Sunday, March 11, 2012

This week I have been fiddling around with Photoshop Elements, trying to teach myself how to create a photo collage. This involves learning about layers. I found a great video here which shows how to create a simple 4 photo collage template. There is also a downloadable cheat sheet which takes you through the steps in case the video moves along too fast for you. It does for me. I find it much easier to follow written instructions.

One of the reasons I've become interested in photo collage is because in January I found out about the Take 12 Challenge which is being run over at Ella Publishing. The idea is to take 12 photos on the 12th day of each month of this year which is of course 2012. By creating a scrapbook page for each month using each set of 12 photos, a fascinating, personal chronicle of the Year 2012 will be the result.

I can't remember whether I've officially signed up for the challenge, but I did dutifully snap 12 photos on Jan 12th and Feb 12th. and I've marked my calendar to remind me to take a further 12 on 12 March.

Now, the lovely people at Ella Publishing have created a Guided Inspiration Pack, which can be purchased and which looks like great value. However, being the perverse individual that I am, I've decided to try creating my own templates and layouts. I have, however, followed closely the video which shows how to use one of the templates provided in the inspiration kit.
These are 6 of the 12 photos I took on Jan 12 when I was invited to dinner at my next door neighbours' home. The dessert at the bottom left was my contribution. You can see that I still need some practice, because the spaces between the photos are not all the same size. Maybe having no spaces between the photos would have been the easier way to go, but as I've pointed out, I can be quite perverse.

Later in the week I happened across something else which got me even more interested and excited about photo collages

The Graphics Fairy is one of my most favourite blogs and I always try to check out her Brag Monday posts, even if I don't quite get there on Monday (which is Tuesday here in Aus.) This week her craft pick was a beautiful Dr Seuss inspired collage by Beth Conklin from Here on Earth . Beth has combined several of the Graphics Fairy's images with photographs of her daughter to create a gorgeous, whimsical image.

Beth's profile states that she is a photographer and a lover of old photographs. In my previous post I mentioned my love of old photographs. Now I actually have a reason to buy old photos ... hurray!  I also love taking photos, so it seems that Beth and I have a couple of things in common. Beth also states that she is a digital artist.  I've fallen deeply and unequivocally in love with Beth's work and I want to ... have to ...  be able to create images, not the same as, you understand, but just as beautiful.  

Yes! That's what I'll be ... a Digital Artist. So here I am ... at the bottom of yet another steep learning curve, and very excited to be here too. Maybe by December my Take Twelve Challenge pages will be displaying images as beautiful as those at Here on Earth

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Outfoxing Foxing

This week I've traveled back to the late 1930s, journeyed to Townsville, trekked to Papua New Guinea and wandered, a little bit reluctantly, back to the Gold Coast. All of this without leaving home.

No, I haven't been reading books. Well actually I have been reading a book, but that's not how I got to visit all those places. No. I've had a lovely time scanning photos and creating a slide-show for a client. The slide show is to be shown at the celebration of her mother's 75th birthday on Saturday. There were ninety photos in all, capturing moments from her mother's babyhood right up to the present day.

I'm a bit of a nosey parker, so I just love scanning other people's photos.  I get transported to other times and places, just as I do when reading a book. I also get glimpses into their lives and get to share their happiest moments. By the time I've finished the project I feel that I've known them for ever!

Now, anyone who knows me will know that I love old photographs, nearly as much as I love books. Especially those old sepia ones. I've even been tempted to buy antique photos and display them in my own home, even though I don't have the foggiest clue who the subjects are!

Some of my client's photos were 74 years old at least. So it was troubling to see the impact that the ravages of time had had on some of the very old ones, such as this one.

As a scrapbooker I've learned that 'foxing' is one of the most common causes of damage to old photographs, and that photos stored in damp, humid conditions are very susceptible to foxing.  My client's mother grew up in tropical north Queensland where it's hot and extremely humid for 6 months of the year, so it's not surprising that some damage of this nature has occurred.  I also learned that, sadly, foxing can't be repaired on original photos. 

Thank heavens then for the wonders of the digital age!  Computers and software programmes such as Photoshop Elements make it easy to turn back time and magically erase foxing, age spots, creases, discolouration, etc from scanned copies of damaged photographs. 
The scanned image after I'd attacked it with PS Elements
According to Wikipedia there are several theories as to the cause of foxing. One of these is that it's a type of fungal growth. So if you have any photos showing signs of this type of damage my advice is to store them away from your undamaged photos.

