Monday, February 12, 2007

Quick Photo Tips for Busy Parents

Maria’s days seemed to run together. She had a pile of laundry taller than Pike’s Peak and a department filled with employees anxious after hearing news of a merger. And her home life? She preferred to call the layers of chaos ranging from scattered toys to piles of unfiled paperwork: “evidence of past and current adventures.”

Her children were growing out of their clothes almost as soon as she purchased them, and the worry she carried in the back of her mind about all the things she still hadn’t gotten done nagged her worse than Aunt Francine. Dry cleaning? Needs to be picked up. Groceries? Always out of something. Oil change for the car? Definitely overdue.

Printing photos from digital camera?

Don’t even go there.

Once Maria decided to trade in her film camera for a digital model, she took more pictures than ever, excited about seeing them on the screen and enjoying the fact that she could view them immediately. She just didn’t expect to feel so lost when it came to what happened next. She had tons of great memories stored on her hard drive, tucked in various folders marked by a couple of random attempts at organization. She’d remember certain shots she wanted to print to send to her father or to frame for her home, but she could never get those tasks completed.

She loved all the benefits her digital camera provided, but she longed for simpler days when she could just drop off her film and get her pictures. At least with film, she could open up the shoebox and rummage through the pictures until she located the one she wanted.

Why couldn’t digital be this way?

--Excerpted From Digital Photography for Busy Women

Let’s face it. When it comes to juggling the countless tasks required of parents these days, it’s a miracle that our shoes match when we leave the house. As the mother of a first grader and young twin boys, I’m constantly looking for anything that promises to save a bit of time, or more important, my sanity. At first, digital cameras seemed to be one of those time savers—no more waiting for film to be processed to see the results and no more duplicate trips to the photo shop.

Alas, many find that’s where Easy Street ends.

Digital cameras allow us to take more pictures than ever, which means our hard drives are filling up faster than a kindergarten class at a candy factory. These silver gadgets also don’t seem to come with clear recommendations about what to do AFTER the pictures have been taken.

We’ve got digital pictures. Now what?

Here are a few tips designed to help you quickly find your favorites and protect them for the future:

Filter First: Whenever possible, make sure to delete the less-than-stellar shots before downloading the files to your computer. There are usually a number of other things going on when we’re in the midst of taking photographs, but whenever possible, scroll through the images as soon as possible and delete the blurry or off-center pictures. By doing this now, you’ll save yourself hard drive space and lots of time later when you start searching through your digital pictures. Save the best and delete the rest.

Create Folders Before You Need Them: Consider creating folders for your digital pictures in the same way you create folders for your documents. For example, you may wish to create a ‘2007’ folder, and then create folders for each month or each season. Having these folders created ahead of time takes just a minute or two and will help you stay organized every time you download pictures since they’ll have a specific place to go.

Find Your Favorites: When it comes to organizing your digital pictures, you’ll find that an image management program can be one of your best time-saving tools. While these programs range from extremely simple to complex and powerful, a little searching will give you several options from which to choose. Many programs will scour your hard drive and automatically organize your digital pictures by date (if your camera date and time settings are correct). This step alone will save you a tremendous amount of time.

You can find these programs by typing in ‘photo organizing software’ or ‘image management software’ in your favorite search engine. Many have free trial programs, which is a wonderful opportunity to try before you buy. Don’t forget to check the ‘About Us’ section to make sure the company has been around for awhile and has been reviewed by reputable PC or photo magazines. After all, we’re not going to trust your favorite memories to just anyone who can bang out a bit of code!

Basic Back-Up: This topic could fill several articles, so let’s just hit the basics. If you haven’t backed up your digital pictures recently (or at all), pick up some blank DVDs at the store. If you’d like to use the best media available, there are ‘gold archive’ grade media designed to better withstand the elements than traditional DVDs. The important thing, however, is that you start somewhere and make sure that you have your favorite pictures stored someplace other than just your computer’s hard drive. One-touch external hard drives are another easy alternative; they are quick to set up and are more affordable than ever.

Taking a couple of simple steps will mean less time searching for that memory and more time enjoying it!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

For Ladies Who Like Football….

In this stage in my life, I have to say I spend more time following my three little ones around our property than I do following football teams, but I’ve always enjoyed watching (parts) of a good game. What I like even more than the Sunday afternoon events is getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the dynamics of the teams. Football has long been a ripe arena for storytelling; Sports Illustrated is just one example of how people can turn a sports event into a grandly-woven yarn.

We’ve come to love watching a new series titled ‘America’s Game’ on NFL Network. America’s Game is a 41-part series that profiles each Super Bowl winning team.

Steve Sabol, NFL Films President and a man with a reputation for stellar sports storytelling, said, “Fans should not be expecting to see a Super Bowl highlight film for each champion. Rather, each episode of America’s Game will be a personal portrait told by the men who lived it and felt it, not by the analysts or journalists who watched and reported it.”

Each episode is narrated by celebrities including Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis and Kevin Bacon.

So, set your Tivo to record an episode or two. It usually takes me a few tries to finish an entire episode (you moms know what I mean), but it's worth the effort.