If you want to prove this to yourself, take a look at a book illustrating the works of realistic fine-art painters or a photo annual displaying the work of professional photographers, both of whom regularly employ the Rule of Thirds. Another composition “rule” is the use of the “S” curve, such as a serpentine road, river, railroad tracks, etc., winding out of the photo into the distance. If available, this visual device will give the photo “depth.” There are other visual devices that create depth. Some visual element (even out of focus) near the camera, along with a sharply focused middle ground and background image also provides the illusion of depth. For example, when you include tree branches in the corner of your photo of the Grand Canyon or a silhouette of a hiker standing near the rim, the photo will be more interesting than the Grand Canyon alone. The branches provide a reference point for the distant scene, and the hiker helps relate the viewer to the size and expanse of the panorama. Remember to keep the Rule of Thirds in mind, when it comes to the horizon and placement of the secondary subjects. Perspective is another composition tool. For example, a line of trees, telephone poles or a narrowing roadway that recede into the distance also indicates depth. If your main subject is in the foreground, be sure that there is something in the distance to which the viewer can relate, such as a smaller or less important secondary subject. If your foreground subject is a person try to include a meaningful object, building, monument, mountain, etc. in the scene to provide additional interest and depth to the image through perspective. Rules are made to be broken, so don’t worry if you don’t slavishly follow them all the time. But it is important to remember the rules and be very aware of what you are composing in the viewfinder. Too many snapshot shooters pay little attention to what they see or don’t see in their camera’s viewfinder. For example, if you are photographing one or more people, make sure that tree limbs or traffic signs aren’t growing out of the top of their heads. Usually you can move the camera to avoid disturbing background elements behind them. It just takes a moment to notice what you are doing and move your camera position for a better shot. Outdoors, the same thing can be said about lighting. If you have a group of people squinting because of bright overhead sunlight, move them into the shade for a more pleasant portrait. Or, ask them to turn around and place the sun behind them. Then select your camera’s “fill flash” or “force flash” setting for a close-up flash portrait of the group. The flash with sunlight will fill in any shadows in their faces and produce a very nice portrait. (When it comes to composition, I can’t figure out why so many snapshot shooters tend to take full-length pictures of their friends and family. Are their subjects’ shoes that interesting? It’s much better to fill the viewfinder up with just faces. I really think that many people are just too shy to get up close to their subjects – and that’s a mistake.) Speaking of portraits, that is probably one place, the Rule of Thirds doesn’t necessarily apply all the time. Here the portrait subject is the center of interest. There are really two kinds of portraits – formal and environmental. Formal portraits are mainly in a controlled situation, frequently with muted or out-of-focus backgrounds, so that the subject is the only point of interest. Usually a head-and-shoulders view, the formal portrait is designed to provide an attractive depiction of the subject, which can be enjoyed for years to come. Therefore, the portrait subject is usually centered in the photograph. An environmental portrait is one that is made in an “environment,” which usually has some connection to the portrait subject. For example, a carpenter working in his woodshop, a homemaker in the kitchen, a sailing buff with his boat, a cyber whiz at a computer, or a hunter in the field posing with his dog. Here the challenge is to capture the subject in an environment that depicts work, hobby or avocation through the backdrop of his or her surroundings. The rules of composition can still apply, since the photo combines several elements in addition to the portrait subject.