Some other things I've learned about keeping photos from sliding down the slippery slope of deterioration are:

*  keep loose prints stored in archival-standard storage
*  store these in a clean, dry area away from potential 
   hazards such as leaking water pipes, etc.
*  when placing photos into albums or scrapbooks make sure
    that the pages are made from acid free and lignin free

Don't you wish it was that easy to keep the human body safe from the ravages of time?

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Life is What Happens

    It's been a very long time since I've been here. I won't go too deeply into the reasons for this. SufIfice to say, in the words of John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you, while you're busy making other plans."

    During the time I've been away I've had some teeny-tiny bites from people wanting to use the services of Allow Me To

    One was from a lovely woman who had been traveling overseas with her husband. I'll call her Vee. Vee contacted me towards the end of June 2011 saying that she had about 1000 digital photos of their trip, which she wanted made into a slide show. Thankfully she had saved them onto a flash-drive in the order that she wanted them to play. Vee also wanted background music and was happy for me to choose it.

    Under normal circumstances this would have been a breeze (read: "only a tiny bit daunting"), Well heck, when has my life ever been a breeze?

    As it happened, I had just been offered, and accepted, a semester contract as a full-time Teacher-Librarian at a private school about 40 minutes drive away. So there I was, teaching and managing a school library in a totally new environment by day, and by night, trying to turn this lovely lady's precious memories into something Vee would be happy to show her family and friends.

    This is the text message she sent me after she and her husband had viewed the DVD for the first time:

    "WOW!! What an amazing job u did with the DVD! We couldn't wait to c it 2night so had a sneak preview last night & LUV it! The Gallipoli part even brought us 2 tears with ur excellent choice of music. Thanku sooo much 4 all the time & effort you put in2 it. All the music u chose captures the feel of ev'where we went. The whole thing is just gr8 and we can't wait 2 show it 2 our friends 2night."

    Here's the thing though. When it came time for Vee to pay me I had absolutely no idea what to charge for my services. We eventually settled on an amount, but I suspect that I undercharged, given the amount of time I spent on the project. Not to worry. It is true to say that I learned a lot about video editing during the process, and for that I thank you Vee.

    I also know that it's true that I'm at the very bottom of a mountainous learning curve when it comes to running a home business.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    A Change of Direction

    It's been a while since my last post and in that time I've had a rethink about my business.

    Although it's my first love, I've decided to postpone my idea of traditional scrapbooking and album creation business in favour of offering a photo scanning service to begin with. In this way I hope to build up a client base, then offer a digital scrapbooking service. I still plan to  offer traditional scrapbooking, but at a later stage.

    In recent times in Australia we have had a series of dreadful natural disasters. These have ranged from cyclones, to floods, to bushfires.

    People caught up in these disastrous events have lost a great deal including, tragically, loved ones. When interviewed, the survivors nearly always say that their trauma has been exacerbated by the loss of irreplaceable and precious family photographs, documents and mementos.

    What if we could safely store all of these things together in one small container which could be grabbed and tucked under somebody's arm as they ran from danger to safety? Even better, what if it was possible to have several of these (each with exactly the same contents) stored in  several locations, so that if a container was not able to be rescued from a particular location, there would be a container somewhere else with its contents safe and sound and easily retrievable? We live in the digital age and, of course, such a scenario is possible for all of us.

    Generations X and Y have this problem sorted. They have their images and other important documents stored in mobile phones which, naturally, have been surgically attached to their bodies. If they are really savvy they have probably stored them in online repositories out there in cyber-space as well. But for those of us of the baby-boomer generation our images are mostly of the printed-on-paper kind. We may have come into possession of our parents' collections of printed photos as well. 
        My Mum in 1939 at the age of 21
    How to keep these safe from the ravages of time, incorrect storage methods and, of course, natural disasters?

    Unfortunately, despite the fact that many of us of the baby-boomer generation, are digitally aware, many of us are time-poor and although we would like to have our precious memories stored conveniently and safely, we just don't have the time to organise and undertake such a daunting task.

    That's where I hope to come in with my little business, which now has a name. It's called 
    Allow Me To ... and I've even got as far as designing a logo for it.
    I've tried to depict a mixture of old and new technologies. The image of the old-fashioned photo-frame I found at The Graphics Fairy, one of my favourite blogs. The modern little icons I found at Open Clipart

    I'm still working on the website. I have the basic design created, but I keep finding all sorts of things that I need to know - such as Javascript - that are must-haves on an on-line business website. Also as I trawl around the internet looking at sites for similar businesses, I realise that  I'll have to work hard to find innovative ways to attract people to my particular business as there is quite a bit of competition out there.

    For now, I've posted an ad on the Gumtree website under the Business Services category in the "Other" subsection for the Gold Coast area. And I've designed and printed a flyer which I'll distribute in our immediate neighbourhood via a letter-box drop. Very last Century, I know, but needs must for now.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    A RAK! and The Warrior (Worrier?) Queen Rides Again!