Taking Top-notch People Shots

Just what is it that brings out the voyeur in us? Several thousand U~S. professional portrait photographers say it's look at Ö well, us! Or, rather, at people who look a lot like us. People are insatiably curious about other members of the human race. What do they look like, where do they work, how do they think, act, and feel about a wide range of subjects? Our fascination with others is precisely what makes portrait photography such an enduring-and endearing-art. Picture for a moment two young men in worn T-shirts and jeans. They're leaning back in chairs propped against the wall of a ramshackle wooden cottage deep in the Louisiana bayou. Take in their expressions, then look around at the rest of the scene. The weathered, battered, aged wood of the building. the empty Coke bottles at their feet. the scrawny tom cat napping on the porch. It's a visually exciting portrait-sometimes called an environmental or documentary portrait because it tells more about the subjects than expression, alone, could reveal. It includes a piece of the subjects' lives; it documents the way in which they live. Environmental portrait opportunities are all around us. But they're rarely easy to capture on film. For a photo to tell its viewers something new and intriguing about subject-what he does, where he does it, how he feels about doing it-it must be composed in such a way as to arouse the questioning mind of the viewer. For the photographer willing to invest the time and effort, the potential photographic rewards are enormous. But environmental photos are only the tip of the portraiture iceberg. Other people shots-like the more common personal portrait-are equally fascinating and far less difficult to capture on film. But doing it with the kind of style that sets your portraits apart from the millions of others taken each year demands a little thought and an extra bit of effort. TIP: Look through your recently scanned photos from ScanMyPhotos.com for amazing photo samples. Like all types of photography, creative portraiture begins with an understanding of photography itself. And that begins with film. Advancements in color-film technology have produced a new generation of sharper, clearer, more brilliant color films than ever before. Yet an amazing number of picture-takers ignore the qualities color film by shooting the same old colors over and over again. Kids in blue jeans and white T-shirts set against a background of blue sky and white clouds offer little variation to stimulate the eye and tease the mind. Picture the difference a pair of red sneakers, a green plastic ball, a purple hat, and a yellow background would make. Professional photographer Lisl Dennis has made a living out of shooting just such colorful portraits. If it works for her, it can work for you. Keep you eyes peeled for color. If the colors in a scene are ho-hum, add some props. Drape a colorful sweater around your subject's shoulders. Pose him next to a Kelly green golf bag. Seat him beneath a multi-hued patio umbrella. If props aren't available, shift your own point of view to include a background of forest-green trees and vermilion skies. The results are colors vivid enough to excite even the most jaded voyeur. Lenses, too, play an important part in creative portraiture. The most face-flattering of all is an 80 mm telephoto mounted on a 35 mm camera. It has the ability to shorten the nose and round out oblong faces. While buying an 80 mm lens for your single-lens reflex camera may be a luxury you're not quite ready to indulge in, a zoom lens of from 80-200 mm will provide both the perfect portrait setting plus a wide range of other settings suitable for various photographic chores-shooting distant wildlife, sporting events, etc. If you're not yet ready to invest in a 35 mm SLR and a suitable zoom lens, consider a 35 mm compact camera. Many models today are equipped with built-in zooms or telephoto lenses that offer near as much flexibility as their larger, more costly cousins. Keep the sun over your shoulder--if you want a boring, harshly lit photo. Otherwise, the best place to position your subject is at a right angle to the sun. That will also prevent him from squinting in the bright light just as you take the shot. (Take your photos on a lightly overcast day. The illumination from open hazy skies lends a natural, attractive look to portraits. If the day is too dark, though, you'll lose contrast in the model's face. To correct that, use electronic flash with a daylight fill setting to add highlights. Take indoor portraits by the light of a nearby window. If the light is too bright and tends to wash out the subject's facial features, simply pull the curtains or cover the window with a white sheet to soften it. And remember that toddlers and sunny windows just seem to go together. Be on your toes for some good candid photo opportunities when the two get together. Watch the background. It's important to use a background that contrasts with the subject to prevent the subject from getting 'lost." Also, avoid overly busy backgrounds and telephone poles, trees, and other appendages that may appear to be growing from your subject's head. So the next time someone asks you to take a family portrait to send to the relatives, think twice about lining the subjects up firing-squad style. You may be able to take an environmental portrait or, perhaps, a more conventional shot utilizing soft light, colorful props, and just the right lens. The results? Fantastic.


Photographing Pets

They are, according to writer George Eliot, "Agreeable friends. They ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." More than that, they're quiet, unassuming, and obedient. They're often members of the family. And they make excellent photographic subjects-both entertaining and cooperative. What more could one ask for in a subject than pet! One of the nicest things about photographing pets is that you don't need a lot of costly equipment to do the job. Even an inexpensive cam ill work. In fact, some of the least expensive cameras have taken some of the best pet pictures around. And with today's easy-to-use, point-and-shoot, auto-everything models, you can take top-notch photos of your pets and have them hanging on the wall within days. The key to photographing pets is patience. It you have a rnanually focusing camera, pre-focus on a particular area. Then coax your pet into that area with a toy or a treat. For cats, try pre-focusing your camera on a spool of thread or a ball of yarn. When your cat comes over for a closer look, just snap the shutter. A loud noise is one of the best ways to attract a dog's attention. Just make sure you've pre-focused on him. Then, when he snaps to attention, take the shot. And don't forget to include the kids in some of your photos. For the most natural looking results, sneak up on a child playing with his pet and snap away. Sound simple? Most definitely. But there are a few more things you can do to get consistently good results. · Get down! A pet's-eye view is much more interesting than the same shot taken from adult's-eye level. Don't be afraid to kneel down to get just the shot you're after. ·Get close! That's the best way to fill the frame with the subject. Just like people, pets have distinct facial expressions that only a close-up shot can capture. When photographing really small pets such as birds or fish, use a macro lens to get within inches of the subject. · Get plenty! Really great pet shots don't come along every day. For best results, use plenty of film. Most professional photographers agree that there's a direct relationship between the number of pictures you take and the number of good shots you get. So don't be stingy!