    How about that! I won! In my last post I wrote about Pam Callagahan's blog Ideas for Scrapbookers and her invitation to followers to show how their styles have evolved. I left a comment on her blog and I was rewarded by winning a Random Act of Kindness. How lovely! Thank you so much Pam.

    This was actually a week or so ago and I've been very remiss in getting back here to thank Pam publicly. So, I must apologise for that Pam.

    I've been quite busy sifting through all sorts of information about starting an on-line home-business and I've made some progress ... well ... that is ... I have a name for the business and an ABN number (Australian Business Number).

    Really there is so much information out there that it's hard to know what's relevant and what's not; what's good advice and what's misleading; what to do, what not to do.

    See this guy? I've been going around with a similar expression on my face for quite a few weeks now.

    Occasionally ... a lot ... I'm engulfed with self-doubt. I mean ... I'm a teacher-librarian ... what do I know about running a business? Well ... I know a teen-tiny bit I suppose. But ... is it enough? And ... do I have the skills to produce what potential clients may want?
    I guess there's only one way to find out ...

    and so ... in true Warrior Queen, Boadicea (who's name was actually Boudica) style .... I'll carry on.  

    I do have the skeleton of a website started ... well it's only in my head at the moment, but I hope to have it live on the web very soon.

    Watch this space.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Scrapbooking Style

    I've just been over at  Ideas for Scrapbookers where Pam Callaghan has been discussing and showing how her scrapbooking style has evolved.

    Her invitation to followers to show how their styles have evolved got me thinking about when I first started scrapbooking. My first project was a scrapbook of my son's first 21 years. You will see from my last post that this has been a somewhat lengthy process, but it does show how my ideas about scrapbooking have changed and how my style has evolved.

    To begin with I thought that I had to use every single photo that I possessed of my son's first 21 years for this scrapbook. Believe me that is a lot of photos! Consequently my first pages were cluttered and it's difficult for the eye to know where to look first.

    A little further on in my scrapbooking journey my pages had a more organised feel to them, but still too many pictures on the one page I think.

    This would probably have been more successful as a double page spread, but I hadn't discovered the concept of double page spreads at that stage. 

    However ...

    ... eventually ... discover them I did, and it's a technique I use quite a bit now.

    Later still, I started to realise that it was a futile exercise to try to use every photo for this particular scrapbook and began thinking about other projects that I could do to use the left over photos. For example, I have enough Cubs and Scouts photos for a complete scrapbook and maybe I could do one on the holidays my son and I took when he was a boy.

    Another thing I now like to do is create the page layouts on background papers and then slip them onto the album page. I find this a better technique than scrapping straight onto the album page itself, because if I mess up it's less expensive to replace the paper as opposed to replacing an actual album page.

    These last two pictures are from a small 7x7 album I recently completed for a friend. The style is very much in keeping with my "less is more" philosophy.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    A Conversation with My Self.

    The following is a conversation I had with myself this week

    Self: "The first Scrapbook I ever started was an album of my son's first 21 years. He's 26 now ... in fact ... he'll be 27 in a couple of months."

    Other Self: "What did he think of it?"

    Self:  "Well ... he hasn't seen it yet." 

    Other Self: "Why?" 

    Self: "Well ... because I haven't finished it yet."

    Other Self: "What!  It was started almost 6years ago, for goodness sake!! "

    Self: "I know ...  hopeless."

    Other Self : "Yet here you are thinking you can have a successful business creating scrapbooks for other people. You know what ... I think the prospect of having to wait 6 years for a completed album could possibly cause potential clients to look elsewhere ... just a thought ...

    Self: "But there's always been so much else to do ... hobbies are what you do when everything else is done ... and ... well ... everything else is never done."

    Other Self: "So ... if everything else is never done, how are you going to create albums for other people in under 6 years!!? I mean ... I suspect potential clients would want an album completed in something more like ...  well ... under 6 weeks!

    Self: "Okay ... I'm giving up Scrapbooking as a hobby."

    Other Self: "Well ... that's what I call giving up without a fight."

    Self: "No wait ... I'm not giving up Scrapbooking! It's just not a hobby anymore ... it's my livelihood!!!

    Believe me ... it's amazing how much I've achieved since I began thinking of Scrapbooking as a business rather than simply as a hobby. 

    I can actually sit down and work at my craft without feeling guilty. Sure ... I'm working on a personal project at the moment, so of course not making any money. But the time I spend on this I view as well spent, as I'm bringing my skills up to date and perfecting my style and technique. 

    Very soon I'll be ready to go out into the world.