Getting in on the Action

If you're getting tired of taking photographs of the same old boring subjects, why not head on out to where the action is? The real action. You need not spend thousands of dollars traveling to Maui for the International Surfing Championships or to Spain for the Running of the Bulls. There's plenty of exciting action going on just moments from your front door. If you doubt that, check with your local Chamber of Commerce or State Tourism Department. Scan the entertainment section of daily and neighborhood newspapers. Tune in to regional radio and television broadcasts. There you'll find news of upcoming fairs, races, rodeos, sports activities, rallies, and other events-everything from barrel racing and high school diving competitions to baseball, football, and hockey games ... from offshore sailing regattas to a neighborhood game of stick hockey. Not surprisingly, many people are hesitant to try photographing moving subjects. Decades of slow film and slower lenses once restricted photographers to shooting stone-faced subjects standing beneath the mid-day sun on a hot summer's day in August. Ahh, how times have changed! Today's newer equipment and more sensitive films allow you to use faster shutter speeds to get proper exposures. And fast shutter speeds "freeze" fast action, providing you the opportunity to capture on film some things your parents could only dream about. Here are a few other tips for getting in on the action. If your camera features an adjustable shutter speed, set it for 1/250 second for shooting subjects such as joggers, bicyclers, and cars traveling slower than 25 miles an hour. For subjects such as runners, sports activities, and cars traveling up to 50 miles an hour, use a shutter speed of 1/500 second. For really fast-moving subjects such as airplanes, motorcycles, and auto racers, use 1/1,000 second or faster. If your camera features an automatically adjustable shutter speed, use a fast film of ISO 400 to 1000 to ensure the camera's ability to select a fast shutter speed for the proper exposure. If you find yourself shooting a slow film or if your camera has a limited shutter-speed range, try shooting moving subjects as they come toward you rather than going from one side to the other. Autofocusing cameras are especially useful in conditions like this. For a more creative approach to capturing fast action, especially when shooting something like a car race, try using a slower shutter speed of around 1/60 second and panning with the action. Simply move the camera from one side to the other, keeping the subject "frozen" in one spot in the viewfinder at all times. In the middle of your pan, snap the picture. The results: a sharp subject standing out against a dramatically motion-blurred background. When freezing fast action indoors (like at a hockey game or a party), use electronic flash. The short duration of the electronic flash will accomplish the same thing as a fast shutter speed, resulting in perfectly motionless subjects. Just be sure to check the flash manual or the unit, itself, to see that the subject is within the maximum flash range for your film speed and flash combination. The faster the film (or the higher its ISO rating), the greater the flash range. When forced to shoot a slow film indoors without electronic flash, try to anticipate the "peak of action.î That's the precise moment when a moving object stops moving in one direction and begins moving in another. It's the pinnacle of a basketball player's jump shot or the moment a race car veers to make a turn through a tight chicane. To capture the shot at just the right moment, pre-focus your camera where you anticipate the peak of action will occur and be ready fire. It takes split-second timing and plenty of practice to do it right, but peak-of-action shots are some of the most exciting and spectacular of all action photos.


More ways to use Photo Books

Many people are creating impressive and treasured family history photo books. They gather photographic material and prints from across the country and the world. The format, quality and condition of these vary enormously in the amount of care and effort in putting these together. If you plan to use a lot of old prints, slides or negatives, you will need the right scanner for your needs. Or you can use a scanning service, which will save you a lot of time. If you are about to renovate, remodel or decorate your home, use photobooks to tell the story. Do a before-and-after series on facing pages. Learn how to place a tripod for identical positioning. For interior shots, lower the viewing height, and point the camera level to avoid those converging doorways and walls. Include pictures of yourself and others working on the renovation, as part of the story. Need a last minute gift? How about a simple photobook? Just make sure the book is one the recipient will enjoy receiving and will value, not just politely keep in a drawer and bring out when you visit them. If you take a lot of good photographs for a family wedding, then this can make for a wonderful photo book. And you can add in other pictures of the happy couple as they first met, and on early dates, as part of the story. You can determine the style and quality that will allow you to make copies for the closest family members and friends. If funds are tight, maybe each person who wants one could offer to pay for their own, much as people do when they order from the photographer. Sharing the news and pictures of a new baby can be done with a little photo book. It does not have to be a huge production or expensive – there are many simple and budget-priced books that can be chosen from. A wonderful and caring approach is to create a tribute or memory book for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Here are a few tips... Caption and group the pictures to make sense for them. For example, someone with dementia is likely to be prompted by the inscription they once wrote on the back of a photo, even if it is cryptic to others. Be careful adding your own interpretations. But do add in names of others in the pictures and their relationships to your loved one. Maybe some added explanation and facts. This can help you and the caregivers go through the book over and over again with your loved one, and for it to be a fresh experience every time.. It’s important for children need to see photos of themselves and their parents, and images of their grandparents at younger ages. They get a much better sense of their own identity through seeing their place in the larger family. What better way to do this than give them their own family history book loaded with characters and stories. Pictures with captions, and more detailed stories they will grow into as they learn to read. They will be able to share this with their friends and classmates. Keep the separate set of digital originals on file, so that if a book is lost or damaged, you can easily have another made up from the same images. So, with the range of books, styles, quality, formats and services available to you, whether online or at your local camera store, you can take advantage of this and create wonderful bound books, for whatever purpose you need.

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